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Commissioner of Education makes public appearance, addresses Common Core

By ANNA MEILER

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WKTV) -- The New York State Commissioner of Education made a public appearance at the grand opening of WCNY's public broadcasting center Wednesday, but also took time to address the highly contested Common Core Curriculum.

John King said public television helps fill gaps in the learning system and mirrors the goals of the new Common Core Curriculum.

"Ensuring that students are prepared to think critically, to write well, to read thoughtfully, to do problem solving and math. Those are all things that public television helps to make possible," said King.

He's received widespread criticism from parents and teachers who say he implemented the curriculum too quickly and set students up to fail the new standardized tests.

"There will always be challenges with any large scale change, effort. It's important to listen and make adjustments along the way," he said.

But, that listening came to a halt when he canceled a string of public forums addressing the curriculum. He's in the process of rescheduling 19 more, but whether or not he'll be back in the Utica area, he's not sure.

"Maybe I'll return, but maybe the other leaders from the department play a role, local regents play a role, but we're constantly out listening and trying to gather feedback on again, all the work we're doing at the department," he said.

Dr. King hopes to use the educational value of public broadcasting to bolster the Common Core Curriculum as he moves forward with his public forums.

"We're doing a variety of different types of forums. Some are hosted by local legislators. It's an opportunity really for us along with the legislature to hear from concerned citizens and then we're also doing sessions at public television stations and then I'm in schools and communities all the time meeting with educators and parents. I probably visited 40 schools since the start of the school year," he said.

To his critics, Dr. King said he hopes they can get on board and his ears are open.

"What I see in classrooms is students doing more critical thinking, students writing more, students doing more problem solving and math, precisely the things the Common Core focuses on and I think over time as people see the benefits of richer instruction, more engaging instruction for their students, they'll understand the value of this work of the Common Core. The challenge for us is to make sure we're listening and making adjustments along the way," he said.

But as far as requests for him to step down, and for the repeal of the Common Core Curriculum, King said he's moving forward.

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