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Two state lawmakers call on King to revive cancelled forums

The reaction to Education Commissioner John King's decision to bail out of a series of public forums on Common Core continued to simmer Tuesday.

Two state lawmwakers called on King to reschedule the meetings, and a network of advocacy groups that oppose "excessive testing" in public schools has started a campaign aimed at ousting King.

Assemblyman Sean M. Ryan, D-Buffalo, in a letter he released publicly, told King that canceling his appearance at a New York State PTA forum on the new state curriculum standards in Williamsville "only reinforces the concern over how the Common Core is being implemented."

"Hiding from accountability is not the answer," Ryan said. "Canceling these forums shows a complete lack of leadership, and I am disappointed that you chose to end the dialogue on a topic that is of great concern to many teachers and parents."

State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, D-Buffalo, also asked King to reverse his decision. “I believe it would be enormously beneficial for local parents to be able to discuss these issues with you in person,” Kennedy wrote.

Meanwhile, New York State Allies for Public Education on Tuesday called on parents to contact the governor's office and other state leaders to urge them to seek King's resignation.

A statement released by the group criticizes King for cancelling four public forums with the New York State PTA. Read more on the reaction to the cancellation and the response from the state Department of Education in today's City & Region section: "Parents upset by King's cancellation of Common Core meetings."

NYS Allies for Public Education includes 43 advocacy groups across the state, including Western New Yorkers for Public Education. It is not clear how many people are actively involved in the organizations.

Eric Mihelbergel, a City of Tonawanda parent who is a member of Western New Yorkers for Public Education, said the campaign got off to a "quick start" on Tuesday with parents calling and emailing state leaders.

King, in a statement released Saturday, said disruptions at the first forum in Poughkeepsie last week "deprived parents of the opportunity to listen, ask questions and offer comments." A spokesman for King said Monday that the commissioner will look for additional ways to communicate with parents.

-- Denise Jewell Gee

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |