New York State Education Commissioner to Leave for Federal Post
New York State's education commissioner, John B. King Jr., who has been a staunch advocate for the Common Core standards and a frequent target of those who criticize them, announced on Wednesday that he would step down at the end of the year to take the second-highest-ranking job at the federal Education Department, senior adviser to Secretary Arne Duncan.
Dr. King, 39, a former charter school leader who was appointed commissioner in 2011, presided over major revisions to curriculum as well as the way that teachers are evaluated and trained. The most significant change during his tenure was New York's transition to the Common Core, a new set of learning goals embraced by most states. New York was one of the first to test its students against the new standards, and when scores plummeted, teachers and parents blamed him for not giving schools enough time to adjust.
Nonetheless, he was a firm defender of the Common Core and the tougher tests, saying the old standards had been set too low and did not reflect the skills students needed for college or jobs.
…In an interview conducted when he was named commissioner, Dr. King, who was orphaned at age 12, credited teachers with "quite literally" saving his life (his father had been the first African-American principal of a public school in Brooklyn). He earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a law degree from Yale and a doctorate in education from Columbia. Before becoming education commissioner he was a co-founder of Roxbury Prep, a highly regarded charter middle school in Massachusetts, and led Uncommon Schools, a charter network based in New York.