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Several NYC teachers on state's new Teacher Advisory Council

Among the 23 teachers from across the state that Education Commissioner John King has tapped to give him feedback about how policy is playing out in the classroom, seven work in New York City schools.

The commissioner’s Teacher Advisory Council, announced today, will meet periodically to discuss the policy agenda that the state’s Board of Regents is advancing. That agenda, aimed at helping more students become college ready, includes adopting more challenging standards; overhauling low-performing schools; facilitating data-driven instruction; and improving teacher preparation and evaluation.

“The teachers on the Council will give direct feedback from the frontlines of reform – the classroom,” King said in a statement. “The most important thing we can do as educators is maintain focus on the students, and these extraordinary teachers will help us do just that.”

The teacher council parallels ones that already exist for superintendents, school boards, and other groups, according to Dennis Tompkins, a State Education Department spokesman.

One of the city teachers on the board is Jeff Li, the former head of Teach For America’s New York City office who returned to the classroom this fall.

“This is where my heart is and I just think it’s hugely important work and felt personally fulfilled by the work,” Li told GothamSchools in February, when he announced that he would be stepping down at TFA. He now teaches eighth-grade math at KIPP Infinity, a charter middle school.

Li is one of two city teachers on the council to work in charter schools. Another city teacher on the council works at a Bronx high school that the city decided last year to close because of poor performance. And a third works with English language learners in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

In addition to the six district and charter school teachers from the city, King also selected a science teacher from an Orthodox Jewish school in Brooklyn to join the council.

The creation of the council has the endorsement of the state teachers union, NYSUT. In a statement, Vice President Maria Neira said the union “thanks Commissioner King for hearing our concerns.”

She said, “By listening to what’s working — and what still needs work — the State Education Department and the Regents will be able to more successfully implement policies benefiting students and schools.”

NYSUT recommended some teachers for council, as did the New York State Charter Schools Association, according to the state’s press release. The three most recent state teachers of the year were invited to join, and King appointed some members directly.

The full list of city teachers on King’s advisory council is below. The council’s complete roster is here.

Rachel Carr, P.S. 130, Brooklyn, English language learners
Jemal Graham, Eagle Academy for Young Men III, Manhattan, seventh-grade math
Dawn Haas, Bronx Charter School for Excellence, English
Jeff Li, KIPP Infinity Middle School, Manhattan, eighth-grade math
Darnese Olivieri, EBC High School for Public Service, Brooklyn, English
Stacey Thomas, Samuel Gompers CTE High School, Bronx, career and technical education

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