Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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October 16, 2013

Education chief cancels town hall meetings

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — State PTA President Lana Ajemian issued a response Monday that seemed to side with King’s stance.

“The purpose of the Town Hall meeting was not to hold a protest rally, nor to provide a forum for insult, personal attack, or overall disregard – this disregard was not only between the audience and the commissioner but between audience members themselves,” Ajemian said. “Some asked to be allowed to hear responses while many out-shouted their ability to do so. Despite requests by the commissioner and NYS PTA to be courteous, disruptions continued and escalated.”

A large chunk of time was spent trying to settle the audience, Ajemian said. When King asked to clarify some inaccurate statements, some audience members jeered and shouted, “adding to an already hostile environment. It was not constructive or productive to continue.”

She said the forums were initiated by the collaboration of the state Education Department and the state PTA. 

”However, their intended purpose cannot be achieved in similar or more contentious environments. So, rather than repeat the same, we learn from this and we regroup,” she said.

The state PTA said it will try to find another way for parents to both learn and share concerns regarding the Common Core. King said he will do the same.

“My office will continue to work with PTA to find the appropriate opportunities to engage in a real, productive dialogue with parents about our students and their education,” he said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241, or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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