Education Policy Breakfast Series

2012-2013 Series: The Common Core Standards: Implementation, Assessment Challenges, and Potential Outcomes and Consequences

This year, our theme for discussion was the new Common Core Standards. Over the course of three sessions, we examined the Common Core Standards and issues regarding their implementation, challenges that may arise in assessing achievement, and the potential outcomes of the standards, both intended and otherwise. Questions we considered include: What are the common core standards, and how were they developed? What will be the impact on teacher education in New York City and beyond? Are there any issues or special populations that have not been considered?

Episode 1: Goals, Aspirations, and Concerns (Friday, November 30, 2012)

The first installment focused on defining the Common Core Standards and looking at potential issues in their implementation. To do so, we were joined by a distinguished panel. Dane Linn, one of the leaders behind the development of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, and New York City's Chief Academic Officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, spoke about implementation at the city level; and New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. spoke about implementation at the state level.

Guest speakers:
John B. King, Jr., Commissioner, New York State Department of Education 
Dane Linn, Vice-President of Education, Workforce and Innovation at Business Roundtable
Shael Polakow-Suransky, Chief Academic Officer, New York City Department of Education


James Fraser, Professor of History and Education, NYU Steinhardt

Episode 2: Challenges in Assessment (Friday, February 22, 2013)

The second installment focused on how achievement of the Common Core Standards will be evaluated among students, teachers, and schools, and the challenges that will be faced. A distinguished panel of scholars and national experts joined us for this discussion.

Guest speakers:
Roger Benjamin, President, Council for Aid to Education
Michael Casserly, Executive Director, Council of the Great City Schools 
Lucille E. Davy , Senior Advisor, James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy


Susan B. Neuman, Professor of Literacy Education and Associate Chair, Department of Teaching and Learning, NYU Steinhardt

Episode 3: Desired Outcomes and Potential Consequences (Friday, April 19, 2013)

The third and final installment in this year's series explored the impact of the Common Core standards, from the outcomes desired by policymakers to possible unintended consequences for students, teachers, and schools. We were joined by a distinguished panel featuring a policy maker, a researcher, and a practitioner.

Guest Speakers:
James Cibulka, President, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
Ramon Gonzalez, Principal, MS 223 The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology
Okhee Lee, Professor of Childhood Education, NYU Steinhardt
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

Joseph McDonald, Professor of English Education, NYU Steinhardt

About the Speakers (as of May 2013)

Roger Benjamin

Roger Benjamin is President of the New York based CAE, home of the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). He was a senior research scientist at RAND from 1990 to 2005 (director of RAND Education from 1994-1999). Previous to his appointment to RAND, he was a member of the political science department of the University of Minnesota from 1966 to 1983 and associate dean and executive officer, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota from 1980 to 1983, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at the University of Pittsburgh from 1983 to 1986, and vice president for academic affairs and provost, University of Minnesota from 1986 to 1988 and professor of political science from 1988 to 1990. Dr. Benjamin is the author or co-author of numerous monographs and articles on institutional design related questions in public policy. In education policy his work includes a number of articles and monographs on governance, assessment, and strategic planning. He directs a program designed to introduce performance assessment into education throughout the K-16 system in America and now the 31 member countries of the OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) and beyond.

Michael Casserly

Michael Casserly has served as Executive Director of the Council of the Great City Schools since January 1992. Casserly also served as the organization's Director of Legislation and Research for 15 years before assuming his current position. As head of the urban school group, Casserly unified big city schools nationwide around a vision of reform and improvement; launched an aggressive research program on trends in urban education; convened the first Education Summit of Big City Mayors and Superintendents; led the nation's largest urban school districts to volunteer for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); led the first national study of common practices among the nation's fastest improving urban school districts, and launched national task forces on achievement gaps, leadership and governance, finance, professional development, and bilingual education. He is currently spearheading efforts to boost academic performance in the nation's big city schools; strengthening management and operations; challenging inequitable state financing systems; and improving the public's image of urban education. He is a U.S. Army veteran, and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland and B.A. from Villanova University.

James Cibulka

Since the beginning of his presidency, Cibulka has focused on making accreditation a lever for change and reform in educator preparation to better meet urgent national P-12 needs. Under his leadership, the accreditation process focuses on moving educator preparation to excellence through continuous improvement and research-based transformation.

Cibulka has a long and distinguished record in higher education. Prior to his appointment as president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), he served as dean of the College of Education at the University of Kentucky from 2002 to 2008, where he also held academic appointments in two departments. While in Kentucky, Cibulka was appointed by the governor to the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board, and he served as chair of that body.

Cibulka started his career as an administrator for the Chicago Board of Education and as a teacher and administrator in the Model City Community Schools Program in Duluth, Minn. His first university appointment was at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he served for 23 years, establishing the Department of Community Education and directing the PhD program in urban education. Cibulka also served as the associate dean, chair, and professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Education.

Cibulka is the author of numerous books and scores of articles on education policy, administration, and community development. From 1992 to 1995, he also served as editor of the Educational Administration Quarterly. In 2006 he received the Stephen K. Bailey Award by the Politics of Education Association for “shaping the intellectual and research agendas of the field.”

Cibulka earned a BA from Harvard College, graduating magna cum laude, and a PhD from the University of Chicago.

Lucille E. Davy

Lucille E. Davy is a Senior Advisor for the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Education Leadership and Policy and is currently focusing on the Common Core State Standards Initiative. From 2005 until January 2010, she was Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, during which time she worked collaboratively with the state’s K-12 stakeholders, higher education and business community to implement innovative programs and reforms. Under her leadership, the department focused on early literacy and mathematics programs which resulted in narrowing of the achievement gap as measured by NAEP, expanded high quality early childhood education programs, crafted a student weight-based school funding formula, revised high school graduation requirements and core curriculum standards, raised expectations for performance on statewide assessments, implemented standards for pre-service teacher preparation programs, expanded the number of charter schools, and created school-based professional learning communities and teacher leadership models. Prior to that, she served as Special Counsel to the Governor for Education Policy. Davy has an undergraduate degree in mathematics and holds a juris doctorate from the University of Notre Dame Law School. She is also a certified math teacher and has taught mathematics at the secondary and collegiate levels.

James W. Fraser (Moderator)

James W. Fraser is Professor of History and Education at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. His teaching includes courses in the History of American Education and Inquiries into Teaching and Learning. He has also served as NYU liaison to the New Design High School, a public high school in New York’s Lower East Side, and to Facing History and Ourselves. In addition, Fraser is Senior Vice President for Programs at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey. At the Foundation he is responsible for coordinating the work of the different Fellowship programs especially the Foundation’s new signature program, its Fellowships for Teachers. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the History of Education Quarterly.

Fraser was the founding dean of Northeastern’s School of Education, serving from 1999 to 2004. He was a member and chair of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Education Deans Council, the Boston School Committee Nominating Committee, and other boards. He was also a lecturer in the Program in Religion and Secondary Education at the Harvard University Divinity School from 1997 to 2004. He has taught at Lesley University, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Boston University and Public School 76 Manhattan.

He was ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and was pastor of Grace Church in East Boston, Massachusetts from 1986 to 2006.

Ramon Gonzalez

Ramon Gonzalez has been a life long educator. He started teaching in 1995. He taught technology, English, and mathematics to 6th and 7th graders. The Merrow Report, a nationally syndicated show on education, spent the entire year documenting Ramon and his 6th grade class at IS 44. The recordings evolved into a three part series called "Growing up in the City", a program about race, education and identity in New York City. It continues to air on PBS 15 years later! Ramon has also written about adolescent issues and urban gangs. He contributed a chapter called "Welcome Home Boyz: Building Communities through Cultural Capital" in a book titled Adolescent Gangs: Old Issues, New Approaches edited by Curtis Branch, a professor at Columbia University in 1999. Ramon found through his research that some of the major issues that deeply influenced young people to join gangs were their need for a familial structure, lack of a clear vision of their future, and few models of success. These findings would serve as the basis for his school which was founded in 2003.

Ramon Gonzalez is the founding principal of MS 223-The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, a middle school in the South Bronx in 2003. Ramon started his school in one of the most dangerous middle schools in NYC at the time. Less than 10% of his students were at grade level in reading and mathematics when the school was created. Six years later, 65% of his students are on grade level in English and 85% in math. Ramon's community activism has deeply influenced his school. Students take courses in financial literacy and participate in a school-wide economy where they can earn, save, and spend "school bucks". He was named a 2007-2008 Cahn Fellow for Distinguished Principals at Teachers College/Columbia University. His school received the 2010 Intel School of Distinction Award in Mathematics. He currently serves as a mentor for emerging principals in the Advanced Leader Principal ALPAP and Summer Principals Academy program at TC. He holds a BA from Cornell University, MS from City College, MA from Teachers College and is expecting to receive his doctorate from TC in May 2013.

John B. King, Jr.

As New York State Education Commissioner, Dr. John B. King, Jr. oversees more than 7,000 public and independent elementary and secondary schools (serving 3.1 million students), and hundreds of other educational institutions across New York State including higher education, libraries, and museums. Dr. King is a strong voice for education reform, and he was a driving force in New York’s successful Race to the Top application. A former high school teacher and middle school principal, Dr. King has earned a national reputation for his vision and commitment to education reform. Dr. King earned a B.A from Harvard University, an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and an Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Okhee Lee

Okhee Lee’s research areas include science education, language and culture, and teacher education. Her current research involves the scale-up of a teacher professional development intervention to promote science learning and language development of English language learners. She is a 2009 Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and received the Distinguished Career Award from the AERA Scholars of Color in Education in 2003. She was awarded a 1993-95 National Academy of Education Spencer Post-doctoral Fellowship. She has directed research and teacher enhancement projects funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, Spencer Foundation, and other sources. She received her doctorate from Michigan State University in 1989 and taught in the School of Education at the University of Miami prior to coming to Steinhardt.

Dane Linn

Dane Linn was recently appointed Vice-President of Education, Workforce and Innovation at Business Roundtable. Most recently, he served as executive director of state policy for the College Board. In this role, he is responsible for leading the College Board’s efforts on developing a state policy agenda that assists states in helping ensure all students are college and career ready. Previously, Dane was director of the Education Division at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) for 15 years. As such, he oversaw all education-related policy research, analysis and resource development, and led the largest staff in the NGA Center. Under Dane’s leadership, the Education Division had become a highly regarded and trusted source for best practices at both the state and federal levels.

He is nationally recognized as an expert in his field, with experience in early childhood, K-12, higher education, and workforce issues. Dane has advised federal and state policymakers across the nation, informing policy actions and shaping legislation, and has provided counsel to three presidential administrations. He has authored numerous reports on issues ranging from school finance and teacher quality to school redesign and pay for performance.

In 2004, Dane spearheaded former NGA Chair Mark Warner’s initiative, Redesigning the American High School, which focused on improving America’s high schools with a five-point state action agenda and recommendations for common state data collection of high school graduation and dropout rates. His redesign work directly impacted education policy at the federal level and informed the national agenda on high schools.

In 2008, Dane and the Education Division worked with Achieve and the Council of Chief State School Officers to promote international benchmarking to make American students more globally competitive. This project set the stage for the Common Core State Standards Initiative, where Mr. Linn co-led a state effort to create high shared standards to ensure that all students graduate from high school college- and career-ready. The initiative has garnered national attention and praise, and has been well-received among states. The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 45 states thus far, and are changing the expectations for our nation’s students.

Dane has also led an effort to increase the importance of higher education among the nation’s governors. His work on Complete to Compete, an initiative led by Governor Chris Gregoire, was an attempt to help states and the country work toward helping high school students and adults complete some form of a college credential. The work on this initiative has also created a national dialogue on how to ensure colleges and universities play a direct role in helping rebuild state economies.

Prior to his work at NGA, Dane worked at the West Virginia Department of Education, where he was responsible for ensuring the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. He had previously served as a legislative liaison to the House of Delegates, and his professional experience in education began as an elementary school teacher and principal.

A graduate of Cabrini College, Dane received a master’s degree from Marshall University Graduate College and received his Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Joseph McDonald (Moderator)

Joe McDonald is Professor of Teaching and Learning at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, where he coordinates secondary program areas in the Department of Teaching and Learning, and teaches in the English Education program area.   He is the author or co-author of nine books about teaching and school reform – including Going Online with Protocols: New Tools for Teaching and Learning (Teachers College Press, 2012), Going to Scale with New School Designs: Reinventing High School (Teachers College Press, 2009), and The Power of Protocols (Teachers College Press, 2003, 2007, 2013).  His forthcoming book, Cities and their Schools (University of Chicago Press, under contract), is based on research funded by the Annenberg and Spencer Foundations on the last 15 years of school reform in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and the Bay Area.  

McDonald was the founder of NYU’s school partnership project which involves close relationships with 22 schools in the Lower East Side, East Harlem, and the South Bronx.  He co-leads the NYU EXCEL Academy, which teaches philosophy and writing to aspiring college students from the South Bronx; and he is Director of the Metro Learning Communities Project at NYU's Metropolitan Center for Urban Education.

McDonald was for many years a high school English teacher as well as a high school principal.   He has been co-editor of the Series on School Reform at Teachers College Press since 1994.  

McDonald holds a Doctorate in Education and Master of Arts in Teaching English degree from Harvard University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Scranton.  Before coming to NYU, he taught at Brown University where he led the teacher education program in English and served as the first Director of Research at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, as well as Senior Researcher for the Coalition of Essential Schools.  McDonald has been at NYU/Steinhardt since 1998, and has served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and also as Associate Dean for Community and Global Initiatives.

Susan B. Neuman (Moderator)

Susan B. Neuman is a specialist in early literacy development; whose research and teaching interests include early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction for children who live in poverty. In her role as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, Neuman established the Early Reading First program, developed the Early Childhood Educator Professional Development Program, and was responsible for all activities in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act. She has written more than 100 articles, and authored and edited eleven books, including the three volume Handbook of Early Literacy Research (Guilford Press), Changing the Odds for Children at Risk (Teachers College Press, 2009), Educating the Other America (Brookes, 2008), and Multimedia and Literacy Development (Taylor & Francis, 2008). Her most recent book is Giving Our Children a Fighting Chance: Poverty Literacy, and the Development of Information Capital. (Teachers College Press, 2012). She received her doctorate from University of the Pacific, Stockton, California.

Shael Polakow-Suransky

Shael Polakow-Suransky is the Chief Academic Officer and Senior Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest school system in the nation. Shael oversees all of the DOE’s instructional work, including implementation of the Common Core standards, design and administration of summative and formative assessments, school accountability initiatives, leadership development, and direct operational and instructional support to schools.

Since joining the central office in 2004, Shael has served in several roles, including Deputy Chancellor for Performance and Accountability. Throughout his tenure, Shael has focused on building instructional capacity, using data to evaluate school quality and improve student performance, developing school leaders, and opening new schools.

Shael has worked in New York City public schools since 1994, when he started his career as a teacher of math and social studies in a Harlem middle school. In 2001, he became the founding principal of Bronx International High School, a highly successful school for students who are recent immigrants to the United States. Shael holds a bachelor's degree in education and urban studies from Brown University and a master's degree in educational leadership from the Bank Street College of Education. He is a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy.

Randi Weingarten

Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal employees; and early childhood educators. She was elected in July 2008, following 11 years of service as an AFT vice president.

In the months immediately following her election, Weingarten launched major efforts to place education reform and innovation high on the nation's agenda. In September 2008, Weingarten led the development of the AFT Innovation Fund, a groundbreaking initiative to support sustainable, innovative and collaborative reform projects developed by members and their local unions to strengthen our public schools.

Weingarten served for 12 years as president of the United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2, representing approximately 200,000 nonsupervisory educators in the New York City public school system, as well as home child care providers and other workers in health, law and education.

For 10 years, Weingarten chaired New York City's Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella organization for the city's 100-plus public sector unions, including those representing higher education and other public service employees. As chair of the MLC, she coordinated labor negotiations and bargaining for benefits on behalf of the MLC unions' 365,000 members.

From 1986 to 1998, Weingarten served as counsel to UFT president Sandra Feldman, taking a lead role in contract negotiations and enforcement, and in lawsuits in which the union fought for adequate school funding and building conditions. A teacher of history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn's Crown Heights from 1991 to 1997, Weingarten helped her students win several state and national awards debating constitutional issues.

Elected as the local union's assistant secretary in 1995 and as treasurer two years later, she became UFT president after Feldman became president of the AFT. Weingarten was elected to her first full term as UFT president in 1998 and was re-elected three times.

Weingarten is known as a reform-minded leader who has demonstrated her commitment to improving schools, hospitals and public institutions for children, families and their communities. She has fought to make sure teachers and school support personnel are treated with respect and dignity, have a voice in the education of their students, and are given the support and resources they need to succeed in the classroom.

With her leadership as AFT president, the union has pursued an agenda that reforms education by holding everyone accountable, revamping how teachers are evaluated, and ensuring that children have access to broad and deep curriculum as well as wraparound services. The AFT agenda fights against fingerpointing and calls for a continued investment in education. It also highlights the work that teachers, nurses and public employees do every day to make a difference in the lives of others.

Weingarten holds degrees from Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Cardozo School of Law. She worked as a lawyer for the Wall Street firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan from 1983 to 1986. She is an active member of the Democratic National Committee and numerous professional, civic and philanthropic organizations. Born in 1957 and raised in Rockland County, N.Y., Weingarten now resides on Long Island and in Washington, D.C.