Skip to main content

State Education Chief to Step Down

The New York state education commissioner, David M. Steiner, said Thursday that he would be resigning from his position in August.

Dr. Steiner, 53, the former dean of the education school at Hunter College, said he planned to take a job at a university and turn his attention toward national education issues.

“It has been an exhilarating but totally exhausting two academic years at work,” he said.

Dr. Steiner said it was a “bizarre coincidence” that he was announcing his departure on the same day that Cathleen P. Black, the New York City schools chancellor, stepped down.

Dr. Steiner, known for his efforts to prepare teachers better, took office less than two years ago. He faced a long list of challenges: reinventing state tests, invigorating the curriculum and persuading state officials to pass a series of reforms so the state could qualify for a federal grant known as Race to the Top.

But Dr. Steiner’s most difficult decision came last fall, when he was given the task of determining whether Ms. Black, then a publishing executive with no education experience, was qualified to lead the New York City school system, the country’s largest.

Dr. Steiner, a mild-mannered classics buff, surprised the political world when he publicly expressed doubts about Ms. Black’s qualifications, standing up to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Dr. Steiner ultimately approved Ms. Black’s nomination, facing intense pressure from the city.

Ms. Black resigned three months after taking office, and Mr. Bloomberg said he took full responsibility for the fact that his appointment of Ms. Black did not work out.

Dr. Steiner will now have to give final approval for Dennis M. Walcott, the mayor’s pick to succeed Ms. Black, to take office.

Dr. Steiner will leave with some unfinished business, namely the creation of new state tests, the rollout of curricular standards and the development of a system of teacher certification and evaluation that will judge teachers partly on student test scores.

Merryl H. Tisch, the chancellor of the State Board of Regents, said Dr. Steiner had led the department through “an amazing array of reforms.”

“As commissioner, he has delivered,” Dr. Tisch said in a statement. “In the weeks to come, the board will begin an orderly transition and continue to move forward with our reform agenda.”

Share This