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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NYSAPE endorses new candidates for Board of Regents

The NYSAPE action alert for what legislators parents should contact and what they should say is posted here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 22, 2014
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123;
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190;
NYS Allies for Public Education

NYS Allies for Public Education Endorses New Candidates for the Board of Regents

New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of 45 organizations from around the state, is endorsing three candidates for the New York State Board of Regents: Helen “Regina” Rose, Audrey Marie Baker, and Michael Reilly.  The Board of Regents set education policy for the state and appoint the State Education Commissioner.   Four Regents will be selected by the State Legislature in March.
“At a time of unprecedented public opposition to the agenda pursued by Commissioner King, we are confident that these three candidates will thoughtfully respond to and address the concerns of parents and educators.  These highly qualified candidates will steer the state in a new direction -- to strengthen our schools, rather than undermine them,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt-Out (of tests) group.
The candidates, if approved, would replace three of the four incumbents whose tenure expires this March- Regents Wade Norwood, James Jackson, James Cottrell, and Christine Cea. All four incumbents have been unresponsive to the concerns of parents and have expressed little or no opposition to the policies pursued by Commissioner King.
Helen “Regina” Rose is applying to represent District III Region (Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster Counties).  Ms. Rose is a former special education teacher with over twenty years of experience, and was a member of the Kinderhook school board for six years. She has a grandchild in the public schools and has been a strong and vocal advocate for all students, especially those with disabilities.  In response to the NYSAPE survey, Rose wrote, “I cannot understand how our entire public education system is being treated as an experiment – they are building the plane in the air.  We cannot allow a generation of children to be used as guinea pigs.”  Ms. Rose’s resume and survey responses can be viewed here
Mike Reilly is applying to fill the District XII seat on Staten Island.  Mr. Reilly, a former police officer, has been a respected community leader for many years.  His three children attend the Staten Island public schools.  Since 2009, Reilly has served as a member of the district’s Community Education Council and sits on the Board of Managers of the Staten Island YMCA. He supports a moratorium on high-stakes, Common Core testing and opposes the disclosure of personal student data to inBloom Inc. or other vendors without parental consent. Presently, no member of the Board of Regents has a child in our public schools.  Mr. Reilly would bring a needed parent perspective. Mr. Reilly’s resume and survey responses can be viewed here
Audrey Marie Baker was a teacher, principal and administrator in the NYC public school system for over 35 years, with expertise in the area of special education.  Ms. Baker is applying for the other open at-large seats on the Regents.  She holds over 14 licenses and certifications in education. In response to our survey she wrote, “As a career educator, I hold myself accountable to the parents of NYS.” She pledges to survey parents to ascertain their concerns, and to meet regularly with key community stakeholders.  She supports a moratorium on high stakes Common Core exams, and an independent study of the standards by a panel of experts in education and developmental psychology. Ms. Baker’s resume and survey responses can be viewed here
In a spirit of transparency, NYS Allies for Public Education sent its survey via certified mail and emailed to Regents Jackson, Cottrell, Cea and Norwood in early December 2013, asking them to clarify their positions on a variety of key education issues.   To date, not one of the incumbents completed the survey or responded in any way to this request.
Upon hearing about the current Regents failure to respond, Chris Tanis, a New Paltz parent said, “Clearly, the four incumbents do not understand that they have an obligation to be accountable to the public and to clearly express their views on the current policies that have aroused such opposition among parents and other community members. The fact that they refused to respond to the NYSAPE survey – and more importantly have ignored the public outrage over the policies pursued by the State Education Department -- makes a strong case for the need for new leadership.”
Although members of the Board of Regents are selected by the Legislature, they have traditionally kept their seats on the board until they choose to resign or retire. While the appointment process has escaped public scrutiny in the past, this year NYSAPE will be urging parents, educators and concerned constituents to call on their Assembly members and State Senators to nominate and vote for candidates who will work to reverse the current, disastrous reforms.
In February, the chairs of the Assembly Education and Higher Education Committees, Cathy Nolan and Deborah Glick, will conduct in-person interviews of the candidates.  In March, the full Legislature will vote on candidates pre-selected by its members, predominantly those in the Assembly.
According to Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters: “In recent months, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of concern and criticism directed at the agenda being implemented by Commissioner King – including the sharing of personal student data with inBloom Inc., without parental consent.  Eight states have pulled out of inBloom or put their data-sharing plans on hold because of parent protest and opposition --but not New York. We need new Regents who will be responsive to the need to protect student privacy.”
In a recent editorial in Newsday, principals Carol Burris and John Murphy noted “The time has come for the public to insist that the appointment of Regents be more than pro forma. The fate of a generation of students is at stake.”


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