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State Education Commissioner Defends His Record

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State Education Commissioner John King has been under fire this year, with parents and educators angry over how the state rolled out new learning standards, standardized tests and teacher evaluations, but now, for the first time, King is addressing the issues head on, and he says he's not going anywhere. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

While some education leaders enjoy battling over school policy, John King, the state's soft-spoken education commissioner, is not among them.

"I have always tried in my job to separate the politics from the substance of the issues in education," King said.

Now, though, he said that's no longer possible, and so Thursday morning, King directly addressed the controversy over his leadership.

"I didn't seek or invite the antagonism and they acrimony, but it's there, it's real, and I don't dismiss it," he said.

The speech comes just days after the leaders of the statewide teachers union were voted out of office for the first time ever, blamed for working too closely with King on controversial policies like the Common Core Learning Standards, more difficult standardized tests and the new teacher evaluation systems. The union also passed a resolution that calls for the commissioner to resign immediately.

It's not just teachers who've turned against King. For months, parents have hammered him over the same issues.

When King came out to defend his record, he was flanked by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who made it clear that the Obama administration still has the commissioner's back.

"We're so fortunate to have someone of John's intellect, his passion and his heart leading this work in New York State," Duncan said.

Duncan went on to describe King as one of the top five education commissioners in the country.

"For all the noise, for the drama, for all the whatever, I'm very, very hopeful," Duncan said.

While King also referred to much of the controversy as "noise," he admitted that he's made mistakes.

"We at the state level and our colleagues at the federal level need to own up to the unintended consequences of our policies, from narrowing of the curriculum to the overemphasis on testing," he said.

As for the teachers' union?

"We can't do this without them, and we certainly can't do this in a climate of open hostility," he said. "It has to end."

However, the president of the city's union, Michael Mulgrew, responded with a statement, saying "In the face of statewide outrage, the Commissioner stood up and blamed everyone else."

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