Dr. John King
New York State Education Department

On implementing pre-kindergarten programs:
“Over the next few weeks as we enter this initiative try to imagine what a great pre-k classroom looks and feels like; where you see students not only discovering the joy of learning, but discovering the joy of curiosity. You want students who are learning to interact with their peers, learning those socio-emotional skills that are going to be so critical for their success. You want classrooms where you hear singing, where students are introduced to art and music … And I think the challenge for the city and the state will be to ensure that high-quality programs exist in every neighborhood and not just some neighborhoods.”

On the $2 billion bond act to boost technology in schools:
“The key thing about the bond initiative will be that next step [after] the bond is approved—developing the standards for how schools will spend the money and ensuring that any device purchased comes with proper development and support. It can’t just be about buying devices. There are schools around the state where devices just sit and collect dust because people don’t know how to use them.”

On Common Core:
“There are certainly a set of folks who are making, I would characterize as, clearly false claims about the Common Core, [such as] that the Common Core was imposed by the federal government. It wasn’t. That the Common Core dictates what book will be read, what math assignment will be done each day in every classroom in the country. It doesn’t. Where I think we are now as a state is a place where we can focus on curriculum and instruction, which is what matters most to what kids experience each day, … where we can focus on instruction and look at where the schools and districts and classrooms where students are excelling. And then how do we replicate that? How do we share that? How do we bring teachers together across schools, across districts, across the state to share best practices? How do we make teaching better in every classroom for the sake of kids?”

Dr. Merryl Tisch
New York State Board of Regents

On the Common Core implementation:
“I’ve always said there are things we did very well and there were things we did not do very well. If I could go back and hit the restart button one of the things we should have done a much better, broader job of is talking to parents about what the standards are all about. … I believe in the restart parents need to be front and center.”

On charter schools and faith-based education:
“I am a great admirer of charter schools, but I also think that came with a price to parochial schools. I happen to think that values-based education at an early age and early beginnings in high-needs school districts and dealing with families and children in complicated circumstances, I think we have real experience in this city and state in encouraging different types and knowing what’s allowed and what’s not allowed by law. But certainly not to permit a faith-based institution to be part of a large initiative I think would be depriving the citizens of this city and of this state one of the greatest resources that we have and that’s the quality values-based education that we see in this city day in and day out.”

On implementing pre-kindergarten programs:
“At the state level something we’re going to pay very strict attention to the issue of funding going forward— the reliability of the funding going forward. It’s very hard to ask school districts to start a program and roll it out when there is one year of funding that is guaranteed and then you fall into an abyss not knowing where next year’s funding is going to come from.”

On what the state is doing for English Language Learners and special-needs students struggling with Common Core:
“The state has applied to the federal government for a waiver—two waivers—one addressing our special needs students, who are now, by federal law, tested by their chronological age rather than their academic age. ... The other waiver we have asked for is for students who are entering this country—limited English proficiency students—not to be forced into the testing system within a year of their arrival. We should be advocating for these types of waivers. Without these waivers, we will continue to lose large numbers of children ... that we should embrace, educate and set free to be citizens of this country as they graduate.”