John King Named Education Commissioner in New York

By Sean Cavanagh — May 16, 2011 1 min read
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John King, a former teacher and charter school leader, has been named New York state’s next commissioner of education.

King is young—just 36. But he’s juggled a lot of important duties to this point in his job as deputy commisioner for P-12 Education at the New York State Education Department. He coordinated the state’s winning, $700 million Race to the Top application, and he has played a major role in areas that include aligning the state’s standards, teacher development, and creating strategies to turn around failing schools, according to the department.

The new commissioner, who was voted into the position by New York state’s Board of Regents, is a Brooklyn native who attended New York City schools. His parents were educators. King, who will be the first African-American and Puerto Rican to hold the commissioner’s job, is replacing David Steiner, who announced last month that he was returning to his former post as dean of the Hunter College School of Education, in New York.

King has made productive use of his 36 years, to say the least. He has a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard, a master’s in teaching from Teachers College at Columbia University, a law degree from Yale, and a doctorate in educational administrative practice from Teachers College.

Before serving as senior deputy commissioner, he served as a managing director with Uncommon Schools, a nonprofit charter management organization that operates schools in New York and New Jersey. He was also a co-founder of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, in Massachusetts. King taught high school history in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and in Boston.

King might have won some slack from budget hawks with a decision he’s made coming out of the gate. He will start his job on June 15 with a salary of $212,500, after requesting that his pay be reduced from the current $250,000. He did so “in recognition of the challenging fiscal environment facing” facing the state and the agency he will run, according to his hiring statement.

He’s one of many former charter school officials to have moved into a key role in state education departments in recent years. Earlier this month, Chris Barbic, the founder and former chief executive officer of YES Prep Public Schools, a charter school network in Houston, was named as superintendent of Tennessee’s Achievement School District.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.