October 10, 2013 NYSPTA Town Hall – Commissioner King’s Shut Up and Nod Tour Anniversary


The event that started it all – In this clip from the October 10, 2013 Poughkeepsie Town Hall,  King gets an earful and is booed off the stage as he maintains that the private school his kids attends give the very same assessments as public school students and that the curriculum is “similar” to common core but not common core. 

Another great clip circa October 2013 from a similar forum- King fumbles the ball.

Happy spank-versary, Kingsie!

Today is the one year anniversary of the nefarious NYSPTA Town Hall incident where parents from Poughkeepse New York gave Commissioner King an earful. This event really changed the landscape for parents and teachers advocating against the flawed common core, HST and Regents reform agenda.

Billed as an opportunity for parents to ask questions and get answers from the Commissioner regarding common core, student privacy, InBloom and teacher evaluations among other things, the event was anything but.

Town_Hall_flyerRL(1)LA_final (1) (1)

The forum drew a massive crowd of hundreds of parents and educators who had alot to say to King despite the fact that our concerns fell on deaf ears. Our concerns over student data, testing, APPR and InBloom  among other things were scoffed at and summarily dismissed by King.

Concededly, people spoke out of turn and got loud that night. But, this reaction was justified. Parents and teachers had alot of pent up frustration after we had been completely ignored and left out of the reform agenda process.  You cannot blame parents for being upset with children caught in the common core/testing muck and mire.

75 people had signed up to speak that night but only 7 were actually allowed to approach the mic.  I was one of the 7 parents permitted to speak at the microphone. We each had 2-3 minutes, I believe, before King had enough of us and walked off the stage.

That was a turning point for me. I researched the issues for hundreds of hours and stood before King with an articulate and well versed argument against Core and flawed education policies.  I was startled and disappointed when I spoke from the heart only to have King summarily dismiss my valid concerns in a callous manner. My alarm turned to anger and then outrage at King’s behavior in the days after the Poughkeepsie Town Hall. He cancelled events, sulked and began a tirade of personal attacks and assaults against those of us who spoke accusing us of being special interest group zealots.

That event was the catalyst for many of us who arrived as parents and left activists that night. I have been advocating against common core, HST, and for public education every single day since then.

Parents were enraged by King’s decision to cancel Common Core meetings.


As to reason why Poughkeepsie meeting turned into a ruckus and to justify his decision to cancell future forums, King said “Email blasts encouraging their membership to dominate the microphone and take over the meeting,” were sent.

But that claim was not true. No one hijacked the event – parents and educators were simply asking to be heard and looking for some answers.

Regent Bennet and Commissioner King falsely claimed that King stopped the event and left the stage after racial slurs were lodged at him. But, parents who attended that event including myself knew that was a lie. We set the record straight here:


Those of us who were permitted to speak at the microphone on 10/10/13, were painted in very bad light in the press. King made us all out to be radical zealots.

We were all just parents and teachers, thats all.

In response to King’s allegation that the event was “hijacked” by a “special interest group” 5 out of 7 of us who spoke at the mic that night issued apress release in an effort to clear our names:

On October 10, 2013, at a Town Hall event sponsored by the NYSPTA the undersigned parents spoke at the microphone before Commissioner John King, Jr. in an effort to advocate for our own children and/or the teachers, administrators and students in our communities.

The individual concerns that we raised with Commissioner King were drawn from our own personal experiences and were based on our individual roles in the community in which we live. Many of us made sacrifices to attend this event: researching issues, driving long distances, and arriving well in advance of the event start time eager to engage in discussion and make our voices heard by the Commissioner of Education, John King, Jr. himself. In light of certain statements made in the press by Commissioner King and controversy that has ensued in the aftermath of that event, we would like take this opportunity to comment and clarify a few things publicly. We thank you in advance.

The purpose of the meeting, as advertised in the NYSPTA flyer, was to provide stakeholders an opportunity to share concerns directly with Commissioner King and/or NYSED representatives regarding “Common Core, testing and issues with security and privacy of student information.” We saw this as a valuable opportunity since Commissioner King along with NYSED and the Board of Regents collaboratively set policy on these important subjects. We were eager to participate in this event because, in our opinion, the chance to speak directly to Commissioner King and NYSED about important decisions and policies has been extremely rare if not utterly obsolete. This forum was long overdue. Each one of us was provided no more than 2 minutes at the microphone to face Commissioner King and to state an opinion about how his educational policies impact our lives. We spoke from the heart.

Commissioner King has gone on record stating that the reason he cancelled NYSPTA forums after the October 10, 2013 Town Hall event is because “special interest groups attempted to manipulate and control the microphone”. Commissioner King specifically referred to the 7 of us who spoke at the microphone when he made that sweeping allegation. There were many who were denied the chance to speak at all. King further alleged that “special interest groups” “attempted to co­​opt, manipulate” and hijack the forum. This is simply not true. Although this event has brought us together for the purpose of issuing this statement, we are not a “special interest group” then and we are not a “special interest group” now. There was no collusion. There was no pre​­planning to undermine the forum. There was no conspiracy. We simply exercised our right to express an opinion about Governor Cuomo’s education plan for New York as well as our right to comment on the Board of Regents and Commissioner King’s decisions
and poorly implemented education policies. Truth be told, we simply stated our personal and individual opinions on these matters. We are aware that NYSED has rescheduled forums that were cancelled by Commissioner King. We are pleased to hear this news.

The events and aftermath of the October 10, 2013 Town Hall forum demonstrate that there was a clear disconnect between Commissioner King and the stakeholders impacted by his decisions. We hope that Commissioner King will be more receptive to the needs and concerns of students, parents, teachers and administrators moving forward. We understand that the Governor has adopted this educational plan and that the Board of Regents and Commissioner King are responsible for implementing it and although we may see it as flawed, there are two sides of the story. It will take patience and a lot of discussion and understanding at the end of the day for all of us to move forward. For these forums to be truly successful, we believe that Commissioner King must make good faith efforts to engage in dialogue with parents, teachers and administrators. With all due respect, he must be ready to face harsh but deserved criticism about flawed decisions and policies. He must be ready to listen to people whose lives have been impacted by these plans day in and day out in classrooms, in homes and around dinner tables across New York State. Absent that, we fear that history may repeat itself.

We appreciate NYSED’s gesture and are relieved to hear that NYSED intends to give parents, students, teachers and administrators the opportunity to keep dialogue going on this most important subject. We look forward to participating in the upcoming forums wherever practicable. We thank you in advance for this opportunity.

Sincerely, Anna Shah, Parent of Tyler, 6 ­ Spackenkill Union Free School District

Jennifer Kaufman, Parent of Sean, 17; Abigail, 14; Jake, 14 ­ Spackenkill Union Free School District

Mikey Jackson, Parent of Atticus, 8 ­ Cornwall School District

Joanne Swick Tumolo, Parent of Dominic, 9; Joseph, 7; Robby, 6 ­ Mahopac School District

Jolyn Safron, Parent of Julia, 12; Mira, 15 ­ Kingston City School District


Disgusted by King’s actions, parent advocacy groups from across the state sprang into action to advocate for parents and teachers:

NYSAPE called for the resignation of King:

New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) calls for the immediate resignation of Commissioner of Education John King as he is unfit to carry out the duties of his position competently and he is no longer able to conduct himself in a manner that is consistent with the principles and ideals of the American democracy.

Billed as an opportunity to “gather information, ask questions and share concerns with NYS Commissioner of Education John King”, the NYS PTA sponsored Town Hall Meeting on the Common Core and privacy issues was anything but. After speaking uninterrupted for 1 hour and 40 minutes, Commissioner King allowed parents 20 minutes to speak. During this time, parents expressed concerns and attempted to share stories regarding the impact that the CC has already had on their children. Commissioner King repeatedly interrupted parents and refused to answer parent questions or address their concerns. Commissioner King subsequently cancelled all future scheduled town hall meetings, called concerned parents “special interests groups” and stated that the forum was “co-opted by special interests whose stated goal is to ‘dominate’ the questions and manipulate the forum,” King went on to state that “Essentially, dialogue has been denied.”

When a public official such as Commissioner King refuses to participate in the democratic process and refuses to hear the concerns of parents while simultaneously carrying out educational policies that affect thousands of children, he is no longer fit to carry out the duties of the NYS Commissioner of Education. Commissioner King, we would argue that it is because of you that “dialogue has been denied.”

According to award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York, last week’s Town Hall meeting in Poughkeepsie, NY highlighted the fact that “The New York State Education Department has lost its moral authority.” Burris states. “One might imagine that if John King had first been a principal of a New York City public school, or the superintendent of a district, he would have become skilled in dealing with emotional and boisterous groups….. Leaders must listen deeply, learn and respond. They
must be willing to consider alternative courses, and even in loud crowds, hear truth.”

Anthony Cody, nationally recognized educator, public speaker and writer for Education Week says, “Speaking truth to power, as these parents did, is an intoxicating thing. It delivers to both speaker and witnesses a shiver, an awakening to the fact that we do not need to suffer in silence, or allow our children to suffer without objection. Those in power may cancel future hearings, but these parents’ voices are ringing out, like a bell that cannot be un-rung.”

We would say to Commissioner King that in this age of apathy, you should be proud to represent a state where parents have taken the time to inform themselves about the current education reforms and have taken the time from their busy schedules to engage with public officials such as yourself. Aren’t these parents the kind of critically thinking, involved citizens that our public schools hope to create? We would argue that a competent leader does not run away from concerned parents, or call them a “special interest group.”

Commissioner King, you are a disgrace to the field of education. It is not surprising that in NYS, your lack of teaching experience would not allow you to be granted tenure in a public school.

The NYS Commissioner of Education sends his own children to a private school, a school that is not legally bound to carry out the same testing and data sharing mandates that he is subjecting thousands of public school children to. He has stated, “I believe that every parent should have the right to choose the school that is right for their child.” Commissioner King subjects public school students to harmful practices while maintaining that parents do not have the right to refuse these mandates. This certainly does not afford all parents “the right to choose the school that is right for their child.” Commissioner King is guilty of promoting inequitable education policies that essentially create a different set of educational opportunities and experiences available to those with the means to afford private school and those who attend public school. This is an attack on the freedoms and rights that are afforded to every American citizen and on public education itself.


Stop Common Core in NYS also issued a call for King’s resignation:

(Port Chester, New York) STOP Common Core in New York State, a parent and teacher advocacy group, publicly condemns the New York State Education Commissioner John King for his decision to suspend four scheduled state PTA meetings on the Common Core State Learning Standards and is calling for his resignation based on his actions and remarks made after a public forum that took place Oct.10 at Spackenkill High School in Poughkeepsie.

The meeting, which was sponsored by the New York State PTA, was the first in a series of gatherings scheduled by the group to give parents and others the chance to gather information, ask questions and share concerns with King and other education department representatives on the newly implemented Common Core State Standards. STOP Common Core in New York State has strongly condemned King’s recent statement that the event was hijacked by “special interests.” Glen Dalgleish and Yvonne Gasperino, founders of the group, said the auditorium was only filled with concerned parents and teachers who respectfully listened for over 90 minutes while King presented his case on Common Core.

“When it was the parents’ and teachers’ turn to speak, Commissioner King interrupted after each speaker, running down the clock so that fewer audience members would be able to speak,” noted Dalgleish. “With only about 20 minutes to voice their concerns, the audience felt compelled to demand the commissioner to sit down, allow them to speak and listen.”

Dalgleish believes that King’s failure to listen to their concerns as constructive feedback led to a more vocal reaction from the audience. “Instead of participating in a dialogue as he stated he wanted to, he monopolized the forum, and informed the audience “We will not go on until I speak…”. The fact that he now calls those parents and teachers that he disrespected “special interests” just shows how much contempt he has for them. The only special interests we care about are our children. That is why we were there,” added Dalgleish.

STOP Common Core in New York State has concerns about King’s statements and his reaction to the growing opposition throughout the state to Common Core. They are as follows:

Why are parents and teachers still being shut out of the implementation process and why are their concerns being dismissed out-of-hand with no two-way dialogue whatsoever?
How can King continue to ignore the groundswell of opposition to Common Core? If he can’t defend and support the Common Core mandate he ardently advocates, how does he expect New York State legislators to defend, support and fund the policy with this kind of behavior?
Just because King did not approve of the outcome of the first NYS PTA meeting, he should not have the power to suspend other scheduled meetings and silence the opposition to Common Core.
Parents and teachers who are passionate about their children should not be demonized. These are still OUR children and we will continue to defend their innocence and fight for their future. Our children are NOT a commodity or “human capital” that can be bought and sold on the open market to the highest bidder. Those who make money off of Common Core do not have the ownership of the minds of our children. The parents and teachers of New York State will be heard; you can count on that.
“We, as a group, believe that King has clearly demonstrated over the past few days that he is unwilling to listen to any concerns that are raised about Common Core,” noted Dalgleish. “He has also shown he is unwilling to work with and engage with New York State parents and teachers on the Common Core program. We therefore demand that the commissioner be immediately removed from office and replaced with somebody who is willing to listen and who can work with parents and teachers in this great state.” http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/stop-common-core-in-new-york-state-calls-for-john-kings-resignation/

NYSUT, NYS largest teachers union, board approved a vote of no confidence in Commissioner King:

ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 25, 2014 – New York State United Teachers’ Board of Directors approved a resolution Saturday that declared “no confidence” in the policies of State Education Commissioner John King Jr., therefore calling for his removal by the Board of Regents. NYSUT’s board also withdrew its support for the Common Core standards as implemented and interpreted in New York state until SED makes major course corrections to its failed implementation plan and supports a three-year moratorium on high-stakes consequences from standardized testing.

The union’s board acted unanimously Saturday morning at a meeting in Albany.

“Educators understand that introducing new standards, appropriate curriculum and meaningful assessments are ongoing aspects of a robust educational system. These are complex tasks made even more complex when attempted during a time of devastating budget cuts. SED’s implementation plan in New York state has failed. The commissioner has pursued policies that repeatedly ignore the voices of parents and educators who have identified problems and called on him to move more thoughtfully,” said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. “Instead of listening to and trusting parents and teachers to know and do what’s right for students, the commissioner has offered meaningless rhetoric and token change. Instead of making the major course corrections that are clearly needed, including backing a three-year moratorium on high-stakes consequences for students and teachers from state testing, he has labeled everyone and every meaningful recommendation as distractions.”

The resolution states that the board declares “no confidence in the policies of the Commissioner of Education and calls for the New York State Commissioner of Education’s removal by the New York State Board of Regents.”

NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said the union has been sounding warning bells since 2011 about the over-emphasis on standardized testing and the state’s rushed and unrealistic timeline for introducing curriculum and assessments tied to the Common Core state standards. She said NYSUT is seeking:

completion of all modules, or lessons, aligned with the Common Core and time for educators to review them to ensure they are grade-level appropriate and aligned with classroom practice; better engagement with parents, including listening to their concerns about their children’s needs; additional tools, professional development and resources for teachers to address the needs of diverse learners, including students with disabilities and English language learners; full transparency in state testing, including the release of all test questions, so teachers can use them in improving instruction;
postponement of Common Core Regents exams as a graduation requirement;
the funding necessary to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to achieve the Common Core standards. The proposed Executive Budget would leave nearly 70 percent of the state’s school districts with less state aid in 2014-15 than they had in 2009-10; and a moratorium, or delay, in the high-stakes consequences for students and teachers from standardized testing to give the State Education Department – and school districts – more time to correctly implement the Common Core.
“The clock is ticking and time is running out,” Neira said. Students sit for a new battery of state assessments in just a few months. It’s time to hit the ‘pause button’ on high stakes while, at the same time, increasing support for students, parents and educators. A moratorium on high-stakes consequences would give SED and school districts time to make the necessary adjustments.”

The resolution will go to the more than 2,000 delegates to the 600,000-member union’s Representative Assembly, to be held April 4-6 in New York City. The resolution underscores NYSUT’s longstanding, strong opposition to corporate influence and privatization in public education and calls for an end to New York’s participation in InBloom, a “cloud-based” system that would collect and store sensitive data on New York’s schoolchildren.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members. Members are pre-K-12 teachers; school-related professionals; higher education faculty; other professionals in education, human services and health care; and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.


Here is the full-length version of October 10, 2013 Poughkeepsie Townhall meeting with Dr. King.


Commissioner King did reinstate his shut up and nod tour. Parents and educators across the state expressed the same ire and disapproval as the Poughkeepsie crowd did on October 10 at each event across the state.

On a positive note, the will of parents and educators remains strong. We will continue to speak out and boo Commissioner King off the stage if we have to until he finally leaves…… for good.

Until then, Kingsie.

More articles about King’s cancellation of forum and events from last year:



One thought on “October 10, 2013 NYSPTA Town Hall – Commissioner King’s Shut Up and Nod Tour Anniversary

  1. Reblogged this on Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY and commented:

    Augmenting this flashback blog piece, NYSPTA Town Hall – Commissioner King’s Shut Up and Nod Tour circa 2013 with present day 2015’s
    Hudson Valley Parents Strongly Object to Disgraced NYS Commissioner of Ed Appointment to Interim Secretary of Education Post


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