Baltimore and New York State Ed Leaders to Share Insights at Ed Trust Conference

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Two educators with a proven commitment to urban schools will join Ed Trust President Kati Haycock at this year’s National Conference, Nov. 8-9, in Washington, D.C, for a plenary discussion on the challenges and opportunities schools can expect as the Common Core State Standards take effect. John King, New York State’s education commissioner, and Sonja Brookins Santelises, Baltimore City Public Schools’ chief academic officer, will discuss the lessons they’ve learned in recent years and the type of school leadership and teacher supports they believe are necessary for students and schools to succeed as the higher expectations integral to the Common Core come into play.

King was named to his post in May 2011 after serving as deputy commissioner in the New York State Department of Education, which he joined in 2009. As deputy commissioner, he led the state’s winning, $700 million Race to the Top application, and has been a key player in aligning state standards with Common Core, guiding teacher development, and devising strategies for turning around failing schools. Before his stint as deputy commissioner, King was managing director of Uncommon Schools, a nonprofit charter school management organization, and a co-founder of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Massachusetts. At Roxbury, he and his colleagues established longer school days, strict rules of conduct, and teacher accountability measures, raising expectations for poor children. Roxbury Prep's efforts led its low-income students of color to outperform their white peers throughout the state, earning the school a Dispelling the Myth Award in 2008 from The Education Trust.

King holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a law degree from Yale, and a doctorate in education from Columbia. He has served on the Equity and Excellence Commission of the U.S. Department of Education, and was named a fellow of the Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education by The Aspen Institute in 2008.

Like King, Santelises has ties to the education community in Boston. There, she interned in public schools as part of her studies in the Harvard Urban Superintendents Doctoral Program, went on to lecture at Harvard, and became a senior associate with Focus on Results, where she coached superintendents and trained school leaders of five major urban districts. She then rejoined Boston Public Schools as assistant superintendent before transitioning to her current role in Baltimore in 2010.

At the beginning of her education career, Santelises was director of professional development and teacher placement with Teach for America, and she founded, taught, and served as curriculum specialist at a year-round school in Brooklyn. She holds a bachelor’s from Brown, a master’s degree from Columbia, and her doctorate in education from Harvard.

The success of the Common Core standards in raising student achievement hinges on effective implementation, which, in turn, hinges on effective leadership at every level. The Wallace Foundation’s sponsorship of this plenary session recognizes this crucial lever for the hard job of improving student learning.

For more information about our 2012 national conference, click here.

— Anneliese M. Bruner