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Final education forum for 2013 held in Buffalo

An educational forum with New York State Education Commissioner John King and Regent’s Chancellor Emeritus Robert Bennett took place in Buffalo Thursday night.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Buffalo's educational forum on Common Core.

The snowy weather held audience numbers down at first, but the room filled in as the evening went on. The event allowed audience members to submit questions throughout the night regarding the Common Core standards, teacher evaluations, and other reform initiatives.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
The crowd fills in for final education form of this year.

King was not allowed to see questions prior to the forum. A Buffalo educator asked why the roll-out of Common Core was happening so quickly. King said he believes the implementation of Common Core is not happening soon enough.

“The regents adopted the standards in 2010. The first assessments changed for 1st thorough 8th graders in spring of 2013. The class that entered this year as freshman in high school, they’ll be the first class to graduate having taken Common Core regents exams in 2017, that’s a seven year phase in,” said King.

King says he worries that each year we delay the roll-out students will graduate without the skills that they need.

During the forum a heckler tried asking King about the relationship between the New York State Education Department and Pearson education, a text book publishing company. But, the other questions continued.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Heckler questions NYSED's relationship with Pearson education.

A Williamsville teacher asked if changes will be made to Common Core, because they felt the standards are developmentally inappropriate for young students. But, King disagrees with people’s notion that the standards are inappropriate.

“Sometimes people say that it’s developmentally inappropriate for students to build background knowledge, that’s wrong. The research doesn’t support that, actually what the research supports that students should in the early grades learn about the world,” said King.

Another attendee asked why student exam scores and information is being posted on the database 'inBloom.'

“That data can only be accessed by those who have a legitimate use for that data in the education process; that is by the parents or teachers themselves. So, a district for example with a parent portal might not only have information that the state keeps like student test scores, but also may be able to provide information about tonight’s homework,” answered King.

King adds that the state does not sell students information posted on the 'inBloom' website.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
NYSED Commissioner John King.

A community member wanted to know how Common Core helps address the issue of low graduation rates.

“Common Core urges us to create language rich environments where students can develop vocabulary, where they can learn about history and science in the early grades, so that as they move forward they can bring that vocabulary and background knowledge to bare as they improve their reading skills in the later grades. So, there’s no silver bullet, the whole community has to come together in support of schools,” King responded.

King adds that expanded learning time for struggling students, summer programs, and parent involvement can also address low graduation rates.

Regent Robert Bennett said they plan on holding similar Common Core events in Staten Island and Queens, New York before they wrap up the tour of forums. Thursday night's forum is the last for 2013.

You can watch the entire two education conversation, part one and part two, right here: