By Gary Stern, lohud.com
Lisa Rudley does not consider herself a special interest.
She's a mother of three, president of Ossining's special education PTO, and a founding member of New York State Allies for Public Education, a coalition of more than 40 parent groups from Long Island to Buffalo that formed in July.
New York State Allies became widely known Monday after its steering committee called for the resignation of state Education Commissioner John King.
"We did not come to the decision lightly," Rudley said. "We are not about political theater. We are concerned citizens who decided we had no other recourse than to ask for John King's resignation."
King on Friday canceled several planned public hearings on the new Common Core learning standards after he faced opposition at a hearing on Thursday in Poughkeepsie. King said the hearings, organized by the state PTA, had been co-opted by "special interests."
"Parents and teachers are not special interests," Rudley said. "We want to be heard. The state is railroading these reforms and our voices have been shut down. Canceling the forums was the last straw."
The move by a fledgling network of parent groups may have captured the growing statewide anxiety over New York's slate of education reforms. A mix of concern and outright opposition has been building toward new tests, the Common Core, new teacher evaluations, and plans for collecting student data.
Rudley and others have complained that the state Board of Regents and Education Department will not listen to their concerns. Rudley is focused on state plans to collect extensive student information for a cloud-based data system. The information is supposed to be used to fashion programs and software.
"No one is telling us a thing," she said. "It's time for the state to answer to the parents and citizens of New York."
Another new group called Stop Common Core in New York, formed in April by a Port Chester couple, also called on Monday for King's resignation.
Glen Dalgleish and Yvonne Gasperino, parents of two children, only learned about the Common Core in the spring. They became alarmed about "data mining" and what they say is the Core's one-size-fits-all approach to education. The group has active members in 57 of New York's 62 counties, Dalgleish said.
Dalgleish was at Thursday's hearing and said King overreacted to every criticism he heard.
"He should have taken notes and shown he was willing to listen," Dalgleish said. "Instead, he sat there shaking his head and making faces. Then he insisted on talking between every speaker. I don't think he can recover from this and I don't think he should."
King said Tuesday that he won't reschedule the PTA forums but is looking for ways to talk with parents.
At least one state legislator strongly disagreed. Sen. Jack Martins, R-Nassau, said in a statement that King "should immediately reschedule these forums or he should immediately resign."