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At a time of dramatic change, a DOE insider urges the long view

Like most officials who work for city schools’ support networks, Nathan Dudley plans to spend the week helping the principals he works with understand the city’s new teacher evaluation system.

Last week, though, Dudley was telling a freshly minted crop of teachers and administrators not to dwell too much on the evaluation system or on other in-vogue education policies.

As the commencement speaker Hunter College School of Education last week, Dudley, the deputy leader of Children’s First Network 403, started his speech by asking graduates whether they thought the Common Core standards and new state teacher evaluation standards would improve instruction in New York.

After he got some signs of approval, and some laughter, Dudley stage-whispered, “That’s not what’s important.”

He went on:

Dont get me wrong: I’m not saying the Common Core and the new teacher evaluation system are not important. In fact they’re the two biggest changes in the DOE in 80 years and they’re happening simultaneously this year, go figure. And there will be lots of political noise about this in the next few years. I started teaching at Benito Juarez High School in Chicago in 1983, the same year as The Nation at Risk came out and jumpstarted the standards movement. And while I do think the Common Core and the new evaluation system will be around in some form or another for longer than some of the other education initiatives that have come and gone in the last 30 years, I would say that in the grand scheme of things, when you are teaching your classes 30 years from now, in the year 2043, the Common Core may have come and gone, and the teacher effectiveness frameworks … may be still useable memories. But what’s important will still be you: your commitment, your passion, your plan, your ability to reach students where they are, inspire them, and help them to read, write, dream, and reach those dreams.

Dudley received his superintendent’s certificate from Hunter nearly a decade ago and was the founding principal of the Urban Assembly Harbor School. He made the comments while standing in front of Hunter College School of Education Dean David Steiner, the former state education commissioner under whose watch the state adopted the Common Core and new teacher evaluation rules.