The interviews of the Regents candidates are now posted online. Two seats are open due to retirements, in Queens and the Lower Hudson valley; and five Regents are re-applying as their terms are up. The Board of Regents is very powerful, sets educational policies for the state, and soon will be selecting a new Commissioner of Education as our embattled former Commissioner John King resigned in December to take a job with Sec. of Education Arne Duncan.
- Long time Regent Robert Bennett who has served on the Regents for 20 years, and is reapplying for a seat in the Buffalo area, claimed that former Commissioner King was a "good listener" & said his view of King was "very positive."
- Judy Chin, former NYC superintendent, nominated for the open Queens seat, was critical of the whole idea of national standards, said she was against hi-stakes testing, calling them a “gotcha game” that had taken all the joy out of learning, and pointed out that charter schools operate under vastly different rules.
- Judith Johnson, former Superintendent of Peekskill and Mount Vernon, for the vacant Lower Hudson seat as long-time Reent Hary Phillips is retiring , has a strong resume and made a convincing critique of high-stakes testing and teacher bashing. Judith spoke of standards needing to be evidence- based and the importance of midway corrections when policies are not working. She was particularly eloquent on the importance of arts education.
- Lisa Litvin, attorney and PTA leader, a candidate for the same seat, spoke about funding cuts, testing, and Common Core. As to Common Core, she said, any other organization that took a brand new unpiloted system as the Common Core would be derelict in its duties if they refused to review it. She said the Regents should put a panel together with educators and lawmakers and experts and see if the Common Core standards are actually working.
- Ben Shuldiner, former principal at High School for Public Service: Heroes of Tomorrow in Brooklyn who now teaches at Hunter College, is applying for the same Lower Hudson seat as Johnson and Litvin. He said that the school that he founded in 2003 had attained a graduation rate of 98% compared to the 23% of Wingate HS, the large school it was replacing, despite having the “same students”. Yet for at least the first several years, these small schools were allowed to openly exclude ELLs and special needs students. See this report on the exclusion of ELLs and this article about the legal complaint filed in 2006 with the Civil rights office of the US Department of Education by Prof. David Bloomfield, at the time the president of the Citywide Council on HS.
CORRECTION: I just heard from Helen Zelon , the author of the City Limits article quoted above. Apparently, Shuldiner meant that the formula behind the teacher evaluation grading system should have been fully transparent, not that the individual ratings of teachers should have ever been made public. My apologies to Mr. Shuldiner. Here is what Helen now writes about his attitude at the time: