New York

A city charter schools exec will be state ed deputy

In a move that’s sure to raise the eyebrows of charter school skeptics, the state has named an executive from a city charter school organization as its number-two education official.

John King, currently the managing director of an Uncommon Schools network here in the city, will next month become the State Education Department’s deputy commissioner focusing on elementary and secondary schools, the state announced today. In that job, he’ll “lead the state’s school reform efforts,” according to the department’s press release. King will start his new job Oct. 5, four days after David Steiner takes over as state education commissioner. King is replacing Johanna Duncan-Poitier, who is heading off to SUNY, where she’ll lead an effort to develop a “pipeline” that serves students from early children through college and beyond.

Here’s the state’s press release about King’s appointment:

STATE BOARD OF REGENTS APPOINTS DEPUTY COMMISSIONER TO LEAD EDUCATION REFORM EFFORT

The State Board of Regents today announced the appointment of Dr. John B. King, Jr. as Senior Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education.  In his position, King will lead the State’s school reform efforts.  He will begin State service on October 5, 2009.

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said, “John King is a nationally recognized education leader with a proven track record of lifting student achievement, particularly for low-income minority students in urban settings. His goal is always the same – ensuring that the students in his care are prepared for college-level work and productive careers.”

“New York’s children, teachers, and schools are fortunate to have John King assume this important leadership position,” said Education Commissioner-elect David M. Steiner, who will begin service as Commissioner on October 1, 2009.  Steiner added, “Students have thrived at the schools John King has overseen. And I know he will bring the same commitment to educational excellence to all of New York’s children in his new role at the Education Department.”   

King said, “I look forward to working with teachers, school leaders, parents, and all of those throughout the State who are interested in raising student achievement. The Regents have set an aggressive reform agenda and I am thrilled to work with them and Commissioner-elect Steiner to accelerate the progress already underway.”

John King has been recognized across the State and the nation for providing results-driven educational leadership. As co-founder and co-director of the Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Boston, he developed an instructional program and school culture that provided not only the academic skills but also the self-discipline and character essential for success in high school and college.  Under John King’s leadership, Roxbury Prep’s students attained the highest state exam scores of any urban middle school in Massachusetts, closed the racial achievement gap, and outperformed students from not only the Boston district schools but the city’s affluent suburbs.  One hundred percent of the school’s students are Black or Latino, over 70% of the students qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and all of its graduates matriculate to college preparatory high schools; 80 percent of the school’s graduates who are now college-age are persisting in college. 

In his current role as Managing Director with Uncommon Schools, a non-profit charter management organization that operates schools in New York and New Jersey, Dr. King has continued to improve educational outcomes for low-income students in urban settings. In 2009, 98 percent of grade 3-8 students in the New York State Uncommon Schools network scored at Level 3 or 4 on the State math assessments, compared with 86 percent of all New York students and 82 percent of New York City students. In addition, 89 percent of the New York State Uncommon Schools grade 3-8 students scored at Level 3 or 4 on the State’s English Language Arts assessments, compared with 77 percent at the State level and 69 percent in New York City.   

A former high school history teacher from a family of New York City public school educators, John King is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College. Additionally, he holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and both an M.A. in the Teaching of Social Studies and an Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University. He has served on the board of New Leaders for New Schools, the nationally recognized principal training program, and is an Aspen Institute-NewSchools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellow.  

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.