Former Obama, New York head of education John King has been named the new SUNY head

Former state education czar John King – a supporter of the Common Core curriculum and charter schools – was named head of the State University of New York on Monday.

King, who also served as US Secretary of Education under former President Obama, told The Post he hopes to close the achievement gap between white and minority SUNY students while addressing issues like child care to help children to stay in school.

King also said he wants to build SUNY’s research facilities, including at the Stony Brook, Buffalo, and Albany campuses, in areas like engineering, science, and medicine.

“I am excited for the opportunity to build the best public higher education system in the country,” King said.

He was tapped to permanently fill the vacancy left by ex-Chancellor James Malatras, a longtime adviser to the disgraced ex-government. Andrew Cuomo.

Malatras resigned in December 2021 after framing one of Cuomo’s accusers for sexual harassment.

John King was US Secretary of Education under former President Obama.
AP/ Susan Walsh
King hopes to close the achievement gap between white and minority SUNY students.
Getty Images / Noam Galali

King ended up at the top job at SUNY, the nation’s largest higher education system, with an annual salary of $750,000 and a slew of perks.

Perks include: paid residency in Albany; an additional $150,000 per year for apartments in New York City; up to US$4,000 per month for travel expenses between New York and his current residence in Maryland; a driver at official SUNY stores and a university-owned vehicle or a monthly car allowance of $1,000.

King was also made a full professor at SUNY, although it’s unclear what he might teach and if he would receive additional salary for the job.

He was a great supporter of charter schools currently regulated in New York by the SUNY Board and the State Board of Regents.

He has set himself the goal of building up SUNY’s research facilities.
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The new Chancellor was tapped to permanently fill the seat vacated by James Malatras.
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SUNY’s chancellor and staff make recommendations to SUNY’s board of directors on charter school applicants — New York City has pushed for the cap on charter schools to be removed, or at least raised, to allow more of the high-performing operators to open in the state.

“I have a long history of supporting good charter schools and not supporting bad charter schools,” King told The Post on Monday.

gov. Kathy Hochul, referring to King, told reporters at an independent event in Rochester, “We’re looking for a transformative figure, someone to come here and restore the primacy that I always thought SUNY should have.”

Merryl Tisch, Chair of the SUNY Board of Trustees and longtime friend of King, said in a statement announcing his appointment, “As we continue to transform SUNY to serve the needs of the next generation of students and the New York economy, we need a leader who knows how to balance the pursuit of excellence and equity.

“John King has a proven track record of doing both,” she added of the new chancellor, who was New York’s first black and Puerto Rican state education commissioner.

King will earn an annual salary of $750,000 and perks such as paid residency in Albany.
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Valerie Jarrett, chief executive officer of the Obama Foundation, said in the same press release, “As President Obama’s Secretary of Education, John King … championed the role of community colleges, connecting them to the needs of today’s workforce and helping to guide efforts in across government to lift up young men and boys of color through President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.”

King recently ran for governor of Maryland in the Democratic primary but lost in the summer in sixth place.

He was also a cheerleader for standardized Common Core tests, which critics say failed to effectively measure student progress.

There are mixed ideas about how King will perform in his new role.
Getty Images / Roy Rochlin

“As Commissioner of Education, John King was a disaster, forcing the invalid Common Core standards and making state tests overly long, with reading passages well above class level and full of ambiguous questions,” said Jeanette Deutermann, founder of Long Island Opt Out, in an explanation.

“Many schools are still grappling with the devastating effects of his policies; I would be very sorry if SUNY students met a similar fate,” said the activist, whose group includes parents who choose to have their children “rejected” from standardized tests over concerns about their effectiveness.

When asked by The Post Monday about his support for Common Core during the Obama years, King replied, “The politics of the time were complicated.”

Deborah Stanley was acting chancellor of SUNY. Former Obama, New York head of education John King has been named the new SUNY head


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