The Affordable Care Act’s disastrous rollout may not be the Democrats’ only problem in the 2014 elections. Dissatisfaction with the Obama administration’s education reforms is growing, and anger is building at the local level.
State Education Commissioner John King, during a public forum held in Brighton last week, heard dozens of parents, teachers, and students voice their concerns about the new Common Core curriculum.
King, who was joined by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, and Regents Wade Norwood and Andrew Brown, heard complaint after complaint about the Common Core. Speakers lined up to express their concerns about what they described as excessive testing, faulty teacher evaluations, and the state’s sloppy rollout of the new curriculum.
Out of the 30 people who spoke during the first half of the meeting, only one, a suburban superintendent, was extremely upbeat about the Common Core. Most parents talked about the stress their children are experiencing from hours of testing. Teachers referred to state-developed Common Core instruction materials that they said are riddled with grammar and spelling errors and are not developmentally appropriate.
One teacher said she left the field out of frustration, while a University of Rochester student told King that the incentives for pursuing a teaching career have almost disappeared.
King tried to address some of the concerns amid calls for his resignation and criticisms of US Education Secretary Arne Duncan. He defended the reforms, which he said are needed to address a crisis of low achievement in US education.
But King’s defense was met with comments that are increasingly suspicious and anti-government in tone. Many didn’t even entirely agree with the premise that the entire education system is in crisis. The problems in urban schools reflect a bigger government failure, some said, pointing to growing poverty and fewer jobs that pay a living wage.
“Democrats used to be the party of education,” one woman said as she was leaving. “But that’s changed.”