In case you missed it Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced his upcoming resignation, with former NYS State Education Commissioner, John King expected to take his place. I worked with John over several years, and being two of the four or so Brothers in leadership positions in NYC we sat on several panels together around issues of diversity and equity. And I can tell you from experience, John will push for quality and equity and do it with urgency—which to some is his biggest fault.
John was at the center of several reform controversies (you can see a review of his tenure here from Chalkbeat), but he always kept his eye on the ball and worked for students. And despite his critics’ characterizations of him, I always found him to be very thoughtful about the reforms, the challenges in implementation and he always had an eye towards equity.
His main “problem” was his urgency, and maybe wanting to do everything at once and quickly; common core implementation, teacher evaluation reform, and a variety of other issues were pushed forward by him.
NY was among the first adopters of Common Core and the first to align tests, and see proficiency rates plummet. He also led the reform of the teacher evaluation systems statewide and emphasized the need to include student learning as part of teacher evaluations. A third rail that most avoid. He may have gone a little too far, too fast at times, but I prefer that to too little, too slow any day, which is where we have been stagnated.
It’s obviously hard to predict, how anything will go with the federal government, but if I know John King, and I do, I expect him to keep fighting for students, bring a sense of urgency to the work and to generally keep moving us forward in raising standards, holding states accountable, and expanding opportunities for underserved families.
It has been said before that we need to sprint a marathon to provide the schools that all children deserve. Well I guess the marathon is a relay race and glad to see the baton passed to a strong and capable new leader.