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On the Agenda
May 12, 2017
Four things to watch for at New Schools Venture Fund Summit, this week’s big education reform confab
Last year's conference sparked a heated debate about the role of race and politics in education reform.
April 6, 2017
Expecting to lose half of its teachers in the next decade, Tennessee seeks to strengthen its pipeline
The state doesn't have a statewide teacher shortage, but it does lack teachers with specific licensure and in certain regions.
March 16, 2017
New York education experts call Trump’s proposed budget cuts ‘irresponsible’ and ‘devastating’
President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint, unveiled Thursday, drew instant ire from education experts in New York state.
February 2, 2017
John King will keep a hand in national education policy as head of Education Trust
The organization has pushed for more rigorous standards in New York.
January 19, 2017
Tennessee ESSA draft can be improved to help kids of color, says equity group
The Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition is one of the first groups to weigh in on assets and shortcomings in the state's plan.
November 22, 2016
U.S. education chief wants Tennessee, other states to stop paddling their students
Citing research that corporal punishment is harmful and ineffective, John King asks Tennessee and 21 other states to prohibit it.
September 14, 2016
U.S. education chief highlights tools to reduce barriers to college during Memphis visit
John King talks up college opportunity and resources to get there during his first visit to Memphis as U.S. education secretary.
September 13, 2016
U.S. education chief to focus on college opportunity in Memphis, where more students are applying but fewer are ready
John King will highlight ways students and parents can access and pay for college when he speaks at a college fair at Craigmont High School.
September 7, 2016
U.S. education secretary to visit four Tennessee schools next week
John King is scheduled for stops in Bristol, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis during a back-to-school bus tour.
ESSA and Equity
August 4, 2016
Here’s how advocates for students of color want Tennessee to change its education rules
ESSA could offer a pivotal moment for students of color in Tennessee, depending on how the law is implemented.
August 1, 2016
Longtime advocate Anna Jo Haynes: Parents need to become advocates for their children
Chalkbeat sat down with Anna Jo Haynes to talk about an esteemed roundtable and her thoughts on how early education has changed over the years.
the long view
July 13, 2016
Why this year’s failed TNReady test leaves Tennessee with challenges for years to come
The decision to cancel standardized testing this year will impact the state's accountability system for at least three years.
May 2, 2016
Quest for teacher diversity brings U.S. schools chief John King and Boston educators together
King — himself once a black teacher in Boston who has attributed his own success in part to teachers of color — said he doesn’t want teacher diversity left up to chance.
May 2, 2016
Local policymakers hold the key to school desegregation, U.S. education chief John King says
U.S. Education Secretary John King said Monday that his power to force school desegregation is limited, but states and districts have new tools to promote integration.
May 2, 2016
U.S. education chief: Without TNReady scores, Tennessee should look elsewhere for accountability
High school graduation rates and student absenteeism are among indicators suggested by U.S. Secretary of Education John King to fill the gap for TNReady.
March 10, 2016
Rise & Shine: Bill to let parents thwart ASD takeovers draws heat from Memphis parents
February 9, 2016
More schools nationwide are experimenting with diversity programs, report says
As the city faces pressure to promote school diversity, a new report shows that more districts nationwide are using socioeconomic status to shape admissions processes.
the big picture
October 7, 2015
Will John King’s last effort to desegregate New York’s schools work?
For the first time, a grant program will allow the city to try to improve a handful of schools by convincing more affluent families to send their children there.
the arne archives
October 3, 2015
A retrospective of Arne Duncan’s complicated relationship with New York
Arne Duncan's highlights and lowlights during six-plus years of visiting and keeping tabs on New York.
October 2, 2015
Arne Duncan resigns as education secretary, former New York schools chief to take over
Duncan, Obama's only education secretary over his two terms, will head home to Chicago. He has recently had a lot to say about Indiana.
Candidate for ed chief
May 25, 2015
Regents narrow their choices for New York’s next education chief
In contention are a mix of superintendents from inside and outside New York State and a final decision could be handed down within the next few days.
December 30, 2014
State offers city $10M to improve diversity at eight low-performing schools
Updated, 4:55 p.m. — The state is offering the city up to $10 million over the next three years to increase diversity…
looking for ideas
December 18, 2014
Cuomo seeks King’s ‘best advice’ on crafting aggressive education agenda
In a letter, a top advisor for Cuomo writes that the governor plans to “pursue an aggressive legislative package to improve public education” and asks outgoing John King to offer his positions on a variety of education issues.
December 12, 2014
The moments that defined John King’s tenure
A look at the most significant moments in John King's three-and-a-half year tenure as state education commissioner.
December 11, 2014
In first goodbye, King calls for successors to continue his work
State Education Commissioner John King kicked off his farewell tour on Thursday with a call for school districts to continue the changes he oversaw during five tumultuous years at the State Education Department.
December 10, 2014
After turbulent tenure, State Ed Commissioner John King stepping down for federal ed job
King stepped down in December 2014 after a three-year tenure. He managed the state's rollout of the Common Core standards and a new teacher-rating system.
October 9, 2014
State ed chief: Closure should still be considered for city’s struggling schools
King made clear Thursday that he believes the city’s most troubled schools should still face closure — even under a mayor and chancellor who fiercely…
August 14, 2014
Poverty and performance are tied, officials note, but outliers abound
Towards the end of today’s conference call with reporters focusing on state test scores, State Education Commissioner John King highlighted a pair of graphs…
August 14, 2014
Between two rounds of test scores, a rocky year for the Common Core
After last year's dismal test scores, Common Core skepticism went mainstream. Where they head after the release of this year's scores remains to be seen.
August 6, 2014
State releases about half of test questions from 2014 state exams
Educators and parents looking to understand—or critique—New York's state tests have about half of the questions to work with, which some critics say still isn't enough.
state of tenure
June 24, 2014
City parents plan to join lawsuit against teacher job protections as union vows to fight
Four of the six students whose families have agreed to join the case also go to school in New York City, according to lawyers involved in the case.
June 20, 2014
After accord, fault lines on where New York's teacher evaluations go from here
Albany's deal to lower the stakes attached to Common Core tests for teachers on Thursday drew praise from both sides of the negotiating table—but for two very different reasons.
May 20, 2014
Sec. Duncan amplifies King’s comments on segregation in city schools
That’s from a speech U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made to a room full of education journalists this afternoon (including the whole Chalkbeat team) at…
May 15, 2014
King praises parts of new teachers contract, but doesn’t mention evaluation changes
King was asked about the city’s proposed teachers contract after speaking at an education conference Thursday in Harlem. That talk came one…
brown at 60
May 14, 2014
In speech on school integration, King takes a dig at the city's enrollment rules
In a speech commemorating the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board, State Education Commissioner John King noted that district boundaries and school zones across the state and in New York City have been drawn in a way that "actually foster segregation by class."
April 29, 2014
Regents extend "safety net" for new teacher certification test after union lobbying
Aspiring New York State teachers won’t have to pass a new, tougher certification test this year or next year, thanks to a Board of Regents vote on Tuesday that came out of last-minute negotiations with the state teachers union. Teacher candidates who fail the exam can still get certified if they pass an easier paper-based exam.
April 18, 2014
What the teachers' contract talks are all about, part II: Evaluations and training time
In our second part covering the teacher contract talks, we focus on teach evaluations and the potential for extra time in the school day or year for professional development. Could a "thin" contract be in the cards for some schools?
April 10, 2014
In speech, state education chief forcefully reaffirms support for Common Core, evaluations
State Education Commissioner John King emerged after months of criticism with a lengthy speech defending the state's education policies and calling for more civility.
January 29, 2014
Under pressure, feds will fund charter schools with admissions preferences
City charter schools will be able to give some student groups preference in admissions lotteries and still receive federal funds, after the U.S. Department of Education changed its rules today.
January 28, 2014
A key ally of state teachers union criticizes its "no confidence" vote
The state teachers union took a hit from a key ally in Albany today when Assembly education committee chair Catherine Nolan criticized the union's denunciation of the state's top schools official.
the path to pre-k
January 28, 2014
King says statewide pre-K would cost far more than Cuomo budgeted
Expanding pre-kindergarten access across New York State would cost more in a single year than Gov. Andrew Cuomo has budgeted for five years, state schools chief John King said today. The estimate provides yet more fodder for the ongoing debate over how to fund universal pre-K.
January 13, 2014
Tisch calls NYSUT's "no confidence" vote a political "sideshow"
Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch today dismissed new criticism from the state teachers union as a "sideshow" more motivated by politics than a commitment to addressing challenges posed by education policies being implemented across the state.
December 16, 2013
Regents balance praise and criticism in Core forums debrief
Six weeks into Commissioner John King's high-profile and often contentious meetings across the state focusing on the rollout of Common Core learning standards, state education officials praised—and raised new concerns about—those forums this morning. At the Board of Regents’ monthly meeting in Albany on Monday, some applauded King for taking time to conduct the forums, which they suggested were often less than civil. "I cannot believe that the commissioner spent so much time away from this office trying to dispel misinformation and trying to explain what we've been doing," said Anthony Bottar, a Regent who represents parts of Central New York. But statewide, educators, parents and politicians remain divided over pushing forward with the reforms, and those tensions were evident in the room on Monday.
December 12, 2013
Common Core critics and backers compete at Manhattan forum
Unlike at a forum in Brooklyn Tuesday, many critics of the Common Core standards spoke at hearing Wednesday in Manhattan, while state Education Commissioner John King (center) listened. After an unexpectedly warm welcome in Brooklyn, state Education Commissioner John King received a more typical — and icier — reception in Manhattan Wednesday on the latest stop of his statewide Common Core listening tour. As at many of the upstate forums devoted to the tougher standards, the one in Lower Manhattan featured emotional testimonies on the toll of testing, harsh criticism of the state and some heated heckling — including by a woman who said King should be arrested for child abuse. But, like in Brooklyn, there was also a sizable contingent of parents and teachers — many of them affiliated with advocacy groups that backed the Bloomberg administration's education policies — who argued that the new standards push students to higher planes of thought and eventually college. As a result, some speakers seemed to direct their arguments as much to other members of the public as to the education officials seated before them.
December 11, 2013
A warm reception greets King and the Common Core in Brooklyn
PHOTO: Monica DisareSupporters of the Common Core standards greeted State Education Commissioner John King at the forum in Brooklyn Tuesday. Many members of the parent advocacy group, StudentsFirstNY, arrived early to the meeting, snatched up many of the speaking slots and hoisted similar signs during the forum. A well-organized coalition of parents, teachers and advocates turned out in full force to public forums Tuesday night to support Commissioner John King and his push for tougher learning standards that have sparked opposition in most other parts of the state this fall. The groups, which included StudentsFirstNY, Families for Excellent Schools and Educators 4 Excellence, used the hearings in Brooklyn and the Bronx to make arguments in favor of the Common Core standards that they feel have been left out of recent debates. In particular, some parents argued that the tougher standards are urgently needed to improve the quality of struggling schools, while some teachers said they enhanced their instruction. “To those of you who are calling to slow it down or stop the movement for these high standards, you do not speak for me or many of these parents,” said Mery Melendez, a charter-school parent and organizer with Families for Excellent Schools who spoke at the Brooklyn hearing. “We’re tired of waiting for change.” The supportive presence was most apparent in a packed Medgar Evers College auditorium in Crown Heights where the Brooklyn forum was held. A much smaller audience showed up in the Bronx, though it offered more mixed reviews of state education policies. Critics at the events – who in Brooklyn were vastly outnumbered – challenged the notion that the standards benefit students. Others argued they were too quickly incorporated into the state tests and that they leave some students behind.
December 4, 2013
Common Core meetings coming to NYC next week
Merry Tisch, pictured above with librarian Paul McIntosh on a visit in October to Wadlegh Secondary School. Commissioner John King and…
November 8, 2013
State officials respond swiftly to anti-Semitism allegations in upstate district
Top state officials responded publicly and with distress today to a New York Times article detailing anti-Semitic incidents in the Pine Bush school district.
October 23, 2013
For Weingarten, New York's Common Core fight hits home
New York State Superintendent John King and AFT President Randi Weingarten speaking on a panel at an event hosted by Teaching Matters. At center, Teachers College professor Jeffrey Henig, who moderated. Randi Weingarten has been a national union boss for over three years, but her heart remains in the state that groomed her as a labor leader. So when California recently became the latest state to alter its testing policies amid reforms to learning standards and teacher evaluations, Weingarten said her thoughts turned to New York. "I get embarrassed when a state like California is figuring it out more than my beloved Empire State," Weingarten said Wednesday in a speech in midtown Manhattan, where she accepted an education award from the education nonprofit Teaching Matters. Weingarten twice referred to California, which moved a step closer to eliminating high-stakes tests for a year, while making her latest case for why New York should strip high stakes from state tests for teachers and students in order to focus on adopting Common Core learning standards. She also appeared on a panel discussion with Commissioner John King, whose handling of state education policies she has been critical of.
October 22, 2013
King to hit Harlem schools circuit with top Democratic lawmaker
Commissioner John King has a busy day scheduled in New York City tomorrow. First, King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch are meeting up in Harlem where they'll visit schools in the district of Assemblyman Keith Wright, a senior legislative member with influential positions in the state's Democratic Party. Wright will take them to P.S. 180 and Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts, an embattled middle and high school that nearly closed last year and posted some of the lowest test scores in the state. In the afternoon, King will travel to midtown Manhattan for what could be a more tense encounter: a panel conversation with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, one of his fiercest critics. The panel is hosted by Teaching Matters at The Harvard Club starting at 12 p.m. The events are scheduled on the day after King released evaluation data that showed barely any teachers received low ratings, which he said he hoped would ease concerns of teachers union leaders. For months, Weingarten and local union leaders called on King to hold off on tying high stakes to teacher evaluations until after schools fully adopted new Common Core learning standards, which students were tested on in April. Test scores plummeted and critics reprised calls for a moratorium in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the state teachers union said today that the evaluation data did not sway their concerns. "The state’s rushed implementation of Common Core and last April’s testing debacle call into question the use of these scores in any high-stakes decisions affecting individual teachers or students," said New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi. Such a change would require a change to state law, which would require support from legislators like Wright. In an interview today, Wright said he recognized that the issue was a "hot topic" but said such a change wasn't a priority among his parent constituents.
October 18, 2013
King unveils slate of new Common Core forums for parents
Less than a week after he called off parent meetings that he said were "co-opted by special interests," Commissioner John King announced a slate of new forums that will be moderated on different terms. The new meetings, like the old ones, are meant to address concerns around the state's transition to Common Core learning standards and the increased role of testing in schools, a contentious issue for parents who fear it's leading to narrowed curriculum and instruction. A dozen of the meetings, which will begin in Albany on Oct. 24 and take place over six weeks, will be hosted in partnership with state lawmakers who will moderate the forums. Another four events will be broadcast on local public television stations with studio audiences. The department didn't release additional details for the meetings on Friday. None are planned for New York City, but a spokesman said the department was "looking to cover many more communities." After he canceled the meetings late last week, accusing outside groups of trying to derail the original purpose, King came under intense criticism from parents, teachers and lawmakers, with some calling for his resignation. They said the decision was just the latest move that showed King's disinterest in hearing opposing views to his agenda.
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