Forum in Buffalo draws protestors, angry parents

State Ed Commissioner in Buffalo to Talk Common Core

December 12, 2013 Updated Dec 13, 2013 at 12:54 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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December 12, 2013 Updated Dec 13, 2013 at 12:54 AM EDT

BUFFALO (WKBW) As if the Common Core wasn't controversial enough, when NYS Education Commissioner John King came to Buffalo Thursday, he came under fire from parents for another reason. The forum was scheduled at WNED TV studios downtown, with a seating capacity of 300.

Protestors fought the snow outside to voice their frustration not only with the Common Core, but feeling left out of the process.

"There are only 300 seat in WNED studios. And each district was only given three tickets to get into the studio. So if you do the math, there wasn't a whole lot of room for the public," parent and protester Molly Dana said.

Inside, the room was about 3/4 full, with organizers blaming the weather and a registration process that people outside did not complete.

"We've done 20 forums, 5 of them with PBS stations. It's very consistent with the approach we've taken across the state," Commissioner King said.

Audience questions were taken beforehand and vetted by moderators, meaning there was no interaction between the audience and King. But that didn't stop one person from getting heated. He yelled and chanted as he was removed by security.

"I'm always disappointed when people choose to approach civic discourse in a way that is not civil, but I understand this is the democratic process and we want to make sure voices are heard," King added.

The Commissioner took questions for a total of two hours before ending his last stop in Western New York.

Despite outward displays of displeasure as several forums, the Board of Regents and Education Commissioner continue to back the Common Core.

"It's a matter of implementation, and where it is being done well, and where we need to help people more," Bob Bennett of the Board of Regents said.

Bennett added that the Board will convene in Albany next week to discuss the outcome of the forums, and talk about potential tweaks and issues with implementation. But parents should not expect any kind of overhaul, as King says the Common Core is working.