Just days after announcing his impending departure from the State Education Department, Commissioner David Steiner decried “a genuine crisis” in schooling and lamented what he said is a loss of vision in education from a time when “every schoolchild, in every public school, was savored by the adults of the state.”

Steiner’s cutting remarks, made at a state teachers union event last weekend, were first reported in the New York Post today, and they can be seen in full in the video above.

Steiner himself uniquely possesses that kind of vision, writes Matthew Levey in the Community section today. Levey, the parent of three elementary school-aged children and the former president of District 2’s Community Education Council, argues that Steiner has been a lone voice advocating for classical education and reasoned dialogue at a time when test-based accountability is in vogue and debate over reforms often turns acrimonious.

Writes Levey:

Steiner struck me as a man with a long-term vision of what it means to be educated, something glaringly absent from the reform debate. At a sparsely attended talk on the Upper East Side last October, Steiner asked how we expect to make the long journey to a “better educated” student population without a detailed map for the trip. Last weekend, speaking at a state teachers union event, Steiner reflected on his tenure, pointing out that if we want to develop such a vision “we do not start by yelling at each other.”