“If the only people talking about the needs of students in this community are the people in this community, we will not get there,” King said.
“When the superintendents in Westchester and Long Island are talking about how we need to do more for kids in the North Country, then we’ll have some progress.”
Questions were also raised about possible mandate-relief legislation, and the commissioner said that also depends largely on the citizens.
In his experience, King said, everyone is for mandate relief in a general sense, but no one supports it in the specific.
“When you get to any actual proposal for mandate relief, what you get is a response from the people who are affected by that specific mandate, (saying), ‘No, please don’t change that mandate,’ and silence from the broader community,” he said.
The commissioner added that he understands the feelings of audience members who expressed frustration with the mandates and financial constraints faced by school districts but noted that the Department of Education doesn’t make decisions about how the state distributes its money.
“At the end of the day, the thing we most control is our ability to drive instructional outcomes that prepare students for college and career success so that we have the employers of tomorrow and the employees of tomorrow,” King said.
Email Ashleigh Livingston: