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Commissioner King tours two area schools finding success with Common Core

State Education Commissioner John King continued on his fall school tour Thursday with a stop in Western New York.  King began the day at the Henry J. Kalfas Magnet School in the city of Niagara Falls.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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New York State Education Commissioner John King appears at the Kalfas Magnet School in the city of Niagara Wednesday as part of his fall tour.

King stopped in Western New York as part of his fall tour for the opening of a new school year.  He selected Kalfas Magnet because the school has experienced an significant improvement in Math and English.

"What is clear here, as you walk around, is there is a strong academic culture. That teachers have really spent time digging into the Common Core Standards," King tells WBFO News. "Thinking about how best to help their students achieve/master those standards."

"What is clear here, as you walk around, is there is a strong academic culture. That teachers have really spent time digging into the Common Core Standards," King tells WBFO News. "Thinking about how best to help their students achieve/master those standards."

King wanted to see firsthand how teachers are presenting Common Core material in the classroom.  He watched as students engaged in a Math class as the teacher used a Common Core method.

"Saw a great conversation about multiplication," noted King.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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NYS Education Commissioner King visits with students at Kalfas Magnet School in the city of Niagara Falls Wednesday.

"There's a strong school culture. It's clearly benefiting the students. The time on professional development -- teachers here have spent a lot of time working with Common Core instructional materials figuring out how best to help their students," stated King. 

Niagara Falls Schools Superintendent Cynthia Bianco led the tour with King through the magnet school Wednesday.  The school is undergoing a major $12 million reconstruction including a new STEM lab.

"He called and said he would like to come here," noted Bianco.  "We have all of the socio-economic issues had challenges that a big city has, however, we are smaller, so we can manage them. The size helps us to accomplish more."

King was also visiting the Stanley Makowski Early Childhood Center in Buffalo that has also had improvements in Math and English. 

King was joined by State Regents member Robert Bennett of Buffalo.

"He visits at least 100 schools a year," said Bennett.

Bennett noted that the commissioner has had a team visiting at least three times in Buffalo to figure out how to move forward with four failing schools -- East, MLK and Lafayette.

"He's had his team here in Buffalo for at least three visits so far," said Bennett "His team is saying we want to help you and if you need more time we will give it to you.  We don't want to close schools -- that's not a good option."

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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NYS Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch visits with students at the Niagara Falls school.

Kings visit at the Niagara Falls city school included a surprise appearance by State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. Tishch talked with students and teachers, but declined media interviews.