NYS Education Commissioner John King Steps Down – And Up

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New York State Education Commissioner John King is planning to resign at the end of the year to accept a high-level education position within the Obama administration.

King had been appointed to the position of commissioner in 2011 by the state Board of Regents. As one of the nation’s youngest educational leaders at age 36, King was also New York’s first African-American and first Puerto Rican education commissioner.

He has accepted a new position as senior advisor to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“I’m humbled and honored to have the chance to work with President Obama and Secretary Duncan,” Commissioner King said. “Their extraordinary leadership is helping students all across the nation get better prepared for college and careers. I’m excited to become part of that team. I’m also humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to work with Chancellor Tisch, all the members of the Board of Regents and the dedicated professionals at the State Education Department. We have accomplished great things for New York’s students. As a kid whose life was saved by the incredible teachers I had in public schools in Brooklyn, I’m proud to have served my fellow New Yorkers.”

During King’s time as commissioner, he oversaw the much-criticized rollout of the Common Core standards, which generated heat from parents, teachers, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislators, many of whom used forums to publicly voice their anger over the rollout while King was sitting on the same stage.  He spent much of last year touring the state to discuss the controversial new state testing standards.

Supporters of the Common Core standards praise King, saying he is leaving behind an “extraordinary legacy.”  The standards have been implemented in more than 40 states and is considered to be key to preparing students for college and careers.

He also helped in the development of a new teacher evaluation system, which placed more influence on student test scores.

While he was generally popular, not everyone agreed with his decisions.  The New York State United Teachers union released a statement detailing their continual disagreements with the commissioner.

“The disconnect between the commissioner’s vision and what parents, educators and students want for their public education system became so great, NYSUT voted ‘no confidence’ in Commissioner King last spring and called for his resignation.”

The group continued the letter by asking the state Board of Regents to find a new commissioner who would “advocate for what children and public schools need.”

Until a replacement can be found, state law places the executive deputy commissioner, Elizabeth Berlin, in the role.  A committee will be formed next week to begin the search for King’s replacement.