John King has apologized on behalf of the federal government for policies that left teachers feeling themselves the target of the government’s attack. NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia hopes his apology translates into deeds to improve the conditions and status of teachers. One would think that John Kind was the brand new eraser come to wipe the slate completely clean (Pretty soon no one will understand this metaphor.). Why would anyone take either of them seriously?
Eskelsen Garcia certainly knows King’s history in New York. It is a history that keeps giving. A committed supporter of high stake tests, the linkage of that testing to the evaluation of teachers and the flawed Common Core Standards so disrupted public education in the state that it will be years before we are able to return to some semblance of normalcy. To be sure, he was implementation federal law and the instructions of the Regents, but it was always clear that this man whose education experience was brief and confined largely to charter schools relished his assignment and saw himself as a leader in the so-called education reformed movement. To believe now that he has seen the error of his way in New York and that he, and for that matter the Obama administration, are now sorry for what they have done to public education and to the teaching profession is simply unbelievable.
For most of the teachers in New York it is much too late to apologize. Teachers here are nonplussed by the Obama administration’s nomination of King. The nomination effectively negates any second thoughts they may have about the consequences of their Race to the Top approach. Seeing their national union leaders Eskelsen Garcia and Weingarten acquiesce to King’s nomination to be Secretary of Education is interpreted as indifference to the lasting harm King caused to public education in our state.