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NY Education Commissioner David Steiner To Resign

First Posted: 04/07/11 05:02 PM ET Updated: 06/07/11 06:12 AM ET

NEW YORK -- First the city, now the state.

Just hours after the news broke that New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black was stepping down, the New York State Education Department confirmed that Commissioner David Steiner is indeed leaving his post as well.

"With the anticipated approval of a final teacher evaluation program in the coming months, I have informed Chancellor Tisch and members of the Board of Regents that I intend to leave the State Education Department later this year," Steiner said in a statement. "Together we will begin to plan for a seamless transition."

Steiner took over as commissioner in October 2009 after serving as dean of Hunter College's School of Education. Under his tenure, the state raised testing standards in summer 2010, after learning that more students had failed tests than was previously calculated. He also guided the administration toward a successful bid for federal Race to the Top funds.

What's next for Steiner? Beyond the statement, Steiner has not yet responded to requests for comment through his office's spokesperson.

Eric Nadelstern, who resigned from his post as deputy chancellor for school support and instruction in January to teach at Columbia University's Teachers College, has a suggestion: "He was a very accomplished academic. I’d like to see him return in that way," Nadelstern said.

Nadelstern added that he questioned why Steiner took the job in the first place. "There’s a governor who has a greater need to balance the state budget than fix the schools," he said. "[Steiner]'s got more substantive contributions to make than run a sprawling bureaucracy 150 miles north of the Bronx that doesn’t really connect to the lives of kids and teachers."

Education historian and former United States Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch said she opposed New York's Race to the Top application because of the increased focus on testing it brought in. "I'm not a fan of Race to the Top," she said. "I’m sorry that New York won the money."

She added: "I can’t think of anybody I admire that would want to be in [Steiner's] position."

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Here's word from Steiner himself:

As the end of the school year and the legislative session approaches, I am immensely proud of the reforms we've achieved -- guiding New York's successful Race to the Top application, designing a new teacher and school leader evaluation system, reforming teacher preparation and certification and implementing a tough re-setting of our 3-8 tests. With the anticipated approval of a final teacher evaluation program in the coming months, I have informed Chancellor Tisch and members of the Board of Regents that I intend to leave the State Education Department later this year. Together we will begin to plan for a seamless transition.

And from Chancellor of the State Board of Regents Merryl H. Tisch:

We recruited David because he is one of America's leading education reform visionaries, and as Commissioner he has delivered - leading New York's successful Race to the Top application and guiding this department through an amazing array of reforms. As he approaches the end of his second legislative session and second school year as Commissioner, he has informed me of his desire to return to a role outside of state government where he can continue to champion reform. I know he is weighing a number of exciting options. In the weeks to come the Board will begin an orderly transition and continue to move forward with our reform agenda.
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