NYSED Comm. John King and AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten Find Common Cause at Teaching Matters’ Moderated Discussion

Wed, 23 Oct 2013:

For immediate release
Contact: Sharon Rubinstein, 212-870-3505, ext. 8, cell 703-901-7947, srubinstein@teachingmatters.org

NYSED Comm. John King and AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten Find
Common Cause at Teaching Matters’ Moderated Discussion

(New York, NY) – October 23, 2013

The head of New York’s education department and the leader of 1.5 million teacher union members
came together today at an event dedicated to “Finding Common Ground” – and did.

Teaching Matters’ Fifth Annual Champions of Education Luncheon featured a conversation with the
American Federation of Teachers’ President Randi Weingarten and New York State Commissioner of Education John King. The talk was moderated by Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Henig. About 200 people attended.

“This is a make or break moment in education,” said Lynette Guastaferro, Teaching Matters’ Executive Director. “It’s heartening that both Commissioner King and Ms. Weingarten stressed how important it is to come together around Common Core standards, and support schools to effectively implement them.”

Teaching Matters recognized Ms. Weingarten as a Champion of Education and Innovation at the event, citing her efforts to embrace teacher quality as a top priority for the union. Ms. Weingarten noted in her remarks that there had been a shift toward that value – and admitted that it had been a mistake previously to “fixate” more on fairness. Moving forward, she called for more listening by all to people on the ground in an effort to “reclaim public education.”

Commissioner King observed “there is tremendous consensus about Common Core,” though “implementation is always a challenge,” and that “it’s hard to convey nuance in the debate.” When asked about the timing of tests, he maintained they should continue, while stressing that they were not a major part of evaluation results. Ms. Weingarten has called for a moratorium.

A clear area of agreement: how essential supporting teachers is at this critical juncture. Guastaferro
noted that Teaching Matters’ professional development work is doing just that. Ms. Weingarten praised the organization, saying “The work that Teaching Matters is not the norm but the exception.”