A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
Parents and educators reject King’s blind faith in high-stakes testing and his determination to evaluate educators based on test scores, despite the absence of evidence for this approach and the certain negative consequences.
John King has served as New York
State Commissioner of Education since 2011. During his tenure, the quality of
education in NY has continued to decline; particularly in poor and rural
districts.1 The Commissioner’s solutions rely upon blindly accepting NCLB, RTTT
and Common Core policies and implementing more high-stakes, standardized
testing for evaluation of students and teachers,2 implementation of an untested
national curriculum,3 undemocratic corporate management strategies for
operating schools,4 more privatization of schools5 and insistence that
poverty-related conditions are not an excuse for low student achievement.6
Furthermore, Commissioner King:
· Refuses to lend credibility to staff and community-voiced concerns that much
of Common Core curriculum and testing is developmentally inappropriate for
students, and that NYS teachers received no significant training for the
implementation of Common Core,7
· Refuses to allow meaningful dialogue about Common Core tests by imposing a
“gag order” on teachers and administrators, preventing them from discussing
test questions among themselves or with students,8
· Supports policy to allow private corporate vendors to have access to personal
student data, without parental consent, for the purpose of marketing
educational services,9 and
· Remains silent on the stress-related suffering by many students taking recent
Common Core tests,10
· Promotes the reduction of the reading of fiction in favor of an increase in
informational texts (50% informational texts in elementary school, and 70% for
12th grade readings by 2014)11 with the generally predicted impact of a further
reduction in the joy of reading and learning for all students especially those
with learning challenges,12
to advocate more high-stakes, standardized testing, despite research concluding
that it is ineffective for motivating students and increasing their learning,13
· Continues to ignore positive research results for the use of
performance-based assessment, such as portfolios, performances, presentations
and exhibitions, by more NYS schools,14
· Advocates for more closings and privatization of low-performing schools,15
despite research indicating that charter schools are generally less effective than
public schools,16 and promote more racial and class-based segregation,17 and
create negative impact on community morale, motivation and development,18
· Advocates the use of poorly designed, ineffective corporate strategies, such
as APPR, which de-professionalize teaching,19
We, the undersigned, strongly believe that New York State’s education reform
agenda is fundamentally flawed and must be re-directed in a humanistic,
research-based manner; directly counter to the direction Commissioner King has
taken. New York State children, parents and teachers need an education
commissioner who passionately supports and actively works for:
· De-concentrating the impact of poverty in classrooms and schools,
· Institutionalizing performance-based assessments,
· Ending the obsessive use of high-stakes, standardized testing,
· Developing creative, alternative curriculum, assessments and schools,
· Assisting poverty-stricken, low-performing schools through collaboration with
teachers, parents community members and students, rather than through closures
· Ending corporate reform,
· Using school practitioners and constructivist-oriented consultants for
developing and implementing curriculum & assessments,
· Implementing a moratorium on the Common Core Curriculum,
· Transforming the NYSED to serve as helpful consultants to schools and school
districts, rather than enforcers of top-down policies that are disrespectful to
teachers and harmful to students.
we, the undersigned respectfully urge the NYS Board of Regents to terminate the
employment of John King as NYS Education Commissioner, and immediately search
for, and hire a candidate who strongly reflects the characteristics described
New York State Board of Regents, Same as above
Terminate the employment of State Education Commissioner, John King
Charter Founder Is Named Education Commissioner
John King was unanimously elected New York State's
education commissioner by the Board of Regents on Monday.
John B. King Jr., who credits teachers for helping him surmount an isolated childhood as an orphan in Brooklyn and who ran celebratedcharter schoolsin New York and Massachusetts, was named Monday as the state’s next education commissioner, witha unanimous voteof the Board of Regents.
John King with his daughters Amina and Mireya on Monday, before his election.
At 36, Dr. King, who previously served as deputy commissioner, will be among the nation’s youngest educational leaders, though he had been the clear front-runner since the current commissioner, David M. Steiner, announced in April that he would resign.
After losing both of his parents to illness by age 12, Dr. King earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a law degree from Yale and a doctorate in education from Columbia. In between, he co-founded Roxbury Prep, a top charter middle school in Massachusetts; led Uncommon Schools, a network of charters based in New York; and married and had two daughters.
His drive, he said in an interview on Sunday, comes from a sense of urgency to create for other children the refuge he found as a fourth grader at Public School 276 in Canarsie, the year his mother died of heart failure. His teacher that year, Alan Osterweil, was dynamic and creative, encouraging him to read Shakespeare and memorize the leaders and capital of every country in the world. Later, Celestine DeSaussure, a social studies teacher whom the children called Miss D, made him the sportscaster in a fake Aztec newscast.
“Having gone to New York City public schools, that quite literally saved my life,” he said, “I feel an incredible devotion to make that possible for more kids.”
Dr. King, who will be New York’s first African-American and first Puerto Rican education commissioner, was part of a circle of idealistic charter-school founders in Boston who experimented with longer school days, strict rules to guide student behavior and ways to hold teachers accountable for student performance. They raised expectations for poor students, and sought to form close relationships with children while reshaping teaching into a more quantifiable science.
Since joining the state Education Department in 2009, Dr. King worked with Dr. Steiner on an ambitious agenda that shares some of those goals, and he takes the helm at a critical moment. The state is on a tight timeline to implement data-driven teacher evaluations, create computer systems to track student progress, toughen curricular standards and open more charter schools. Dr. King helped broker a fragile peace with the state’s main teachers’ union to begin those changes last year, but continuing disputes, particularly over the state’s proposed use of standardized tests to rate teachers, periodically disrupt it.
If Dr. Steiner, a mild-mannered classics professor who will be returning to his post as dean of the education school at Hunter College this summer, was the intellectual driver of the plan, Dr. King was the details person, preferring to sit in a room eating takeout and crunching numbers rather than dipping into Albany politics, which he found frustrating and divisive.
“There is a tremendous amount of work in turning the big ideas into real change,” he said in the interview.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of the statewide teachers’ union, expressed some concern about Dr. King’s background and perspective on hot-button issues like school choice and teacher evaluation systems. “My hope will be that he remembers that in his new role, he represents all of public education and not exclusively an interest that he’s been aligned to in the past,” Mr. Iannuzzi said.
Dr. King was born in 1975 in Flatlands, Brooklyn. His father,John B. King Sr., was a 66-year-old retired public school teacher and administrator, who had been the first African-American principal in Brooklyn and later, the city’s executive deputy superintendent of schools. His mother, Adalinda King, was a guidance counselor born in Puerto Rico, who met her future spouse when he taught her in a graduate program.
Dr. King’s mother was working at a middle school when she had a fatal heart attack at 48; Dr. King was 8. His father soon afterward began to show signs of advancing Alzheimer’s, leaving young John to cook, shop and more or less fend for himself until age 12, when Mr. King also died, at 79.
Dr. King went to live with his 24-year-old half brother on Long Island, then briefly attended Phillips Andover, an elite New England boarding school, where he rebelled against the strict curfews and cut class. He was expelled as a junior.
“I sort of resented adult authority,” he said. “At the time I felt like adults had let me down in my life.”
An uncle and aunt in Cherry Hill, N.J., took him in. When it came time to apply to college, Dr. King poured his heart out explaining his circumstances in his Harvard essay, and was accepted.
“Hollywood used to make movies about people like John King,” said Wade S. Norwood, a Regents member, who formally nominated Dr. King for the new job on Monday.
One of Dr. King’s most vivid memories of Harvard is of standing on the bridge over the Charles River, surrounded by the glinting, reflecting spires of the college.
“I would go to the bridge and just think, how could they possibly let me in here,” he said. “There must have been some kind of mistake.”
Dr. King decided he wanted to become a social studies teacher, and earned his master’s from Teachers College at Columbia University. After three years of teaching, two in a charter school in Boston, he was asked to help startRoxbury Prep.
Dr. King spent five years there as co-director, putting in 12-hour days designing the curriculum and the structure — students may not talk in the hallways between classes, for example — within which teachers and students can improvise. He then moved to New York to help startUncommon Schools, which now has 24 charters.
He now lives in Slingerlands, outside of Albany, with his wife, Melissa, a researcher for Scholastic Inc., whom he met on a blind date while both were teachers in Boston. Their two children, Amina, 7, and Mareya, 4, attend a Montessori school.
Over the past two years, he has been courted for several prominent education leadership positions, including the superintendent’s seat in Newark, by Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook executive who has pledged $100 million to that city’s troubled schools.
But Dr. King said he wanted to stay in New York because of his personal ties and his desire to finish what he started with Dr. Steiner. His salary will be $212,500, up from the $186,500 he earned as deputy, but, at his request, less than the $250,000 given to Dr. Steiner.