Joint Legislative Public Hearing on 2016-2017 Executive Budget Proposal: Topic "Elementary & Secondary Education" - Testimonies

budget

Hearing Event Notice:
http://www.nysenate.gov/calendar/public-hearings/january-27-2016/joint-legislative-public-hearing-2016-2017-executive-budget

Archived video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCJ5rUgSUxc

Hearing Transcript:

                                                                   1

 1  BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE FINANCE
    AND ASSEMBLY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEES
 2  ------------------------------------------------------

 3          JOINT LEGISLATIVE HEARING

 4             In the Matter of the
          2016-2017 EXECUTIVE BUDGET ON
 5      ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
    
 6  ------------------------------------------------------

 7                             Hearing Room B                                                    
                               Legislative Office Building
 8                             Albany, New York
    
 9                             January 27, 2016
                               9:38 a.m.
10  
    
11  PRESIDING:

12          Senator Catharine M. Young
            Chair, Senate Finance Committee
13  
            Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
14          Chair, Assembly Ways & Means Committee
    
15  PRESENT:

16          Senator Liz Krueger 
            Senate Finance Committee (RM)
17  
            Assemblyman Bob Oaks 
18          Assembly Ways & Means Committee (RM)
    
19          Assemblywoman Catherine T. Nolan
            Chair, Assembly Education Committee
20  
            Senator Carl L. Marcellino
21          Chair, Senate Education Committee 
    
22          Assemblyman Michael Cusick
    
23          Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick
    
24          Assemblyman David G. McDonough
    

                                                                  2

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-27-16
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4          Assemblyman Clifford W. Crouch
    
 5          Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer
    
 6          Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper
    
 7          Senator Roxanne J. Persaud 
    
 8          Assemblyman Edward P. Ra
    
 9          Assemblyman Peter Lopez
    
10          Senator George S. Latimer
    
11          Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon 
    
12          Assemblyman Al Graf
    
13          Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz
    
14          Assemblyman Matthew Titone
    
15          Senator Velmanette Montgomery
    
16          Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry
    
17          Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton
    
18          Assemblyman Steven Otis
    
19          Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley
    
20          Senator Phil Boyle
    
21          Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte
    
22          Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi
    
23          Assemblyman Harry B. Bronson
    
24          Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis
    

                                                                  3

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-27-16
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4          Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy
    
 5          Senator John DeFrancisco
    
 6          Assemblyman Thomas J. Abinanti
    
 7          Assemblyman Rebecca A. Seawright
    
 8          Senator John Bonacic
    
 9          Assemblyman Carmen E. Arroyo
    
10          Assemblyman Andrew P. Raia
    
11          Senator Leroy Comrie
    
12          Assemblyman William Colton
    
13          Assemblyman L. Dean Murray
    
14          Senator Diane Savino
    
15          Assemblyman David I. Weprin
    
16          Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell
    
17          Senator Michael F. Nozzolio        
    
18          Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman
    
19          Assemblyman Marc W. Butler
    
20  
    
21

22

23

24


                                                                  4

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-27-16
    
 3                   LIST OF SPEAKERS
    
 4                                     STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  MaryEllen Elia
    Commissioner 
 6  NYS Education Department                10      20
    
 7  Carmen FariÒa 
    Chancellor
 8  NYC Department of Education            195     219
    
 9  Andy Pallotta
    Executive Vice President
10  Christopher Black
    Director of Legislation
11  New York State United Teachers        
         -and-
12  Michael Mulgrew
    President 
13  Cassie Prugh
    Legislative Director
14  United Federation of Teachers          347     369
    
15  Georgia M. Asciutto 
    Executive Director
16  Conference of Big 5
      School Districts                     
17  Sharon Contreras
    Superintendent
18  Syracuse Central School District       
    Dr. Kriner Cash
19  Superintendent
    Buffalo School District
20  Dr. Edwin Quezada
    Interim Superintendent
21  Yonkers City School District           
    Linda Cimusz
22  Interim Superintendent
    Rochester School District             401     431
23  
    
24  
    

                                                                  5

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-27-16
    
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                    STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
    
 5  Ernest Logan 
    President
 6  Council of School Supervisors 
      and Administrators (CSA)            434       440
 7  
    James Viola
 8  Director, Government Relations
    School Administrators Association 
 9    of New York State (SAANYS)          441
    
10  Jasmine Gripper 
    Legislative Director
11  Alliance for Quality Education        451
    
12  Bernadette Kappen
    Chair
13  4201 Schools Association              457
    
14  William Wolff 
    President
15  NYS Coalition of 853 Schools          465      470
    
16  Julie Marlette
    Director, Governmental Relations 
17  NYS School Boards Association         472      478
    
18  Robert Lowry
    Deputy Director
19  New York State Council of 
     School Superintendents               481      485
20  
    Michael Borges
21  Executive Director
    New York State Association of
22   School Business Officials            486
    
23  Fred Koelbel
    Chair, Legislative Committee
24  NYS School Facilities Assn.           492
    

                                                                  6

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-27-16 
    
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                    STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
    
 5  David A. Little
    Executive Director
 6  Rural Schools Association
      of New York State                   497       502
 7  
    Richard Longhurst
 8  Executive Administrator
    NYS Congress of Parents &
 9    Teachers (NYS PTA)                  507       511
    
10  Kyle Rosenkrans
    CEO
11  Northeast Charter School
     Network                              514       519
12  
    Randi Levine
13  Policy Coordinator 
    Advocates for Children of NY          523       528
14  
    Alexis Henry
15  Policy Associate, Early 
     Childhood Education
16  Citizens' Committee for Children      529
    
17  Chris Neitzey
    Information Communications 
18   Manager
    AfterSchool Works! New York: 
19   The NYS Afterschool Network          532
    
20  Michael Martucci
    President
21  New York School Bus 
     Contractors Association
22      -and-
    James Hedge
23  Vice President &
     Political Director
24  ATU Local 1181                        538       542
    

                                                                  7

 1  2016-2017 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-27-16 
    
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                    STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
    
 5  Peter F. Mannella
    Executive Director
 6  New York Association for 
     Pupil Transportation                544         551
 7  
    Marian Bott
 8  Education Finance 
      Issue Specialist
 9  League of Women Voters of
      New York State                     552
10  
    Michael Neppl
11  Director, Govt. Relations
    NY Library Association               558         561
12  

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24


                                                                  8

 1                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:   Good morning.  

 2                 Today we begin the fourth in the 

 3          series of hearings conducted by the joint 

 4          fiscal committees of the Legislature 

 5          regarding the Governor's proposed budget for 

 6          fiscal year 2016-2017.  The hearings are 

 7          conducted pursuant to Article 7, Section 3 of 

 8          the Constitution, and Article 2, Section 31 

 9          and 32A of the Legislative Law.

10                 Today the Assembly Ways and Means 

11          Committee and the Senate Finance Committee 

12          will hear testimony concerning the budget 

13          proposal for elementary and secondary 

14          education.

15                 I will now introduce the members from 

16          the Assembly, and Senator Young, chair of the 

17          Senate Finance Committee, will introduce 

18          members from the Senate.

19                 We've been joined by Assemblyman Jeff 

20          Aubry, Assemblyman Harry Bronson, Assemblyman 

21          Steve Otis, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, 

22          Assemblyman Michael Cusick, Assemblywoman 

23          Diana Richardson, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, 

24          Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, Assemblywoman 


                                                                  9

 1          Deborah Glick, Assemblywoman Bichotte, and 

 2          Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo.  

 3                 And we have Assemblyman Oaks to give 

 4          us his members.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.  We've 

 6          joined by Assemblyman Ra, Assemblyman 

 7          McDonough, Assemblyman Crouch, Assemblyman 

 8          Graf, and Assemblywoman Malliotakis.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

10          Assemblyman.  

11                 Good morning, everyone.  And I'd like 

12          to first of all welcome the commissioner and 

13          all the legislators to have a healthy 

14          discussion today about a topic that is near 

15          and dear to the hearts of every legislator in 

16          the State of New York, and that's education 

17          and our children's future.  

18                 I'd like to introduce my colleagues 

19          who are here today.  First, we are joined by 

20          Senator Liz Krueger, who's ranking member on 

21          the Senate Finance Committee.  We're also 

22          joined by Senator Marcellino, who is the 

23          chair of the Education Committee, and also 

24          Senator John Bonacic, and also Senator 


                                                                  10

 1          Roxanne Persaud.

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 3                 Before I introduce the first witness, 

 4          I would like to remind all of the witnesses 

 5          testifying today to keep your statement 

 6          within your allotted time limit so that 

 7          everyone can be afforded the opportunity to 

 8          speak.  And I speak these words for the 

 9          people on this dais and in front of us.  I 

10          would like not to repeat yesterday.

11                 First to testify is MaryEllen Elia, 

12          commissioner of the New York State Education 

13          Department.  

14                 Good morning.

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.  

16          It's a pleasure to be here with all of you.  

17          Thank you.  Chairwomen Young and Nolan, 

18          Chairmen Marcellino and Farrell, and other 

19          members of the Senate and Assembly, thank 

20          you.

21                 I am MaryEllen Elia, and I am the 

22          commissioner of education in New York State.  

23          I am joined by Senior Deputy Commissioner 

24          Jhone Ebert and Executive Deputy Commissioner 


                                                                  11

 1          Beth Berlin.  

 2                 You have my full testimony before you.  

 3          I will speak to a few slides, and then we'll 

 4          be happy to address your questions.  

 5                 Because this is my first opportunity 

 6          to address you during a budget hearing, I 

 7          want to begin by introducing myself to those 

 8          of you who don't know me.  As some of you 

 9          know, coming to New York to serve as 

10          education commissioner was a homecoming of 

11          sorts.  I began my career in education as a 

12          social studies teacher in the Sweet Home 

13          School District outside of Buffalo in 1970, 

14          where I was a member of NYSUT.  I taught for 

15          19 years before moving on to various 

16          administrative positions, but I still 

17          consider myself a teacher at heart.

18                 So if you've done the math, you'll 

19          know that I've been in education for over 45 

20          years.  In that time I've learned a lot about 

21          what works and what doesn't.  Today I will 

22          lay out a roadmap in four key areas for a 

23          budget that invests in New York's students 

24          and educators.  


                                                                  12

 1                 My first priority in this budget is to 

 2          ensure that our schools are fairly funded 

 3          through a return of concentrated investments 

 4          in Foundation Aid and a full restoration of 

 5          the Gap Elimination Adjustment.  By most 

 6          measures, the economic crisis has lifted and 

 7          there's no longer a need for the GEA.  In 

 8          December, the Regents gave final approval to 

 9          a state aid proposal calling for a 

10          $2.4 billion increase in state aid designed 

11          to address many of the challenges we face and 

12          to provide new opportunities for our 

13          teachers' and students' success.

14                 On Slides 2 through 4, you will see 

15          the highlights of the Regents state proposal, 

16          which recommends a $2.1 billion increase in 

17          Operating Aid, which includes $434 million 

18          for a complete GEA restoration, which has 

19          unfairly penalized many districts, as well as 

20          a $1.3 billion increase in Foundation Aid, 

21          with an additional $345 million in strategic 

22          investments to ensure that school districts 

23          can improve teaching and learning.  

24                 Among these investments, which are 


                                                                  13

 1          highlighted in further detail on Slides 5 

 2          through 9, we recommend $125 million this 

 3          year for expanded access to full-day 

 4          prekindergarten, $75 million to support 

 5          struggling schools in the initial stages of 

 6          the receivership program, $75 million to 

 7          support the unique needs of English language 

 8          learners, $45 million to support high quality 

 9          professional development for our educators, 

10          as recommended by the Governor's recent task 

11          force report, and $25 million for start-up 

12          programs that support family and community 

13          engagement.

14                 In addition to those current-year 

15          investments, the Regents recommend new 

16          reimbursements in next year's budget, 

17          highlighted on Slides 10 and 11, supporting 

18          the creation of Career and Technical 

19          Education pathways and digital learning.

20                 My second priority is the creation of 

21          a truly universal prekindergarten program 

22          detailed on Slides 12 and 13.  We know that 

23          prekindergarten makes a difference in 

24          preparing students for school, and studies 


                                                                  14

 1          indicate that children who participate in 

 2          high-quality preschool programs are 

 3          25 percent less likely to drop out of school, 

 4          40 percent less likely to become a teen 

 5          parent, 50 percent less likely to be placed 

 6          in special education, 60 percent more likely 

 7          to attend some college, and 70 percent less 

 8          likely to be arrested for a violent crime.  

 9                 The Regents recommend that you build 

10          off the historic investments in pre-K by 

11          committing $125 million in this budget to 

12          work towards a truly universal program, 

13          particularly for upstate, where investments 

14          have been limited, and for high-needs 

15          students who have the greatest demonstrated 

16          need for these early learning opportunities.  

17                 While we are encouraged by efforts to 

18          expand pre-K to 3-year-olds, we should first 

19          ensure that all 4-year-olds have a 

20          high-quality, full-day pre-K seat before we 

21          continue to expand the scope of the program.

22                 I also urge you to reject further 

23          fragmentation of pre-K.  We currently have 

24          six different pre-K programs operating under 


                                                                  15

 1          six different sets of requirements, and this 

 2          budget process proposes a new seventh pre-K 

 3          program.  It's time to make a robust 

 4          investment and align the existing 

 5          state-funded pre-K programs into one 

 6          streamlined system that is allocational, not 

 7          competitive.  Our districts and our kids 

 8          should not have to compete against each other 

 9          for programs we know will help all of them 

10          succeed.

11                 It's also critical that pre-K remain 

12          with the State Education Department, not a 

13          new board, to ensure programmatic continuity 

14          and to put the children in these settings in 

15          a better position to achieve a successful and 

16          streamlined transition to their early-grades 

17          education.

18                 My third priority for this budget, as 

19          you can see on Slides 14 and 15, is to fight 

20          for high-quality, rigorous professional 

21          development opportunities for teachers and 

22          principals.  Let me be clear.  Teachers -- 

23          teachers -- are the key to improving outcomes 

24          for students, and the key to helping teachers 


                                                                  16

 1          make a difference for their students is to 

 2          provide them with professional development 

 3          opportunities that support continuous 

 4          improvement.

 5                 As you know, I was a member of the 

 6          Governor's Common Core Task Force with 

 7          Chairman Nolan and also Chairman Marcellino.  

 8          In our December report, one of our key 

 9          recommendations was to provide new 

10          professional development opportunities.  

11          Unfortunately, this recommendation was not 

12          funded in the proposed budget.  I urge you to 

13          provide $45 million to support professional 

14          development for our educators so that the 

15          value we place in teachers is reflected in 

16          our state's budget.  

17                 The last priority I'd like to discuss 

18          with you is the issue of Pathways to 

19          Graduation on Slides 16 through 20.  We know 

20          that students learn in different ways, and 

21          our education system should reflect that 

22          diversity rather than a one-size-fits- all 

23          approach.  The Regents took a historic first 

24          step last year by approving the 4+1 Multiple 


                                                                  17

 1          Pathways model which allows all students to 

 2          substitute one of their social studies 

 3          Regents exams with approved alternatives.  

 4                 As I have traveled the state, I have 

 5          consistently heard about the need to expand 

 6          the Pathway options for all students, but 

 7          with particular attention to options that 

 8          would benefit students with disabilities and 

 9          English language learners.  Last month the 

10          Regents discussed how we expand Pathway 

11          options while retaining rigorous standards.  

12          We discussed expansion of the appeals process 

13          and the use of project-based assessments.  

14                 I want to let you and our education 

15          stakeholders know that we have heard you and 

16          I'll be working with the Regents and the 

17          field to develop both short-term and 

18          long-term options to better ensure that all 

19          students have the opportunity to better 

20          demonstrate what they know, particularly 

21          students with unique learning needs.

22                 Our pathway efforts will require new 

23          resources at the state and local level, and 

24          we look forward to working with you to make 


                                                                  18

 1          this a reality.  

 2                 Finally, in response to President 

 3          Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, 

 4          Regent Young led a workgroup to study how we 

 5          can improve outcomes for boys and young men 

 6          of color who are persistently left behind in 

 7          our education system.  Among the workgroup 

 8          recommendations were several initiatives, 

 9          like expansion of the very successful P-TECH 

10          model and other exemplary programs to expand 

11          opportunities designed to capture and retain 

12          these students' interest in their education 

13          and keep them in school so that they graduate 

14          and can move on to postsecondary education or 

15          careers that pay a living wage.  

16                 Together we can eliminate New York's 

17          achievement gaps and make our education 

18          system more just and equitable.  

19                 Before I take your questions, I'd like 

20          to close by thanking you for the opportunity 

21          to discuss my priorities with you.  The 

22          testimony I've submitted to you addresses 

23          important department budget requests on 

24          Slides 21 to 32 that I did not cover but that 


                                                                  19

 1          I would be pleased to discuss with you.  

 2                 I know you have a challenging task 

 3          ahead of you in the next few weeks to develop 

 4          a spending plan for the entire state.  While 

 5          there's been a significant focus on economic 

 6          development and infrastructure in the 

 7          proposed budget, I'd like to ask you to keep 

 8          in mind that the investments you make in 

 9          those areas will mean less for our businesses 

10          and our state's future if we fail to make 

11          major investments in our workforce pipeline.

12                 This is not just me telling you that.  

13          Studies indicate -- I was with the business 

14          group here in Albany yesterday, talked to 

15          them.  They are very anxious to be partners 

16          with educational institutions around the 

17          state.  They have a clear understanding and 

18          appreciation for the importance of a highly 

19          trained workforce in supporting a strong 

20          economy.

21                 Multiple studies like the ones 

22          described on Slide 33 tell us that we have a 

23          skills crisis, not a jobs crisis.  A 2014 

24          study identified 44,000 job openings for 


                                                                  20

 1          middle-skill workers such as computer 

 2          programmers, yet over 2.6 million New Yorkers 

 3          age 25 and older did not have the credentials 

 4          to fill those jobs.  

 5                 Together we can build a workforce 

 6          pipeline that is the envy of other states.  

 7          Please invest in our students' success in 

 8          this budget.  Let's together send the message 

 9          to students, teachers, principals, school 

10          leaders, parents and all New Yorkers that our 

11          children and our schools are the most 

12          important infrastructure of our state.

13                 Thank you, and I look forward to our 

14          discussion.

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

16          much, Commissioner.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I'd like to note 

18          that we've been joined by Senator John 

19          DeFrancisco.

20                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  First to testify, 

21          Chairwoman Nolan.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you, 

23          Mr. Farrell and my colleagues.  

24                 First, Commissioner, I cannot thank 


                                                                  21

 1          you enough for a concise presentation.  And I 

 2          appreciate your giving us the slides but not 

 3          taking us through them one by one, and 

 4          knowing that people will look at the 

 5          testimony.  

 6                 I just want to say very publicly what 

 7          a pleasure it's been to work with you in the 

 8          short time that you've served as our 

 9          commissioner.  And, you know, your direct and 

10          forthright approach I know is going to make a 

11          difference in the leadership at State Ed and 

12          hopefully in the support that we can give you 

13          here in the Legislature.  And I want to 

14          really endorse the priorities that you put 

15          forward today, and hopefully that we can 

16          deliver on some of the things that you've 

17          asked for.

18                 I do want to ask just briefly, though, 

19          if you could elaborate a little bit more 

20          about community schools.  One of the things I 

21          struggle with as chair of this committee is 

22          education jargon.  So we have renewal 

23          schools, community schools, struggling 

24          schools.  


                                                                  22

 1                 We did put $75 million, and the 

 2          Governor has certainly initiated another 

 3          $100 million this year -- even I am not quite 

 4          clear as to what the differences are, or the 

 5          overlap.  So maybe you can just take us 

 6          through that.  And I know a lot of our 

 7          colleagues have asked me to ask you what's 

 8          happened with the $75 million from last year.  

 9          Is it out the door?  Is it in the schools?  

10          We had a hearing, as you know, on this topic 

11          just a few weeks after you started, and we 

12          appreciated then your willingness to talk 

13          about it.  But perhaps you can update 

14          everyone as to what's happening in that issue 

15          area.

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  Thank you.  

17                 So the funding that came from you last 

18          year -- and thank you very much.  We 

19          appreciate that.  I know that the schools 

20          across the state, those schools that received 

21          the funding who were persistently struggling, 

22          those schools have received their funding and 

23          they've moved forward.  And many of them -- 

24          in areas that you represent -- are making 


                                                                  23

 1          substantial differences and changes in what's 

 2          occurring in those schools to support kids.  

 3                 And relative to the community school 

 4          concept, in fact a number of the schools who 

 5          have received funding in this past round this 

 6          year were in fact implementing community 

 7          schools.  As you're well aware, the law calls 

 8          for an involvement of the community in the 

 9          development of what will be the key factors 

10          that bring change.  A community school offers 

11          wraparound services for parents and for 

12          children and for siblings of children in the 

13          schools, to support them.  It can range from 

14          anything from medical services to 

15          psychological services to emotional supports 

16          to after-school activities, to expansion of 

17          the programming from the regular day into the 

18          after-school time, and also provide 

19          opportunities that the children in these 

20          communities might not have -- so some of 

21          those things that would be important for 

22          children -- the expansion of art programs, 

23          the expansion of athletic programs, 

24          after-school.  


                                                                  24

 1                 So a community school really supports 

 2          the community that that school is located in 

 3          and the children and the families that attend 

 4          it.

 5                 As I said, many of the schools that we 

 6          have that were persistently struggling or 

 7          struggling have already begun those efforts.  

 8          And we're seeing that the communities are 

 9          responding to them.  And I would say that 

10          New York, in my experience, is very committed 

11          to have community support -- that is 

12          not-for-profits and actual community groups 

13          within our cities and our towns supporting 

14          those community schools as they develop.

15                 So it's a great idea.  We have several 

16          that have already started.  And we need to 

17          work through how that legislation, if we move 

18          forward with additional funding, how we would 

19          identify that that would go to schools.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  I 

21          know there's a lot of other people who want 

22          to ask, and I do get the chance to talk to 

23          you pretty regularly, so I just want to say 

24          again I wish you well, it was terrific 


                                                                  25

 1          testimony, and we're looking forward to a 

 2          good discussion today.  Thank you.  

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you very 

 4          much.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Don't faint, 

 6          Denny.  I'm not taking all my time.  I'm 

 7          happy to let Senator Marcellino and other 

 8          colleagues ask questions today.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

10                 At this point I'd like to introduce 

11          Senator Carl Marcellino.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  I'd like to 

13          introduce Assemblywoman Fahy, Assemblywoman 

14          Lifton, Assemblywoman Simon, and Assemblyman 

15          Bill Colton.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Also we've been 

17          joined by Assemblyman Raia.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I must say you 

19          have a full house here today, Commissioner, 

20          full house.

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, thank you 

22          for joining us.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, Senator 

24          Marcellino.


                                                                  26

 1                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thank you very 

 2          much.  

 3                 Good morning, Commissioner.  And --

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.

 5                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  -- again, thank 

 6          you for coming.  And we hope you will not 

 7          duplicate yesterday's debacle, if you will.

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I thought you all 

 9          wanted to stay for the day and talk about 

10          this important topic.

11                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Only if you'll 

12          bring a lunch.  

13                 (Laughter.)

14                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  That might work, 

15          but otherwise no.

16                 I'm pleased to hear that you consider 

17          yourself a teacher at heart still to this 

18          day.  I also consider myself a teacher.  I 

19          taught for 20 years, as you well know, at 

20          Grover Cleveland High School {inaudible}.  

21          Cathy Nolan had the misfortune of being one 

22          of my students at the time.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  It's hard to 

24          believe, isn't it?  But true.


                                                                  27

 1                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Very hard to 

 2          believe.  As my colleague over here said, and 

 3          that's what happened.  But we remain friends 

 4          to this day.

 5                 A chart was released by the department 

 6          that talks about the testing program of 

 7          required tests for the Common Core.  The 

 8          recommendation -- one of the recommendations 

 9          from the task force, No. 13, was to reduce 

10          the number of days and shorten the duration 

11          for standards-aligned state standardized 

12          tests.

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.

14                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  This chart has 

15          been picked up by a number of --

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senator, your mic's 

17          not on.

18                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I'm sorry.  This 

19          chart -- ooh.  You really don't want me to 

20          start all over again, do you?

21                 (Laughter.)

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Use your teacher 

23          voice, Carl.

24                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I thought I was, 


                                                                  28

 1          but that's okay.  

 2                 This chart proposes to look at -- and 

 3          it appears, when you look at it, to require 

 4          the same number of testing days as has been 

 5          held in the past, which doesn't seem to 

 6          reduce testing.  So some of the people in the 

 7          opt-out movement are saying:  See, 

 8          Marcellino, when you say give them a chance 

 9          to do right by us, the first thing they do is 

10          they go back and do the same old thing all 

11          over again.  They're really not trustworthy.  

12                 Can you explain this chart and how 

13          it's going to be operated and how it 

14          complies, if it does, with the 

15          recommendations of the task force?  

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, you gave me 

17          a great opportunity to say publicly I am a 

18          trustworthy person.  When I say that we're 

19          going to do something, we're going to do it.

20                 And let me run down the differences in 

21          the testing program for this spring so that 

22          you clearly understand it.  That was part of 

23          the discussion in the task force, as you 

24          remember, I'm sure, Senator Marcellino and 


                                                                  29

 1          Chairwoman Nolan.  

 2                 So let me talk about that new testing 

 3          program.  We have hired a new company who is 

 4          doing our testing with us.  Questar has been 

 5          very receptive to the demands that we've made 

 6          of including teachers across the board in our 

 7          testing program.  

 8                 And so as was pointed out in the 

 9          beginning of my testimony, I am from 

10          New York.  Like many of you, probably, I have 

11          a Regents diploma.  I then taught in New York 

12          for 17 years, and I participated and reviewed 

13          assessments in New York as a teacher here.  

14                 So one of the things that we have to 

15          do that we are doing for this spring's 

16          assessment is having teachers be involved in 

17          reviewing the questions, the match to the 

18          standards, and the particular reading 

19          passages that are part of that.  Every one of 

20          the assessments in Grades 3 through 8, 

21          language arts and mathematics, has been 

22          shortened.  Following that, next year, if 

23          possible, we will shorten the days.  

24                 But I want to make it clear to you 


                                                                  30

 1          that if you are going to have enough 

 2          questions on the test that require students 

 3          to be able to read and respond and 

 4          understand, and that we know from their 

 5          responses that they understand, you will be 

 6          required to have a certain number of 

 7          questions.  Some of the time limits, 

 8          particularly for our younger children in 

 9          Grades 3, 4, and 5, I think we can shorten 

10          down in days.  We're working very diligently 

11          to do that.  

12                 But understand that this spring there 

13          will be major changes.  That does not include 

14          and I never said it included going to a 

15          two-day test as opposed to a three-day test.  

16          And I want to point out something to you.  If 

17          you are in third grade, is it better to have 

18          a longer period of time or to have it chunked 

19          out to three days for 60 minutes each day?  

20          And those are the kinds of questions you have 

21          to ask.

22                 So those decisions should be made by 

23          practitioners, by experts.  And one of the 

24          things that I am very pleased to say that 


                                                                  31

 1          we've already adjusted for this spring is 

 2          that if a student is productively working, we 

 3          have distributed information and will make it 

 4          very clear to districts that students who are 

 5          productively working can continue the 

 6          assessment.

 7                 I heard from parents across this state 

 8          and from teachers that part of the stresses 

 9          that we had on our kids was that they were 

10          timed, and particularly younger children.  So 

11          if they are working productively, then they 

12          will be able to continue the assessment and 

13          move as -- in a setting where they can read, 

14          comprehend and respond to the questions that 

15          correspond.

16                 So we are making major changes.  I've 

17          just reviewed them.  I have -- in every 

18          setting that I've been in over the last seven 

19          months in my tenure, I've talked about the 

20          changes that we are making for this spring's 

21          assessment.  And those are major changes, 

22          Senator Marcellino, as I'm sure you're aware.

23                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  When you talk 

24          about the timed tests, are you dealing with 


                                                                  32

 1          special education or students with special 

 2          needs only, or is that for everybody?  

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  That's for 

 4          everyone.

 5                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  So any youngster, 

 6          no matter what, if they are working 

 7          productively and the time-limit bell goes 

 8          off, they will be given time by the proctors 

 9          to finish their test and do the best they 

10          can.

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

12                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Okay.  That 

13          should clear up some of that.

14                 We're still using -- you talk about 

15          hiring another company.  Questar?  

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Questar is the new 

17          company.

18                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  But they don't 

19          come in till next year.  This year you're 

20          still working with the prior company, 

21          Pearson, by contract.  Am I wrong?  

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  It's a transition 

23          time.  Pearson is not running the tests, 

24          Questar is running the tests for us.  But we 


                                                                  33

 1          are using the questions that were developed 

 2          prior to that with input from New York State 

 3          teachers this year, prior to the development 

 4          of the test.

 5                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I'm sure you know 

 6          that much of the complaining and much of the 

 7          problem posed by a lot of parents and 

 8          teachers was that the questions in some cases 

 9          were just incomprehensible.  And the required 

10          steps and answers were just ridiculous to 

11          perform.

12                 So what you're telling me -- I just 

13          want to be clear on this.  If I'm wrong, 

14          correct me, please.  But what you're saying 

15          to the public is that the questions have been 

16          reviewed so that they will meet appropriate 

17          standards and that they will be 

18          age-appropriate for the youngsters who are 

19          taking the tests?  

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  And so let 

21          me point out one thing.  As you're aware as a 

22          teacher, you know that when you give an 

23          assessment, if every child could answer every 

24          question, then you aren't able to really 


                                                                  34

 1          determine how well students are doing at the 

 2          high level and what students are struggling 

 3          some.  

 4                 And so every question that you walk 

 5          in, every child will not feel like this is 

 6          the easiest question to answer.

 7                 However, within the test and the 

 8          structure of the test, there are multiple 

 9          levels of difficulty.  And we are responding 

10          to what is an appropriate response for 

11          assessing a student's abilities.

12                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I appreciate 

13          that.  I just have one more question, if I 

14          might.

15                 You talked about universal pre-K as 

16          being important.  You're expanding that to 

17          3-year-olds.  There are schools throughout 

18          the state that don't have full-day 

19          kindergarten.  Do we have any idea what the 

20          number is, by the way, statewide?

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  There are nine 

22          districts across the state that do not have 

23          kindergarten.  There are approximately -- and 

24          I'm saying approximately very purposefully -- 


                                                                  35

 1          approximately 20 to 30 that do not have 

 2          full-day kindergarten.  

 3                 So that is an issue that we are 

 4          looking at, with the Regents.  But the point 

 5          is, before you in the budget is a proposal to 

 6          expand pre-K.  I read to you the key elements 

 7          of what occurs when a student has been 

 8          participating in a quality pre-K program.  We 

 9          should have all children in New York in a 

10          quality pre-K program.  And we should target 

11          4-year-olds first so there is equity and 

12          opportunity across the entire state.  

13                 And certainly it could benefit 

14          3-year-olds as well.  But I think it's 

15          important for us to say that there's 

16          consistency across the state and that your 

17          zip code does not determine where it is and 

18          what age your child can go to pre-K.

19                 So my suggestion, my strong 

20          recommendation is that we go for a 4-year-old 

21          pre-K program statewide for every one of our 

22          students.  And you're right, we do have to 

23          address the issue of those districts that do 

24          not have either a kindergarten at all or a 


                                                                  36

 1          full-day kindergarten.

 2                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I appreciate 

 3          that.  

 4                 And I just want to thank you.  You 

 5          testified before the Education Committee of 

 6          the Senate, and it was a well-received 

 7          testimony.  I personally respect your efforts 

 8          and have found, working with you and speaking 

 9          with you, that you are, to my mind, truthful 

10          and forthright, and you say what you mean and 

11          mean what you say.  

12                 So thank you very much for your 

13          testimony.

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  And thank you for 

15          giving me a chance.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.  

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you, Senator.  

18                 Assemblyman Cusick.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Thank you.  Thank 

20          you, Mr. Chair.  

21                 Thank you, Commissioner.  It's great 

22          to see you again.  And I want to thank you 

23          once again for coming out to Staten Island a 

24          couple of weeks ago with Chancellor Farina to 


                                                                  37

 1          St. Charles School to look at the pre-K 

 2          program that's going on there.  I'm just 

 3          going to follow up -- I know my colleagues 

 4          have many questions, so I'm going to be as 

 5          quick as I can and go off the track a little 

 6          bit on the Common Core questions.  

 7                 But I wanted to ask about the 

 8          nonpublic schools.  We spoke a little bit 

 9          about it at St. Charles, and you're aware of 

10          the challenges that nonpublic schools have 

11          when it comes to meeting the requirements of 

12          state and federal regulations and the laws 

13          that bind them, federally and state.

14                 And I know there's a movement and 

15          there have been suggestions in reestablishing 

16          the Office of Nonpublic Schools.  Is there a 

17          request on your part for funding for 

18          reestablishing that?

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  In fact, I 

20          have that on one of the slides that we 

21          presented to you.  We'll find it very 

22          quickly.  

23                 I would concur with you that we have 

24          intersections with nonpublic schools in many 


                                                                  38

 1          ways -- through funding that comes in that 

 2          they're able to access, through programs that 

 3          we have related to attendance procedures, et 

 4          cetera.  And so I believe that it is to the 

 5          benefit of certainly the nonpublic schools 

 6          and the State Education Department that we 

 7          have a designated office.

 8                 I want to point out to you that we 

 9          have -- we are down approximately 40 percent 

10          in the staffing in the State Ed Department.  

11          And -- 

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Say that number 

13          again?  Forty percent?  

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  About 40 percent 

15          down.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  That's a state 

17          number?

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.  

19                 And if you move to Slide 23, it does a 

20          comparison there of the State Ed Department's 

21          percentage of funding that comes from the 

22          budget, the proposed budget, and our General 

23          Fund in the state to State Ed, with a couple 

24          other departments compared there.


                                                                  39

 1                 I just want to point out, 

 2          unfortunately, several years ago that office, 

 3          because of the constraints that we had in 

 4          staffing, that office was disbanded.  

 5                 I would agree and support that.  And 

 6          if you see on page 9 of the slides, we are in 

 7          support that the reestablishment of that 

 8          office to serve nonpublic schools and to 

 9          better connect what is occurring with all of 

10          education in the State of New York with the 

11          nonpublic schools and support them as they 

12          receive the funding to really help students 

13          across the state.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Well, thank you 

15          for that.  And I know that there are many 

16          members who have been working on that.  I 

17          know that Chairwoman Nolan has spearheaded 

18          that in our house, in working on that issue.

19                 I also just want to ask a question -- 

20          I've asked this question of many people.  But 

21          the issue of the heroin epidemic and the 

22          opioid epidemic reaches many of our young 

23          people throughout the state.  And I know in 

24          New York City there's a movement in a lot of 


                                                                  40

 1          the local schools to start educating some of 

 2          our students on the epidemic and the 

 3          downfalls of heroin and prescription drugs.

 4                 Is there anything in the planning 

 5          stages or anything happening on the state 

 6          level that we can start pushing for in our 

 7          districts?

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  We're very 

 9          concerned and have had discussions with the 

10          staff and with the Regents about this very 

11          issue.  And we've partnered with other 

12          agencies, particularly the Department of 

13          Health, to talk about how we might work 

14          together to make sure that we get factual 

15          information out to our schools.

16                 One of the ideas that I have is that 

17          we would provide training across our school 

18          systems and across our state so that 

19          teachers are aware of what resources are 

20          available, and that this should be provided 

21          as a part of their education in a health 

22          program, health setting, or in a science 

23          program.  That it really is a critical thing 

24          for us.  It's something that we clearly -- to 


                                                                  41

 1          support students -- that ultimately we want 

 2          to be successful.  It's one of those areas 

 3          that really we need to help.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Yes, and I fully 

 5          agree with that.  And it's encouraging to 

 6          hear you say that.  I know on the local level 

 7          I know that our borough president is working 

 8          with the local schools and with NYPD to 

 9          implement this in our local schools.  And 

10          it's good to hear that we can work with you 

11          on the state level on that.  Thank you so 

12          much.

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Thank you, 

15          Mr. Chairman.

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

17          much.

18                 Senator?  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I'd like to note 

20          that we've been joined by Senator George 

21          Latimer.  

22                 And next up is Senator John Bonacic.

23                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Thank you.  

24                 Good morning, Commissioner.  Good to 


                                                                  42

 1          see you.  I just would like to preface my 

 2          remarks before my questions.  

 3                 I have four members of my family that 

 4          are in the public education system; two are 

 5          now retired.  I have a daughter and a 

 6          sister-in-law that teach in the public 

 7          schools.  So I hear about education all the 

 8          time.

 9                 One of our top priorities this year is 

10          to try to get rid of the GEA, and we know 

11          that that's a goal of yours.  I would ask you 

12          to keep your eye on the small city school 

13          districts.  They have a lot of -- the upstate 

14          economy has had a lot of stagnation, urban 

15          blight.  They need help.

16                 I have two basic questions.  The first 

17          one is I share your enthusiasm and your 

18          vision for trying to improve education, but 

19          I'm very upset when I read articles about the 

20          rubber rooms in New York City.  When there's 

21          200 to 400 teachers and staffers waiting for 

22          disciplinary hearings, costing us between $15 

23          million and $20 million, I'm going to ask you 

24          what you can do to work with whoever you have 


                                                                  43

 1          to to get rid of these rubber rooms.  Because 

 2          it's a disservice to good teachers, it's 

 3          certainly a black eye to the teachers' union.  

 4          And it -- it gives like a pall over 

 5          everything you're talking about to move 

 6          education forward in empowering students as 

 7          long as these rubber rooms exist.

 8                 So I guess my first question is, would 

 9          you do everything in your power to get rid of 

10          these rubber rooms once and for all?  That 

11          would be Question No. 1.  And let me give 

12          question No. 2, because I won't talk anymore 

13          after I ask you the second question.

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Okay.

15                 SENATOR BONACIC:  The education lobby 

16          is coming after us for more money, another 

17          over $2 billion.  And as a State Senator, I 

18          think I have voted always for the education 

19          budget, always given more than what a 

20          governor is proposing, regardless of the 

21          governor's party.  Okay, so we're a believer 

22          in education.  

23                 But when we're spending about $23,000 

24          per student and the national average is about 


                                                                  44

 1          11.5, and we're about in the middle in 

 2          achievement, do you think there are other 

 3          things we can do to empower students besides 

 4          just throwing more money at the education 

 5          system?  I know that's a difficult question.  

 6          But if you could share some of your thinking 

 7          about it, I'd appreciate it.  And thank you.

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

 9                 So let me address the issue of the 

10          term "rubber room."

11                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Yes.

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  There obviously 

13          are processes that are in place if something 

14          occurs and a teacher does something that is 

15          inappropriate.  And I certainly will work 

16          with any district and the City of New York so 

17          that we can facilitate whatever is possible 

18          to make sure that appropriate action is taken 

19          as soon as possible and that professionals 

20          are treated appropriately, but we move 

21          through the process, because ultimately we 

22          need to make sure that the people that are in 

23          front of our students every day are trained 

24          and are appropriate in what they're doing.


                                                                  45

 1                 So that's my statement about that.

 2                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Thank you.

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  And I am very, 

 4          very supportive of constant improvement for 

 5          teachers.  And you saw in my proposal and my 

 6          discussion that I believe it's extremely 

 7          important that we have professional 

 8          development for teachers across the state, 

 9          that it should be equitable across the state, 

10          that we shouldn't have competition for who's 

11          going to get the funding to be able to do the 

12          kind of training that our teachers need.  And 

13          I believe that the training of teachers 

14          ultimately puts them in a position to be 

15          better in the classroom, and I would 

16          anticipate that some of the situations that 

17          we face across the state in teachers doing 

18          things inappropriately hopefully would end.  

19          At least decrease.  

20                 So I am very concerned about it, but I 

21          think one of the ways to address it is that 

22          we make sure that we provide every bit of 

23          training that is possible for our teachers so 

24          they can be competent in the classroom doing 


                                                                  46

 1          the things they need to do.

 2                 The second issue on -- and you're 

 3          right, it's not an easy thing, is it?

 4                 SENATOR BONACIC:  No.

 5                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You have funded 

 6          schools -- and you're correct, New York has 

 7          funded schools in a way that has been 

 8          supportive of the kinds of things that need 

 9          to occur to bring students success.

10                 We are in a shift across this country 

11          in raising standards and in moving, actually, 

12          from one system of education to a very 

13          different approach to how we connect with 

14          kids, how we teach kids, and how teachers use 

15          the resources that they have to interact with 

16          kids.  

17                 So let me give you a good example.  In 

18          New York we have the P-TECH system.  We have 

19          schools, approximately 25, and we've added 

20          seven or eight this year, so even more P-TECH 

21          centers.  P-TECH centers are taking students 

22          that you would anticipate would not be 

23          successful and graduate, and they're moving 

24          them through a system -- high interest, very, 


                                                                  47

 1          very relevant because they in fact are 

 2          connecting with jobs and with companies who 

 3          will give them jobs and then give them 

 4          experiences in that setting so that they can 

 5          get better every day.  

 6                 So the students moving through a 

 7          P-TECH program are students that are at-risk 

 8          kids in our schools.  A number of them are 

 9          students with special needs.  They are 

10          students who in our traditional sense 

11          probably wouldn't make it if we let them in a 

12          more traditional setting.  But when we take 

13          them and put them in a setting that is 

14          designed around a different approach, it 

15          works.

16                 So I would suggest to you that we have 

17          to move New York State and the teachers of 

18          New York State -- which I again get back to, 

19          the critical piece of having staff 

20          development for teachers -- we have to move 

21          the state so that we are reflective of the 

22          kinds of jobs that are necessary -- all of 

23          them require -- for the most part, they 

24          require postsecondary work.  


                                                                  48

 1                 You talk about infrastructure, you 

 2          talk about building roads, you talk about 

 3          bridges, you talk about expansion of 

 4          buildings.  People now going into the trades 

 5          are required to have additional training.  

 6          And we want people to be able -- our students 

 7          to be successful when they get in that 

 8          setting and they have an opportunity for a 

 9          great job.  And the way to do that is to 

10          provide the training that is reflective of 

11          the jobs that are out there in this 

12          21st-century technology world we live in, 

13          where it isn't what you know, it's if you 

14          know how to find out what you don't know.  

15                 And I think that's a critical piece 

16          and it responds to your point.  But to do 

17          that, that transition, is expensive.  It does 

18          take resources, and it takes people that can 

19          think differently about how we're going to 

20          respond to kids.

21                 SENATOR BONACIC:  Thank you very much, 

22          Commissioner.

23                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

24                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  


                                                                  49

 1                 Assemblyman Ra.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, Chairman.  

 3                 Good morning, Commissioner.

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.  

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  I just wanted to ask 

 6          you a couple of quick questions about some of 

 7          the policy issues that, you know, were put 

 8          forth.  Let me tell you it's very refreshing 

 9          to be talking this year about funding various 

10          things instead of about policy issues, which 

11          dominated a lot of the conversation last 

12          year.  

13                 But I am curious with, you know, the 

14          Governor putting forth his proposal, he 

15          seemed to really put the onus completely on 

16          the State Education Department to enact those 

17          recommendations from the Common Core Task 

18          Force.  I was just wondering what your 

19          thoughts are in terms of whether you think 

20          there is anything we need to do legislatively 

21          to empower the department to enact some of 

22          those recommendations.

23                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, so if we 

24          walk through the recommendations, and there's 


                                                                  50

 1          probably -- I would say you can distill it 

 2          down to three or four key areas.  First of 

 3          all, we have done the initial work on 

 4          determining where we need to go with 

 5          standards, and that is we know that in a 

 6          survey that was done by the State Ed 

 7          Department, where we collected over a 

 8          quarter-million pieces of data and opinions 

 9          related to all of the standards, we know that 

10          for the most part 71 percent of the people 

11          that responded to that survey believe in 

12          higher standards.  

13                 But they also gave us information that 

14          we need to review because they suggested 

15          moving standards, changing the difficulty in 

16          specific grade levels -- for instance, early 

17          grades being more difficult than perhaps is 

18          appropriate for that age and grade level.  

19                 So we have much work to do to review 

20          the standards for New York State.  It needs 

21          to be an open and transparent process.  It 

22          needs to have practitioners -- that is, 

23          teachers and administrators from across the 

24          state -- involved in committees.  And it 


                                                                  51

 1          needs to be done in a way that we can get 

 2          input from the public in multiple ways and 

 3          use that input to make recommendations back 

 4          to the Regents for what the standards for New 

 5          York State students should be.  

 6                 We agree they need to be high 

 7          standards.  It is a normal thing to review 

 8          standards every few years.  You have put in 

 9          legislation that they'll be reviewed after 

10          every five years; I think that's appropriate.  

11          And it takes time, it takes effort, and it 

12          takes people to work to make sure that a 

13          process like that can be done appropriately.

14                 There is no funding in here for any of 

15          that.  So that's one area that I think is -- 

16          that needs to be addressed.

17                 Secondly, I would suggest to you, and 

18          it was brought up a number of times in the 

19          testimony that we heard from across the 

20          state, from parents and stakeholders -- and 

21          Senator Marcellino and Assemblywoman Nolan, 

22          as chairs of their committee, were part of 

23          our group.  And as we talked about it, it was 

24          clear:  We have to support our teachers.  In 


                                                                  52

 1          fact, on one of the slides in your deck we 

 2          point out that one of the specific examples 

 3          of work to be done is helping teachers, 

 4          giving them staff development, helping them 

 5          understand the standards, how to teach the 

 6          standards, and then supporting them in 

 7          developing lesson plans that are related to 

 8          the delivery of those standards.

 9                 We have a resource that's been used in 

10          New York over the last several years called 

11          Engage New York.  It's an online opportunity 

12          for teachers to get information.  It needs to 

13          be worked on.  

14                 But key to this is the staff 

15          development piece that was suggested as one 

16          of the key recommendations from the 

17          Governor's task force.  It was recommendation 

18          No. 9 and specifically speaks to across the 

19          board.  It can't be a program where a 

20          district that has a great grant writer can 

21          get.  Because the districts that don't have 

22          the great grant writers have teachers and 

23          kids that need to have the support.  

24                 So we need to have funding for staff 


                                                                  53

 1          development that is consistent for every 

 2          teacher across the state, and we need to 

 3          develop a career ladder so that every school 

 4          has a master teacher that can support and 

 5          help continuous, ongoing improvement in our 

 6          schools.

 7                 We had a model that was used that 

 8          previously had been funded through our Race 

 9          to the Top grant.  That funding is gone.  But 

10          it was consistently -- and all the people 

11          that I've talked to have indicated that the 

12          STLE, the Strengthening Teacher Leader 

13          Effectiveness model, was very effective.  But 

14          everybody didn't get it.  And so you have 

15          pockets in some of the most needy school 

16          districts and urban districts where we didn't 

17          have that support for teachers.  And that 

18          will make a huge change when we see things 

19          changing every day in every classroom across 

20          this state.

21                 So there are other things that were 

22          also brought up.  The issue of the testing.  

23          We need to think of different ways to test 

24          our children.  We need to put in 


                                                                  54

 1          project-based assessments.  Project-based 

 2          assessments cost money.  You have to develop 

 3          them with the teachers of New York.  You have 

 4          to then put the teachers in place so that 

 5          they can be supportive of the students who 

 6          opt to do a project-based assessment.  And 

 7          then after you've done that, you have to have 

 8          trained reviewers who will look at each of 

 9          those with the appropriate rubric and 

10          consistently assess them across the state.  

11                 So all of that is taking resources.  

12          And that was called for in the report, and it 

13          was not funded.  

14                 So I think it's important for us to 

15          understand we all want what's right for our 

16          kids.  We all want a state that can be proud 

17          of what they do for their children but also 

18          can be a strong state in terms of developing 

19          its workforce and all of the things that are 

20          necessary for success.  And if you follow -- 

21          and I was so pleased to be part of a very 

22          productive workforce group that put together 

23          these recommendations.  If you follow the 

24          recommendations and support us to make these 


                                                                  55

 1          things happen, we will do them.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Just getting slightly 

 3          more specific.  So teacher evaluations, we 

 4          know the action was taken to delay the use of 

 5          the scores in the evaluations.  But at least 

 6          in my view, as that provision in statute 

 7          currently stands, I find it very limiting.  

 8          And I'm hearing from some of my 

 9          superintendents, you know, concerns on -- I 

10          think that was the major piece in terms of 

11          general public concern on the testing side.  

12          But then it kind of I think leaves the rest 

13          of it for the districts to work through and 

14          figure out how the assessment piece is going 

15          to work on top of, you know, things like the 

16          outside evaluators and things of that nature.

17                 So do you view, from the department, 

18          that the Legislature needs to make any 

19          further changes to the teacher evaluation as 

20          in current statute?

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So there's no 

22          question that we have to look at what the 

23          evaluation process -- the process is and then 

24          how it's constructed and how it's connected 


                                                                  56

 1          to performance of students and how we do 

 2          that.  There's no question that has to occur.  

 3                 Right now what we've done is we have 

 4          stepped back, and by putting in place this 

 5          transition period until the 2019-2020 school 

 6          year, we have much to do.  We have work to do 

 7          on the standards, we have work to do on staff 

 8          development and curriculum.  All of those 

 9          things were part of the commission.  We have 

10          work to do relative to the assessments.  And 

11          again, teachers need to be very involved in 

12          that.  

13                 And we need -- as we're moving 

14          forward, we need to put together a team of 

15          people from all of our practitioner groups 

16          and our parent groups to talk about what is 

17          an appropriate way to have an accountability 

18          system in the State of New York.  

19                 So in New York we invest over 

20          $60 billion a year in education.  You support 

21          that.  If you want to have a great system and 

22          you want to get better and you want to 

23          provide what students need, we need to figure 

24          out a way that we can all know that we are 


                                                                  57

 1          accountable for that investment and that 

 2          we're doing what needs to be done for all 

 3          kids across the state.

 4                 So we need to do an evaluation system, 

 5          not just for teachers, for principals and, 

 6          across the state, for our districts.  But it 

 7          doesn't happen overnight, and it does require 

 8          input, and it needs to look at how we're 

 9          progressing in those areas that are related 

10          to it -- like the standards development, like 

11          the assessments, like the work with 

12          teachers -- so that when we have that 

13          evaluation in place, it is fair and 

14          appropriate and it talks about the importance 

15          of helping teachers get better with 

16          continuous improvement every day.  

17                 No evaluation should be trying to 

18          skewer people.  It shouldn't be.  And 

19          unfortunately, I think the rhetoric has gone 

20          in that direction and I think we have to 

21          shift that immediately.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, 

23          Commissioner.

24                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 


                                                                  58

 1          much.

 2                 We've been joined by Assemblyman 

 3          Weprin.  Senator?  

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 5          much, Chairman.  

 6                 Next would be Senator John 

 7          DeFrancisco.

 8                 SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:  Thank you, 

 9          Commissioner.  And thank you for meeting with 

10          me earlier this year on what I'm going to 

11          talk about now, my pet project.  And we keep 

12          bringing it up every year, and hopefully 

13          we're getting closer at this point in time.  

14                 And that basically is we pay for 

15          remediation of students, they get high school 

16          degrees that the amount of remediation is 

17          absolutely unbelievable.  And when we have 

18          this discussion, it's always, well, the urban 

19          schools, people have different problems, 

20          different issues, poverty, et cetera, et 

21          cetera.  

22                 I was so pleased when I saw an 

23          editorial from Newsday -- which doesn't 

24          normally happen -- but what I was pleased 


                                                                  59

 1          about was that the high school graduation 

 2          rate on Long Island -- Long Island, $22,000 a 

 3          year average for each student, the Long 

 4          Island everyone complains about that gets too 

 5          much state aid except the Long Islanders -- 

 6          the graduation rate was 89 percent, but only 

 7          54 percent of students got scores on their 

 8          Regents algebra and English exams that 

 9          indicate college readiness.  Long Island.

10                 I know there's some better schools on 

11          Long Island, some schools that aren't so 

12          good.  In Roosevelt the graduation rate in 

13          2015 was 72 percent.  College preparedness, 

14          3.3 percent.  And the most noted high schools 

15          that are outstanding high schools, at least 

16          90 percent did head off to college.  About 70 

17          percent of the community college students and 

18          50 percent of the four-year college students 

19          in the state paid for remedial college 

20          classes, to retake classes graduates didn't 

21          master in high school.

22                 And what I've been trying to do, and 

23          we've talked about it, is try to get some 

24          consensus between SUNY and CUNY and the 


                                                                  60

 1          commissioner of education and members of the 

 2          Regents Board, a way to identify these 

 3          students earlier.  And rather than in the 

 4          senior year -- and everybody knows it 

 5          happens -- if you've got your required 

 6          courses you're either in some type of study 

 7          hall or you are allowed to go off to some 

 8          phony baloney job that's supposed to prepare 

 9          you for life.

10                 So I guess what I'm saying is I wanted 

11          to let everybody know that we've already had 

12          a meeting with the commissioner and the 

13          chancellors of CUNY and SUNY and we're hoping 

14          to come up with some type of solution.  

15                 But is there any brief comment you 

16          would like to make?  And then I will go on to 

17          my next actual question.

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I appreciate 

19          your involvement in this and your support for 

20          it, because I do believe that we have a 

21          responsibility, when a student has a diploma 

22          from one of the high schools in New York 

23          State, that they shouldn't automatically have 

24          to go and take -- over 40 percent of them go 


                                                                  61

 1          and have to have remediation before they can 

 2          take regular courses that matriculate to a 

 3          degree, whether it's an associate's degree or 

 4          whether it's a four-year baccalaureate 

 5          degree.  

 6                 So we have to stop that.  And I've 

 7          started having conversations early in my 

 8          tenure with Dr. Zimpher and also working with 

 9          CUNY.  We believe that we can put in place an 

10          assessment that can be done in 10th grade 

11          that would allow us to know what areas 

12          particularly a student needed to have and 

13          then provide that intervention in high school 

14          prior to a student graduating.  

15                 And as you're aware, our conversation 

16          was that this would be something that should 

17          be done for every student that wants it, but 

18          that it could be an optional thing.  But I 

19          will tell you, parents need to understand 

20          that we have a responsibility, as do they, in 

21          helping us to get their student where they 

22          need to be.  And I would agree with you that 

23          if you look at the schedules I believe across 

24          the state, we could make sure that our 


                                                                  62

 1          students, many, many more of them were ready 

 2          to go into college level coursework when they 

 3          walked out of high school.  If we all agree, 

 4          from CUNY, SUNY and the independent colleges 

 5          and the State Ed Department, we can make that 

 6          happen.

 7                 SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:  And if the 

 8          parents learn about this and learn that 

 9          they're going to save money and their TAP 

10          grants aren't just going to get prepared for 

11          college while they're in college, I think 

12          parents would buy into it.  And we as a state 

13          should make an investment to make sure it 

14          happens.

15                 The other thing that a lot of -- I 

16          started -- my first elected office was the 

17          school board of the City of Syracuse.  That 

18          was 112 years ago.  

19                 (Laughter.)

20                 SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:  Actually, 38.  

21          And what seems to be happening more and more 

22          is that there is an atmosphere in the 

23          classroom that is, to put it mildly, not 

24          conducive to learning.  And that applies 


                                                                  63

 1          across the board in varying degrees to all 

 2          type of school districts.  And I really 

 3          believe much of this stuff could be worked 

 4          out by teachers teaching as long as they've 

 5          got an atmosphere in which to teach.  

 6                 We have violence in the city schools 

 7          that -- you know, teachers come to me all the 

 8          time:  I got struck, I got hit, the kid 

 9          doesn't get suspended and he's back in my 

10          classroom or somebody else's next week, and 

11          there's no consequences.

12                 Now, I don't know if there's any 

13          statewide policy on that, but recently the 

14          Syracuse City School District was taken to 

15          task by our Attorney General, who indicated 

16          that there was some type of racial bias as to 

17          the number of suspensions.  And they came up 

18          together, Schneiderman with his education 

19          expertise, and the city school district, what 

20          the suspension procedure should be.  Which 

21          resulted in there's -- nobody gets suspended 

22          any more.  Okay?  Very rarely.  And you talk 

23          to any teacher in the school, and the 

24          atmosphere is getting worse.  


                                                                  64

 1                 So my question is, is there any 

 2          statewide policy -- rather than the Attorney 

 3          General moving into the realm of education -- 

 4          where certain standards have to be met and 

 5          certain things can happen if someone is 

 6          breaking those rules with respect to how they 

 7          should act in a classroom so there's a good 

 8          atmosphere?  

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So I think your 

10          question actually has a number of different 

11          areas I'd like to address.

12                 First of all, our Safe Schools Task 

13          Force was made up of people from a number of 

14          different agencies, and we looked 

15          specifically at what we could do to support 

16          the whole concept of the climate of a school 

17          being better and conducive to an educational 

18          learning environment.  

19                 You know, it's easy to say that, but 

20          to really get there you really have to do, 

21          and I'm going to go back to again, you have 

22          to do training across the board for teachers 

23          and administrators.  And I want to connect 

24          that to another proposal that we have, which 


                                                                  65

 1          is to establish an Office of Community and 

 2          Parent Involvement.  We do not have a focused 

 3          office on that, and much of what you've said 

 4          connects to what happens with parents and 

 5          students in the classroom in that school.

 6                 So I think it's very important that we 

 7          help and support schools across the state to 

 8          have a respectful environment for students.  

 9                 One of the things that I do know, if 

10          students aren't in school, they cannot learn.  

11          If students aren't in school, they can't 

12          learn.  It makes sense, but we have to often 

13          say that to ourselves.  And there are a 

14          number of models that have been used to 

15          address the issue that you're talking about, 

16          which is what is it you can do when a student 

17          is misbehaving that doesn't automatically 

18          have them exiting the school building, but 

19          rather doing other things.  And there are 

20          many models that have been very successful.  

21                 And part of the work that needs to be 

22          done I believe in New York is finding those 

23          excellent pockets of great work and sharing 

24          that with others.  And the strategies that 


                                                                  66

 1          are used in school sites that have particular 

 2          engagement of their students with their 

 3          teachers, who have a relevant kind of 

 4          curriculum where teachers are using the kinds 

 5          of strategies in the classroom that get kids 

 6          involved in it in a way that they have 

 7          positive interactions with each other in a 

 8          respectful way, that creates that kind of 

 9          environment.  

10                 And we are expanding to a school 

11          climate index.  We believe that that's a 

12          really critical way of knowing how well 

13          students are interacting in that school.  If 

14          the climate is a hot climate and it's not one 

15          that -- and I don't mean, you know, a hot 

16          place, I'm talking about a hot climate where 

17          people are just ready to go after each 

18          other -- then that is not conducive to a good 

19          educational environment.

20                 So we are instituting as part of our 

21          Safe Schools work a climate survey for 

22          schools so that we know and they know what 

23          they need to address to create that kind of 

24          learning environment that is conductive to an 


                                                                  67

 1          education.

 2                 SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:  Thank you.

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You're welcome.

 4                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 6                 I'd like to note that we've been 

 7          joined by Senator Leroy Comrie.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  We've also been 

 9          joined by Assemblyman Murray and Assemblyman 

10          Lopez.

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

12                 Assemblyman Mosley.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN MOSLEY:  Thank you, 

14          Mr. Chair.  

15                 First and foremost, I'd like to thank 

16          the commissioner for all the work you've done 

17          in such a short period of time.  It was a 

18          pleasure to have been working with you.  

19                 I'd also like to thank the Board of 

20          Regents as it relates to the My Brother's 

21          Keeper initiative.

22                 The question that I have, first and 

23          foremost -- one, not a question -- as a 

24          parent of a third grader, my son, who always 


                                                                  68

 1          tells me, Dad, I've got Sunday school, I have 

 2          regular school, I have Saturday school, when 

 3          do I ever get a chance to get out of school?  

 4          To him, I think it will be refreshing to let 

 5          him know that the testing, the rigors of the 

 6          testing that he anticipates taking this year 

 7          and in subsequent years ahead of him, will be 

 8          a little bit less.  So I have some good news 

 9          to bring back home to Brooklyn.

10                 But as relates to the My Brother's 

11          Keeper initiative -- and I guess it falls in 

12          line with what was said earlier in regards to 

13          the 40 percent reduced SED staffing.  When it 

14          comes to the recommendations that were made 

15          by Regent Young and the panel, who I'm 

16          thankful for all their work in allowing me to 

17          be a part of that, along with some of my 

18          colleagues here, the $52 million that was 

19          attached to those recommendations, if we 

20          don't get the full 52 million, how would you 

21          prioritize what would be the most significant 

22          recommendations that need to be funded in 

23          order for us to carry on and making sure that 

24          all that work that was done was not in vain?  


                                                                  69

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, as you 

 2          pointed out, there were a number of 

 3          initiatives in there.  I think one of the key 

 4          things, and I've had this conversation with 

 5          Regent Young, one of the key things is to 

 6          establish that Office of Community and Parent 

 7          Involvement.  That will help us to then work 

 8          individually in those particular districts 

 9          that we know could use a lot of support in 

10          this area, and develop those kind of 

11          connections that ultimately gets back to the 

12          concept of community schools that we earlier 

13          talked of in response to Chair Nolan's 

14          question.  

15                 Because the parenting community 

16          involvement is occurring in some places 

17          really, really well.  And we've got to use 

18          those as models, get that word out and help 

19          districts who are struggling with that to be 

20          able to connect better with their families.  

21          So I would say that was one of the first ones 

22          that was particularly important.  

23                 There was also a concept in here to 

24          look at what are those strategies that we can 


                                                                  70

 1          influence districts to put in place to 

 2          support an opportunity for college -- from 

 3          cradle to college and really work in 

 4          connecting what happens in pre-K through 

 5          kindergarten, through the first five years, 

 6          into middle school and into high school, and 

 7          connecting students.  The way that you make 

 8          sure that every kid is successful is you know 

 9          who they are, you know the issues that 

10          they're facing, and you work to support them.  

11                 Regent Young put together some great 

12          panels.  A number of you were there, and you 

13          saw and heard students talking about what 

14          made a difference in their life.  And the 

15          biggest thing that I came away from there 

16          with was the students themselves needed to 

17          feel connected to people in their environment 

18          who cared about them.  

19                 And one of the things that was in the 

20          proposal was to incentivize school districts 

21          to move forward on this My Brother's Keeper 

22          challenge and implement this cradle-to-career 

23          strategy aimed at improving those outcomes 

24          for boys and men of color.  And we would do 


                                                                  71

 1          an RFP, put funding out there, and then have 

 2          the Community and Parent Engagement Office 

 3          work closely with those districts to support 

 4          those programs.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN MOSLEY:  Okay.  My 

 6          follow-up question, then, is given the lack 

 7          of staffing at SED, would that have an 

 8          influence in terms of what would be a 

 9          priority if we were to be fully funded?  So 

10          how much of the resources that would be 

11          allocated -- if we were to be fully funded to 

12          $52 million -- would be allocated towards 

13          making up for the lack of personnel at SED, 

14          and how much would not be required to deal 

15          with that 40 percent lag in SED staffing?

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, so if you're 

17          talking about establishing that office, that 

18          would come obviously through this agenda, 

19          right?  We talked about the development of 

20          exemplary school models and practices that 

21          are supportive of cultural diversity, and 

22          that would be one.

23                 The other one that I talked about was 

24          to incentivize school districts in their 


                                                                  72

 1          work.  And one that was particularly 

 2          supportive is the Teacher Opportunity 

 3          Corridor to fund programs for the expansion 

 4          of our -- of working to get minority teachers 

 5          into our classrooms.  This is a national 

 6          crisis.  We certainly are affected by it in 

 7          New York State.  And it is really a critical 

 8          thing as a way to support our students who 

 9          are in our schools, but then support the 

10          future of our schools to make sure that we 

11          have teachers that are there that are from 

12          the communities and working with our 

13          students.

14                 So to get to your question, I think 

15          that what we would do is we would prioritize 

16          this as an agenda, clearly the Regents have 

17          identified that as an important agenda, and 

18          included it in their recommendations for this 

19          group.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN MOSLEY:  Well, thank you, 

21          Commissioner.  As a former teacher and 

22          someone who taught under Dr. Lester Young as 

23          my district manager, I want to thank you 

24          again for what you're doing for young boys 


                                                                  73

 1          and young men of color throughout New York 

 2          State.

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

 4                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 6                 I'd like to note that we've been 

 7          joined by Senator Velmanette Montgomery.  

 8                 And our next speaker is Senator George 

 9          Latimer.

10                 SENATOR LATIMER:  Thank you very much, 

11          Madam Chair.  

12                 Commissioner, good to see you this 

13          morning.  Hopefully not into the afternoon, 

14          but that's been known to happen here.

15                 I have a couple of questions on the 

16          universal pre-K proposals that the executive 

17          branch has put out, and to get your sense and 

18          the sense of the department of the Board of 

19          Regents.

20                 The Governor's proposal sets a 

21          precedent by staffing the prekindergarten 

22          board with staff from the Office of Children 

23          and Family Services, which is a departure 

24          from what we would have expected, which is 


                                                                  74

 1          that the State Education Department would 

 2          provide that type of backup staffing.  And 

 3          tied into that, the $28 million with the 

 4          competitive grant program is to be decided by 

 5          a board that's made up of the Governor and 

 6          the majority legislative leaders.  

 7                 What is the sense that you have as to 

 8          whether this departure is wise?  How does 

 9          that position the State Education Department 

10          in both of these two areas, both how the 

11          board is supported and how the grants are to 

12          be allocated?  

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I appreciate 

14          that question.

15                 I'm very concerned about anything that 

16          would pull apart or complicate and make more 

17          siloed decisions about anything related to 

18          education, but particularly pre-K.  And let 

19          me expound on that a bit.  

20                 So you are putting in a pre-K program, 

21          you currently have six.  This is a projection 

22          and a possibility of the seventh going and 

23          being funded.  All six have different 

24          requirements.  So if you're thinking that you 


                                                                  75

 1          have a consistent pre-K program across the 

 2          State of New York, you don't.

 3                 Pre-K, the whole purpose of a pre-K 

 4          program is to connect students to what they 

 5          will face in kindergarten.  And if in fact a 

 6          board that is not associated with the State 

 7          Ed Department would be making decisions about 

 8          grant money, about what's going to be done in 

 9          those programs, how it would be connected, it 

10          just doesn't make sense.  

11                 If you put a program in place and it's 

12          connected, the purpose of the pre-K, which 

13          we're trying to make sure that it is 

14          connected in every school district and in 

15          every school, whether it's done in a 

16          community-based setting or a school district 

17          setting, that it's connected to kindergarten.  

18          That teachers from pre-K talk to the teachers 

19          in kindergarten, that there is a smooth 

20          transition for children.  And if you have a 

21          separate board, you are working against that 

22          goal.

23                 SENATOR LATIMER:  If I may, just one 

24          other question, Madam Chair.  A different 


                                                                  76

 1          direction, overall picture.  

 2                 The Board of Regents advocated for 

 3          $2.1 billion in education spending this year.  

 4          The Executive Budget has $991 million.  The 

 5          Board of Regents called for, of that $2.1 

 6          billion, full restoration of the GEA, which 

 7          is a position that's taken by the tripartisan 

 8          members of the Senate and many members of the 

 9          Assembly as well, and also adds significantly 

10          to the Foundation Aid, significantly over 

11          what's in the Executive Budget.  

12                 We are living under a tax cap world.  

13          If we do not add significantly in those 

14          areas, what do you think the realistic 

15          expectation will be of how districts will be 

16          able to meet the various goals that we've set 

17          before them?  

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, obviously 

19          I'm very concerned about it, and I've had 

20          conversations with a number of the groups 

21          that represent the parent groups, the PTAs, 

22          the superintendents, the teacher groups, and 

23          the school board groups.  And when you talk 

24          individually to superintendents, they are 


                                                                  77

 1          very aware of exactly what that means.  And 

 2          also I'm sure you've seen a number of the 

 3          articles that when you have a 0.12 increase 

 4          and that's going to bring you approximately a 

 5          $60,000 increase and you know that your 

 6          benefit increase is even more than that, 

 7          you're already starting behind.  And then 

 8          we're saying that we need to do much more to 

 9          bring success to our kids.

10                 So I'm very concerned about the 

11          Foundation Aid and think that it is 

12          absolutely a critical expenditure, and 

13          understand that we need to make sure that the 

14          best and the most important asset that we 

15          have in developing a strong state is our 

16          children and the education system in 

17          preparing our kids for what they're going to 

18          do when they walk out of high school.  And 

19          we're not doing that as well as we need to, 

20          and I believe that those investments are 

21          critical.

22                 SENATOR LATIMER:  Thank you, 

23          Commissioner.  Thank you, Madam chair.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.


                                                                  78

 1                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 2          much.

 3                 Assemblyman Graf.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  Hi, Commissioner.  

 5          How are you?

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Hi, there.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  I have so many 

 8          questions.  And the good news is I'm limited 

 9          to 10 minutes.  The good news for me is 

10          you're not limited.  So I'm going to go 

11          through a whole bunch of concerns that I 

12          have, and hopefully you can address them.

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, let me write 

14          them down as you go.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  So we've already 

16          established that we're going to be using the 

17          Pearson tests again, but you're going to 

18          modify them.

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  This is muffled.  

20          I'm not quite sure --

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  The Pearson tests, 

22          we're going to be using them, but you're 

23          going to modify them.

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.


                                                                  79

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  Okay.  One of the 

 2          big problems with the Pearson tests were they 

 3          disregarded IEPs.  So when you have students 

 4          with learning disabilities, we may do guided 

 5          learning, and they weren't able to do that.  

 6          So that was a big concern throughout the 

 7          state.

 8                 The other thing is the developmental 

 9          appropriateness and also the age 

10          appropriateness of a lot of the tests.  And I 

11          was hearing that if a kid was chronologically 

12          in fifth grade, okay, but developmentally in 

13          first grade, they were trying to test them at 

14          a higher level.  And the answer the state 

15          gave was we'll give them more time to take 

16          the test.  So that's a concern that I have 

17          with the testing.

18                 The other thing with the testing is 

19          we're not counting it against the teachers, 

20          we're not counting it against the students, 

21          okay.  Why give the test?  And are the tests' 

22          sole purpose to examine whether or not you're 

23          going to put the schools into receivership?  

24          Okay, is that what we're using the tests for?  


                                                                  80

 1          Because they're not counting it to children, 

 2          not counting it to students.

 3                 The other thing is I want to make sure 

 4          there's not going to be any punishment, 

 5          because I predict we're going to have a big 

 6          opt-out movement this year, okay, and I don't 

 7          want to see schools punished because parents 

 8          decide to opt out their children.  

 9                 Another area of concern is the cap.  

10          I'm being told it's not a true 2 percent cap.  

11          And some schools are telling me they may have 

12          a zero percent cap this year, and they're not 

13          going to be able to do that.  What do we need 

14          to look at there?  Right?  

15                 Pre-K, kindergarten.  I mean, it's 

16          known that you can have pre-K but if you 

17          don't continue with kindergarten, all right, 

18          there's no benefit.  And many of our schools 

19          in the suburban areas -- I know of schools, 

20          one of my school districts actually has a 

21          lottery for kindergarten.  So what happens is 

22          some kids will go into kindergarten, and 

23          other schools the parents have to pay out of 

24          their pockets to the school district in order 


                                                                  81

 1          for their child to go to kindergarten.  What 

 2          are we doing about that?

 3                 One other thing is some schools wrote 

 4          their own curriculum to comply with the 

 5          standards and are very happy with the 

 6          curriculum.  Why aren't we looking at 

 7          reimbursing those school districts for the 

 8          money they laid out, have them submit it to 

 9          the state, and if the state adopts their 

10          curriculum, they reimburse the school 

11          districts for the expense of creating the 

12          curriculum?  That would give us home-grown 

13          curriculum written by our teachers, which are 

14          the some of the best teachers in the country.  

15          Why keep buying it off companies when we're 

16          seeing curricula that's horrific? 

17                 Diplomas.  We keep giving fancy names 

18          to diplomas.  And these kids can't even get 

19          in the service with the diplomas that we're 

20          trying to give them.  When I went to school, 

21          we had a Regents diploma and a general 

22          diploma, we had an education track and a 

23          career track.  There's nothing wrong with 

24          being an electrician or a plumber.  They make 


                                                                  82

 1          more money than a lot of lawyers that I know 

 2          that came out of school.  Okay?  

 3                 So I just think that once the 

 4          government intruded, every level of 

 5          government intruded into education, they 

 6          screwed it all up.  We've got to get 

 7          government out of our classrooms and let 

 8          teachers teach.

 9                 Now, the curriculum that we've had has 

10          been so structured that teachers basically 

11          are teaching to the middle of the class, and 

12          that's it.  And they're passing these kids 

13          by.  When I was taught to teach, you talked 

14          to the middle of the class, you gave seat 

15          work to reinforce what you taught, you gave 

16          the kids that were a little advanced a little 

17          harder work to do -- not to punish them, but 

18          to keep them engaged.  But that gave us an 

19          opportunity to get to the children that 

20          didn't get the concept and explain it in a 

21          different way.

22                 The way our curriculum is now, they 

23          don't have the opportunity to do that.  

24          They're leaving these kids by the wayside.  


                                                                  83

 1          So it's not going to be better, it's going to 

 2          be worse.  What are you doing to address 

 3          that?

 4                 Plus with the structure the way it is 

 5          with heroin, what I've heard out there is in 

 6          the lower grades you have resource officers, 

 7          but once you get to the middle school and you 

 8          get to the high school, you want to do 

 9          peer-to-peer stuff.  But the structure of the 

10          curriculum doesn't allow for that, and that's 

11          been cut out of our schools.  And that's a 

12          big concern out there throughout the state.

13                 I think I've pretty much hit 

14          everything.  I know if I think about it, I'll 

15          hit a few more things.

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Maybe we ought to 

17          set up an appointment.  

18                 (Laughter.)

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  But we can 

20          specifically -- I'm going to try to get 

21          through several of these --

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  Yeah, but if you 

23          can go through this -- well, you have no time 

24          limit.  It's me that has the time limit.  So 


                                                                  84

 1          I'll try to check them off as you go.  And if 

 2          you miss one, I'll let you know. 

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Okay, let's see if 

 4          I wrote fast enough.  And so you mentioned 

 5          the Pearson test.  You're absolutely 

 6          accurate, we have the Pearson tests, we're 

 7          transitioning.  There is much more 

 8          involvement of teachers in the development of 

 9          the test for this spring.  They're reviewing 

10          -- as I said earlier, they're reviewing the 

11          passages and they're reviewing the questions 

12          and we are shortening up each of the tests 

13          from Grades 3 through 8 in both language arts 

14          and mathematics.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  The IEPs?  Are we 

16          ignoring them?  Because we were ignoring 

17          them.

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So as you're 

19          aware, the federal government requires that 

20          students who have an IEP and are 

21          students with special needs, they must take 

22          the same test.  That is something that we 

23          have requested waivers on that.  We have not 

24          received them in New York.  However, now with 


                                                                  85

 1          the new ESSA law, we anticipate that we will 

 2          have some flexibility and opportunity.  And 

 3          as we move towards computer-based testing, it 

 4          will allow us to have the students start the 

 5          test and then drop to the level that's 

 6          appropriate for them to function better.  

 7                 So we anticipate that that's going to 

 8          help us, but it will be a while.  And we 

 9          still are requesting, as we move into this 

10          new era with the new federal law, that we 

11          would be able to, as a state -- there's a 

12          plan to have seven states receive a grant to 

13          try some more creative approaches to 

14          assessment, and we're hoping that we can be 

15          one of those states in New York and that we 

16          can then use that opportunity to develop 

17          different assessments for our students with 

18          IEPs.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  Okay.  Cap?

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  The issue of the 

21          age appropriateness of students, it has been 

22          an issue.  As I traveled around the state, I 

23          heard that a lot, that there are students 

24          that in kindergarten, in first grade, second 


                                                                  86

 1          grade, they feel like the standards are too 

 2          stretching for them.  And we are going to be 

 3          reviewing all the standards.  

 4                 The most feedback we got for both 

 5          English language arts and mathematics was in 

 6          the early grades from kindergarten to Grade 4 

 7          and then kindergarten to Grade 3.  So it will 

 8          be an area that's going to get much 

 9          attention.

10                 On the career track, we do have in the 

11          State of New York the opportunity for a local 

12          diploma.  We presented that two weeks ago to 

13          our Regents.  They were -- some of them 

14          weren't as familiar with it.  However, it is 

15          in place and we do have that as an 

16          availability for students.

17                 However, we also have a CDOS 

18          credential that comes -- and we're expanding 

19          that to be part of our options, our Pathway 

20          options, so that students can learn the ways 

21          of work, et cetera -- those soft skills, 

22          what's necessary to be a good employee -- and 

23          also have opportunities to go out in the 

24          field with a particular career in mind.


                                                                  87

 1                 So those are all options that we're 

 2          expanding.  And the whole concept of Pathways 

 3          for Graduation opens up lots of 

 4          opportunities.  You still need to keep it 

 5          rigorous so that it means something to have a 

 6          diploma from New York State schools, but it 

 7          also -- it can, within that context, it can 

 8          also be something that's very relevant for 

 9          students and prepares them for either taking 

10          a certification test, which is -- when you 

11          said that you had been in a program earlier 

12          or you knew about programs at the time that 

13          you were in school, we used to have that as a 

14          technology or another opportunity for kids to 

15          go out immediately into a career.  

16                 Now we have -- we are expanding those, 

17          and right now we have 14 certification tests 

18          that can be part of the 4+1 Graduation 

19          Pathways, and we're expanding it up.  As we 

20          see the tests, we're expanding it to include 

21          those tests.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  We need a general 

23          diploma so the kids can even get into the 

24          service, though.  


                                                                  88

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  That would 

 2          probably be the equivalent of the local 

 3          diploma now.

 4                 And you talked about the curriculum 

 5          should -- right now the plan and the 

 6          recommendation that came from the task force 

 7          was very clearly to put the curriculum 

 8          development in the hands of the local 

 9          districts.  Once we've identified these are 

10          the standards and the assessments are 

11          revolved around the standards, the curriculum 

12          and what's done in the classroom should be a 

13          local decision.  

14                 And as a matter of fact, the work 

15          that's been done by many teachers is being 

16          shared with other teachers in the state so 

17          that in fact it can be great work that's done 

18          and somebody else doesn't have to do it 

19          again.

20                 And we've had the opportunity -- 

21          Chancellor FariÒa, from New York, has made it 

22          available, the curriculum that was developed 

23          in New York City, so that it can be 

24          available.  We're putting it online for our 


                                                                  89

 1          teachers so that they can see and use and 

 2          work off of some great work done in the city.

 3                 And we have other models that we are 

 4          expanding as well.  New Visions is a 

 5          not-for-profit that's done some great 

 6          curriculum work, and we're using that as an 

 7          opportunity for our teachers to have a model 

 8          to use.  

 9                 We clearly still have the modules that 

10          are on Engage New York.  Those -- many 

11          teachers really like those.  They should 

12          never have been a restrictive kind of thing, 

13          they should have been a model that could be 

14          used not to be scripted but rather as an 

15          option for teachers.  That's what we want to 

16          do so.  And it's important, I believe, for 

17          local control of the curriculum, working with 

18          teachers to develop what they feel is most 

19          relevant for the kids that they have in their 

20          classroom.

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you very 

23          much for a tremendous response, Commissioner.  

24          Really a great response.  


                                                                  90

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN GRAF:  I got an extra five 

 2          minutes out of it.  Thank you.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Next is 

 4          Senator Comrie.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Before that, I'd 

 6          just like to introduce Assemblywoman Hooper.  

 7          And Assemblyman Titone has joined us.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  And Assemblyman 

 9          Butler.

10                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you, Mr. Chair.  

11                 Good morning, Commissioner.

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.

13                 SENATOR COMRIE:  The Governor spoke in 

14          his State of the State speech about community 

15          schools and the community schools 

16          environment.  Can you give us some details, 

17          if you have any, about what his vision is for 

18          the community schools environment that he's 

19          talking about putting in, and if there are 

20          any definitive plans on what it looks like or 

21          if it's going to include nonprofit groups 

22          that are going to be in the school?  Any 

23          detail on that?

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  Well, the 


                                                                  91

 1          whole concept of a community school is that 

 2          the school be a center point to provide 

 3          opportunities to access supports for children 

 4          and families that attend that school and are 

 5          in that community.  

 6                 And depending on the needs of the 

 7          community, it can look very different.  I've 

 8          visited schools in New York City that have 

 9          not-for-profits that actually have offices 

10          and work all day in the school with students 

11          and teachers and staff.  And I've also 

12          visited schools in other places where the 

13          concept of community school is that after 

14          school there's lots of opportunities for 

15          students to have access to programming that 

16          might not be included in the regular academic 

17          day, and those kinds of connections to social 

18          services and resources that are available in 

19          the community.  So you might have a United 

20          Way program, you might have a Boys and Girls 

21          Club program or a YMCA program.  

22                 So the question that you had about 

23          not-for-profits, that is a very common model 

24          that is used, where not-for-profits become 


                                                                  92

 1          part of providing services for the children 

 2          and families at that school.

 3                 SENATOR COMRIE:  So I noticed that you 

 4          didn't have it in your presentation.  Is 

 5          there a dollar amount that has been attached 

 6          to it?  And if there's a committee that's 

 7          working to put it together, since you're 

 8          saying it's going to be shaped according to 

 9          the needs of the district?  

10                 Just to remind you, I represent Queens 

11          School Districts 29, 28 and 27, primarily.  

12          One of our issues is that we have some of the 

13          longest commute times for any parent in New 

14          York City.  Coming from the edge of Queens in 

15          a transportation desert, most parents have to 

16          leave for work at 7 o'clock in the morning 

17          and they don't get home until 7 o'clock at 

18          night.  

19                 We don't have any type of community 

20          school program in any of those districts 

21          right now.  And I'd really like to see how 

22          that's going to be shaped, who is going to be 

23          part of shaping it, so that there's a 

24          universal model that can be -- I know there 


                                                                  93

 1          needs to be interchangeable parts for 

 2          different districts and different areas, but 

 3          needs to be at least one consistent model 

 4          that we can work from so that it's not a 

 5          hodgepodge of different things that don't 

 6          work.  

 7                 You know, I benefited from attending a 

 8          school that was open until 7 o'clock at 

 9          night.  It made a big difference in my 

10          growing up.  And I think that we need to have 

11          that model for all schools, frankly, across 

12          the state where we can have children staying 

13          in school and off the streets.  So I hope 

14          that we can start to work to that model to 

15          make sure that that's a statewide model as 

16          well.

17                 Is there a plan or a process that is 

18          going to help set up that community school 

19          program?  And who's going to be involved in 

20          it?

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, the proposal 

22          that is part of the Executive Budget provides 

23          $100 million in new community school aids, 

24          with $75 million available for struggling and 


                                                                  94

 1          persistently struggling schools that are in 

 2          receivership.  Twenty-five million would be 

 3          available for other high-needs districts 

 4          identified under the Needs/Resource Capacity 

 5          Index.

 6                 So that's kind of the overarching 

 7          discussion that's already been made and is 

 8          part of that Executive Budget.  

 9                 I would agree with you that it's 

10          important for us to provide a model.  Now, as 

11          you pointed out, some schools and districts 

12          find specific things that they need for their 

13          families.  Providing the opportunity for open 

14          schools early in the morning for parents, 

15          that can accommodate parents that go to work 

16          early, and after school, I think is a very 

17          important model.  And particularly in middle 

18          school.  I mean, that is a time when having 

19          consistent kind of activities after school 

20          keeps kids doing the right things.  

21                 And so we don't have any more 

22          information on that.  And we are very 

23          supportive of community schools.  I am 

24          concerned that if a school that was in 


                                                                  95

 1          receivership -- so it fits the criteria 

 2          that's discussed there -- has already done 

 3          the community school and started it, would 

 4          they have access to the funding under the 

 5          proposal.  And I think those are all things 

 6          that need to be worked out.

 7                 SENATOR COMRIE:  I hope we can be part 

 8          of those discussions and that those 

 9          discussions are -- that we have an 

10          opportunity to weigh in on those things to 

11          make sure that we have the right providers 

12          and the right models so that it's done -- 

13          even in schools where they're trying do it 

14          already, I think there's some confusion about 

15          what the proper way is to shape it and where 

16          those continued resources are going to come 

17          from.

18                 A second question, the Governor had a 

19          program to upgrade technology and 

20          infrastructure and wifi access in schools.

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

22                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Can you give us an 

23          update on where that is and how that's moving 

24          forward?  


                                                                  96

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  So that's 

 2          the Smart Schools Bond.  And we have 

 3          approximately -- the districts are providing 

 4          the proposals.  We are helping them through 

 5          our RICs centers that are dispersed around 

 6          the state to come up with what is a positive 

 7          approach to how they expend those funds.  

 8                 The breakdown of proposed 

 9          expenditures, there are six categories that 

10          are allowed under the Smart Schools Bond Act.  

11          Those include classroom connectivity, 

12          community connectivity, classroom technology, 

13          the pre-K classrooms, high-tech security, and 

14          the replacement of transportable classroom 

15          units.  So those are the things that are 

16          allowed under the Smart Schools Bond Act.  

17                 Proposals for this have been submitted 

18          and are put through our facilities review 

19          group.  And we're processing those to get 

20          them out.

21                 SENATOR COMRIE:  So those are being 

22          processed by your information and technology 

23          staff, or is it something that each school 

24          district has to apply for, or each community 


                                                                  97

 1          or municipality has to apply for?  How does 

 2          that get broken down?

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So it was approved 

 4          in 2014 so that they could acquire the 

 5          technology equipment, install the broadband, 

 6          and construct and enhance their education 

 7          facilities and install high-tech security.  

 8          Those are the things that are allowed under 

 9          it.  They have to send proposals to us for 

10          the expenditures, and then they are able to 

11          expend those funds after that approval.

12                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Okay.  I'm just 

13          concerned about how it's breaking down to the 

14          local level.  Because I still have many 

15          principals that are speaking to me about the 

16          need for technology upgrades and actually 

17          wiring upgrades, because they can't even get 

18          the building up to spec because the buildings 

19          are so old.  

20                 So I'm curious, and if you could send 

21          me some details on how that's being broken 

22          down so we can inform our principals of what 

23          they need to do to get into consideration for 

24          that available money.


                                                                  98

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Senator, we'll 

 2          sent that to you.

 3                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You're welcome.

 5                 SENATOR COMRIE:  And my last question 

 6          is just kind of a follow-up to that, that you 

 7          talked about your lack of ability to provide 

 8          technical support and that you're 

 9          understaffed in the ability to do technical 

10          support and information.  

11                 Are you working with the various 

12          municipalities to empower them to pick up 

13          what you're not able to do as far as making 

14          sure that the technical support and 

15          information is getting out to all of the 

16          school districts?

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, relative to 

18          the Smart Bond, yes, our staffs -- there are 

19          17 centers that are technology-based centers 

20          that work with our BOCES programs, and they 

21          are working on what are smart expenditures of 

22          the Smart Bond money.  And they've worked 

23          with individual school districts and have 

24          given them ideas on what should be the best 


                                                                  99

 1          investments for them that would be long term.  

 2                 And so that is occurring on a regular 

 3          basis.  And I was with them this week, on 

 4          Monday they had a meeting here in Albany, and 

 5          we had a long conversation about providing 

 6          those resources and the expertise that they 

 7          have in technology planning with the 

 8          districts across the state.

 9                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you, 

10          Commissioner.  I appreciate your answers.  I 

11          hope that we can do more to ensure that those 

12          school districts and those principals that 

13          don't have good grant writers at least get 

14          the information in a simple enough form that 

15          they can get caught up too.  Because if not, 

16          there will always be a disparity that can't 

17          be bridged.  

18                 Do I need to repeat that since the 

19          phone was ringing?  

20                 (Laughter.)

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  No, I'm good. 

22                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.  Thank 

23          you, Commissioner.

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Phones have 


                                                                  100

 1          incredible music on them now.

 2                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Yeah, they do.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman 

 6          Brindisi.

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN BRINDISI:  Thank you, 

 8          Chairman.  

 9                 Thank you, Commissioner.  I want to 

10          ask you briefly about my two favorite 

11          acronyms, CTEs and ELLs.  

12                 First, regarding CTEs, I want to thank 

13          you for your work on expanding Pathways to 

14          Graduation.  The concern I have is you've 

15          made a request now for a few years to 

16          increase the BOCES aid as well as the special 

17          services aid, which has not been met by the 

18          Legislature.  And I'm concerned about how the 

19          4+1 Pathways is going to move forward if we 

20          don't follow through on that request.  How do 

21          you see that moving forward?

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I think that 

23          there's no question we can expand the 

24          Pathways, which is one of the actions that 


                                                                  101

 1          must be taken.  But then we have to make sure 

 2          that students have equitable access across 

 3          the state to those Pathways or to technical 

 4          career programs that are relevant for their 

 5          particular community.  

 6                 The BOCES programs have been the 

 7          center point of much of that.  Many of our 

 8          districts outside of BOCES also present and 

 9          provide CTE programming in their high 

10          schools.  

11                 And the proposal that we have 

12          specifically relates to the instructional 

13          salaries.  It's a big issue for us to be able 

14          to get the quality of the individuals to come 

15          in and work in our programs as the teacher if 

16          in fact, out in the real world, they can make 

17          more money.  And so I think that there is a 

18          tradeoff.  But we have not had increases in 

19          that funding, and it's absolutely critical to 

20          do it.  

21                 CTE programming is very, very strongly 

22          connected to the lifeblood of an expansion of 

23          an economy in a state.  And if you talk to 

24          any business that's considering going into a 


                                                                  102

 1          state or if you talk to businesses that are 

 2          here that are considering expanding, their 

 3          one question is do I have the workforce to 

 4          hire that is ready to be able to move to 

 5          this.  

 6                 And I think it's critical for us to 

 7          keep in mind that investments in CTE are 

 8          those investments that will, long term, 

 9          benefit us across the board.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN BRINDISI:  That's music to 

11          my ears.

12                 Regarding ELLs, can you expand a 

13          little bit on your proposal for $75 million  

14          for ELLs?  I don't think there's anything in 

15          the Executive proposal related to ELLs, but 

16          can you tell me a little bit more how that 

17          money would be targeted, which districts 

18          would be receiving that money, and what it's 

19          for?  

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.  Well, we 

21          have increased by 20 percent the population 

22          of our ELL students in the State of New York.  

23          Right now that is about 8 percent of our 

24          population.  And so those students have 


                                                                  103

 1          special needs and need to have focused 

 2          instruction to support them.  And there's a 

 3          couple of things that we've talked about, and 

 4          it's in our proposal, is expanding the 

 5          availability of assessments in the native 

 6          language, which is an important expenditure.  

 7                 And we've also talked about 

 8          professional development for teachers and 

 9          support for districts as we implement the 

10          154.  And I think that what we're talking 

11          about really is making sure that those 

12          students who are in our country who want to 

13          take advantage of educational programming 

14          that we have the availability of that and are 

15          not hindered by the fact that they're in the 

16          process of learning another language.  

17                 I think it's also important for us to 

18          recognize in this global world how important 

19          multiple languages are.  And to make sure -- 

20          and we're moving towards a specialized 

21          diploma specifically related to languages 

22          other than English.  And we think that that 

23          will help to support and focus on those 

24          students that have been able to learn more 


                                                                  104

 1          than one language or bring their native 

 2          language, learn English, and in many cases 

 3          learn another language.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN BRINDISI:  Is that money 

 5          targeted towards certain districts that have 

 6          higher percentages of --

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  No, it's where the 

 8          students are.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN BRINDISI:  Okay.  And then 

10          finally, just one final question.  Regarding 

11          the facilities planning office, we're hearing 

12          a lot from districts about a backlog from SED 

13          getting plans approved.  And I think we did 

14          appropriate some money last year in the 

15          budget to hire some more engineers and 

16          architects, and I just want to see what the 

17          status of that is.  Are you moving forward 

18          with hiring more employees there?

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Okay, so thank you 

20          very much for the expenditure that you gave 

21          to us of $800,000.  We're in the process -- 

22          we've hired firms that can take some of that 

23          backlog and help us to move through it 

24          quickly, and I can give you an update of 


                                                                  105

 1          that.  

 2                 Regarding private engineering firms to 

 3          review and approve backlogged school 

 4          projects, three contracts are approved, a 

 5          total of 25 projects are currently being 

 6          reviewed by those firms, and the remaining 

 7          contracts are expected to be approved in the 

 8          near future, and the projects will be shipped 

 9          to them immediately.  

10                 Then in contracting with multiple 

11          engineering firms that specialize in energy 

12          review -- because as we do this, the energy 

13          review projects come to us and we have to 

14          approve those as well -- three contracts are 

15          approved, a total of 10 projects are 

16          currently being reviewed by those two firms, 

17          five additional projects.  

18                 We have a backlog, there's no 

19          question.  And we're requesting, in 

20          support -- we've reduced the backlog by eight 

21          weeks so far.  And we still have a lot of 

22          work to do, but we're using that funding and 

23          appreciate the fact that it continues into 

24          next year's budget.


                                                                  106

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN BRINDISI:  Thank you, 

 2          Commissioner.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 4                 We've been joined by Assemblyman 

 5          O'Donnell.

 6                 Senator?

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 8          much.  

 9                 Next would be Senator Velmanette 

10          Montgomery.

11                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Thank you.  

12                 Good morning, Commissioner.

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.

14                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  I want to start 

15          by thanking you and the Regents for adopting 

16          the program that you have requested funding 

17          for which seeks to improve the outcomes for 

18          boys and young men of color.  I know that 

19          there was a lot of work that was done on 

20          that, and you also listened particularly to 

21          young people, which was very different, and I 

22          appreciate the work that you and Dr. Young 

23          have done on that.  

24                 I just want to raise a couple of 


                                                                  107

 1          issues with you.  I'm looking at page 22 of 

 2          your report.  And I'm very pleased that you 

 3          have included a component of the funding for 

 4          that program -- My Brother's Keeper program, 

 5          I like to call it, the New York State 

 6          version -- of developing exemplary school 

 7          models, because that seems to be where we 

 8          never get around to replicating what actually 

 9          works.  And so I just want to raise something 

10          with you with regard to what works.  

11                 There are several high schools in my 

12          district that are either CTE or they are 

13          high-end academic performing schools, high 

14          graduation rates, technology.  And I'll name 

15          a few of them.  Brooklyn Tech is one of them.  

16          That's sort of one of the best schools in the 

17          state, I would imagine, possibly in the 

18          nation.  The Harbor School I want to mention 

19          is another school that really works.  P-TECH, 

20          obviously, is one that works.  The Bard High 

21          School is one that works.  

22                 And so my question to you is -- and 

23          several of the principals at those schools 

24          and others that I've spoken to have talked 


                                                                  108

 1          about the need for preparing students before 

 2          they get to the high school in order to 

 3          assist.  So it sort of works into your notion 

 4          of creating a pipeline, cradle to grave -- 

 5          not cradle to grave, cradle to college, 

 6          excuse me.  I'm thinking grave; I don't know 

 7          why.

 8                 So I want to ask you, where are you 

 9          and the Regents with looking at the 

10          possibility of increasing the middle school 

11          aspect of our system that would allow those 

12          high schools to be more directly connected to 

13          a middle school as a feeder school?  I know 

14          the Harbor School in particular has requested 

15          that; they are in the process of trying to 

16          plan for one right now.  Brooklyn Tech has 

17          talked about it, P-TECH.  

18                 So I'm really very, very interested in 

19          seeing to what extent you can help to foster 

20          that movement.  And in relationship to that, 

21          those high-end schools have a very, very 

22          specific need for teachers to be able to work 

23          with young people, teachers who are 

24          certified, perhaps, in areas that we don't 


                                                                  109

 1          currently have certification for.  

 2                 So I'm really very interested in where 

 3          you are with that process and how soon we can 

 4          expect that there will be some way to address 

 5          that.  

 6                 And the last part of my questioning is 

 7          around the Early College programs.  I would 

 8          really like to have an update on where the 

 9          programs that you already have, where you are 

10          with that.  And I didn't see where that fits 

11          in with your budget request, so -- and that 

12          is another program that I'm aware of that 

13          absolutely works to the great benefit of a 

14          large number of students.  Especially in 

15          those places where students don't have a 

16          large selection of advanced college placement 

17          and so forth, they can begin to be integrated 

18          as college students earlier and perhaps save 

19          a lot in terms of having a college experience 

20          even before they graduate from high school.  

21          And that has really made a tremendous 

22          difference to a large number of young people 

23          in my district in particular.  

24                 So those are two parts of my question.


                                                                  110

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Okay, the first 

 2          question related to middle schools and the 

 3          support for the development earlier in either 

 4          an interest or a skill level to move into the 

 5          high schools.  I think it's an absolutely 

 6          critical thing.  I was with a group of 

 7          superintendents this week, and they brought 

 8          up the issue and have asked us to look 

 9          specifically at what we currently have in 

10          regulations related to middle school 

11          curriculum, and that we allow for shifts in 

12          that so that we can have districts who want 

13          to develop specific curriculums for middle 

14          school and put career and technical and/or 

15          other supports for higher academics into the 

16          middle school grades.  

17                 So that is something we will be 

18          working on.  Right now it's not something 

19          that -- we do have some districts that have 

20          done it successfully.  And, again, using 

21          those models that are positive, that have 

22          been supportive, I think it's really smart of 

23          us to use those as a way of kind of sharing 

24          the ideas and not to have to do that again.


                                                                  111

 1                 Regarding the certification, 

 2          Chancellor FariÒa and I have talked about the 

 3          specific issues of getting teachers who are 

 4          certified in areas where we don't have 

 5          teachers that have that certification and 

 6          what we can do to be more open, particularly 

 7          in areas of career and technical where an 

 8          individual may have developed the skills and 

 9          be excellent at the work that they're doing, 

10          and we want to have them to work with our 

11          students, but they don't have some of the 

12          other prerequisites that are normally part of 

13          certification.  

14                 So we're looking at that closely.  And 

15          we're going to be looking at certification 

16          across the board.  

17                 As you know, we have a number of 

18          places across the state where there are 

19          openings for teachers, and we need to make 

20          sure that we have quality teachers in our 

21          classrooms.  We also need to make sure that 

22          if we have people from the community who can 

23          come in and share their expertise, we give 

24          them the opportunity to do that in more 


                                                                  112

 1          creative ways and with more flexibility.  So 

 2          that is also one thing that we're looking at.  

 3                 And the Early College High Schools, 

 4          the department has -- we currently are 

 5          providing $7 million, or $3.5 million over 

 6          the current funding levels.  We'd like to 

 7          have an increase in our Early College High 

 8          Schools.  

 9                 And I can tell you from experience 

10          that Early College High Schools are a way of 

11          leveling the playing field for all students.  

12          It's the availability of coursework in both 

13          middle school and in high school that allows 

14          students to matriculate some kind of credit.  

15          And whether the student is terribly 

16          successful in the program or not, the fact 

17          that they have taken a course that puts them 

18          in -- their perception that they can do 

19          higher-level coursework is extremely 

20          important.  And I once read a study, 

21          26 percent of the students in high school who 

22          take and/or complete a college-level 

23          course -- they have a 26 percent higher rate 

24          of graduating in four years.  


                                                                  113

 1                 Four years now is not the norm.  And 

 2          to have students graduating in four years 

 3          because we've given them a step up I think is 

 4          extremely important.

 5                 So we can get you more information on 

 6          the Early College High School, but we have 

 7          requested, both for Early College High 

 8          Schools and for P-TECH, an expansion.  I 

 9          think that P-TECH is a model that has 

10          received much acclaim, and we are seeing 

11          students that would not be a traditional, 

12          what we would call a traditional 

13          go-to-college kind of student, be very 

14          successful and move into jobs at IBM and 

15          other great partners who are supporting those 

16          programs with us.  So we're very excited 

17          about those.

18                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Thank you.  And 

19          just lastly, I'm very happy that you're 

20          focusing on CTE.  And I just want to tell you 

21          that at the Harbor School, to see students 

22          engaged -- and these are students who 

23          otherwise would not have access to this kind 

24          of education -- is extremely exciting.  And I 


                                                                  114

 1          think that's what we hope to have more of.  

 2                 And just so that you know, that many 

 3          of those students have been able to graduate 

 4          from the Harbor School.  And for the first 

 5          time, students from my district in Brooklyn 

 6          were eligible to go into the Maritime 

 7          College.  So it's now become a feeder into 

 8          that college, first time in history.  So I'm 

 9          very excited about it and look forward to 

10          working with you and the Regents to do 

11          whatever we can to make sure that this kind 

12          of education is available to more students.

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  That kind of 

14          education should be available across the 

15          State of New York everywhere.

16                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Yes.  Abso -- 

17          well, yes.  Thank you.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.  

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you, 

20          Senator.

21                 Assemblywoman Malliotakis.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Good 

23          morning, Commissioner.  Thank you so much for 

24          being here with us.


                                                                  115

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Actually, 

 3          a lot of my questions were already answered, 

 4          so I --

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Good.  Thank you 

 6          very much.  

 7                 (Laughter.)

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  A few 

 9          remaining.  

10                 (Laughter.)

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  I'm very 

12          pleased that the administration has put 

13          together this commission to evaluate the 

14          Common Core.  It seems for a while there, 

15          there was a reluctancy to admit there was 

16          significant flaws in it.  

17                 And with regards to -- the teacher 

18          evaluation is an important component, the 

19          reduction of testing is a very important 

20          component.  One of the components is the 

21          developmentally disabled and making sure that 

22          testing and curriculum is appropriate for 

23          their learning abilities.  And so that is, I 

24          think, one of the biggest concerns that I 


                                                                  116

 1          have as we're proceeding.  

 2                 And I wanted to know, with regards to 

 3          that, what are you looking specifically to -- 

 4          how are you going to evaluate that and move 

 5          forward?  

 6                 And secondly, what efforts are needed 

 7          to engage, you know, parents in school 

 8          communities as we continue in this process?  

 9          I know you've had nine public hearings, but 

10          from now on as you're continuing to work on 

11          the changes.

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, the last 

13          seven months I've spent a lot of time, 20,000 

14          miles in my car, traveling around the state 

15          and meeting with various groups.

16                 I think that much of what we need to 

17          do is make sure that people understand and 

18          are part of this process.  

19                 And so in terms of the work that needs 

20          to be done, if you look at the surveys, it's 

21          very clear that parents learn about what's 

22          happening in the schools and what's happening 

23          in education from their child's teacher.  

24          They trust the teacher.  Otherwise, they 


                                                                  117

 1          probably wouldn't have their child with them 

 2          in the classroom.  And so when the teacher 

 3          speaks, then that's what they believe.  

 4                 And principals are equally important 

 5          in communications, as are superintendents.  

 6          They are part of the local community.  And I 

 7          think it's very important that the State Ed 

 8          Department get the information out on the 

 9          changes that have been made that are 

10          responsive to the comments and the concerns 

11          that people have had.  Everyone will not be 

12          pleased.  Everyone would like it done 

13          yesterday.  And we're moving in a very 

14          appropriate way, I believe, to make the 

15          changes necessary.

16                 I just want to remind you that some of 

17          the concerns that people had was that we 

18          moved too fast.  And we don't want to repeat 

19          those concerns in how we react now to make 

20          the changes that need to be made.

21                 So the work that we're doing now is 

22          specifically getting information out through 

23          the district superintendents at the BOCES and 

24          the Big 5 school districts, and spreading 


                                                                  118

 1          that out to principals and superintendents 

 2          across the state.  We have approximately 700 

 3          districts in the State of New York, and the 

 4          communication has to occur at that local 

 5          level.  

 6                 We're really supporting them to do 

 7          that.  I think that's going to be a key for 

 8          us in getting this word and the information 

 9          out on the changes that are occurring and the 

10          timeline that's occurring and why it should 

11          be done in a way that allows us to do it 

12          together and get input as we go.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  And 

14          whether it be through the local school 

15          districts or the principals, we have to make 

16          sure also that the PTAs and the community 

17          education councils are included.  If my 

18          office can be helpful in my district, please 

19          let me know.

20                 With regards to the heroin curriculum, 

21          in 2014 the Legislature passed legislation 

22          requiring that opioid and heroin education 

23          was included in the drug abuse and updated 

24          every three years.  Can you give us just an 


                                                                  119

 1          update on where you're at with that and what 

 2          progress has been made?  

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, we've worked 

 4          with other state agencies on developing that 

 5          curriculum and moving that out, but I'll 

 6          provide that update for you when I have more 

 7          specifics.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Okay.  

 9                 I think vocational training is 

10          extremely important.  And I think when we 

11          have this debate oftentimes in Albany about 

12          the minimum wage, I think one of the things 

13          that we don't often talk about is trying get 

14          people off minimum wage.  And I think that 

15          vocational training offers that career path.  

16          And I think it's so important that we invest 

17          in vocational training, and I like the work 

18          that's being done with the Pathway.  Is there 

19          adequate access, in your opinion, to 

20          vocational training throughout the state?

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I would 

22          agree with you that it's extremely important.  

23          It is not equal across the state.  And so you 

24          have some areas that have access to multiple 


                                                                  120

 1          programs for their students, and you have 

 2          other areas that don't.  

 3                 And I think we just heard from 

 4          Brooklyn about some great programs that are 

 5          very successful there.  Every place doesn't 

 6          have those programs.  And so I think what we 

 7          have to do is be very purposeful in making 

 8          sure that when we expand and provide 

 9          resources, that it is done across the state.  

10                 Now, the BOCES proposal for CTE, in 

11          our BOCES that's one of the core functions 

12          that they provide for districts in their 

13          area.  But I believe that districts also can 

14          provide some programming that would be very 

15          relevant and connect kids to a career in 

16          their community.  

17                 You're seeing that now.  There's been 

18          a proposal -- and you may be hearing from the 

19          superintendent from Buffalo, Dr. Kriner Cash, 

20          that he has a proposal in to turn some of his 

21          high schools that have been persistently 

22          struggling into schools that are connected to 

23          an employer in that very area where the 

24          school is located, and really working those 


                                                                  121

 1          programs so that a student can leave high 

 2          school and be ready to move immediately into 

 3          a job with that company.  And I think that 

 4          kind of connection is extremely important.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Would you 

 6          be able to provide my office with some of the 

 7          best programs you think are currently 

 8          underway in the state, just so I can get an 

 9          idea of what options there are?

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Thank you.  

12                 And last question -- this is something 

13          that's sort of just, you know, personal to  

14          me.  I was doing a voter registration drive 

15          and I had someone who was 18 years old who 

16          handed me the registration, and he had 

17          printed where it said "Signature."  And so I 

18          said, "Oh, no, this is not what you're 

19          supposed to print, you have to do your 

20          signature."  He says, "I don't have a 

21          signature."  He's like, "I've never learned 

22          penmanship in school.  We never learned 

23          cursive writing in school."  

24                 I find that to be unbelievable and 


                                                                  122

 1          very disappointing, that our young people are 

 2          graduating not having a signature.  I mean, 

 3          how are they going to -- you know, they're 

 4          going to open a bank account, they're going 

 5          to sign checks, they're going to do legal 

 6          documents throughout their career and life.  

 7          And to not have a signature is not only 

 8          something I think is -- it's not only sad, 

 9          just in general, as a perspective, but it's 

10          something that is a security concern, that 

11          anyone can just, write, print their name, 

12          there's no identity.

13                 What are your thoughts on this?  And 

14          can we change this to make sure that it's 

15          part of the curriculum in the State of 

16          New York?  

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, first of 

18          all, I think we have to keep in perspective 

19          that that may in fact not have been the focus 

20          of what the curriculum was in that -- in 

21          wherever that student went to school, and 

22          maybe they didn't talk about it.  But I have 

23          been in schools across the state, and 

24          everywhere I go there is writing work up on 


                                                                  123

 1          the walls from the students.  And they're 

 2          writing the work in cursive.  

 3                 Now, that is part of a curriculum that 

 4          is much more expansive.  And if we talk about 

 5          the pedagogy of higher standards, we are 

 6          including writing as a key component to that, 

 7                 So I would suggest to you that writing 

 8          is important.  And I don't -- I can't explain 

 9          how that student would respond the way they 

10          did.  There are some -- there are some 

11          programs in the past that I have seen across 

12          the country that have not -- that have left 

13          writing as you know it out and put more 

14          emphasis on using technology for writing and 

15          rewriting, et cetera.  And if that's the 

16          case, then I think we have to make sure that 

17          there's a balance across all curriculum 

18          areas.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Yeah, I 

20          would appreciate it if you looked further 

21          into this, because I had a conversation with 

22          my teachers in my district following that, 

23          and they just said it's just not required 

24          anymore.  And so I'm not sure if that's a 


                                                                  124

 1          local decision -- I assume it would be a 

 2          State Ed decision because it's part of the 

 3          curriculum.  But if you could look into that 

 4          and get back to me, I'd appreciate it.

 5                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Sure, we'll do 

 6          that.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Thank you.

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.  

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

11                 Next is Senator Liz Krueger.

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good morning, 

13          Commissioner.

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Delighted you have 

16          joined us in New York State.  And as I had 

17          mentioned to you when we met, I am very 

18          pleased to see that you are moving forward 

19          with your waiver to the federal government 

20          allowing for portfolio high school 

21          completion.  Am I correct that's still part 

22          of the plan?

23                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, we've 

24          requested it.  Under the new law, we think we 


                                                                  125

 1          may have some flexibility, and we're hoping 

 2          that we can do that and develop some 

 3          different types of assessments.  So yes, we 

 4          are.  I can't tell you what the timeline will 

 5          be, but we're looking at it.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And on timelines, I 

 7          know at least one other person asked about 

 8          the technology bond money.

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Can you say how many 

11          school districts have already applied for 

12          that money?

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Sure, we have 

14          that.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And while you're 

16          looking, also what you think the approximate 

17          timeline is for approval once a district does 

18          apply for the money.

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So right now we 

20          have $48 million that has been proposed so 

21          far.  I don't have the actual number of 

22          schools that have submitted and been approved 

23          and included in that 48 million, but we'll 

24          get those specifics to you.  


                                                                  126

 1                 But it's -- under the six categories I 

 2          have the amounts under each category:  $20 

 3          million for classroom connectivity; 10,000, 

 4          which is a project for a local library, for 

 5          community connectivity; classroom technology 

 6          is $19.6 million; pre-K classrooms is $2.1 

 7          million; high-tech security is 5.7 million.  

 8          And the replacement of transportable 

 9          classroom units is zero so far, so that has 

10          not been a focus of the funding.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And based on your 

12          answers, I now think you're saying that a 

13          district doesn't apply for the lump sum; as 

14          one proposal, the individual schools or 

15          individual projects must make an application?

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I believe that the 

17          districts -- and we'll get the specifics to 

18          you -- the districts apply, and they apply by 

19          school, and the particular category of 

20          funding that they're accessing is part of 

21          their request.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So if I was a large 

23          school district, say New York City, where I'm 

24          from, the assumption is they would be filing 


                                                                  127

 1          for their entire amount, but it would be 

 2          broken down item by item for different 

 3          schools, different projects?

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And then you would 

 6          approve or disapprove line items, not yes to 

 7          New York City School District or Yonkers 

 8          School District or no?

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yeah.  So they 

10          would submit.  If it was in the categories 

11          that I just pointed out, then it would move 

12          forward.  There's a governance council that 

13          has to approve, which includes SUNY, the 

14          State Ed Department, and the Department of 

15          Budget.  And so those three have to approve, 

16          as it moves forward, to get the funding 

17          allocated.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  How frequently do 

19          they meet?

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We haven't had a 

21          meeting yet.  So these are -- this is -- the 

22          funding that we have here are these requests 

23          with those various dollar amounts.

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And are there three 


                                                                  128

 1          votes taken, then, or is it a consensus?  Can 

 2          any one of these three veto a project, like a 

 3          PACB model?  

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I think that by 

 5          the time the project gets to them, it's gone 

 6          through the steps for approval.  But we will 

 7          get the full process in place and we'll -- 

 8          it's in place.  Let me send it to you so you 

 9          are aware of exactly how it's occurring.  

10                 And if any of you hear that there's 

11          districts that are not aware of that -- 

12          because we've been very, very purposeful in 

13          getting the information out -- please let us 

14          know so we make sure that we support them and 

15          help them to make those decisions.

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So let me raise the 

17          two concerns I have based on not knowing the 

18          full answers.  

19                 One, you might have any given school 

20          district put a proposal in that lists many 

21          items, and in fact the council or the staff, 

22          prior to going to council, might have 

23          problems only with a couple of the items, the 

24          projects?


                                                                  129

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.  Mm-hmm.

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And I'd hate to see 

 3          an entire district's proposal being rejected 

 4          or delayed because perhaps out of 35 

 5          different projects you had a problem with one 

 6          or two.  So I'd want to at least be reassured 

 7          that a school district could then get 

 8          approval for everything but whatever the 

 9          items were within their proposal.

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And two, as many of 

12          us who spend time up here have seen, 

13          sometimes when you have a board or a 

14          commission that then takes a vote on 

15          something, even once you've made your 

16          recommendations, any one of those three 

17          entities you describe might decide, perhaps 

18          for political reasons, that they wanted to 

19          take a no vote --

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I'm shocked.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- instead of a yes 

22          vote.

23                 I know you're shocked, because you're 

24          new to New York, but I am not new to New 


                                                                  130

 1          York.

 2                 And so a real concern that, you 

 3          know -- I'll pick on the Department of 

 4          Budget.  They don't really like to release 

 5          money.  They like to have the money as 

 6          opposed to spend the money.  So I'd hate to 

 7          imagine a scene where bond money that the 

 8          people of New York voted to support spending 

 9          for important educational technology efforts 

10          were then somehow not able to go out the door 

11          because districts, in good faith, put 

12          reasonable proposals in, your professional 

13          staff approved those proposals as meeting the 

14          standards of the bond act and attached 

15          statutory language, and then somebody else 

16          decided it just wasn't the time to spend the 

17          money.  I would hate to see that happen.  

18                 So I'd be very interested in the 

19          breakdown of the details of how this works.

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, as you're 

21          aware, I'm sure, that this board -- this 

22          group of SUNY, SED and the Department of 

23          Budget was set up under the legislation.  

24                 And so we can give you an overview of 


                                                                  131

 1          where we are in terms of releasing and what 

 2          the process and where anything might be in 

 3          that pipeline.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And again, I 

 5          appreciate your looking to help me understand 

 6          whether the way the legislation is actually 

 7          drafted, any one of those three actually has 

 8          a veto power.

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Because I think that 

11          would have been an oversight of the 

12          legislation.  Thank you.

13                 There was a question earlier that you 

14          did answer about -- actually, you raised it 

15          in your testimony, how we have many models of 

16          pre-K and that you would like to see 

17          something done about that.  

18                 In my understanding, there's both 

19          regulatory change that would be required but 

20          there also may be an issue of different 

21          amounts of money for different categories of 

22          pre-K.  Does your department have a specific 

23          proposal about how this can be fixed?  And 

24          does it require the Legislature, or can it be 


                                                                  132

 1          done through SED?

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  No, it does 

 3          require the Legislature.  We do have a 

 4          specific proposal.  And what we are proposing 

 5          is that we incorporate all of the different 

 6          programs under one program for pre-K with one 

 7          set of rules, and that then that be 

 8          administered and determined and be connected 

 9          to SED.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And usually when you 

11          make changes in multiple programs, you've got 

12          winners and losers.  So how would you move 

13          forward so that you weren't penalizing some 

14          category of existing programs?

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, the programs 

16          are all for pre-K, and they're targeting 

17          different students.  Right?  And they came in 

18          at different times.  And the rules were put 

19          in place specific -- at that point in time.  

20          And there may in fact have been a focus on 

21          one part of the state or another.  But what 

22          we're saying is, as we would -- and we would 

23          have to work through those things, Senator.  

24                 But I think it's really important 


                                                                  133

 1          that, rather than adding another program, 

 2          that we take the time to make this correction 

 3          now and expand our pre-K each year to 

 4          ultimately get to particularly all of our 

 5          4-year-olds and the 3-year-olds as we're 

 6          adding.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I don't disagree 

 8          with you, for the record.  And speaking for 

 9          my district on the East Side of Manhattan, we 

10          don't have the room to expand for 3-year-olds 

11          at this point.  We're still struggling to 

12          make sure we have adequate seats for the 

13          4-year-olds in an overcrowded subdistrict of 

14          New York City.  So I'm not a big believer in 

15          rushing to 3-year-olds at this time.  

16                 But I do want to I guess emphasize 

17          that philosophically I think merging all into 

18          one model makes sense and actually is simpler 

19          all round for everybody providing pre-K 

20          throughout the state.  But there's a 

21          difference between raising all ships by 

22          making sure that you're providing adequate 

23          funding for everybody as opposed to turning 

24          around and saying, Okay, you four over there, 


                                                                  134

 1          you have to take a cut because we're evening 

 2          out.  And I think there's real ramifications 

 3          for that in the real world.  So I'm hoping 

 4          you can view it in that perspective.

 5                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, we certainly 

 6          will.  And if we're able to move that 

 7          forward, we really are interested in working 

 8          through those difficulties.  There's no 

 9          question they were developed at specific 

10          times with specific things in mind.  And I 

11          think it would be an important factor as we 

12          try to incorporate them into one program.

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Have the Regents  

14          taken a position on the East Ramapo issue 

15          vis-a-vis the recommendations of that task 

16          force and the call for actual legislation to 

17          address the problems?

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, the Regents 

19          heard the report from the monitors that were 

20          there, Dennis Walcott and the other two 

21          monitors.  And in terms of action taken 

22          beyond that, they accepted the report, and 

23          we're continuing to work with East Ramapo.

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Are you getting 


                                                                  135

 1          anywhere?  

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I think we're 

 3          moving forward.  It's, as you're well aware, 

 4          a difficult situation.  And it's really a 

 5          critical thing for us -- East Ramapo has some 

 6          very, very specific needs in terms of 

 7          funding.  And I think that we've got to be 

 8          able to know that when the funds that you as 

 9          a group decide would be appropriate, if you 

10          do, that we're able to then move them into 

11          the district and make sure that there's a 

12          very targeted focus on the use of those funds 

13          to support what we know are really a severe 

14          lack of both resources in terms of facilities 

15          and resources in terms of instructional 

16          materials and support for teachers.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  My time 

18          is up.  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.  

20                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

21          much.

22                 Assemblyman Glick.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN GLICK:  We're on the 

24          cusp of "good morning" or "good afternoon."  


                                                                  136

 1          So let me just ask you two quick questions.  

 2                 One relates to an issue that was 

 3          raised earlier but in a different context.  

 4          The state is obligated, through the Dignity 

 5          for All Students law, to ensure that students 

 6          throughout the state, each school building 

 7          has a plan and someone who is aware of the 

 8          need to ensure a safe, respectful environment 

 9          for all students.  This is targeted primarily 

10          at ensuring that bullying does not take 

11          place, that all teachers are ultimately 

12          trained to address instances either in their 

13          school, their classrooms or within the 

14          school.  

15                 It's especially important as you move 

16          into junior high, when kids are getting a 

17          little bit more rambunctious.  So I'm 

18          wondering if you could tell us a little bit 

19          more about what is happening with that.  

20                 And I also wants to raise to your 

21          awareness an effort to -- there is a group in 

22          New York City that is developing a positive 

23          collaborative learning modality, and it is an 

24          attempt to change the culture of schools so 


                                                                  137

 1          that it is a positive environment and 

 2          students are less likely to be disciplined 

 3          and less likely to be suspended and more 

 4          likely to have a variety of schoolteachers, 

 5          staff, to whom they can go if they are in 

 6          fact feeling stressed or have certain 

 7          problems, so that they do not act out.  

 8                 And I'm just wondering if you could 

 9          talk a little bit more about what the 

10          department views as their ability to reach 

11          out into school districts to ensure that 

12          these efforts and training is actually taking 

13          place.

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.  Well, as 

15          you pointed out, we did pass legislation here 

16          in New York, the Safe Schools Against 

17          Violence in Education act in 2000, and then 

18          the Dignity for All Students in 2012, and we 

19          further addressed school climate by outlawing 

20          bullying and harassment and discrimination.  

21          And in 2013, the law was amended to include 

22          cyberbullying.  So we've addressed some of 

23          those issues.  

24                 We've been working with -- the 


                                                                  138

 1          districts have put out guidance, 

 2          particularly, on specific circumstances that 

 3          they should be aware of and ways that we 

 4          believe it's appropriate for them to support 

 5          all students and have a respectful 

 6          environment.  

 7                 The whole issue that has come to the 

 8          fore, then, is how do we know that that's 

 9          happening.  And we have -- the Regents have 

10          requested additional funds to make sure that 

11          those statutory obligations are being upheld 

12          in our schools.  So to enhance oversight 

13          through regular monitoring and audits -- 

14          which at this point in time we are not doing, 

15          but I think that's an important thing -- and 

16          provide support and ensure the accountability 

17          of that, one of the things that we've done is 

18          we're moving towards a climate survey.  I 

19          mentioned that earlier.  

20                 And I think that that will give us 

21          more indications of where we are with 

22          students, because the students take that 

23          survey.  And then we get the -- we would get 

24          the data on it and it would provide for us 


                                                                  139

 1          kind of an overview of what students are 

 2          thinking about their environment, whether 

 3          they've been bullied and do they have someone 

 4          in their environment they can go to.  

 5                 We also recently were looking at the 

 6          job descriptions for our guidance counselors 

 7          and psychologists, and that has come up 

 8          multiple times, that we have to make sure 

 9          that we have training for them on strategies 

10          that can support a respectful environment for 

11          all students, and to help students.  

12                 Your comment about students feeling 

13          that they had support in their school came 

14          out very strongly in the student panels that 

15          we had in our workgroup for boys and men of 

16          color.  And the students repeatedly talked 

17          about the fact that in environments in school 

18          -- and you had a group of different students, 

19          two or three different panels -- in 

20          environments in their school, if they had the 

21          opportunity to interact with their friends in 

22          a way that was positive -- and when it 

23          wasn't, that there was someone that could 

24          help to intervene and almost do peer 


                                                                  140

 1          counseling with them -- it made enormous 

 2          differences in how they interacted with the 

 3          work they were doing for academics and the 

 4          work that they were doing in their -- many of 

 5          them had jobs after school and were doing 

 6          other things.  

 7                 So I think that the role that SED 

 8          plays is one to both support but also to 

 9          monitor.  And I will tell you we have not 

10          done the kind of monitoring that I think 

11          would be a necessary thing.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN GLICK:  Do you believe 

13          that to some extent part of the professional 

14          development, that there is an element that 

15          could be added to professional development 

16          that would include a component that would 

17          address the issues of recognizing students 

18          who are being isolated?  

19                 And a lot of this has to do with -- 

20          we've seen a level of violence that comes out 

21          of kids who are consistently isolated from 

22          their classmates, and their frustration 

23          unfortunately comes out in a violent attack.

24                 Now, New York State has been very 


                                                                  141

 1          fortunate that we have not had some of the 

 2          situations, although maybe it happens outside 

 3          of the school, on the street.  So I'm 

 4          wondering if the department is looking at 

 5          adding to its recommendations for 

 6          professional development some component that 

 7          relates to enhancing the ability of teachers 

 8          to recognize and identify and report to their 

 9          principals, and is there a pathway for people 

10          to -- either principals or a guidance 

11          counselor -- identify students they feel are 

12          displaying either isolation or aggression 

13          that could be eliminated early on?  

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I will tell 

15          you I think that it's extremely important for 

16          teachers to be aware.  And that's one of the 

17          things that when you're talking about what 

18          makes an effective teacher, someone that 

19          really connects with kids, they have 

20          relationships with them.  And they can tell 

21          when there are actions that are occurring in 

22          a classroom that are not productive for any 

23          child nor for the classroom itself.  

24                 So I would underscore the 


                                                                  142

 1          importance -- I've said it multiple times, 

 2          it's not only about academics that teachers 

 3          need to have supports, it's for the things 

 4          that they face every day in their classrooms 

 5          where we can provide strategies and models 

 6          that we know work for teachers to intervene 

 7          and then what do they do to take it to 

 8          resources that are in that school to help 

 9          them.  

10                 And I think the guidance counselors 

11          and principals that work every day should be 

12          thinking about that.  But I want to 

13          underscore the importance of having the data 

14          about how students are feeling about their 

15          environment, because that is extremely 

16          eye-opening for whoever looks at it.  And in 

17          my experience, using that kind of a survey 

18          for climate can be a great staff development 

19          activity that's used at the school to target 

20          not only what a student is saying about the 

21          classrooms that they're in and they're either 

22          -- that they're being verbally attacked or 

23          that they feel insecure at the school or that 

24          they're not being supported, but where does 


                                                                  143

 1          it mainly happen in the school, and what then 

 2          schools can look at and analyze what they 

 3          need to do every day to address these issues.

 4                 It happens to be that a cafeteria is a 

 5          place where that happens a lot.  It does 

 6          happen in some classrooms, but in a survey 

 7          you know which ones of the classrooms it 

 8          happens in, and you also know that there's 

 9          others where it doesn't.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

11                 Senator?  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

13          much.  

14                 So now it's my turn.  And it is great 

15          to hear that you share so many of the 

16          priorities of the Legislature.  And we've 

17          heard from our colleagues today things like 

18          investing more in our children's education 

19          and future.  

20                 As you know, our Senate majority 

21          conference is determined to finally get rid 

22          of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which as 

23          you know is a destructive fiscal gimmick that 

24          has really taken money away from our 


                                                                  144

 1          children's education for far too long.  We 

 2          need to get rid of it for good.  

 3                 I'm glad to hear that you're focused 

 4          on improving struggling schools and turning 

 5          things around.  It's great that you're taking 

 6          action on overhauling the tests -- and I know 

 7          students, teachers and parents across the 

 8          state also are very grateful for that.  And 

 9          I'm so happy to hear that you're focused on 

10          professional development for teachers, 

11          because that is so critical to give them the 

12          supports that they need to be the most 

13          effective they can be in the classroom.  

14                 And that ties into something Senator 

15          Krueger brought up about the Smart Schools 

16          Bond Act, bringing more infrastructure, more 

17          technology to our districts.  And as you 

18          know, the Legislature voted to establish an 

19          Online Learning Advisory Council.  I 

20          authorized the bill.  And we're very excited 

21          about that fact because it brings more 

22          opportunities.  

23                 As you know -- you know the Southern 

24          Tier of Western New York, you know Livingston 


                                                                  145

 1          County, which I represent.  You also know 

 2          that I represent 46 school districts.  A 

 3          couple of them are small city school 

 4          districts that are struggling; we need to 

 5          help them.  But across the board, my 

 6          districts are rural.  And all the districts 

 7          across the state need to have more access to 

 8          more online learning, because it's very 

 9          difficult to bring these opportunities 

10          otherwise, especially in poor rural areas.  

11          But every child can have their world opened 

12          up and new opportunities through this.  We're 

13          excited.  

14                 Dr. David O'Rourke, as you know, is 

15          one of the chairs of the advisory council, as 

16          is Scott Bischoping, and they've been putting 

17          this together.  

18                 We're very excited about it, but I 

19          have some concerns.  I wanted to get your 

20          take.  First of all, where are we at so that 

21          we can get this underway?

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, on page 11 

23          in the slide presentation, the Regents 

24          request is for $50 million reimbursed in 


                                                                  146

 1          '17-'18, so it would be a reimbursement from 

 2          funds spent.  

 3                 But let me say I believe that this is 

 4          where we can open up the opportunities across 

 5          the state for all students.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Exactly.  

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  To give you an 

 8          example, and the committee that you 

 9          authored -- and thank you very much for that.  

10          I think it's really exciting that we have, 

11          from a group of people, many of them in 

12          education and others not, saying these are 

13          the things that we need to be doing to move 

14          our students forward, but providing the 

15          opportunities across the board for all of our 

16          students, so in those rural communities that 

17          you represent where we don't have enough 

18          students, perhaps, to have a teacher that's 

19          teaching AP physics or AP calculus, AB or AP 

20          computer science, that we can do those things 

21          in another format and still allow our 

22          students to have access to that high-level 

23          programing is an incredible opportunity that 

24          we need to take advantage of.


                                                                  147

 1                 There were some additional funds that 

 2          were spent under Race to the Top for 

 3          curriculum that can be put online, and we're 

 4          ready to move forward on that.  But we really 

 5          believe that not only do we have to have -- 

 6          and this gets back to the training, again, 

 7          for teachers.  We have to have teachers that 

 8          can be online teachers.  And just like 

 9          anything else, it's a different approach, and 

10          so it requires that kind of support and 

11          training for teachers so that they can then 

12          help our students to be supported and 

13          successful with it.  

14                 The reality is in any employment that 

15          you go into, you are going to have to use 

16          technology in some way.  You're going to 

17          either get your training on technology -- 

18          people don't do the classroom stand and 

19          deliver anymore, they really all kind of 

20          individualize it.  And I can appreciate that.  

21          I mean, we are -- people that are going into 

22          jobs, our lives are very different.  If we 

23          have children at home, we do the thing at 

24          night, at 11 o'clock at night.  If we don't, 


                                                                  148

 1          we might want to do it any time when we can 

 2          demand that it's there in front of us and we 

 3          can learn.  Our kids are already like that.  

 4                 So the opportunity of putting that in 

 5          front of them and having that be across the 

 6          cities -- who have not provided some of the 

 7          high opportunities for kids that they need 

 8          to -- or the rural areas, it's a really 

 9          incredible opportunity.  We want to move 

10          forward on it as quickly as possible.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That's fantastic to 

12          hear.  

13                 Now, how many staff members at the 

14          department are working on this right now?  

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, the staff 

16          members that are working on it have three 

17          other jobs.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And that actually 

19          goes into what my concern is.  We studied 

20          other states that have successfully done 

21          major online learning programs, and one of 

22          the things that they've done is that they 

23          have dedicated staff, and also 

24          leadership-level staff, in order for the 


                                                                  149

 1          program to be successful.  And that's just 

 2          one of the things that I want to raise to 

 3          you, Commissioner, is right now we don't seem 

 4          to have that structure in place over at the 

 5          department.  And if there's something that we 

 6          need to do as a Legislature in the State 

 7          Budget, we need to know that so that we can 

 8          get this really off the ground.

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, we have 

10          proposed in our budget that there be 

11          additional funds that would come to State Ed 

12          specifically tied to allocations.  

13                 Let me give you an example.  When the 

14          allocation came through for struggling 

15          schools and persistently struggling schools, 

16          and we're moving towards a receivership 

17          model, the funding came with $75 million for 

18          those persistently struggling schools, and 

19          there was no funding at all to administer 

20          that program. 

21                 Now, all of you I'm sure have heard 

22          and are aware of or may have in your 

23          districts schools that are struggling and 

24          persistently struggling, and they need help.  


                                                                  150

 1          And often for us from the State Ed 

 2          Department, we need to be there with them in 

 3          multiple opportunities to provide guidance in 

 4          how they can connect the community to the 

 5          school, what they can do, what these great 

 6          models are that we have in other places in 

 7          New York and we can use those as the models.  

 8          And we didn't receive any funding to do that.  

 9                 So that is just one simple example.  

10          For the Smart Schools money in the bond, we 

11          are processing and doing that work.  We 

12          didn't receive any funding for that.

13                 So you will see that there is a 

14          request so that we can become the agency that 

15          really supports all of the students in New 

16          York State and all of the teachers and 

17          administrators in New York State.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Thank 

19          you.

20                 I'd like to switch now to final cost 

21          reports for capital projects.  And as you 

22          know so well as commissioner, when capital 

23          projects are completed by school districts, 

24          the districts are required to file these 


                                                                  151

 1          final cost reports with the department so 

 2          that the project can be closed out.  

 3                 And there have been times when, due to 

 4          school district staff turnover or the 

 5          department has said that the final cost 

 6          reports have been lost or final cost reports 

 7          have not been submitted or they've been 

 8          submitted late, basically what happens is, as 

 9          a result, school districts have faced 

10          considerable state aid recoveries by the 

11          department that wreak havoc on the school 

12          district.  

13                 And I've had a few that I've had to 

14          deal with from my Senate district.  And one 

15          stands out, for example; there was a recovery 

16          by the department that was 30 percent of that 

17          school district's entire annual budget.  

18                 So it's been a problem.  And current 

19          law requires the department to withhold state 

20          aid if a final cost report is not received 

21          within 18 months after SED approval.  So can 

22          you tell us the current status and the number 

23          of school districts that the department is 

24          aware of that face similar recoveries, and 


                                                                  152

 1          the amount of those recoveries?

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We'll have to get 

 3          that data to you.  I don't have --

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  It would be 

 5          helpful.  And I didn't think that you may 

 6          that at your ready today.

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We have lots of 

 8          numbers here, but I just don't have that one.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  But I wanted to 

10          publicly raise it.

11                 And also I was hoping that maybe the 

12          department could consider some kind of early 

13          warning system through state aid management 

14          systems so that the information on critical 

15          deadlines for filing these cost reports is 

16          readily available to the districts, because 

17          that's been an issue and it's contributed to 

18          the problem.  

19                 I also just wanted to ask one more 

20          thing.  Something came to my attention that's 

21          in the Executive proposal.  And currently 

22          State Ed is responsible for developing RFPs 

23          and executing grants for pre-K programs.  And 

24          the Executive proposal creates the Empire 


                                                                  153

 1          State Pre-Kindergarten Grant Board to develop 

 2          and award grants for all pre-K programs going 

 3          forward.  And the board will be compromised 

 4          of three members, one recommended by the 

 5          Executive, will be appointed by the 

 6          Executive.  

 7                 No office or employee, member of the 

 8          school district or Education Department will 

 9          be eligible to serve on the board.  And the 

10          staff of the Office of Children and Family 

11          Services will serve as staff for the board.

12                 So this proposal would effectively 

13          move the RFP development and grant process 

14          from State Ed to the Office of Children and 

15          Family Services.  Am I not correct in that 

16          assessment?  

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Could you explain 

19          that?

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  It's difficult to 

21          explain.  I believe that we should have all 

22          the work that's done on pre-K programs -- and 

23          remember, pre-K is pre-kindergarten, so you 

24          know just by the title that it should be 


                                                                  154

 1          connected to the kindergarten programs.  And 

 2          so here we go from a pre-K program into a 

 3          kindergarten program, and they are 

 4          disconnected.  

 5                 And I think one of the critical things 

 6          that we have learned and should have learned 

 7          is that we need to connect what's happening 

 8          with our students and that we know that when 

 9          we are preparing a child to be successful in 

10          kindergarten, we know what's happening in 

11          pre-K.

12                 To move the Education Department out 

13          of that realm I do not think is productive, 

14          and I think in fact it is a destructive thing 

15          for students and for their programming.  And 

16          it's very important that we not silo.  Just 

17          like we wouldn't want it to be in businesses, 

18          we want everyone to be cooperative, to work 

19          together, to make sure that we can get the 

20          end result that we want -- which is student 

21          outcomes in this case.  Connecting things to 

22          each other is very critical.  

23                 And if you have a program that is 

24          administered in another area, has no 


                                                                  155

 1          connection to the education system you have 

 2          in New York, then I would say that that 

 3          program is not as productive nor will it ever 

 4          be as productive and you are making a 

 5          decision that would hurt students.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 7                 I was wondering about the genesis of 

 8          this proposal.  Has the department had any 

 9          issues with developing RFPs or awarding the 

10          grants in the past?

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Not that I know 

12          of.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  So your 

14          strong recommendation is that the Legislature 

15          should reject this proposal and keep all of 

16          the education together, is that what you're 

17          saying?

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  A very 

19          strong recommendation.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Very strong.  

21                 Thank you very much, Commissioner.  I 

22          really appreciate it.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

24          much, Senator.  


                                                                  156

 1                 We're going to take a 10-minute break.  

 2          And there are about seven people more, and 

 3          I'm going to cut you all back to five 

 4          minutes.  And no one else can get on line.  

 5          And the reason I'm doing it is because there 

 6          are people who have been waiting for too 

 7          long.  We'll be in the middle of the night 

 8          again.  

 9                 (Brief recess taken from 12:15 to 

10          12:30 p.m.)

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  We've been joined 

12          by Assemblywoman Hyndman.

13                 Assemblywoman Arroyo.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ARROYO:  Thank you very 

15          much.  

16                 I'm going to stand up because I want 

17          to see clearly all my colleagues here.  

18                 Commissioner, I'm so proud of you.  

19          Listening to you is a learning process that 

20          doesn't stop.  Congratulations, and thank you 

21          for the great work that you are doing.

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN ARROYO:  As chair of the 

24          Subcommittee on Bilingual Education, we have 


                                                                  157

 1          met several times in terms of the crisis that 

 2          exists in the State of New York teaching 

 3          those students that doesn't speak English.  

 4          The problem is going up every year, and every 

 5          year more and more students that doesn't 

 6          speak English arrive to the State of New 

 7          York.  And we have to provide for them.

 8                 The Assembly and the Senate of the 

 9          state provide the Department of Education a 

10          grant that is called "bilingual categorical 

11          funds" to help to enhance those areas in 

12          bilingual education that are in need.

13                 This year, as the crisis has expanded 

14          to so many areas in the state, we are 

15          requesting to put in the budget $20 million 

16          to enhance the program.  But there is a 

17          categorical -- the categorical funds have 

18          rules and regulations that you cannot hire 

19          teachers from that money.  I would like to 

20          work with you, with my colleagues in the 

21          Senate and in the Assembly, not only to 

22          enlarge the project to $20 million, but to 

23          change those rules so that your department 

24          can be able to help those communities that 


                                                                  158

 1          are in need.  

 2                 Because when I speak to my colleagues 

 3          about the problems that they are having all 

 4          over this state -- in the City of New York, 

 5          where the chancellor had killed the bilingual 

 6          education program -- we have to work together 

 7          to help those areas and those schools that 

 8          are in need of services for those students 

 9          that are coming here.  

10                 And I would like to respectfully ask 

11          you for some assistance.  We can sit down, we 

12          can create a committee between the -- enhance 

13          my subcommittee from the Senate and the 

14          Assembly to work together, because I think 

15          that is teamwork that is going to be 

16          necessary.  At the same time, between us, my 

17          colleagues and the Senate, we will be 

18          requesting $20 million this year.  Your 

19          budget had been 14.7.  We want to enlarge 

20          that money to $20 million, because there's a 

21          need for it.

22                 I have made an assessment, and 

23          sometimes, you know, you have to see how many 

24          children we are leaving behind because they 


                                                                  159

 1          don't speak English.  Some of the problems 

 2          that we have in the City of New York is that 

 3          they are placing children that doesn't speak 

 4          English in a special education program.  And 

 5          we have to work together to work to the roots 

 6          of the problem.  We know that those that 

 7          doesn't enhance bilingual education are 

 8          adding violation to the federal law that have 

 9          a mandate to provide bilingual education to 

10          those students that are sitting in our 

11          classrooms that cannot speak the language.  

12                 And when we speak about bilingual 

13          education, there's so many languages that we 

14          have to cover.  And I know that you have a 

15          problem.  I'm willing to work with you, with 

16          the Senate, the Assembly, the Speaker and the 

17          Governor, to make sure that we put the money 

18          where the money belongs, and in the hands of 

19          the people that can really address the 

20          problem.

21                 Thank you for your work.  Thank you to 

22          my colleagues.  And we are here to assist 

23          you.

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you very 


                                                                  160

 1          much.

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senator?

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  I'd 

 4          like to note that we have been joined by 

 5          Senator Michael Nozzolio.  And also Senator 

 6          Diane Savino has been here for quite a 

 7          lengthy time but just had nowhere to sit.  So 

 8          thank you for being here.

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Murray.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Thank you, 

11          Mr. Chairman.

12                 And, Commissioner, thank you for being 

13          here and for all of your very informative 

14          answers.

15                 I just have one issue that I want to 

16          broach right now, and that is the Title I 

17          funding from the federal government.  And the 

18          recent letters that came out from the federal 

19          government threatening to withhold this 

20          funding from schools who don't meet the 95 

21          percent criteria regarding testing.

22                 I've received quite a few phone calls 

23          -- superintendents, teachers, but mostly 

24          parents.  First let me say I think it's 


                                                                  161

 1          absolutely unconscionable that any government 

 2          agency would threaten to withhold tax dollars 

 3          from schools, from parents, as a form of 

 4          punishment for parents doing what they think 

 5          is best for their children.  So they're 

 6          actually putting parents in a position where 

 7          they say if we're doing what we think is best 

 8          for our children, we could be hurting our 

 9          children.  I think that's absolutely 

10          terrible.

11                 But the calls that I'm getting -- and 

12          I'd like to get your opinion on this.  The 

13          phone calls I'm getting is from parents who 

14          are saying "Why are we doing these tests this 

15          year?"  And I lay this out because the tests 

16          that are currently going to be administered 

17          are still the Pearson tests, but they're 

18          going to be tweaked, I believe; right?

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  They are questions 

20          that would have been developed with the prior 

21          firm.  They are being reviewed by teachers in 

22          New York State for the form of the question, 

23          and the passages are being reviewed, and the 

24          questions and the tests are all being 


                                                                  162

 1          shortened so that there are fewer questions 

 2          in English language arts and mathematics 

 3          Grades 3 through 8.  

 4                 So it's not the same length, it's not 

 5          the same -- it may be the same, similar 

 6          questions coming from a pool of questions, 

 7          but it is not the same test.  And it's all 

 8          being reviewed by New York State teachers.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Okay.  Well, the 

10          point I'm getting at is the tests -- the 

11          tests currently will not be used for teacher 

12          evaluations, which I agree with; they won't 

13          be used for the promotion of students, as far 

14          as their grades and their scores.  So the 

15          parents are saying, Why are our kids being 

16          used as guinea pigs right now, with the 

17          threat of us losing funding if they don't 

18          take these tests?  

19                 Because we're going to move on from 

20          Pearson to Questar, I believe is going to be 

21          the new vendor.

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We've already 

23          moved to Questar.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Okay.  Now, are 


                                                                  163

 1          they a private company?

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  They're a testing 

 3          firm, yes.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Right.  So my 

 5          point is that if they're a for-profit company 

 6          that does this for a living, wouldn't they 

 7          already do their quality control, if you 

 8          will, or work with us over the next four 

 9          years as we're trying to make these tests 

10          better -- wouldn't they do that without using 

11          these kids as unpaid guinea pigs?  And that's 

12          what the parents are asking.  That's what 

13          they're feeling like right now:  Why are my 

14          kids sitting through this this year and doing 

15          this when it has no effect on the teachers, 

16          no effect on the students' grades?  And yet, 

17          again, we're going to be punished if we do 

18          what we think is best in pulling these kids 

19          out of these tests and opting out; we'll be 

20          punished with not getting federal funds.

21                 Which, by the way, the Title I funding 

22          goes to, for the most part, the neediest of 

23          schools.

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Absolutely.


                                                                  164

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  So we're going to 

 2          punish those that need it the most for 

 3          parents doing what they think is right.  I'd 

 4          like to get your feelings on that.

 5                 And by the way, that threat was made 

 6          last year and was not carried out, so many 

 7          are wondering:  Is this an idle threat, or 

 8          where are we going with this?

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So let me put it 

10          in perspective.  

11                 We have been having tests in New York 

12          State that would give us information about 

13          where a student is in general knowledge for 

14          years.  Across the country we've had tests.  

15          And we in New York have a long history of 

16          Regents exams developed by teachers.

17                 So there is an assessment that is 

18          required by the federal government.  That is 

19          the 3 through 8 assessment.  I think it's 

20          important for you to realize that the 

21          assessments are used.  And we have to make 

22          sure that they're used appropriately.  And 

23          we, in regards to having the pressure taken 

24          off of the assessments as tools in the 


                                                                  165

 1          evaluation of teachers, we've taken that 

 2          pressure off. 

 3                 But let me give you an example.  I'm a 

 4          principal at an elementary school, and I have 

 5          five fifth grades.  And I give the assessment 

 6          in mathematics.  And I realize, when those 

 7          assessments come back, we have a problem in 

 8          mathematics across the board.  One teacher, 

 9          however, seems to be doing a really good job 

10          in getting their kids through that 

11          assessment, and the kids, as they take the 

12          assessments, are showing that they are able 

13          to do mathematics better than the other four 

14          fifth-grade classrooms.  

15                 So I'm a principal and I look at that 

16          data and I say, okay, let's find out what 

17          that teacher is doing.  Because she obviously 

18          or he obviously has the system down, he's 

19          working with these kids, and pretty much the 

20          classes are even across the board.  So I'm 

21          doing something right in this one classroom.  

22          How can I take that information, that data 

23          that would only come if I had had an 

24          assessment, how can I take that data and use 


                                                                  166

 1          it to improve the other classrooms and what 

 2          the other teachers are doing?  

 3                 By having them work together, by 

 4          having the teacher that had the scores with 

 5          the students that were doing well share what 

 6          they're doing, share their lessons.  It could 

 7          be like that with one class.  It could be 

 8          that specific parts of the mathematics 

 9          curriculum are done better with certain 

10          teachers.  And all of that can be analyzed 

11          off the assessments that you're given.

12                 So assessments themselves are tools to 

13          improve.  And if we think of that, then it 

14          isn't that we are forcing a student to be a 

15          guinea pig, we're getting information about 

16          how well things are going.  

17                 And to be perfectly honest, we 

18          certainly could get information about a 

19          student that might need some particular help, 

20          and that principal and teacher have that 

21          data, and they know when that kid goes to the 

22          next grade level, they're going to make sure 

23          that they get some support for that student.

24                 In fact, the teachers would be able to 


                                                                  167

 1          use the assessment information to develop the 

 2          kind of curriculum that needs to be done.  If 

 3          I'm a principal in a school, I look across 

 4          the board and say, Okay, how did all my 

 5          students do in English language arts and 

 6          mathematics?  I make decisions about the 

 7          staff development that I provide in the 

 8          summer, after school, and opportunities that 

 9          I put teachers together in teams -- I make 

10          those decisions based on the data I have off 

11          that assessment.  

12                 So assessment across the board can be 

13          very relevant.  And since we have unplugged 

14          the teacher evaluation, which was identified 

15          by people in my travels everywhere as being a 

16          big issue, we've taken that off the page.  We 

17          are working with teachers, really following 

18          the guidelines of what's necessary from the 

19          federal government, but also something that 

20          is in fact a very productive thing for 

21          teachers and for principals and 

22          administrators to use.

23                 So I would suggest that as you're 

24          talking to people who say that their child is 


                                                                  168

 1          a guinea pig, that's not the case.  We do get 

 2          information about children and what we need 

 3          to do to support teachers to get better every 

 4          day from the assessment.

 5                 We have a job -- and this was 

 6          something that we were criticized for -- and 

 7          that is getting the data back to schools in a 

 8          timely way.  Well, if people are going to use 

 9          the data, they want it in a timely way, and 

10          we know that.  We've already instituted some 

11          things to move that up.  In this past year, 

12          right after I came, we moved it up by almost 

13          a month.  So if nobody was using the data, 

14          why would anybody say "I don't get it in a 

15          timely way"?  They are using the data, they 

16          need to use the data, and it can inform them 

17          on what they need to do to improve their 

18          school or their classroom.

19                 So it's very important for us to have 

20          that information, and it helps us on an 

21          individual student level to know who's doing 

22          really well and who needs some help, and it 

23          helps us with teachers and with schools.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  I think we could 


                                                                  169

 1          go on, but my time is up.  I would just say 

 2          that the parents have said that we would hope 

 3          that assessments are being done on much more 

 4          of a broad level than just this testing.  And 

 5          I think it is.  

 6                 But I thank you for your answer.  And 

 7          if you could give some guidance to the 

 8          parents as far as this threat of funding, 

 9          that would be great.  Thank you very much.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

11                 Assemblyman Lopez.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

13          Chairman.  

14                 And thank you, Commissioner.  You've 

15          been very poised and very thoughtful with 

16          your engagement with us today.

17                 I want to hit one item quickly; I know 

18          we have a short time frame.  Certainly we all 

19          acknowledge we've been in free fall with 

20          education -- from the recession, Gap 

21          Elimination, Race to the Top, APPR, Common 

22          Core, it's been an endless list.  And our 

23          schools have been under siege. 

24                 But the basic premise that I want to 


                                                                  170

 1          get back to is the underlying premise and 

 2          really the clarion call that we've heard that 

 3          came from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity for 

 4          a sound, basic education for all students.  

 5          And my region, very similar to the Senator's 

 6          region, Senator Young's region, is primarily 

 7          rural, and we have many small school 

 8          districts that are in part of the Appalachian 

 9          Regional Commission territory.  

10                 And so the challenge that I'm asking 

11          you for some guidance on is we have a call 

12          for quality education; my concern is that all 

13          schools, as you know, are not created equal.  

14          We have many schools that don't have distance 

15          learning, we have many schools that don't 

16          have the richness of AP courses.  We have 

17          Foundation Aid, which everyone drives at as 

18          the basis for equity, if you would, between 

19          schools, other than these categorical aid 

20          supplements.

21                 I'm just asking for your thought, do 

22          we have a real handle on what each school can 

23          provide and the mix of aid that should be 

24          going to them to ensure that every student 


                                                                  171

 1          has equal opportunity to AP classes, to 

 2          technology, to all the things that may be 

 3          enjoyed in more affluent school districts?  

 4          Sound, basic education -- do we have an 

 5          operative definition, and do we have an 

 6          inventory where schools fall short of that 

 7          operative definition?

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, let me point 

 9          out we are very concerned -- the Regents 

10          proposal, if you've seen it, calls for an 

11          increase in the Foundation Aid, a substantial 

12          increase in Foundation Aid, because we're 

13          very focused on making sure that all schools 

14          have the ability and the opportunities that 

15          are necessary to provide that great education 

16          for every kid.

17                 We have some things that we've already 

18          talked about -- so the virtual learning and 

19          those things that could open up opportunities 

20          for rural school districts and, as a matter 

21          of fact, some of the urban school districts, 

22          as they look at how they can program and 

23          provide opportunities for their kids.  I 

24          don't think there's any question that there 


                                                                  172

 1          are schools with high needs in New York State 

 2          that are in tough straits right now, and this 

 3          needs to be addressed in the Foundation Aid.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  So with that said, 

 5          again, we've had a number of critics -- Rick 

 6          Timbs being one of the chief ones, with the 

 7          School Financial Officers Association, and 

 8          he's pointed out flaws in Foundation Aid.  Do 

 9          you feel that there's any ability or 

10          willingness -- it's like opening Pandora's 

11          box, I understand -- to really focus on -- 

12          we're not interested, really, in giving money 

13          to all schools when, in this specific 

14          instance, when there are some schools that 

15          are not even on an equal footing with the 

16          peers.

17                 And so I'm getting back to the issue 

18          of how do we equalize within the Foundation 

19          Aid framework, recognizing that Foundation 

20          Aid alone may not be the answer?

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So on page 3 we 

22          have proposed -- the Regents state aid 

23          proposal is there, identifying for Foundation 

24          Aid, for the GEA restoration and 


                                                                  173

 1          expense-based.

 2                 But I would suggest to you -- Regent 

 3          Tallon is on our Regents Board; he's been 

 4          very, very proactive in working with the 

 5          Regents on the development of their budget 

 6          and the budget process.  And he has talked 

 7          about the fact that in previous years there 

 8          have been reviews of how you might change the 

 9          Foundation Aid.  As you well know, that's not 

10          an easy process.  But it may in fact be 

11          something that the Legislature chooses to 

12          look at.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you.  

14                 And I'll just shift real quickly, a 

15          couple of seconds here, back to APPR.  And I 

16          know the ball's in your court in that regard.  

17          My wife is a special ed teacher, and I have a 

18          brother who's a teacher, a sister-in-law.  

19          One of the issues that's come up is within 

20          the APPR assessment of teachers, are we going 

21          to give any weight to the limitations of a 

22          teacher to address what you talked about with 

23          the parental involvement -- issues of 

24          poverty, drug abuse, domestic violence, 


                                                                  174

 1          absenteeism?  Is that going to be weighed or 

 2          reflected in the new APPR regime?

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, so it's 

 4          interesting, when you look at the formula 

 5          that was in place -- that we will be 

 6          reviewing, obviously, if we decide to move 

 7          forward on a growth model.  But I will tell 

 8          you that there are factors that were 

 9          included, like the poverty level of the 

10          students, like the attendance rate of the 

11          students, things like that, that certainly 

12          would have been in effect.

13                 I want to say that there are many, 

14          many places across this state where we have 

15          parents that have needs, that are working two 

16          jobs and don't have the opportunities that 

17          other parents might have to put in the time 

18          for connections all the time to schools.  We 

19          need to do whatever we can and work with our 

20          districts across the state to facilitate 

21          building those relationships, which is why I 

22          want to bring it back to the request that we 

23          have for developing a community and parent 

24          connection through an office in the SED to do 


                                                                  175

 1          that.  

 2                 There are many places where strategies 

 3          have worked in very high-need districts to 

 4          address those issues.  The simple answer is 

 5          we need to look at all of those things as 

 6          factors, but we also need to understand that 

 7          when you take a student and they come into 

 8          your classroom and you're a teacher in that 

 9          classroom, you need to work with the students 

10          you have to move them forward.  And I believe 

11          that our teachers are committed to doing 

12          that.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you.  And 

14          again, my thought is we talk about them being 

15          present, but we need to make sure their 

16          hearts and minds are engaged, and not just 

17          physically.  Thank you, Commissioner.

18                 Thank you, Chairman.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

20          much.  

21                 Senator?

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

23          much, Chairman.

24                 We do have Senator Nozzolio, who wants 


                                                                  176

 1          to ask a question.

 2                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Good afternoon, 

 3          Commissioner.

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good afternoon.

 5                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  I've read your 

 6          testimony, I've listened to the questions and 

 7          especially your answers, both on the video as 

 8          well as here in person.  You've addressed 

 9          many issues of extremely serious note, and I 

10          continue to press you to do what you're doing 

11          and continue communicating with the 

12          Legislature how you're doing it, what you 

13          need to do to make things better.

14                 This issue that I'm going to present 

15          in very brief format is one that has nothing 

16          to do with the very cosmic and important 

17          issues discussed this morning and this 

18          afternoon.  It deals, though, with a very 

19          personal question to many individuals, 

20          individual students, often whose future rests 

21          in the balance.  And it has nothing to do 

22          with academics, but it has everything to do 

23          with scholastic participation in 

24          extracurricular activities, particularly 


                                                                  177

 1          athletics.  That I don't believe I would have 

 2          gone to the college I went to if it wasn't 

 3          for scholastic sports.  Athletics are 

 4          important to me, and important to students, 

 5          and I believe a wonderful educational tool 

 6          for young women and young men.  And I believe 

 7          those opportunities need to be expanded.

 8                 Upstate New York, the place where 

 9          you're from, where you taught, particularly 

10          the more rural areas of upstate, have a 

11          tremendous challenge -- to meet the 

12          requirements of Title IX, to meet the 

13          mandates generally of budgets and school 

14          districts.  We found many school districts 

15          cooperating with each other and having joint 

16          athletic teams from a variety of districts, 

17          joint athletic participation, particularly in 

18          the sports of swimming, indoor track, the 

19          kinds of things that require a great deal of 

20          cost to develop the infrastructure.

21                 How can you expand scholastic athletic 

22          opportunity for those students, particularly, 

23          who don't have those opportunities, with 

24          adjoining school districts and create more of 


                                                                  178

 1          a cooperative spirit and, if necessary, a way 

 2          to fund that spirit so that school districts 

 3          could more readily join with each other to 

 4          provide those opportunities?

 5                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, let me 

 6          preface my comments with saying that in my 

 7          experience, athletics is a key part of 

 8          success for many of the students in schools 

 9          across this country, and we need to, as 

10          educators, provide those things.  It's 

11          like -- it's kind of the same parallel that 

12          you could draw for arts programs or if you 

13          had drama programs.  Kids have different 

14          interests, and what hooks them to school and 

15          activities that are productive are really 

16          critical.

17                 I had the opportunity in the last week 

18          to meet with the athletic organization here 

19          in the state.  We talked about ways that 

20          we're going to work together to support each 

21          other to make sure that our kids and our 

22          schools and districts take advantage of 

23          whatever ways that we can to join together 

24          resources and make that work.


                                                                  179

 1                 I particularly am aware of some of the 

 2          school districts in Western New York where 

 3          the difficulty of just getting to places 

 4          where you're going to have your meets or your 

 5          games or your play is going to be difficult.  

 6          And as you said, infrastructure is something 

 7          that's very expensive.  To add that now is 

 8          not realistic.  But to join together I think 

 9          is, and I'm very anxious to work with the 

10          organizations that represent our athletic 

11          programs to make sure that happens.

12                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Appreciate that 

13          attention.  Is there anything specific that 

14          you know of, that your office is cooking up, 

15          that you want to put on the horizon that we 

16          could move more closer to reality today?

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So I don't have 

18          any specifics today.  I had my first meeting 

19          with the organization a week and a half ago, 

20          and we've already talked about some things 

21          that are going to occur.  We will be joining 

22          with them to provide scholarships for the 

23          athletes across the state that have shown 

24          particular prowess in their sport, and we're 


                                                                  180

 1          going to be part of that scenario with them.  

 2          And they've talked about the way that they're 

 3          going to organize meets, and we can be, I'm 

 4          sure, very connected to that.

 5                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Incentive funding 

 6          in particular for cooperation, collaboration, 

 7          allowing -- please put that on your laundry 

 8          list.

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We will look at 

10          that.

11                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  And let us know how 

12          we can work together to achieve those 

13          objectives.

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We'll do it.

15                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Thank you.

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You're welcome.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

19          much.

20                 Next, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you very 

22          much.  Good, we're in the afternoon, 

23          Commissioner.

24                 I'm going to be -- I could talk to you 


                                                                  181

 1          for an hour or two, I'm sure all of us could, 

 2          but you're going to be rivaling Hillary 

 3          Clinton's testimony to the Benghazi committee 

 4          if we keep going, so I'm going to -- I hope 

 5          you found it much friendlier questioning.  So 

 6          I'm going to try to be very brief, and I will 

 7          only ask for as brief an answer as you want 

 8          to give me.

 9                 The questions end up being very 

10          fragmented here, so just to be very clear, 

11          we're delaying the teacher evaluation 

12          requirement until 2019, but schools are being 

13          asked to give the teacher evaluation system 

14          now in order to get state aid this year.  

15          What is it exactly that we're asking the 

16          school districts to give to the state?

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So we just put out 

18          guidance to the districts across the state 

19          related to the regulation that was passed by 

20          the Regents.  What that basically does is 

21          allow us, as you pointed out, to unplug the 

22          teacher evaluation component that's based on 

23          the growth score in the 3 through 8 

24          assessments, and for principals the growth 


                                                                  182

 1          score at the high schools.  And it won't go 

 2          into place until the '19-'20 school year, 

 3          which really won't be until 2020.

 4                 And so I think that's an important 

 5          component.  And what that basically does is 

 6          allow school districts then to use other 

 7          opportunities to use assessments to do the 

 8          evaluations.  We are downplaying and 

 9          indicating that it's not necessary across the 

10          board to develop new assessments, we don't 

11          want that to be the proliferation of the -- 

12          in the results of this.  

13                 But we are telling districts -- and 

14          many of them are being very creative in 

15          working together with their teachers on 

16          what's an appropriate way to include student 

17          work into their assessments.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you very 

19          much.

20                 And maybe this has been somewhat 

21          covered too, but again, to be clear, the 

22          Governor's -- was it a commission or a task 

23          force?  I've gotten confused about the labels 

24          that were put on things.


                                                                  183

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  It was a 

 2          Governor's task force.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  -- task force 

 4          wrapped up their work and gave you a bunch of 

 5          tests to do, if I'm not mistaken -- 21, is 

 6          that correct, Commissioner?

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  And including 

 9          this, I guess, comprehensive review of the 

10          Common Core and all the pieces of that as one 

11          of the main tasks you have in front of you.  

12                 But am I understanding correctly that 

13          there's no money in the Governor's proposal 

14          to help you with any of these 21 tasks that 

15          you've been given to do?

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  That's correct.

17                 So it's a review of the Common Core 

18          standards, that's one of the strong 

19          recommendations from the committee.  Senator 

20          Marcellino and Assemblywoman Nolan were on 

21          the committee as chairs of Education --

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  If I can 

23          interrupt you, can you just take -- in two 

24          sentences, tell me what that means for the 


                                                                  184

 1          SED, what that means for you in terms of 

 2          working on that?  Is it just a few people 

 3          sitting in an office just looking things 

 4          over, or what does that mean for you?  And 

 5          what does that entail for you as a task?  

 6          Just as briefly as you can.

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Sure.  The 

 8          particular task of reviewing the standards is 

 9          a very comprehensive thing.  And so let me 

10          point out to you, one of the reasons that 

11          there was a -- I believe there was push-back 

12          on the higher standards in New York was 

13          because there wasn't a widespread involvement 

14          of stakeholders, particularly including 

15          practitioners and teachers.  

16                 And so we don't want to make that 

17          mistake again, we want to do this correctly.  

18          We want to have it be very involved with 

19          those stakeholder groups, including parents, 

20          teachers, administrators.  We certainly want 

21          experts from our university.  I had the 

22          opportunity yesterday to talk to the 

23          president of Cornell; she has some staff 

24          members that specialize in early childhood.  


                                                                  185

 1          We need to have a group of people who are 

 2          involved in this work review those standards 

 3          and make recommendations to us so that we can 

 4          put in place the standards for New York State 

 5          that will get our students where they need to 

 6          be.  

 7                 It should not be an easy process.  It 

 8          should be very involved.  And it should 

 9          require much involvement from outside groups 

10          and be transparent.  We all like that word, 

11          we use it a lot, a lot of people use it with 

12          us, but it really has meaning.  And if people 

13          know what you're doing, then there will be 

14          less push-back when that recommendation 

15          finally gets to the Regents for adoption.

16                 So it is a complicated process, and 

17          that's only one of the processes that was 

18          recommended by the commission.  We also have 

19          much work to do on curriculum, to support 

20          teachers.  

21                 I would say one of the major things, 

22          which was Recommendation No. 9, was to 

23          provide staff development consistently across 

24          the State of New York.  We had funding that 


                                                                  186

 1          went out in competitive grants, so people got 

 2          grants and they did a really good job and 

 3          they trained their teachers, and in those 

 4          places you have pockets of great work being 

 5          done on higher standards.  But you have many 

 6          districts that didn't get the grant, didn't 

 7          get the money, and weren't part of that 

 8          process, and there's not consistency.

 9                 And we expect our teachers to do this 

10          for our kids, they want to do it, but we 

11          don't give them the support that they need to 

12          be able to do it.  And it is a critical task 

13          that we have in front of us.  And I will tell 

14          you, as an educator for 45 years, I don't 

15          want to do it wrong.  So it's an important 

16          thing for us to be very purposeful about the 

17          work that we do, and it does take resources.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you, 

19          Commissioner, for your very thorough answers.  

20          I'm not getting to my question about -- and 

21          I'm going to pass to my colleagues here, but 

22          maybe we can discuss -- I realize it's not 

23          quite in your bailiwick, maybe higher ed more 

24          than -- but I'm sure you're interested in the 


                                                                  187

 1          edTPA issues and what's happening with 

 2          teachers and training.  I'm hearing still 

 3          great concerns about young people being 

 4          discouraged from continuing their careers in 

 5          teaching.

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I think we 

 7          have a big job certainly here, but in the 

 8          nation, to turn around the rhetoric on 

 9          teachers.  Nothing is going to happen in a 

10          classroom across this country, no matter what 

11          kind of school you're in, if you don't have 

12          good teachers.  And we need to make sure that 

13          we develop the great teachers here, in 

14          cooperation with SUNY and CUNY and all of the 

15          independents, and everybody that produces 

16          teachers, but we also need to make sure that 

17          once they get in the job, that we support 

18          them and help them forward.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Thank you very 

20          much, Commissioner.

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

23          much.

24                 Assemblyman Titone, to close.


                                                                  188

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Good afternoon, 

 2          Commissioner.  Thank you for being here.  

 3                 And let me be the first to tell you 

 4          that I have horrible penmanship, but I do not 

 5          blame you or the State of New York for that.

 6                 (Laughter.)

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I have really 

 8          wonderful penmanship --

 9                 (Laughter.)

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  We'll talk 

11          further.

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  -- and I say that 

13          my teacher helped me.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  We will talk 

15          further.

16                 A little bit earlier you had mentioned 

17          something, and I have to say it kind of got 

18          under my collar.  And I'm looking through 

19          your presentation -- and I'm happy to say, 

20          you know, at page 32 you have the Museum 

21          Education Act.  And just a full disclosure, 

22          that's being carried by me, and I'm told that 

23          Senator Little just picked up the bill, which 

24          I think is a great start.


                                                                  189

 1                 But reading through your report, quite 

 2          frankly, you know, if we took, every time in 

 3          this where it says pre-K, and substituted 

 4          arts in education, I would be sitting here 

 5          smiling ear to ear thanking you up and down.  

 6          And, you know, one of the problems I think 

 7          that we've had -- and I've been doing this 

 8          speech for nine years now, and I'm still 

 9          getting the same reaction.  And here's what's 

10          upsetting me, is that we had a brief 

11          discussion about athletics.  And, you know, I 

12          don't want to put one against the other; 

13          however, there are well over 220 studies now 

14          internationally that demonstrate when you 

15          take arts in education seriously, rather than 

16          as after-school frivolous fun, children do 

17          better.

18                 When we talk about STEM, you know, you 

19          look to Japan, you look to all the other 

20          countries that are really where we can learn, 

21          each one of those countries that do better in 

22          science, technology, engineering and math all 

23          take arts in education very, very seriously.  

24          It is part of the curriculum.  It is not 


                                                                  190

 1          something that is optional, and it's not 

 2          looked at as something, well, my child likes 

 3          this or doesn't like that.  

 4                 What we're learning, the studies that 

 5          we're seeing lately with sports, athletics, 

 6          is that, well, some of them actually may 

 7          cause brain damage.  So putting one into the 

 8          other kind of gets under my collar, because 

 9          they're not the same.  It's not something 

10          that should be taken lightly as an 

11          after-school time-filler.  It is something 

12          that's very real, and the studies are there.  

13          In fact, there are more studies that support 

14          arts in education than do universal pre-K.  

15          Fact.  I'm not making this up and, you know, 

16          the educators are not making this up.

17                 So my question, Commissioner, is in 

18          the State of New York, where are we with arts 

19          in education?  I can point to schools not 

20          only in my district but throughout this state 

21          that will have brand-new music equipment 

22          sitting in a closet because there are no 

23          music teachers.  So where are we with arts in 

24          education?


                                                                  191

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I can give 

 2          you an update on a commission that Regent 

 3          Tilles has begun.  Are you familiar with 

 4          that?

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Absolutely.

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Okay, so he has 

 7          been working very --

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Roger and I have 

 9          been working on that very closely together.

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.  So he's 

11          been working and we have already moved 

12          forward so that we are expanding the options 

13          in the 4+1 category, so it's a Pathway for 

14          Graduation.  

15                 We're also -- and are working after 

16          this year, because this year we're putting in 

17          the opportunities for those assessments that 

18          can be used instead of a Regents exam 

19          relative to the arts.  But we also are moving 

20          forward on developing an arts curriculum.  

21          Have you been to those meetings with the 

22          committee?  Because they've been talking 

23          about doing a sequence that actually starts 

24          in pre-K and goes all the way through 12.  


                                                                  192

 1          And then a student would end up with an arts 

 2          kind of diploma.

 3                 So those are all things that have been 

 4          part of our program.  And I will never pit 

 5          the arts against athletics.  I do think that 

 6          every child should have art.  And I am in 

 7          favor of, in fact, art being with a 

 8          specialist in a classroom, whether it's 

 9          kindergarten, whether it's fifth, eighth, or 

10          ninth.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Right.  Right.  

12          And it has to move away from the mindset, the 

13          culture that we've created, you know, that 

14          it's a class trip to a museum and then that's 

15          it.  Because then what's happened is the 

16          school district will think that by scheduling 

17          that trip -- and then there's snow, so the 

18          trip doesn't happen, but they still think, 

19          well, we tried.  And nothing has happened.

20                 So my point is, Commissioner, and it's 

21          something that I really would like you to 

22          explore further, is that you could go 

23          district to district, school by school, and 

24          it's treated differently.  It's viewed 


                                                                  193

 1          differently.

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I agree.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  And that's why I 

 4          really say, when I look at your report, if we 

 5          substituted the term "pre-K" with "arts in 

 6          education," I would be a very happy camper.

 7                 Thank you, Commissioner.

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very, 

 9          very much, Commissioner.  It's been a 

10          wonderful time listening to you, especially 

11          there's the question you could have easily 

12          said "Oh, I'm new, I'll get back to you."  

13          We'd have been out of here quicker, but --

14                 (Laughter.)

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  -- I'm glad what 

16          you did.  You gave us a great answer on 

17          everything.  So I'm really glad to have you 

18          join us.

19                 Senator?

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes, you gave a 

21          wonderful presentation today and knew all the 

22          numbers.  Appreciate the fact that you 

23          addressed our questions in the best way that 

24          you could and gave great answers, and also 


                                                                  194

 1          that you are willing to get back, to go 

 2          further in depth on some of the questions 

 3          that need more attention.  So thank you so 

 4          much for being here today.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you, I 

 7          appreciate it.  I have one final comment I'd 

 8          like to make.  And I used to say this when I 

 9          was running large organizations in schools.  

10          If when you're making decisions you made a 

11          decision that you know is the right one for 

12          children, then we'll all be together.

13                 So appreciate the work that you do, 

14          appreciate the difficult tasks that you have.  

15          And if you think about the children in your 

16          life and what you would like them to have, 

17          that's where we all want to be.

18                 Thank you.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

20          Commissioner.  

21                 I do want to point out that we've been 

22          joined by Senator Phil Boyle.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  We've been joined 

24          by Assemblywoman Seawright and Assemblyman 


                                                                  195

 1          Abinanti.  

 2                 For those who are in their offices 

 3          upstairs, we are now going to have Carmen 

 4          FariÒa, chancellor from the New York City 

 5          Department of Education.  

 6                 One hour from this moment, I will be 

 7          closing off the list to ask questions, one 

 8          hour from now.  Which is at -- the time is 

 9          now 1:10.  At 2:10, we will close down.

10                 We've also been joined by Assemblyman 

11          Felix Ortiz.  

12                 Good afternoon.

13                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Good afternoon.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good afternoon.

15                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  It's a pleasure to 

16          be here.  

17                 I would have asked all of you to wear 

18          your college something, but I'll explain why.

19                 Good morning, Ways and Means Chair 

20          Farrell, Finance Chair Young, Education 

21          Committee Chairs Nolan and Marcellino, 

22          New York City Education Subcommittee Chair 

23          Felder, and all the members of the Assembly 

24          and State Senate here today.  Thank you for 


                                                                  196

 1          this opportunity to testify on Governor 

 2          Cuomo's proposed 2016-2017 Executive Budget.  

 3                 And I also want to say a special 

 4          thanks to Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who 

 5          has been an unbelievable partner as we go 

 6          forward.  And it was a pleasure to listen to 

 7          her testimony today.

 8                 On behalf of our city's over 1 million 

 9          public school students, I thank you for all 

10          your support for all of the great initiatives 

11          we have been able to accomplish in the past 

12          year.  You are all partners in our work.  

13          Whether itís the nearly 70,000 children now 

14          enrolled in free, full-day, high-quality 

15          pre-K, the creation of new and expanded dual 

16          language and transitional bilingual education 

17          programs, or the 22,000 middle and high 

18          school students now receiving arts education, 

19          we simply could not have done any of these 

20          things without you and your leadership.  

21                 Today in New York City, we are 

22          celebrating College Awareness Day.  As you 

23          can see, I have brought my undergraduate cap, 

24          and in many New York City public schools, 


                                                                  197

 1          teachers and administrators are wearing their 

 2          college gear too.  We want every student to 

 3          know the hard work, determination and skills 

 4          it takes to be on the path to college and the 

 5          work force.  In support of this goal, and in 

 6          order to lay this groundwork as early as 

 7          possible, we started College Awareness Day.  

 8                 The idea to start this celebration 

 9          highlighting the importance of college came 

10          after I visited a class of pre-K students and 

11          found that none of them knew what the word 

12          "college" meant.  The aim of College 

13          Awareness Day is to embed the college 

14          conversation at every grade level in all our 

15          schools.  It is important for students and 

16          families to understand that their dream of 

17          college is attainable and need not be 

18          compromised by financial considerations, 

19          geographical barriers, or any other 

20          obstacles.  

21                 It is also important to recognize that 

22          college readiness is not simply an academic 

23          endeavor but a social-emotional one.  In 

24          addition to a high-quality education, our 


                                                                  198

 1          students need confidence and drive to carry 

 2          them towards their goal of attending and 

 3          graduating from college.

 4                 I'm the first in my family to graduate 

 5          from college, and as my video that went 

 6          citywide today also states, I had to work and 

 7          raise two children while going to graduate 

 8          school.  So I'm very proud to say I actually 

 9          have four degrees.  But for many of our 

10          students, just simply understanding that this 

11          is attainable and it shouldn't be part of 

12          economics, what neighborhood you live in, or 

13          what family you come from.

14                 So all over the city we -- one school 

15          has the principal, who must have graduated 

16          from Syracuse University, the entire school 

17          is wearing Syracuse University t-shirts and 

18          talking about what it means to go to college.  

19                 A few months ago, speaking in front of 

20          hundreds of parents and educators, Mayor de 

21          Blasio laid out new reforms to achieve equity 

22          and excellence across all New York City 

23          public schools.  These initiatives bolster 

24          the vision the mayor and I have of a school 


                                                                  199

 1          system that begins earlier to give students a 

 2          solid foundation, makes rigorous and 

 3          challenging courses the norm, ensures 

 4          students master critical skills on time, and 

 5          invests in a path to college or career for 

 6          every New York City public school student.  

 7                 I would like to take this opportunity 

 8          to share what our administration has 

 9          accomplished for our students since the last 

10          time I had a chance to give testimony.  

11                 With the $300 million the state 

12          invested last year -- and I want to be clear 

13          that education is an investment.  It is not 

14          money wasted, it is not money put in as 

15          charity.  It means that you're putting money 

16          up front so we don't have to spend it later 

17          on in things that are negative to society -- 

18          we were able to enroll a record 68,547 

19          children in free, full-day, high-quality 

20          pre-K, nearly 50,000 more students than were 

21          enrolled before Mayor de Blasio took office.  

22          These students are now getting a crucial year 

23          of problem solving and vocabulary building 

24          that will put them on the path to long-term 


                                                                  200

 1          success.

 2                 When I visit schools, I always ask to 

 3          drop in on at least one pre-K, and I cannot 

 4          tell you the pleasure I get from seeing 

 5          students making independent decisions, 

 6          talking to each other and, yes, making a 

 7          little bit of noise.  For too long, many of 

 8          our classrooms have totally silent, and in 

 9          silence, no one learns.

10                 We know quality is the key to a 

11          successful expansion, and I am committed to 

12          ensuring that every pre-K program throughout 

13          the city continues to provide an important 

14          foundation for academic achievement.  In 

15          order to ensure that every student has access 

16          to a high-quality program, the city assessed 

17          Pre-K for All programs using two rigorous, 

18          research-based, nationally recognized tools:  

19          the Classroom Assessment Scoring System and 

20          the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale.  

21          New York City's new program scores are on par 

22          with other nationally recognized model pre-K 

23          programs.

24                 Pre-K in New York City is not daycare, 


                                                                  201

 1          it's really laying the foundations of a 

 2          strong educational path to college.  

 3                 Data released earlier this month 

 4          showed a strong increase in our cityís 

 5          graduation rates and college-readiness 

 6          indicators, as well as a decrease in the 

 7          dropout rate.  The graduation rate was over 

 8          70 percent for the first time in the city's 

 9          history.  These gains are a testament to the 

10          hard work by New York City students and 

11          teachers and administrators, who deliver 

12          high-quality instruction from the moment 

13          students enter pre-K to the day they graduate 

14          high school.  

15                 I was particularly pleased to see a 

16          decrease in the dropout rate across all 

17          ethnicities -- critical progress, but there 

18          is still much more to be done.  We will 

19          continue to be laser-focused on strengthening 

20          instruction, expanding opportunities for all 

21          students, and engaging families to ensure 

22          there is a clear path to college or a 

23          meaningful career for all city students.  

24                 Today, in addition to the teachers 


                                                                  202

 1          celebrating the colleges they graduated from 

 2          and talking about how hard it was for many of 

 3          them to get to college, we're having forums 

 4          around the city for all parents to talk about 

 5          their role in getting students to college, 

 6          financial assistance in getting to college, 

 7          and also how to look at all the transcripts 

 8          that your students bring so that many of our 

 9          students are more aware of what they need to 

10          be able to be on that path.  

11                 In order to provide every student and 

12          every school with critical tools to prepare 

13          students for success in college and the 

14          workforce, and in order to make New York City 

15          the best urban school district in the nation, 

16          the mayor and I have pledged to meet rigorous 

17          benchmarks:  80 percent of our students will 

18          graduate from high school on time, and 

19          two-thirds of them will be truly 

20          college-ready.  

21                 To meet these targets, Mayor de Blasio 

22          and I are committed to providing every 

23          student and every school with critical tools 

24          to prepare students for success in college 


                                                                  203

 1          and careers, from providing every student 

 2          with computer science classes in elementary, 

 3          middle and high school to ensuring all 

 4          students are reading in second grade and on 

 5          track to take algebra by ninth grade.

 6                 One of the tools that we're using in 

 7          this particular area is to ensure that 

 8          there's more advanced math programs available 

 9          in fifth grade, before these students even 

10          get into middle school.  And that is really 

11          one of the things we're working on, 

12          particularly in the summer. 

13                 The city is also redoubling its 

14          efforts around college-readiness and access 

15          as part of the mayor's agenda for Equity and 

16          Excellence across all schools, with College 

17          Access for All, AP for All, and the new SAT 

18          School Day.  

19                 One of the things, when I visited 

20          schools in the last few months, is that I met 

21          with several high school students who had not 

22          taken the SATs, and I asked them why not.  

23          And it was very interesting, but many of the 

24          students said to me that because they were 


                                                                  204

 1          held on Saturdays and many of them either had 

 2          jobs or family responsibilities, they 

 3          couldn't do it.

 4                 And the other issue that came up was 

 5          that many of them, the SAT courses were given 

 6          in schools outside the immediate 

 7          neighborhoods.  And knowing what I know about 

 8          the geography in New York, sometimes you 

 9          don't live within a 10-block radius.

10                 So by having SATs during the school 

11          day, free for every student in New York City 

12          high schools, we're going to ensure that they 

13          all have that opportunity, but we'll also be 

14          able to access and assess who are the kids 

15          that we should be pushing further on a 

16          regular basis.  So this is something that is 

17          really unique.  This will be the first year 

18          coming forth.  

19                 Through College Access for All, every 

20          student will have the resources and supports 

21          at their high school to pursue a path to 

22          college.  Through AP for All, every high 

23          school student will have access to a range of 

24          advanced placement courses.  One of the 


                                                                  205

 1          things with the advanced placement courses 

 2          that is unique, because so many of our high 

 3          schools are collocated in big schools -- and 

 4          many of your Queens representatives know 

 5          that -- if you have five high schools in one 

 6          building, they will all have different AP 

 7          courses.  But students can take courses in 

 8          each other's schools within the collocated 

 9          buildings.  And we've already started moving 

10          in that direction, and going to visit 

11          someone's schools, we experiment.  Some of 

12          them have already started, but we'll be doing 

13          a lot more of that.  

14                 As part of our work to increase 

15          college-readiness and access by meeting the 

16          whole needs of every student, New York City 

17          is committed to creating and sustaining 

18          community schools.  Over the past two years, 

19          we have created and funded 130 new community 

20          schools.  

21                 Community schools are customized to a 

22          communityís unique set of needs, and they 

23          create opportunities available for students, 

24          families, and communities, including expanded 


                                                                  206

 1          learning time, school-based health clinics, 

 2          mental health programs, dropout prevention 

 3          strategies, parent engagement programs, and 

 4          adult education opportunities.  These 

 5          resources are embedded during the school day 

 6          as well as outside the school day.  

 7                 I'll give you an example of one of our 

 8          community schools.  A middle school in Harlem 

 9          has two separate community-based 

10          organizations working with them.  One of them 

11          works during the school day on 

12          social-emotional needs.  They are there with 

13          social workers, guidance counselors, and all 

14          kinds of extra support for the students and 

15          the teachers.

16                 And another organization works on 

17          academic mentoring and tutoring based on the 

18          student's needs.  

19                 So you have two separate CBOs working 

20          in the school all day.  The same CBOs are 

21          monitoring student attendance and, before the 

22          summer ended, knocking on parents' doors and 

23          making sure that every child that was 

24          registered to come to that school actually 


                                                                  207

 1          showed up in September.  And then they do the 

 2          follow-up all year long.  

 3                 Parents are also asking for workshops 

 4          on cooking, exercise, GED classes, more 

 5          programs for themselves.  And to the degree 

 6          that those CBOs come to the table ready to do 

 7          it, we are incorporating them.  Community 

 8          schools simply means a whole community.  You 

 9          can't work with students without working with 

10          their families, faith-based organizations, 

11          and everyone else involved. 

12                 Ninety-four of these new community 

13          schools are in the School Renewal Program, a 

14          strong, clear commitment from the City to 

15          improve our most struggling schools.  With an 

16          investment of $187 million in fiscal year 

17          2017, the city is providing targeted, 

18          tailored supports to 94 of New York Cityís 

19          most struggling schools, including turning 

20          each school into a community school.  These 

21          interventions have a strong focus on 

22          improving student attendance and demonstrated 

23          rigorous instruction.  

24                 Under my leadership the Department of 


                                                                  208

 1          Education has also rolled out many new 

 2          initiatives, including a new streamlined 

 3          accountability system to best support 

 4          schools, which aligns the responsibilities of 

 5          supervising and supporting schools with the 

 6          superintendents.  The reforms created clear 

 7          lines of authority in our school system.  

 8          Additionally, superintendents must now have 

 9          at least 10 years of pedagogical experience, 

10          including at least three as a principal.  

11                 I have 44 outstanding superintendents, 

12          and these superintendents know the names of 

13          every principal in their district, the 

14          accountability structures that they must 

15          meet, and also are now working on making sure 

16          that the professional development of 

17          principals and assistant principals is tied 

18          into their needs. 

19                 We in New York City are very proud of 

20          the fact that we have one of the most 

21          productive and really intelligent workforces, 

22          and without that, we can never move forward.  

23                 New geographically based Borough Field 

24          Support Centers provide integrated supports 


                                                                  209

 1          to schools across areas of instruction, 

 2          operations and student services, including 

 3          health resources and counseling, support to 

 4          students with disabilities, and support to 

 5          English language learners.

 6                 Just last month we provided a service 

 7          that's going to be handled in the borough 

 8          support office, where parents can get 

 9          translations on any issues 24/7, including -- 

10          well, obviously including after 5 o'clock.  

11          You can pick up the phone and someone -- a 

12          live person, not a machine -- will help you 

13          with any kind of translation you need, and 

14          will be able to be available to you also on 

15          Saturdays and Sundays, and it's in the 10 

16          major languages of New York City.  

17                 A redoubled focus on parent engagement 

18          run by our new executive superintendent, 

19          Yolanda Torres.  We believe in the importance 

20          of strong family-community ties for student 

21          achievement, we've invested in training, 

22          providing increased professional development 

23          for parent coordinators, parent leaders, 

24          family support coordinators and family 


                                                                  210

 1          leadership coordinators.

 2                 I continue to do Town Hall meetings 

 3          throughout the whole city, and by now I must 

 4          have amassed at least 50 Town Hall meetings 

 5          where parents actually ask questions and get 

 6          answers on the spot.  And if I don't have an 

 7          answer, someone literally calls them on the 

 8          phone within a week.  And if I call them 

 9          myself, they hang up because they really 

10          don't think it's the chancellor calling, so I 

11          have to call a second time, saying "It's 

12          really me, could you listen?  

13                 A new investment of $23 million in 

14          arts education funding allowed us to hire 300 

15          new arts teachers and resulted in 22,000 more 

16          students receiving arts education.

17                 Because I have been a big advocate of 

18          arts education all my life, many more private 

19          funders are coming to the table.  And just so 

20          you know -- and please don't be jealous on 

21          this one -- the producers of Hamilton have 

22          given us 20,000 seats for 11th-graders in 

23          New York City.  We are filling the halls at 

24          Hamilton.  Luis Miranda just came to speak to 


                                                                  211

 1          my staff.  And one of the things that's also 

 2          happening, with money from the Rockefeller 

 3          Foundation, every student who comes has to be 

 4          from a Title I school.  They are going to 

 5          have professional development done by Gil 

 6          Dulerma {ph}, so they won't just come cold to 

 7          see a performance, because I don't believe in 

 8          one-shot deals.  And they will have to read 

 9          something on Hamilton.  

10                 If any of you haven't seen Hamilton, 

11          do whatever you need to do to do it, because 

12          it is one of the most phenomenal things I've 

13          ever seen.

14                 This week actually I was with the 

15          Governor at a performance at a theater where 

16          the Arthur Miller Foundation, first time 

17          ever, gave us money to actually start theater 

18          arts programs in 15 new high schools.  And 

19          part of that money is going to go to become 

20          experts on Arthur Miller's plays.  

21                 And once again, Hamilton was 

22          outstanding in one way; Death of a Salesman, 

23          to me, is the quintessential play about the 

24          human condition.  


                                                                  212

 1                 And to me, having that foundation work 

 2          with our schools, and 15 of our high schools 

 3          that did not have a theater arts program to 

 4          have it, to me is pretty amazing.  

 5                 Forty new dual-language programs and 

 6          more being developed to give students the 

 7          bilingual and bicultural skills they need to 

 8          succeed, and a model dual-language program 

 9          that will foster collaborative practices 

10          among dual-language educators, elevate the 

11          quality of programs across the city, and 

12          provide support and guidance to staff 

13          interested in opening programs.

14                 We now have in New York City this 

15          year, for the first time, a Polish 

16          dual-language program, Japanese dual-language 

17          program, we have a program that's been 

18          advocated for German dual-language.  To me, 

19          if New York City doesn't understand the 

20          importance of two languages and 

21          multi-cultures, who else can?

22                 So for me, speaking two languages has 

23          been a blessing.  I see it as a total asset, 

24          and I'd love to give that opportunity to 


                                                                  213

 1          every child in New York City.  

 2                 To share strong practices, we created 

 3          two important programs:  Learning Partners 

 4          and Showcase Schools.  Together, these two 

 5          initiatives demonstrate a commitment to 

 6          professional development and collaboration 

 7          among educators and schools that foster 

 8          student learning and school improvement.  

 9          When I see schools excelling in a particular 

10          area, I want them to share their secrets, not 

11          hide them.

12                 For example, we will be hosting 17 

13          superintendents from across the country to 

14          show them how to improve schools.  And 

15          improving schools to me is not simplistic, 

16          but it can be simple:  Looking for excellence 

17          wherever it exists, and having other people 

18          come and visit and ask questions.  

19                 I went to a Showcase School yesterday 

20          that is moving from being a Title I school to 

21          non-Title I, that is in the middle of 

22          gentrification.  And having that principal 

23          explain to about 30 other principals in the 

24          room about how he did it and what struggles 


                                                                  214

 1          he had and what you should be thinking about, 

 2          is much better than anyone publishing a book 

 3          or a chapter and saying "Here, read this."  

 4          Seeing the best of the best and then being 

 5          able to ask those people questions is how you 

 6          make change.  

 7                 Expansion of language access services 

 8          through new field language access 

 9          coordinators at the borough field offices, 

10          who will ensure that schools are providing 

11          parents with limited English proficiency 

12          access to translations and also translations 

13          at all our public meetings.

14                 And finally, approximately 220 new 

15          athletic teams, providing access to 

16          interschool athletics to an additional 

17          3,000 students, the majority of which are for 

18          small schools and for girls' teams.  

19                 Last week, Mayor de Blasio presented 

20          the fiscal 2017 preliminary budget that made 

21          targeted investments in our cityís public 

22          schools, such as $868 million in capital to 

23          reduce school overcrowding through 11,800 new 

24          seats, which would bring the total current 


                                                                  215

 1          capital plan to over 44,000 new seats.  We 

 2          are making a commitment in our fiscal year 

 3          2017 budget that with any additional state 

 4          aid, we will raise the Fair Student Funding 

 5          at all schools to at least 87 percent, a 

 6          vision of both Ray's and mine, ensuring a 

 7          citywide average of 91 percent, which would 

 8          be an unprecedented investment of 

 9          $159 million in fiscal year '17 that will 

10          provide vital education resources to students 

11          in historically underfunded schools.  

12                 Ensuring that every student has an 

13          equitable and excellent education is at the 

14          very core of my vision of public education. 

15          I've seen our schools evolve over the years, 

16          and I know these are the right ingredients 

17          for transformative change, but none of these 

18          new initiatives would have been possible 

19          without your leadership and support.  

20                 That said, I would be remiss if I did 

21          not address the state aid that New York City 

22          schools are owed from the 2006 settlement of 

23          the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.  

24          Since 2009, the state has not met the 


                                                                  216

 1          court-ordered obligation to the city from our 

 2          Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.  In this 

 3          school year alone, New York City public 

 4          school students will be shortchanged some 

 5          $2 billion in state education funds.  I am 

 6          confident you will agree that it is time to 

 7          make a significant down payment on this 

 8          obligation by fulfilling a commitment and 

 9          making equity in education a priority.

10                 As I sit before you today, I am 

11          thinking of the message of College Awareness 

12          Day.  College readiness starts in pre-K.  It 

13          is up to us to provide these students with 

14          the opportunity not only to think about 

15          college but to also envision themselves as 

16          college students who will have successful 

17          futures.  

18                 To that end, I ask for the full 

19          support of the State Legislature for the 

20          continuance of mayoral control in New York 

21          City.  I have seen firsthand the 

22          extraordinary difference mayoral control has 

23          made in our ability to move our school system 

24          forward and put students on a path to college 


                                                                  217

 1          and the workforce.  

 2                 Having been an educator for 50 years, 

 3          I have seen all kinds of systems come and go.  

 4          I worked under school boards, I worked under 

 5          a regional superintendency, and I will tell 

 6          you that bureaucracies do harm education.  

 7          And being able to work hand in hand with a 

 8          mayor whose philosophy I share and agree with 

 9          has made it much easier to do the kind of 

10          work that we are able to do in New York City.  

11                 It doesn't take going through 

12          channels -- and sometimes, yes, but a lot of 

13          the times what we believe in goes forward.  I 

14          would never have taken this job if I was not 

15          going to have a mayor who's going to have my 

16          back and I wasn't going to have his.  And to 

17          me, that is a crucial part of mayoral 

18          control.

19                 Providing free, full-day, high-quality 

20          pre-K to every 4-year-old, creating 

21          aggressive turnaround plans for our 

22          struggling schools, and expanding community 

23          schools are just a few examples of reforms 

24          that were only possible because the mayor has 


                                                                  218

 1          direct responsibility for our schools.  After 

 2          more than a decade, we know New York City 

 3          schools do better when the mayor has direct 

 4          authority and accountability.  Our students 

 5          can't go back to a system of patronage, of 

 6          favorites, and of some places getting more 

 7          than others.  When I talk about equity, it's 

 8          about the kids in the Bronx and the kids in 

 9          Brooklyn, the kids from Park Slope and the 

10          kids from Harlem having access to the same 

11          professional development, the same excellent 

12          teachers and the same excellent principals as 

13          everywhere else in the city.  

14                 I look forward to working with the 

15          State Legislature and the Governor on the 

16          proposals outlined in the Executive Budget, 

17          and stand prepared to do everything I can to 

18          help.  We have laid the foundation, we are on 

19          the right path; we need your support to 

20          continue moving forward.

21                 I also want to say that to the degree 

22          we've learned some lessons in the past two 

23          years, we're also happy to share.  And I 

24          invite anyone who wants to come and see some 


                                                                  219

 1          of the work we're doing.  A lot more to do, 

 2          but we're very proud of what we've done.

 3                 Thank you for the opportunity to 

 4          testify before you.  I am happy to answer any 

 5          questions you may have. 

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 7          much.  

 8                 To begin, Assemblywoman Nolan.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you, 

10          Mr. Farrell.  And thank you, colleagues.  

11                 I want to publicly thank Chancellor 

12          FariÒa for the work that she's done.  And the 

13          wonderful testimony today was really 

14          comprehensive, and the breadth and the depth 

15          of the work you've done in two years.  And I 

16          do want to say your work in going to every 

17          one of the Community Education Councils -- 

18          multiple times at this point -- has really 

19          turned parental support for mayoral control 

20          in a very positive way, because people are 

21          seeing you and they're getting answers.  As 

22          you said, there's not multiple layers as 

23          there were in the old school board days when 

24          you could never get a straight answer to a 


                                                                  220

 1          question.  

 2                 So your work and your commitment to 

 3          traveling throughout the city has been really 

 4          exemplary.  And, you know, I wish I had your 

 5          energy, because you're always out.  I've 

 6          toured schools with you, and it's my favorite 

 7          thing because you always get there so early 

 8          and you have that great way about you that, 

 9          you know, everybody shapes up when they see 

10          the chancellor's there.  

11                 I do want to say, though, we'd like to 

12          get your thoughts on the community school 

13          model.  I already asked Commissioner Elia.  

14          Has the money arrived?  Is it -- you know, it 

15          has been subjected to some criticism that 

16          it's not going to improve academic 

17          achievement.  I'd like you to perhaps respond 

18          to that criticism.  

19                 And then just one other issue near and 

20          dear to my heart, I was a little disappointed 

21          not to see it, we have asked every year since 

22          I've chaired this committee, so your 

23          predecessors as well, there are over 10,000 

24          children in our city who go to school in 


                                                                  221

 1          trailers.  And they're substandard.  

 2                 You know, there was recently a report 

 3          issued about disability accessibility in the 

 4          New York City schools.  Well, none of the 

 5          trailers are accessible, that's for sure.  

 6                 And I know that President Lorraine 

 7          Grillo from the School Construction Authority 

 8          is not here today.  We don't usually have her 

 9          testify at this hearing.  But you know and 

10          she knows that this is a priority for me and 

11          for many members from the city.  So maybe you 

12          could just start with that and then talk a 

13          little bit about the community schools.  

14                 And two other topics that I didn't see 

15          really addressed:  CTE education is becoming 

16          very important here in the Legislature, and a 

17          real recognition with some new committee 

18          members of work on that.  And then adult ed, 

19          though it's not often understood, it is 

20          really also in your purview, and we 

21          continually look at the issues of the GED and 

22          things like that.  But we can always talk 

23          about that another time if we're not prepared 

24          to today.


                                                                  222

 1                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  No, absolutely.  

 2          Happy to talk about all of them.  You know, 

 3          we just can put so much in a speech, but I'm 

 4          really happy to answer them.  

 5                 The TCUs have been a big priority and 

 6          there is a tremendous amount of money in the 

 7          budget to remove them.  And we have actually 

 8          started removing them, I think we removed at 

 9          least 80 by now already, and we're in the 

10          process -- 70, and we're in the process of --

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Do you want to 

12          introduce the gentleman with you?  Maybe he 

13          can --

14                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Oh, I'm sorry, 

15          this is Ray Orlando, our chief financial 

16          officer.

17                 CFO ORLANDO:  Good afternoon.  

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Another person 

19          with a thankless task.  Maybe he wants to 

20          address it, certainly.  

21                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I think the TCUs 

22          is certainly something we're trying to do.  

23          But just as an example, when we remove TCUs, 

24          we've got to place those children somewhere.  


                                                                  223

 1          So for example in District 24, PS 19, which 

 2          is one of the most overcrowded schools in the 

 3          city, it was a matter of making sure we had 

 4          community input as to where those children 

 5          would go.  So as we removed the TCUs -- we're 

 6          building an annex, actually, in that 

 7          schoolyard, so we thought we had a solution, 

 8          and the community thought differently.  So it 

 9          was a matter of getting everybody on board 

10          and deciding where we're going to be putting 

11          some of those children meanwhile.  

12                 So we came up with a very good 

13          solution, the community's happy, we're happy.  

14          And I think that's part of it:  When we 

15          remove TCUs, where do we put them?  Where do 

16          the kids go?  And if there's enough room in 

17          the school -- like Richmond Hill was another 

18          one that we had to change minds based on 

19          community input.  So it's going to happen, we 

20          are looking at it.  We have one right now in 

21          Brooklyn that we have to remove the TCUs, but 

22          where the students go while we do that is one 

23          of the concerns.

24                 But the specific numbers on TCUs?  


                                                                  224

 1                 CFO ORLANDO:  Sure.  Since -- over the 

 2          last two years we've removed 70 TCUs and have 

 3          plans to remove another 100.  There's 

 4          $450 million in the capital plan for removal 

 5          of the TCUs including a planned $100 million 

 6          from the Smart Schools Bond Act that you all 

 7          had a role in.  So thank you for that.  

 8                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I'm glad you 

 9          brought up the CTE.  It is a passion of mine; 

10          I know it's a passion of yours, Cathy.  We 

11          are increasing our CTEs, but the first thing 

12          we have to do, career and technology 

13          education, we have to make sure that the 

14          programs that we're increasing are really the 

15          careers of the future.  

16                 We still have some programs that we're 

17          not preparing them for the day of today.  So 

18          what we're trying to do, rather than create 

19          more CTE schools, is create CTE programs 

20          within schools.  I know Senator Montgomery, 

21          particularly interested in Maritime, and 

22          we've talked about it.  It makes sense.  

23          New York City is an island surrounded by 

24          water; why not more careers that will give us 


                                                                  225

 1          scuba divers, that will give us fishery.  

 2                 And so we're looking very carefully at 

 3          what are the right careers.  And now we have, 

 4          as part of our Showcase, CTE schools that we 

 5          think are extraordinarily.  I just went to 

 6          visit Hillcrest High School, and he actually 

 7          has a need -- he has one of the best nursing 

 8          programs in school.  And yet -- and we're 

 9          going to need your help in this -- we cannot 

10          get the licensing because there's state 

11          legislative laws on who can teach, who's not 

12          a teacher.  

13                 So if you're going to have nursing 

14          being taught by nurses and pharmacy being 

15          taught by pharmacists, we need certain 

16          changes.  So we're going to come to you for 

17          help on that.  I've discussed that 

18          extensively with MaryEllen because I know 

19          this is a passion of hers as well.  

20                 So a lot of it is what are the right 

21          career paths, where do we put them, and where 

22          do we get the teachers.  The teachers are a 

23          big issue because they have to be -- you 

24          know, if you're making millions of dollars as 


                                                                  226

 1          a computer scientist, do you want to come and 

 2          work on the school level?  Well, we have to 

 3          make it attractive enough so they will.  

 4                 So yes, I do want to see more CTEs.  I 

 5          want to see programs within schools.  We're 

 6          also looking at CTE programs that will 

 7          enhance programs such as Rikers Island.  

 8          We're looking at incarcerated youth can come 

 9          back -- if they have a career path they can 

10          follow, that this will make a lot more sense.  

11          So that's another place.  

12                 One of the things you talked about was 

13          adult education.  Adult education -- I 

14          actually went to visit all the adult 

15          education centers in the city.  Once again, 

16          the bulk of the adult education is about GED, 

17          ESL.  They are asking for other programs, and 

18          we're looking to see -- asking them what they 

19          want more of.  We have an adult education 

20          superintendent who actually has classes 

21          throughout the city.  But we're also looking 

22          to do a lot more of the adult programming 

23          district-wide and borough-wide through our 

24          parent coordinators.  


                                                                  227

 1                 One of the interesting -- I thought 

 2          was interesting -- demands that parents have, 

 3          because we've asked parents what do you want, 

 4          rather than us assume we know, they want 

 5          cooking classes, they want nutrition classes, 

 6          they want Zumba classes.  They want things 

 7          that are going to improve their own health or 

 8          their own ability to be parents.  So we're 

 9          trying to do that, and we're encouraging 

10          schools, particularly community schools, to 

11          do more of workshops with parents in things 

12          that they want.  

13                 Community schools, I want to be very 

14          clear.  There are certain things that are not 

15          negotiable in all community schools.  All 

16          community schools must have extended learning 

17          time.  They must all have an additional hour 

18          of academic learning with a wraparound of 

19          other services such as health services, 

20          mental health services, clinics, things that 

21          will improve their health so that also 

22          attendance rises.  The one thing that we see 

23          universally in all the renewal schools is 

24          attendance, that it has to improve, it has to 


                                                                  228

 1          get better.  We need to have a culture of 

 2          going to school is important.  So that's 

 3          universal.

 4                 What differs from school to school is 

 5          that we've asked the schools to choose their 

 6          partners.  So RFPs went out, and you can 

 7          choose to work with the Good Shepherd or 

 8          Partnership with Children or Citizens Union 

 9          or Children's Aid Society.  But you have to 

10          interview to make sure that the CBO partner 

11          that you chose was one that would be 

12          complementary to the needs of your specific 

13          school.  And you didn't have to have one 

14          partner all day, you could split it up, you 

15          could have two partners.  

16                 And I think that's what we're actually 

17          evaluating now.  And I know the UFT, the CSA 

18          and I are working very closely on the 

19          community schools together.  I know this 

20          weekend there's going to be a retreat that 

21          the UFT is sponsoring, and it's all about how 

22          do we keep the energy high.  

23                 We also have created, in many of these 

24          schools, what we call master principals, 


                                                                  229

 1          principals who have shown extraordinary work, 

 2          so that they in many cases will be working in 

 3          two schools, and model teachers.  Because 

 4          obviously a challenge in a community school 

 5          or renewal schools in particular is how do 

 6          you recruit teachers.  So we're looking for 

 7          many ways to get the best teachers to come 

 8          into these schools, and partially it's by 

 9          making teacher leaders, which get a little 

10          bit extra money but also open their 

11          classrooms for other teachers to learn from.  

12                 We also have, in many of these 

13          schools, new leaders, about 36 new leaders in 

14          our 94 community schools.  

15                 So we are trying everything and 

16          anything, and the reality is we have 

17          committed to closures where necessary, very 

18          limited -- this year only three, and that may 

19          be it -- mergers and consolidations.  Mergers 

20          means that if you have two schools in a 

21          building and they're under a hundred 

22          students, which many of our schools are, if 

23          we bring them together, they can have more 

24          resources.  So we're trying lots of different 


                                                                  230

 1          things.  We certainly should know by June 

 2          some of the things that are working.  

 3                 One school alone, the principal, in 

 4          the Bronx, decided to departmentalize her 

 5          fourth and fifth grade, which is something 

 6          very unusual in elementary school, and she's 

 7          showing results.  So I send people there to 

 8          learn from her about something they may want 

 9          to try.  

10                 So part of it is innovating in 

11          different schools, what works, what doesn't 

12          work, so we can move it to another school.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.

14                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

15          much.

16                 Senator?  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

18          much.  

19                 And I'd like to welcome you, 

20          Chancellor, to Albany today.  And it's great 

21          to have these types of important discussions 

22          and exchanges, and I want to thank you for 

23          that.  

24                 Our first speaker will be Senator Carl 


                                                                  231

 1          Marcellino, who is chair of the Senate 

 2          Education Committee.

 3                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Good afternoon.  

 4          It's good to see you with an NYU hat on.  You 

 5          well know that is my alma mater as well, and 

 6          I believe it's also the mayor's.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  It's mine too.  

 8          Mine too.

 9                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Cathy, it's yours 

10          too.  You see?  NYU forever. 

11                 (Laughter.)

12                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Do we know what 

13          the symbol for NYU is?  We were the Violets.  

14          Can you imagine going to a basketball game 

15          and rooting for the Fighting Violets?  That 

16          was a problem from day one.  We overcame.  

17          The school is a great school, and I'm glad to 

18          see it's being honored, and all the other 

19          colleges.  I like the idea that you talked 

20          about.  

21                 But you mentioned the status of 

22          teachers and their licensing.  When I taught 

23          in the city, I remember we always had a 

24          problem -- this is back, you know, carrying 


                                                                  232

 1          heavy stone tablets, things like that.  It 

 2          was not easy.  But the getting teachers 

 3          licensed to teach in the basic subject 

 4          areas -- I'm not talking about nursing or 

 5          some of the more exotics that you want to 

 6          bring in now, but I'm talking about the 

 7          basics -- how are you finding it to get 

 8          teachers to teach in basic subject areas in 

 9          the city?  

10                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Right now, in the 

11          basic subject areas, it is not that much of a 

12          problem.  However, the areas that are 

13          problematic are English language learners, 

14          ESL teachers and special needs teachers.  

15                 We have been working certainly through 

16          the Teaching Fellows.  This year we had over 

17          a thousand Teaching Fellows, the primary 

18          numbers all going to these two categories, 

19          but also asking our universities to work 

20          harder with us to make sure they're 

21          graduating more people with these licenses.  

22          I've even met with SUNY, not just CUNY, to 

23          see if there was a partnership that we could 

24          have with them to ensure that these teachers 


                                                                  233

 1          come ready to work in the classrooms.  

 2                 The other thing we're experimenting 

 3          with in New York City is an apprenticeship 

 4          model where teachers actually get paid -- 

 5          not, you know, the going rate, but in their 

 6          final year, so they actually work almost like 

 7          assistant teachers in their final year of 

 8          teacher certification.  

 9                 I would say the other thing, and this 

10          is only now because of the extra money that 

11          we're putting into the arts education, we are 

12          finally going to have a need for more arts 

13          educators.  For a while, there were no jobs 

14          for arts educators.  So, for example, we're 

15          encouraging what just happened, Hunter 

16          College and Lincoln Center are going to start 

17          working on certification for music teachers 

18          together, the same way that the Museum of 

19          Natural History works on certification for 

20          science teachers with the university.

21                 So we need to get more creative in how 

22          we certify our teachers in hard-to-staff 

23          areas.  Math is actually going to be -- now 

24          that we're going to move to algebra at a 


                                                                  234

 1          younger age, we need many more algebra 

 2          teachers.  So we're putting a lot more 

 3          investment in summer training for our own 

 4          teachers.  We've increased our own 

 5          professional development in the city, and 

 6          we'll be coming out shortly with looking at 

 7          how we can upgrade paraprofessionals who 

 8          might be ready to work in some of these 

 9          areas.

10                 So there's a lot of things we're 

11          doing, because this is going to be something 

12          going forward that is going to be a 

13          challenge.  But certainly English language 

14          learners and special needs is really, really 

15          a hard-to-staff area.

16                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The Governor put 

17          in, for mayoral control, an increase to three 

18          years.  The last time the Legislature had 

19          acted, we gave the mayor a year.  It's my 

20          understanding the Assembly is talking about 

21          increasing the three years to possibly seven.  

22          Why should we give the mayor more than a 

23          year?  

24                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Because I think, 


                                                                  235

 1          based on the track record of what we've 

 2          accomplished in one year, imagine what we 

 3          could accomplish in seven.  And imagine the 

 4          energy that we can put into getting the 

 5          schools and --

 6                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  If I could just 

 7          interrupt you, he may not be there for seven.  

 8          And I'm not suggesting he's going to lose his 

 9          next election; I don't want to get into that.  

10          But the point is, in the seven years, you've 

11          got a four-year term, he may not serve a 

12          second term.  By choice or for whatever 

13          reason.  

14                 So you may get a mayor you're not too 

15          happy with, yet you're stuck with him.

16                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, that's 

17          politics with a capital P, so I'm going to 

18          let you guys argue that among yourselves.  

19          I'm just saying that from the point of view 

20          of a chancellor, being able to work with a 

21          mayor who has my back and who understands 

22          philosophically where I'm coming from, makes 

23          a major difference.  

24                 So in terms of the amount of years, I 


                                                                  236

 1          can't imagine anyone running for mayor at any 

 2          time who's not going to want mayoral control.  

 3          But right now, under this mayor, I feel very 

 4          comfortable that we're moving in the right 

 5          direction.

 6                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The mayor has a 

 7          program for -- a renewal school program.  

 8          What's the current stage of implementation of 

 9          this renewal school program?

10                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  The renewal 

11          school?

12                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Yeah.  And are 

13          there any schools destined for closure?  

14                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Yes, there are.  

15          In fact, it was at the PEP meeting I was at 

16          this month, two of the three that we're 

17          closing are renewal schools.  And in both 

18          cases the schools are just too small.  I 

19          mean, we had a school with 37 students.  We 

20          had a school with 97 students.  You can't 

21          have a guidance counselor, you can't have 

22          arts in any of these schools that are too 

23          small to function.  

24                 So we're looking at schools in many 


                                                                  237

 1          different ways.  It's not just scores, it's 

 2          about what makes sense and what schools can 

 3          provide the services that schools are meant 

 4          to do.  So yes, we are closing, we're 

 5          merging, we're consolidating.  There's not 

 6          one thing that we're doing across the board, 

 7          there are many things, depending on the 

 8          school.  

 9                 And again, to me, one of the most 

10          important things is having a good leader, if 

11          a school has a good principal.  But then 

12          after having a good leader and then having 

13          good teachers, you need the resources.  You 

14          cannot run a high school with 125 students.  

15                 So just -- you know, there's a word I 

16          like to use a lot, although it's not always 

17          in practice as much as I'd like it:  Common 

18          sense.  This is not about being punitive, 

19          this is not about -- it's just does it have 

20          common sense to have a school with 120 and 

21          make it a high school?  

22                 So this is the kind of thing that 

23          we're talking about.  And that's why I think 

24          having strong superintendents who are making 


                                                                  238

 1          these analyses on -- you know, after visiting 

 2          a school, seeing a school.  Why I'm also 

 3          encouraging collocated sites to share 

 4          resources, so that together you can do a lot 

 5          of things that individually you can't do.  So 

 6          every option is on the table, but closing is 

 7          the last thing we do, because we have 

 8          hope that schools with certain numbers can 

 9          produce better results.

10                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  What would be the 

11          typical load for a guidance counselor in one 

12          of your high schools?

13                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  A typical what?

14                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The number of 

15          students they have to service.

16                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, I would say 

17          right now in a high school -- depending on 

18          the size, because our schools vary in size so 

19          dramatically -- in high-need areas we would 

20          call -- and the mayor has a program that 

21          we're putting in place in September, the 

22          Shepherd Program, one guidance counselor or 

23          social worker to 100 students.  And it's not 

24          because they're going to service them all at 


                                                                  239

 1          one time, but they're going to follow those 

 2          students over an amount of years, so that 

 3          you're going to have this one person who's 

 4          going to know you well, know your family, 

 5          know your issues, and is going to follow you 

 6          over the course from sixth grade to 

 7          12th grade.  

 8                 It's also a reason why we're 

 9          encouraging a lot more mentoring and 

10          internships for our students.  Many of our 

11          students do not have an adult consistently in 

12          their lives, and we need to have more adults 

13          who come and visit you -- just knowing you 

14          have special attention from someone is very 

15          important.  Particularly, you know, we've 

16          done a lot of work on our male-only 

17          initiative, our Brother's Keeper.  Who are 

18          the people who can come and be that support 

19          service for you?  And I think that's one of 

20          the things that we're trying to do.

21                 In the community schools we have 

22          emphasized social workers, because social 

23          workers also can do home visits, they can do 

24          something that not all our guidance 


                                                                  240

 1          counselors are doing.  Although we're 

 2          encouraging guidance counselors to do home 

 3          visits as well in what we call our MSQI 

 4          schools.  

 5                 I do believe support, family support 

 6          is crucial, and it does not have to do 

 7          necessarily with socioeconomic -- all 

 8          students deserve support, across the city, 

 9          where it's a very fast-paced society that we 

10          live in.

11                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Just to jump to a 

12          different type of situation, what's the 

13          relationship between STEM and STEAM in the 

14          city schools?  

15                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, STEAM has A, 

16          for arts, and STEM has really more of a focus 

17          on science.

18                 But I want to be clear that it's not 

19          an add-on to the curriculum.  If you were to 

20          visit our summer programs, which are very 

21          heavily STEAM-based, or even in pre-K, you 

22          will see kids playing with LEGOs.  LEGOs is 

23          STEAM.  You're building something, you're 

24          thinking it through, you're trying to figure 


                                                                  241

 1          out how do these parts fit together.  

 2                 Robotics, second-grade robotics -- I 

 3          went to visit a class on Staten Island, all 

 4          the second-graders are doing robotics.  And 

 5          they have to think about, how is this going 

 6          to move, does this need a motor, doesn't it 

 7          need a motor?  That's STEM.  Mathematics is 

 8          also part of STEM because you have to figure 

 9          out, using the Smart Board or an iPad, how do 

10          you take an example and then turn it into 

11          some kind of a figure.  I was in a middle 

12          school where the teachers and the kids were 

13          using Smart Boards to teach math examples.  

14                 So STEM doesn't have to be -- or let 

15          me put it this way.  The last thing STEM 

16          really is is more computer rooms in schools.  

17          It's about how you use your iPads, your -- 

18          even your cellphones in the classroom for 

19          everything that you need.

20                 So that's part of it.  But I do agree, 

21          and I think -- and the Governor said this the 

22          other night at the theater, that if we move 

23          so much to technology and we forget that the 

24          heart and soul is about the arts, then we've 


                                                                  242

 1          lost something.  We need to have both.  We 

 2          need to make sure -- a lot of our arts now 

 3          are done through STEM.  If you can see some 

 4          of the graphic arts work that I've seen in 

 5          some of our high schools, they have computers 

 6          but they're thinking like artists.  

 7                 So I don't think it has to be one or 

 8          the other.  But I do think it's a challenge 

 9          for us in terms of teacher professional 

10          development.  If I have to say there's one 

11          thing that we really have stressed in the 

12          last year, it's how do we look at 

13          professional development for teachers so that 

14          they can take the new tools that maybe 

15          someone like me -- I still have to ask my 

16          9-year-old grandson to help me with a lot of 

17          technology.  

18                 So one of the things we've done is 

19          we've asked outside corporations, we're 

20          working heavily with Microsoft, we're working 

21          with other companies that will tell us how to 

22          work with our teachers.  So there's a lot to 

23          STEM that requires outside support, and we've 

24          been very fortunate to get a lot of that.


                                                                  243

 1                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thank you very 

 2          much.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 4                 Assemblyman Cusick.

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Thank you, 

 6          Mr. Chair.  

 7                 Chancellor, it's good to see you.  And 

 8          I can attest that you are no stranger to 

 9          Staten Island.  And thank you for referencing 

10          us --

11                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I was just there 

12          yesterday.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Yes, and I was 

14          with you two weeks ago at St. Charles.

15                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Oh, that's right.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  So thank you for 

17          being there.

18                 I have one budget question and then an 

19          off-budget question.

20                 The Smart Schools Bond Act, the voters 

21          approved it in November.  It's a $2 billion 

22          bond statewide.  Do you know how much New 

23          York City will get from that?

24                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Ray?


                                                                  244

 1                 CFO ORLANDO:  $783 million.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Okay.  And have 

 3          you put out a plan yet as to what that money 

 4          will be used for, what type of technologies 

 5          and --

 6                 CFO ORLANDO:  I --

 7                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, I can answer 

 8          this --

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  If you could get 

10          back to me --

11                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  But I can say 

12          also, if we want to be very clear -- and we 

13          have now an advisory board for technology.  

14          Because technology that's good today is 

15          obsolete next week.  So we want to make sure 

16          that we're not investing money in something 

17          that's not going to be current.  

18                 So one of the groups -- I just met 

19          with a whole group of all the top tech 

20          companies in New York City, and we have a 

21          member of the Fund for New York, who actually 

22          runs -- and I just spoke at -- a TED talk for 

23          all these companies.  And I think we really 

24          need to have people who are experts in the 


                                                                  245

 1          field to come in and say to us, this is where 

 2          you're going to get the most bang for your 

 3          buck.  This is not about buying more stuff, 

 4          it's about how do you use the stuff you 

 5          already have.  

 6                 Well, what is the stuff that you have 

 7          readily at hand?  Like the cellphone.  One of 

 8          the things -- I went to Grover Cleveland High 

 9          School last week, two weeks ago, where 

10          there's a company called Y Plan, it's a 

11          national company, that does competitions on 

12          how to get every high school student to learn 

13          how to develop their own apps.  

14                 And the competition in this particular 

15          school was to develop apps in groups of three 

16          on how to use Forest Park.  Which I had never 

17          been to, had never seen, never knew existed.  

18          And I was fascinated because one of the 

19          groups developed a bird-watching app so that 

20          you can actually go through the park and find 

21          the birds and then figure out -- I said that 

22          I would do, so I wouldn't feel like a total 

23          fool trying to figure out what these birds 

24          are.  


                                                                  246

 1                 But I would love to see a citywide 

 2          competition, and I'm actually meeting with 

 3          some people to see if every high school 

 4          student could be involved in something.  

 5          Because that is not -- not that it's not a 

 6          lot of money.  But I also went to Girls Who 

 7          Code.  We want to see more coding done in our 

 8          schools.  Coding can be done as young as 

 9          second grade, but what do you do with it?  

10          And how do you make sure that the learnings 

11          will then lead to career paths and other 

12          kinds of things?  

13                 So we can get back to you, but it's 

14          still a work in progress.  And I don't want 

15          to do this just with educators at the table, 

16          I want to deal with people who know what 

17          they're doing and can help us.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Good.  I 

19          appreciate that.  

20                 I have a question also -- as you know, 

21          the obesity issue is an issue that spans New 

22          York City, whatever district you may be in, 

23          and particularly with younger people.  And I 

24          know there are many programs that New York 


                                                                  247

 1          City schools take part in, whether it's with 

 2          the New York Roadrunners Club or -- I know we 

 3          have a summer program that we work with the 

 4          schools in our district.  

 5                 But I think there's some confusion on 

 6          parents' end and some conflicting information 

 7          I get back about physical education classes 

 8          during school time.  There's some parents who 

 9          tell me that their kids don't have phys ed, 

10          and then there are some parents that tell me 

11          they do have phys ed.  

12                 Could you clarify or maybe point me in 

13          the right direction on this one?

14                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  This comes up a 

15          lot when I do my town hall meetings.  And the 

16          reality is there are regulations on how many 

17          minutes per day students should have phys ed.  

18          And the reality is that to some degree, it 

19          depends on individual schools and the 

20          facilities.  So most of our schools have 

21          gyms, have schoolyards; a few don't.  But a 

22          lot of the training that we've done in the 

23          last few years is to also encourage teachers 

24          to do phys ed within their own classrooms, 


                                                                  248

 1          the kind of exercises you do when you're on a 

 2          plane, so kids can actually do some of the 

 3          exercises sitting down.  We've done tai chi, 

 4          we've done all kinds of things to make sure 

 5          that there's more movement.  

 6                 The other reason, and this is why I 

 7          think parents are asking for things like 

 8          Zumba classes and aerobics, we want to see 

 9          more family activities around movement.  So 

10          we have actually started doing a lot of our 

11          family workshops.  We now have, in the 

12          contract for teachers, 40 minutes a week of 

13          parent engagement.  And in many of our 

14          schools the parent engagement piece is more 

15          workshops with parents.  And one of the 

16          recommended topics is how to do physical 

17          exercise.

18                 So it's almost a school-by-school 

19          decision.  And a lot of it is also, in some 

20          of our overcrowded schools, how many people 

21          can use the gym at the same time.  I got an 

22          email today from a parent that they always go 

23          outside to do their physical exercise, but 

24          with snow, where do they go?  


                                                                  249

 1                 You know, it's a balancing act.  Not 

 2          that we don't believe it's important.  We've 

 3          also started looking at our parks, local 

 4          parks, how we could use the parks more for 

 5          some exercise.  But this is an issue.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  And it's your 

 7          understanding that schools are meeting the 

 8          requirement of the time, though; right?  

 9                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Yeah.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  In some way or 

11          another.

12                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  It's certainly in 

13          the guidebooks.  I'm not saying -- you know, 

14          we have phys ed teachers every year.  This 

15          year we hired an additional 50 phys ed 

16          teachers citywide.  So that's certainly one 

17          of our missions, is to get those positions 

18          filled and also train them so they can do 

19          phys ed in multiple ways, not just the old, 

20          you know, volleyball and dodgeball.

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN CUSICK:  Great.  Thank 

22          you, Chancellor.  Thank you, Mr. Chair.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

24                 Senator?  


                                                                  250

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 2          much.  

 3                 Our next speaker is Senator Diane 

 4          Savino.

 5                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

 6          Young.  

 7                 Thank you, Chancellor, for your 

 8          testimony and for your very complete answers.  

 9          In fact, you've answered many of the 

10          questions that I was going to ask you in --

11                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, I'm going to 

12          take you with me --

13                 SENATOR SAVINO:  That's wonderful.  I 

14          do want to follow up on two areas, though.  

15                 On the CTE schools, I'm also a big 

16          supporter of CTE schools and I will be honest 

17          and say that I've gotten text messages from 

18          one of my council members, Mark Treyger, 

19          who's a former teacher.  He's a big supporter 

20          of CTE schools.  And you touched briefly on 

21          one of the issues that we have, which is 

22          barriers to getting teachers to become the 

23          CTE teachers.  

24                 What can we do to improve that for 


                                                                  251

 1          you?  

 2                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, I'm actually 

 3          going to be writing you a letter, and I mean 

 4          you a letter, about what I really need done 

 5          in terms of CTE.  CTE cannot be funded as one 

 6          to one.  At one time it was 1.2.  

 7                 Let me give you an example.  One of 

 8          Treyger's schools is Dewey High School.  

 9          Dewey has a phenomenal culinary arts program, 

10          which I'd like to see improved or made 

11          bigger.  However, think about where do you 

12          get the money for all of the food at Long 

13          Island City?  Phenomenal culinary, but there 

14          is no set money to the CTE schools for the 

15          materials, the consumables they have.  

16                 So in the past, CTE programs were 

17          given extra money for that.  I went to a 

18          great school in the Bronx, they're teaching 

19          stage crafting.  Where does he get the 

20          lumber?  He has a deal with a lumber company 

21          that gives him all the scraps.  

22                 CTE programs should not be run on 

23          scraps.  So part of it is what is the funding 

24          that's appropriate for the license area to 


                                                                  252

 1          make sure those programs can function over 

 2          time and not just based on contributions.

 3                 The other -- and I met with Treyger 

 4          not too long ago.  One of the other things 

 5          is, you know, if you're looking at science, 

 6          that has consumables.  Grady is one of the 

 7          schools he's interested in.  But you need the 

 8          consumables for that as well.  So how do we 

 9          put that in there?  

10                 But this is the one area -- and I 

11          certainly would love to work with Senator 

12          Marcellino and Assemblywoman Nolan, because 

13          this is a passion of mine.  I want to see 

14          this done so we have alternative paths.  I'll 

15          give you an example.  Sometimes legal gets in 

16          the way.  We want to start a welding program 

17          in one of our schools, maybe two schools.  

18          And that actually came out of a visit that we 

19          have made to Vocational.  And there's all 

20          kinds of laws on the books as to why we can't 

21          do this or why we have to do it a certain 

22          way.  So we need to say these are the careers 

23          of the future.  I met with one of the union 

24          leaders who said, I would give union cards 


                                                                  253

 1          if -- I have to import workers from Italy to 

 2          come here to do welding, particularly in 

 3          brownstone neighborhoods.  It's ridiculous.  

 4          Those are jobs that we could have.  

 5                 But -- there needs to be changes in 

 6          the law, but I'm going to be very explicit in 

 7          what those changes need to be.  But you guys 

 8          are going to have to help us.

 9                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Well, we look forward 

10          to it.  

11                 One of the other issues that is of 

12          great concern to those of us in Staten Island 

13          and even parts of South Brooklyn is the lack 

14          of school seats for children.  I know that in 

15          the mayor's budget presentation he talked 

16          about adding another 11,000 school seats 

17          across the city, 800 alone for Staten Island.  

18          And that's great, but the question is where 

19          would they be, how are we going to accomplish 

20          this.  And in Staten Island, 800 may not even 

21          be enough.  You know, we have Tottenville and 

22          Curtis High School, two of the most 

23          overcrowded schools in the city.  They go 

24          back and forth depending on which one is more 


                                                                  254

 1          overcrowded than the other.  On the north 

 2          shore we're expecting, as part of the mayor's 

 3          affordable housing program -- it hasn't been 

 4          approved yet, but he's looking at parts of, 

 5          you know, the north shore of Staten Island 

 6          for development.  Our schools there are 

 7          already overcrowded.  PS 13 is at 145 percent 

 8          capacity -- I know we've discussed this 

 9          before -- and they're looking to become a K-8 

10          school.  

11                 But we have real needs on Staten 

12          Island, and we're not sure where these new 

13          school seats are going to go and what role 

14          we'll play in helping you develop that plan.  

15                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, let me be 

16          very clear.  The CECs have been actively 

17          involved in almost all our new school needs 

18          and where they need to be and so forth.  I 

19          think also what -- as far as Curtis is 

20          concerned, there's an annex going to go 

21          there, and that is one of the ways that we're 

22          going to help relieve that.  

23                 I think we also have to look at what 

24          the word "overcrowding" means.  Some schools, 


                                                                  255

 1          overcrowding is when they have 19 children in 

 2          a class, another school is when they have 

 3          30-some.  So we're trying to balance all 

 4          that.  That's why I visit as many schools as 

 5          I do, to figure out what can happen and what 

 6          can be done.  

 7                 I think that getting, you know, all 

 8          the elected officials with the CECs involved 

 9          is going to be part of it.  In District 13, 

10          for example, there's a whole committee now 

11          that's going to be working at looking at the 

12          district as a whole.  It really doesn't make 

13          sense -- District 15 as well.  We can't look 

14          at this one place, we've got to look at the 

15          whole district and see where does it make 

16          sense.  Perhaps it also means moving a 

17          school, an entire school, from one place to 

18          another.  Staten Island, maybe not so much.  

19                 But those are really big issues, and I 

20          certainly wouldn't want to be flippant and 

21          say this has an easy solution.  But it's 

22          certainly one we're very, very conscious of.  

23                 And I think also every superintendent 

24          has been asked to present where they feel the 


                                                                  256

 1          biggest needs are.  And also I don't like 

 2          people to give me problems without some 

 3          solutions, so they've all been asked to come 

 4          up with some solutions.  So that if you have 

 5          a school, for example, that may have extra 

 6          space -- and we have very few of those left 

 7          in the city -- how do we move this school 

 8          particularly to this place so that another 

 9          school that has more kids may have the other 

10          space?  So it's not an easy thing to do and 

11          it requires a lot of community engagement.  

12                 SENATOR SAVINO:  And in South 

13          Brooklyn, Chancellor, as you know, many of 

14          the schools in Coney Island and Brighton 

15          Beach were seriously affected by Sandy, and 

16          some of them have not really been repaired.  

17          So last week Assemblywoman Pam Harris, 

18          Councilman Treyger, Assemblyman Bill Colton 

19          and myself, we hosted a meeting with Lorraine 

20          Grillo from the School Construction Authority 

21          and all the principals of the schools in 

22          South Brooklyn to talk about some of the 

23          problems they're having with their structural 

24          -- the effects of Sandy and some of the other 


                                                                  257

 1          problems of just having old buildings.  

 2                 And, you know, I'm sure you're aware 

 3          of it, but it is a problem.  But, you know, 

 4          we still have gymnasiums where the floors are 

 5          buckled and the children can't use them 

 6          anymore, and it's taking a very long time to 

 7          replace some of the equipment that was 

 8          destroyed, and it's having an effect on the 

 9          schools in that area.

10                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I went to visit 

11          Fred Tudda, 188, and I went to visit Dominic 

12          D'Angelo just recently, and they were very 

13          clear to point out some of the deficits in 

14          terms of their buildings.  

15                 But keep in mind -- and I'm not saying 

16          this as an excuse, I'm just saying that one 

17          of the things we know is a problem -- we have 

18          several schools, many schools in New York 

19          City over a hundred years old.  And they were 

20          constructed differently, they were 

21          constructed of concrete at the time, because 

22          that was a very good thing.  It also creates 

23          extra problems for us in terms of how do we 

24          repair, particularly when it comes to wiring.  


                                                                  258

 1          And many of the principals who want some kind 

 2          of upgrade, it has to do with wiring and 

 3          broadband.  

 4                 So those are the things we're 

 5          challenged with, but there's no easy 

 6          solution.  But I will say that in Coney 

 7          Island in particular, I was -- I would add  

 8          the Rockaways to that kind of a situation as 

 9          well -- we've got to be a little more 

10          creative in how we look at where possible 

11          places will be.  One of the things we've even 

12          discussed is, you know, how do we use the 

13          aquarium there to be more of a community 

14          partner, and maybe a school.  I think this, 

15          Velmanette, goes back to some of the stuff 

16          you're talking about:  How do we use that as 

17          a way to grow a CTE program?  So I'm using a 

18          lot more cultural institutions also to work 

19          with us in those ways.  

20                 But, you know, it's an area I've 

21          visited a lot because of some of the issues 

22          that have come up.

23                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Yes, you have.  

24                 And finally, one of the issues that 


                                                                  259

 1          we're going to have to take up this year is 

 2          mayoral control.  And the last time we did 

 3          it, it was rather contentious.  I hope it's 

 4          not going to be as contentious this time.  

 5          But one of the issues that came up the last 

 6          time, and I imagine will come up again this 

 7          time, is the Panel for Educational Policy.  

 8          There are some of us who believe that the 

 9          current makeup of the PEP is really nothing 

10          more than a staff meeting for the mayor's 

11          office.

12                 So I'm curious as to what your 

13          thoughts are on whether you think we should 

14          make changes to the PEP to make it a little 

15          bit more independent.  And we're not looking 

16          to, I think, create problems for the 

17          Department of Education, but I think a little 

18          bit more input either from parents or 

19          educators or elected officials might be a 

20          refreshing voice on the Panel for Educational 

21          Policy.

22                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, I would say 

23          to you that you haven't been at any of our 

24          PEP meetings --


                                                                  260

 1                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Certainly not.

 2                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  -- to think these 

 3          are rubber-stamped people.  I think very 

 4          clearly a lot of them have very strong 

 5          opinions.  I certainly meet with them in 

 6          small groups, big groups, and so forth, and 

 7          they have in many cases -- and I know Ray can 

 8          speak to this -- they have looked at 

 9          contracts with magnifying glasses and have 

10          gotten us to change our minds on things.  

11                 So I don't think -- and I haven't been 

12          here for two administrations.  I was at the 

13          PEP when they first started.  There was a 

14          time when you went in and you didn't have to 

15          read anything, it was an automatic -- this is 

16          not that kind of a PEP.  

17                 I think also you also have five 

18          borough representatives, and they very 

19          clearly speak their minds.  They certainly 

20          speak the minds of the borough presidents, 

21          and I think that's very clear.  We have 

22          also -- we very carefully have members who 

23          represent different constituencies.  We have 

24          someone who's there specifically to support 


                                                                  261

 1          the needs of special needs parents, and Lori 

 2          speaks her mind on that.  

 3                 So I do think it works well.  And I 

 4          think also you either have mayoral control or 

 5          you don't.  And I think part of our job, and 

 6          certainly my job, is to make sure that the 

 7          PEP members have all the information they 

 8          need, not only to vote but to ask the right 

 9          questions.  And they don't always ask them at 

10          a public meeting.  We have taken tours of 

11          schools with the PEP members.  They have 

12          asked, especially if there's going to be a 

13          collocation site, we take them to visit the 

14          school.  We've invited them to go to CEC 

15          meetings of -- just recently, on the 

16          combination of 308 and PS 8.  

17                 So they are engaged more than I think 

18          they have been in the past, and they 

19          certainly make their decisions based on more 

20          informed -- more information.

21                 So I think that the way it stands now, 

22          as long as the people who come are smart 

23          people who are determined to make their mark, 

24          I think we're in a good place.


                                                                  262

 1                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, 

 2          chancellor.  I certainly look forward to 

 3          continuing to work with you on this issue and 

 4          many others.  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 6          much.  It's past 2:10, so we are now closed 

 7          down as to the people putting names in.  If 

 8          you want to raise it now so we can have it.

 9                 And Mr. Weprin.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  Thank you, 

11          Mr. Chairman.  

12                 Welcome, Chancellor.  I've told you 

13          this on prior occasions, that I think you're 

14          a breath of fresh air, just being an 

15          educator, as you pointed out, for 50 years 

16          and having been part of the system at every 

17          level.  And I'm happy to see that you 

18          referenced working closely with UFT and CSA, 

19          who we're going to be hearing from in a 

20          little, and something that prior 

21          administrations have not done, and very often 

22          prior chancellors recently have not been 

23          educators as well.  So I personally am very 

24          happy that you are there.  


                                                                  263

 1                 Two of the high schools you mentioned 

 2          are in my district, Richmond Hill High School 

 3          and Hillcrest High School.  And I know you've 

 4          also been to Edison High School with their 

 5          vocational training, and I agree with the CTE 

 6          statements.

 7                 Having said all of that -- and I did 

 8          mention this to the mayor yesterday when he 

 9          referred to, as you did, to the 

10          infrastructure of some of the schools being a 

11          hundred years old and older -- I chair an 

12          Assembly task force on people with 

13          disabilities, and I was very disturbed by the 

14          finding of the investigation by the U.S. 

15          Attorney's office regarding 83 percent, which 

16          seems like a very large number, of New York 

17          City public schools not complying with ADA.  

18                 And I know the mayor is personally 

19          committed to ADA.  I marched with him, at his 

20          request, to have the first Disability Pride 

21          Parade ever in the City of New York, and I 

22          know he's very committed to disability and to 

23          ADA access.

24                 What is the plan to bring that 83 


                                                                  264

 1          percent up to ADA standards?  You know, I 

 2          know there's a lot of money going to be 

 3          involved.  But was there a formal response?  

 4          Because I think the U.S. Attorney 

 5          investigation asked for a formal response 

 6          sometime last week.  Did you do a formal 

 7          response on behalf of the city, and can I get 

 8          a copy of it if you have? 

 9                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I'm happy to give 

10          you more specifics, but most of the schools 

11          have some point of accessibility.  Where we 

12          have tried, and it's -- we're doing a better 

13          job, have a long way to go -- is putting 

14          elevators, for example, in more of our 

15          buildings.  Not an easy thing, because 

16          obviously there's a lot of construction 

17          that's involved, and other space has to be 

18          given up.  

19                 I know ramps are not the best 

20          solution, but they are a solution that we're 

21          using, and a lot of this goes particularly to 

22          our wheelchair students.  We have also in the 

23          past made sure that within a certain 

24          geographical distance there's always at least 


                                                                  265

 1          one barrier-free school.  But those 

 2          barrier-free schools generally have been 

 3          built in the last 30 years.  The age of the 

 4          buildings does make a difference.  But it's 

 5          not because of lack of trying.  

 6                 In terms of a specific time frame, 

 7          we'll be happy to get back to you.  It is -- 

 8          the mayor has instructed us to look at this 

 9          as an issue and to come up with some 

10          recommendations and solutions, so I'll be 

11          happy to do it.  But age of buildings makes a 

12          difference.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  Has there been a 

14          formal response to the investigation yet?

15                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  No.  Actually 

16          we're working on it right now.

17                 (Cross-talk.)

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  Would we be able 

19          to get copies of what you're saying?

20                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Sure.

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Mr. Weprin, can I 

22          break in for a minute on this?

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  Sure.

24                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  I have a problem 


                                                                  266

 1          with this too, also.

 2                 One other comment, can you make sure 

 3          you work on those schools that are going to 

 4          be used for elections?  You're going to have 

 5          four elections --

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Absolutely.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  -- in the state 

 8          this year, and the first one I think is in 

 9          April --

10                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  We're working with 

11          the Board of Education even as we speak, 

12          because that is obviously a priority.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yes, thank you.

14                 I'm sorry, Mr. Weprin. 

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  No, thank you, 

16          Mr. Chairman, that was a very good addition.  

17          And I'm concerned about that as well.

18                 Thank you, Chancellor.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

20          much.  Our next speaker is Senator Leroy 

21          Comrie.

22                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you, Madam 

23          Chair.  

24                 Good afternoon, Chancellor.  I'll wait 


                                                                  267

 1          for you to finish writing your notes.  I know 

 2          you've got a lot of things to catch up on.

 3                 I wanted to ask you two questions.  

 4          They talked about mayoral control already.  I 

 5          just want to say that I hope that we can -- 

 6          the main issue that I hear about mayoral 

 7          control is the ability of parents to impact 

 8          the system and to speak on different issues.  

 9          And I hope that we can add some additional 

10          component of that to mayoral control so that 

11          we can get enough -- so we can put that to 

12          bed.  

13                 I think that mayoral control is an 

14          important component and doing it more than 

15          one year is important also.  I don't know 

16          about doing for seven years, extending it 

17          beyond the term of the mayor, but I think the 

18          major issue is that parents want to have an 

19          ability to have real comments on issues and 

20          policies at every level of the system.  And 

21          if they can have a period of comment or a 

22          rotating parent on the PEP panels and also on 

23          the Community Education panels, where they 

24          can have a period of comment and feedback, it 


                                                                  268

 1          would be, I think, a big help to parents 

 2          around the system.

 3                 And also, you know, not just at PTA 

 4          meetings, but having an opportunity to go 

 5          into the local schools and to participate at 

 6          a real level is something that parents are 

 7          still asking about.  I know that we have the 

 8          parent coordinators that are trying to put 

 9          things together, but especially parents that 

10          have limited time and access want to be able 

11          to have their own opportunities to come in, 

12          not necessarily within those limited windows 

13          that they're being offered now.  

14                 And I think that we can find other 

15          ways to create opportunities to allow more 

16          parents to have access to policy issues and 

17          understanding those issues and articulating 

18          their concerns about those specific issues as 

19          well.

20                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, let me tell 

21          you three things that we have done 

22          differently in the last year and a half.

23                 Number one, we have given the CECs a 

24          little bit more freedom and responsibilities 


                                                                  269

 1          in terms of certain issues.  Certainly 

 2          rezoning, bringing issues to the table at the 

 3          CECs, and how the CEC elections take place 

 4          has incorporated more parent voices.  

 5                 I now meet with all the CEC presidents 

 6          on Saturdays.  That was something I did 

 7          because when we were meeting at night, not 

 8          everyone could make it or people were rushed 

 9          or, you know, there was all kinds of issues.  

10          So we meet once a month on Saturdays for 

11          anywhere from two hours or more, if it takes 

12          place.  

13                 We now have subcommittees of the CECs.  

14          One of the subcommittees is on enrollment, 

15          because a lot of parents around the city have 

16          very strong opinions on enrollment, 

17          particularly middle school enrollment.  So we 

18          have committees that are now working on 

19          issues that seem to be somewhat more systemic 

20          than just an individual district.  

21                 The other thing is I've asked all 

22          schools to hold more open houses.  Tours of 

23          the building, we now have four days a year, 

24          compared to two that we've had in the past, 


                                                                  270

 1          for open schools, open houses.  But we want 

 2          parents not just to go to see a middle school 

 3          when they're looking at the middle school, 

 4          but if you have a third-grader, you want to 

 5          see what fourth grade may look like.  So 

 6          we're pushing for more open houses, 

 7          particularly in middle schools, but around 

 8          the city, so that principals have a more 

 9          welcoming approach to what your school has to 

10          do.  

11                 I just spoke to a group of principals 

12          about having their pre-K parents come visit 

13          the kindergartens in the same building so 

14          they could see what the kids are going to be 

15          going to.  But your second-grade parents 

16          might want to see what third grade is all 

17          about.  

18                 So we are trying to open schools 

19          better.  But it also has to be done, you 

20          know, so that we don't disrupt education, 

21          that the principals can still do their job 

22          and the teachers can still do their jobs.  

23          But I do believe that's important.  

24                 And the other thing we've done, which 


                                                                  271

 1          I didn't even know hadn't been done, when we 

 2          have CEC meetings, we ask parents to ask 

 3          questions publicly but also we give them 

 4          cards on which they can write questions 

 5          privately.  And every single parent that 

 6          addresses us with a question gets an answer.  

 7          And they generally get it within two weeks.  

 8          And it can be specific to their school, it 

 9          could be something they think we should do 

10          universally.  

11                 So parent voice is very, very 

12          important to me.  We do a lot of parent 

13          conferences.  We have encouraged parent 

14          organizations to come talk to us about 

15          different issues.  So -- but anyone who has 

16          more specific suggestions on more things we 

17          can do with parents, I'm happy to take them 

18          under advisement.

19                 SENATOR COMRIE:  I'll be happy to send 

20          you the specifics.  

21                 I want to applaud you for making all 

22          the CEC meetings that you've made and having 

23          public meetings in the evening.  I attended 

24          the one you had at 238 with District 29.  The 


                                                                  272

 1          auditorium was full, and there was a great 

 2          discourse back and forth.  And I think those 

 3          types of things really empower parents and 

 4          they feel involved in making that.  And I'm 

 5          impressed that you've been doing that all 

 6          over the city and are continuing to do that, 

 7          to have direct contact.

 8                 You talked about parity, and I wanted 

 9          to talk about the rezoning and the 

10          distribution of children within school 

11          districts, especially when we have some 

12          schools that are overcrowded from children 

13          and schools that are undercrowded.  And how 

14          can we start looking at making those changes 

15          within the school year so that we don't have 

16          schools that are undercrowded when we have 

17          children overcrowded?  Especially in parts of 

18          29 and 28, we have some schools that really 

19          need to get some relief, and while we have 

20          other vacant space in schools.  Just to keep 

21          it parochial for a minute, but I understand 

22          that's a citywide issue as well.  

23                 How can we create opportunities to 

24          change those numbers so that these schools 


                                                                  273

 1          can have a balanced and workable number of 

 2          children?  

 3                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, I think here 

 4          again, the parents' wishes have to be 

 5          listened to.  And this is where -- this is 

 6          the one issue that it goes through the CEC.  

 7          But we have also sent people, from Elizabeth 

 8          Rose, Dorita Gibson -- these are deputy 

 9          chancellors -- and also Josh Wallack.  But 

10          all have to work together.  Because it's 

11          about how you're changing your enrollment 

12          patterns, what is the real -- we have a 

13          person who's an expert on facilities, does 

14          nothing but looks and sees what the school 

15          capacity is or what it could be.  So those 

16          are all things that we're looking at.  

17                 But the other thing is, you know, 

18          parents get very attached to their 

19          neighborhood school.  So also convincing 

20          parents that they're going to go to a 

21          different school than what they traditionally 

22          have gone to, it's about assuring them that 

23          the other school is as good as the school 

24          they're at.  And that really, to me, is my 


                                                                  274

 1          mission.  And I wouldn't recommend doing any 

 2          kind of -- unless I could honestly say, in my 

 3          deepest heart, Guys, either school, your 

 4          child is going to get an education.  And 

 5          that's certainly something I can say without 

 6          being at all hesitant in the rezoning at 308 

 7          and PS 8.  I know both principals, I know 

 8          both student bodies, I've been to both 

 9          schools numerous times, and I can say to 

10          parents:  Guys, this is really a good thing.

11                 So I do think it's a situation by 

12          situation -- no blanket statements on this, 

13          but this is something -- and many parents now 

14          in CECs are saying to me, have you thought 

15          about this, would you do this?  I'm anxious 

16          for parents to tell me first before we have 

17          to go out to the public.  So I certainly 

18          encourage your constituencies to look at some 

19          of the issues, and then what do we do from 

20          there.

21                 SENATOR COMRIE:  All right.  Great.  

22          Well, also I support the CTE program.  

23          Hillcrest High School I share with 

24          Assemblyman Weprin, and the nursing program 


                                                                  275

 1          there is a great program.  And I hope that we 

 2          can get the proper people to continue that 

 3          program and a proper teacher to come in.  

 4          Maybe you could work with your college, which 

 5          has nursing programs, also Queensborough, to 

 6          borrow faculty to continue that program and 

 7          maybe do that on a citywide basis.  I think 

 8          that would be critical.  

 9                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I'm going to use 

10          this opportunity today to send you a letter 

11          by next week.  Because, you know, this is 

12          like -- we have to strike while the iron is 

13          hot.  I don't know if you heard yesterday, 

14          there was a national report on what the 

15          careers in the future are.  And the top 10 or 

16          20 careers are all health-related.  They all 

17          have to do with geriatric care as well as 

18          health-related.  And that means that we 

19          really need to put those programs in our 

20          schools, because a lot of our kids will have 

21          jobs and this is what they're training on.  

22          So those CTE programs are going to be crucial 

23          to making sure that we're moving forward on 

24          this.


                                                                  276

 1                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Right.  

 2                 And finally, Chancellor, we don't have 

 3          a community school in District 29 anywhere, 

 4          which has one of the longest commute times in 

 5          the city.  We really need to find 

 6          collocations, hopefully, in 29 and 28, they 

 7          don't have a community school.

 8                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Because you have 

 9          no renewal schools.  So that was our first 

10          option, to put community schools where you 

11          have renewal schools.  But as we move 

12          forward, when more money becomes available, 

13          there are several schools I actually visited 

14          in 29, one of which would be a good 

15          candidate.  But it's really prioritizing the 

16          community schools that are struggling 

17          schools.

18                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Oh, okay.  Well, I'm 

19          glad that we don't have renewal schools, but 

20          we have parents with some of the longest 

21          commute times in the city, and having a 

22          school that's open -- I would hope that every 

23          school in the system could be open until 7 

24          o'clock, as I told the state commissioner, 


                                                                  277

 1          and I hope that we can work to that model.  

 2          As well, especially with working parents, 

 3          many of my parents have to leave their homes 

 4          before 7 a.m.  They're not getting back, with 

 5          the long commute times, till 7 p.m.  So the 

 6          more that we can set those up, the better.  

 7                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, keep in mind 

 8          that last year we put after-school programs 

 9          at every single middle school in New York 

10          City.  And our thinking on that one was that 

11          who are the kids that are most likely to need 

12          to be in a safe place?  And we decided it was 

13          teenagers, that adolescents have the most 

14          need to be actively occupied.  And by the 

15          way, our after-school programs, different 

16          than community schools, are focused on things 

17          like the arts and chess and -- some 

18          academics, but a variety of sports and arts 

19          does a lot of those works for us.  And those 

20          are after-school providers, expanded-time 

21          providers.  And we did it in all middle 

22          schools.  So now the elementary school 

23          parents are saying:  What about us?  

24                 Many of them, if they're Title I 


                                                                  278

 1          schools, have used some of their Title I 

 2          funding for after-school programs.  The 

 3          people who are really kind of out there a 

 4          little are the ones who are not Title I 

 5          schools where parents have either fund-raised 

 6          for this.  But, you know, the principals are 

 7          asking this, as are parents.  But it's a 

 8          matter of when you have limited funds, where 

 9          do you prioritize?  But it isn't that we 

10          haven't thought about which are the 

11          neighborhoods that we need to do more in 

12          terms of after-school.

13                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.  Let me 

14          just compliment you and your staff.  You've 

15          always been responsive and detailed.  And 

16          even when you haven't given me the response I 

17          wanted to hear, it's been a response that we 

18          needed to hear.  So I want to thank you for 

19          being diligent and getting back to us.

20                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Thank you.

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

22          much, Senator.  

23                 Assemblywoman Malliotakis.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Thank you, 


                                                                  279

 1          Chancellor.  I just wanted to, well, first 

 2          echo some of the sentiments of my  colleague 

 3          Senator Savino regarding the $868 million and 

 4          the five-year capital plan.  There are 

 5          schools in my district, as I'm sure most the 

 6          representatives here, that are at least 100 

 7          percent or 150 percent over capacity.  She 

 8          had mentioned PS 13 on Staten Island.  We've 

 9          been talking to our local council member 

10          about that.  We'd really like to maybe have a 

11          meeting with you regarding that particular 

12          school.  Being with new developments in the 

13          mayor's affordable housing plan and the Mount 

14          Manresa development, we have significant 

15          concerns.  Also, parochial school closures in 

16          that area have led to an overpopulation in 

17          that school.  

18                 In the Brooklyn part of my district, 

19          there are two in particular, PS 176 and 

20          PS 127.  The belief is that it's been the 

21          problem of illegal conversions in the Bay 

22          Ridge/Dyker Heights area that have led to 

23          overcrowding at those schools.  So certainly 

24          if we're going to be adding seats, if you 


                                                                  280

 1          could take a look at those as well.  

 2                 I wanted to ask you a little bit about 

 3          some of the out-of-pocket expenses that 

 4          teachers may be having in the schools.  It 

 5          just always seems interesting, I guess, to me 

 6          that the state spends $9.5 billion this year 

 7          for the City of New York, and it's gone up 

 8          significantly over the last few years, we 

 9          spend about 19,000 per pupil, yet we always 

10          see the teachers don't have paper, they don't 

11          have basic supplies that they need to perform 

12          their duties.  

13                 And so I'm very happy to see that the 

14          Governor has put in a $200 tax credit for the 

15          teachers in this year's budget.  I wish it 

16          would be $500, which is a bill that I and a 

17          couple of my colleagues have, that would -- 

18          if I was going to do a tax credit.  But I 

19          just wanted to hear your thoughts on it.

20                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, first of 

21          all, good teachers always spend money out of 

22          pocket.  I was a teacher for 22 years, if I 

23          wanted to give the students a party, it came 

24          out of pocket.  If I wanted to buy something 


                                                                  281

 1          for the classroom that maybe was a little 

 2          unusual or different -- and in my case, 

 3          always unusual or different -- it came out of 

 4          pocket.  It was part of the expenses, at the 

 5          time, of doing my job.  My husband, who's in 

 6          accounting, would say to me, Well, that's 

 7          tax-deductible.  And I would keep my 

 8          receipts -- and you always have said the same 

 9          thing.

10                 CFO ORLANDO:  Sure.

11                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  And I had a very 

12          large envelope of tax-deductibles.  The same 

13          thing when I was a principal, I would buy 

14          books for my teachers on my own, would buy 

15          things for the school on my own.  I think 

16          that's part of it.  I do think having a tax 

17          credit would help.  But I do think that if 

18          you want to do a job, there are always things 

19          you want to do that are different classroom 

20          to classroom.  

21                 One teacher may want to do baking -- I 

22          used to cook with my students one year every 

23          single Friday.  There was no way that that 

24          money was coming out of any school budget.  


                                                                  282

 1          There's nothing there for that kind of 

 2          consumable.  But I wasn't going to stop -- I 

 3          decided this year, I was teaching American 

 4          history, that I would -- I had this book, the 

 5          Cookbook of Presidents, and I would cook the 

 6          menus that different presidents considered 

 7          their favorite.  Till I hit one president who 

 8          liked lobster, and I stopped right there 

 9          because I didn't have enough money to do 

10          that.  

11                 But I do think you're always going to 

12          have that.  I think whatever career you have, 

13          you're going to spend some extra money.  I 

14          think certainly -- you know, we have 

15          teacher's choice -- donorschoose.org, which 

16          has been very helpful to a lot of our 

17          schools.  But there's no easy answer to this 

18          in terms of -- but I think the tax credit 

19          will go a long way to helping them.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Okay, 

21          great.  Last year, 2015-2016, New York City 

22          received $531 million in Contracts for 

23          Excellence funding.  Of that, only 

24          $7.5 million went to Staten Island public 


                                                                  283

 1          schools, representing only about 1.42 percent 

 2          of the funding.  Staten Island public schools 

 3          serve over 70,000 students, as you know, 

 4          which represents about 6.2 percent of all New 

 5          York City students.  So if you were to do 

 6          this proportionally, Staten Island should get 

 7          about 31 million.  So I just wanted to know 

 8          how you make this determination.

 9                 CFO ORLANDO:  Sure.  The C for E money 

10          that you're referencing, there are state 

11          regulations promulgated on how the money gets 

12          distributed, and it's determined based on 

13          need, essentially.  And so we look across the 

14          entire city at the neediest schools.  And 

15          although there are needy schools in all 

16          boroughs, it seems that as the money gets 

17          distributed, Staten Island schools are 

18          comparatively less needy.  That's not to say 

19          that they're not needy, please.  Yes --

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  I still do 

21          believe, though, it should be more 

22          proportional based on population.  I mean, we 

23          have this fight all the time with HHC, right?  

24          We want our fair share of hospital funding.  


                                                                  284

 1          We don't even have a public hospital, we say, 

 2          well, give us our proportional share on 

 3          population for those hospitals that we do 

 4          have.  So I think this is sort of a similar 

 5          case -- which we could talk at another time 

 6          about.

 7                 CFO ORLANDO:  Happy to.  Happy to --

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Thank you.  

 9          Thank you for answering.

10                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  And just so you 

11          know, and many of you are already taking 

12          advantage of it, any of you who want to have 

13          one-on-one conversations with any member of 

14          my staff or myself, I'm happy to do it.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Thank you.

16                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  And you deal with 

17          our intergov team, and then just give us a 

18          heads-up on some of the issues so we can 

19          research them before we meet.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Thank you.  

21          I have two more questions.  

22                 I saw an article in the New York 

23          Times, I guess it was a few months ago, about 

24          the first day of school you visited a school, 


                                                                  285

 1          PS 212 in Queens.  They have a Move to 

 2          Improve program.

 3                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Oh, yes.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  The Move 

 5          to Improve program.  And included in that 

 6          program is mindfulness programming, which I 

 7          happen to truly believe in.  I believe that 

 8          this, you know, mindfulness, meditation, 

 9          quiet time, whatever you want to call it, I 

10          believe it is really a tool to help children 

11          focus, help their concentration, especially 

12          children with attention deficit disorder, 

13          hyperactivity, children with autism.  So I 

14          just would love to hear about what your 

15          thoughts are on this program, and how do we 

16          get one in my district?  

17                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, this is a 

18          program -- in fact, we had gone there for an 

19          entirely different purpose, they were 

20          starting a new language program, I believe, 

21          and that's why we were there.  The principal 

22          told me it was done as a result of teachers 

23          saying that life was too pressured and too 

24          rushed.  So the teachers went for training, 


                                                                  286

 1          and really it's a very simple thing.  It's 

 2          really more about taking a deep breath and 

 3          learning to let it out -- I mean, I actually 

 4          sat with the kids and did it, so I know it 

 5          does work at that level.  But we made that a 

 6          Showcase School, which is schools that we 

 7          think are doing something excellent, so other 

 8          schools can go there and observe it and see 

 9          if they can replicate it.  The only thing 

10          that holds us back from doing that is the 

11          willingness of teachers to be trained in it.  

12          In this particular school, I think the 

13          principal had a guidance counselor that was 

14          trained in it, and she trained others. 

15                 So it's certainly an encouragement, 

16          and principals can request it in terms of 

17          they want more training in it, but it ties in 

18          with all the things that we're doing in terms 

19          of mental health and wellness in general.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  How many 

21          schools in the city do that?

22                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I don't know right 

23          now, but I can find out.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Okay, 


                                                                  287

 1          great.  And I'd love to come visit one with 

 2          you if you would like to take me.

 3                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  That principal 

 4          speaks very highly of it.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Great.  

 6                 I've just got one last question.  I 

 7          read a report about this new policy on 

 8          student behavior, about school discipline, 

 9          and it was an article -- which I'm sure 

10          you're familiar with -- that said in October 

11          that, you know, they started giving out these 

12          cards now, they're warning cards, instead of 

13          suspension.  But there was one student who in 

14          October was -- instead of -- you know, he was 

15          carrying seven bags of marijuana.  How does 

16          somebody like that get just a warning card?  

17          This is for high school students, too, and 

18          the warning card says you're supposed to take 

19          the card home and discuss it with your 

20          parents.  I mean, this is not really 

21          realistic that we can expect a child, a 

22          student, a high school student specifically, 

23          to go home and discuss this type of stuff 

24          with their parents.  


                                                                  288

 1                 I think it's -- it's -- in terms of we 

 2          don't want to suspend kids, right, if there 

 3          were other circumstances in there -- dressing 

 4          inappropriately, cursing, whatever it was -- 

 5          I can understand that.  But seven bags of 

 6          marijuana, to send them a card instead of 

 7          sending them for suspension, I think is 

 8          really not the right move.  

 9                 I just wanted to know what your 

10          thoughts are on this, and the reason they 

11          changed the policy.  

12                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  We have had a 

13          committee working on this for the last year, 

14          almost.  And I think we're trying to balance 

15          what is really behavior that needs to be 

16          constantly reprimanded or somehow penalized, 

17          and not that we just -- part of normal 

18          behavior.  So obviously that's something I'd 

19          have to look at.  I don't know that case 

20          specifically.

21                 But one of the things that I'm very 

22          clear about is I started looking at kids who 

23          were suspended and how many and for what, and 

24          some from more schools than others, and there 


                                                                  289

 1          was a big inconsistency.  So in this school 

 2          you got suspended for X, but in this school, 

 3          no.  So we need to bring more of a systemic 

 4          approach to suspensions.  

 5                 We also know that with suspensions, 

 6          students who are suspended for too long tend 

 7          not to go back to school at all.  So would 

 8          you rather have them in school learning and 

 9          on a career path, or do you want to make sure 

10          that they're the first natural dropouts.  

11                 So this is something that we've spent 

12          more time on and we haven't really finalized 

13          it, because we have to bring in NYPD, you 

14          know, principals' opinions -- but we have a 

15          committee that's working on this.  The 

16          stickiest point is the suspension around an 

17          issue called insubordination.  And that 

18          means -- what do we mean by it?  What I 

19          consider insubordination, someone else might 

20          not.  So we're trying to codify what are some 

21          of the issues and what is the appropriate 

22          penalty for those issues, so in one school it 

23          doesn't become 10 days and in another school 

24          20 days.  


                                                                  290

 1                 So this is really something that we're 

 2          working with.  We do not have an answer as of 

 3          right now.  But it's part of the process of 

 4          also making sure that some schools, 

 5          particularly in certain neighborhoods, don't 

 6          oversuspend versus other schools that 

 7          undersuspend.

 8                 So this is a puzzle, a problem, but 

 9          it's still in the works.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Okay.  And 

11          I do think that it needs to be reexamined as 

12          we go forward, because we don't want what you 

13          said, which is insubordination, we don't want 

14          children or students to think that they can 

15          get away with disrespecting their teachers, 

16          their colleagues or their principals --

17                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Absolutely.  Also, 

18          everybody had a right to feel safe in a 

19          school, not just students, but teachers and 

20          principals as well.  That is what we 

21          guarantee, that if you send your child to 

22          school, they're going to be safe.  So I take 

23          that very seriously.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Thank you.  


                                                                  291

 1          I've run out of time, so I will end there.  

 2          Thank you.  

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 4          Senator?  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

 6          much.  

 7                 Our next speaker is Senator Velmanette 

 8          Montgomery.

 9                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Good afternoon, 

10          Chancellor.

11                 I can't help but make a note of 

12          something that I hope my male colleagues will 

13          not feel offended, but it is a certainly 

14          wonderful thing in our history, in the 

15          history of our state, to see a perfect 

16          alignment in our educational system, with 

17          women at the head of every system. 

18                 (Scattered applause.)

19                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Thank you.  I 

20          appreciate your acknowledging.  So you're 

21          there, our chancellor --

22                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  It's about time.

23                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  It's about time.  

24          Our commissioner was here this morning, our 


                                                                  292

 1          SUNY chancellor is a female, the Regents, 

 2          outgoing Regents chancellor is female, the 

 3          NYSUT head is female.  So we're in good hands 

 4          and good stead.  So I thank you and I'm happy 

 5          that you're here.  As a seasoned educator, I 

 6          can really feel it.  It's very different.  

 7                 I would just like to, you know, 

 8          appreciate also that you have referred to 

 9          school-based health clinics in your report, 

10          and I am so happy that you acknowledge that.  

11          And it's been a long time, we have not really 

12          advanced, to my satisfaction, enough.  But 

13          you're acknowledging it, you're working on 

14          it, and it's going to be part of the building 

15          of the community schools that I think is so 

16          important.

17                 I just want to say to you that you 

18          also mentioned very different programs that 

19          you have instituted along the lines of 

20          college-readiness initiatives.  And certainly 

21          that's something that we all applaud you for.  

22                 I want to just mention -- I'm not sure 

23          that this was highlighted, but we've talked 

24          about it, I know that you have.  I know that 


                                                                  293

 1          you're interested, and the commissioner this 

 2          morning indicated that she certainly agrees 

 3          with you and is going to be working with you 

 4          on it, developing the middle school as part 

 5          of the pipeline to college.  That we seem to 

 6          not have put enough emphasis on that, and 

 7          that's really where we need the most help.

 8                 And so I really am looking forward to 

 9          us being able to talk a lot more about that, 

10          as we have in the past.

11                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  My first six 

12          months on this job, I did nothing but middle 

13          schools.  I am a firm believer that middle 

14          schools are the crux of our system.

15                 If you look at the system, that 

16          elementary schools -- and now with pre-K -- 

17          we have those in pretty good shape.  You 

18          know, some need more help than others, but 

19          honestly it's -- middle schools have several 

20          issues, seventh grade in particular.  You 

21          have students going through social/emotional 

22          issues.  You have them deciding that -- they 

23          don't even know if they want to be in school, 

24          number one.  But also they don't like 


                                                                  294

 1          themselves, they don't -- so teachers have to 

 2          be of a different, you know, attitude.  

 3                 You have teachers going for teaching 

 4          licenses, they know they want to be a high 

 5          school teacher because they want to teach a 

 6          subject, and they know they want to be an 

 7          elementary school -- no one says I want to be 

 8          a middle school teacher; somehow you end up 

 9          there.  So I do think it's really important 

10          to focus.  

11                 And because I did so much work with 

12          middle schools those first six months, I 

13          found some extraordinary examples of fabulous 

14          middle schools.  So if you look at our 

15          learning partners in Showcase, the vast 

16          majority are middle schools, because there is 

17          the right way to run a middle school and the 

18          wrong way.  

19                 So I do believe that middle schools 

20          that offer arts programs, middle schools that 

21          offer choices for students -- and 

22          particularly choices around their making 

23          decisions for themselves -- middle schools 

24          that are of a certain size and run by houses, 


                                                                  295

 1          so that you have the same guidance counselor 

 2          for three years, you have the same assistant 

 3          principal three years, these are better 

 4          models than some other models.  So I do 

 5          believe that we're getting better at middle 

 6          school.

 7                 But also eighth-grade teachers must 

 8          start talking to ninth-grade teachers, the 

 9          same way that fifth-grade teachers need to 

10          start talking to sixth-grade teachers.  So 

11          because we're now back in superintendencies, 

12          you know -- the other structure, the middle 

13          schools and high schools and elementary were 

14          not geographically together.  You had a 

15          superintendent of this school, and right 

16          across the street another superintendent, and 

17          these principals didn't even know each 

18          other's names.

19                 So our thought was, under the 

20          superintendencies that are geographically 

21          based, like districts, that every middle 

22          school would know all their feeder elementary 

23          schools.  And because they're all under one 

24          superintendent, they meet at least once a 


                                                                  296

 1          month and talk to each other.  That, to me, 

 2          is a crucial point in terms of getting that 

 3          working.

 4                 We've also asked high schools now, who 

 5          tended to have their own little islands, to 

 6          kind of start adopting middle schools that 

 7          they all work with.  For example, I went to 

 8          -- oh, God, let me think -- Dominic 

 9          D'Angelo's school.  He has a phenomenal 

10          orchestra, symphony orchestra, a 

11          hundred-and-some-odd players.  So I said to 

12          him, are you working with any high schools so 

13          that your kids, when they leave your program, 

14          can automatically go.  And I think he's 

15          working with Fort Hamilton.  But he also has 

16          now two elementary schools where his teachers 

17          go to work with them so they will have a 

18          path.

19                 So yes, we need a pre-K to 12 path, 

20          and we need these people to know each other 

21          and to talk to each other, but also to have 

22          programs that will become consistent.  I 

23          mean, one of the other things that I think 

24          eventually would help in the changing of the 


                                                                  297

 1          laws, and I've already discussed this with 

 2          MaryEllen, is a ruling that says in middle 

 3          school you have to offer three different art 

 4          forms.  I would love for her to have some 

 5          flexibility and say that if you have one form 

 6          that is fabulous, can we do the same one over 

 7          three years.  Isn't it better to be really, 

 8          really good at something than have a little 

 9          bit of this, a little bit of that?

10                 So there's a lot of things that I 

11          think can be done to make middle schools even 

12          better than the great ones really are right 

13          now.

14                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Thank you for 

15          that.  And speaking of alignment, there's 

16          another area that I think the commissioner is 

17          certainly aligned with you.  You mentioned in 

18          your statement that one of the principles of 

19          success under your leadership is that you 

20          want to see more sharing of best practices.  

21          And that in fact is one of the pieces, the 

22          tenets of the -- that the commissioner gave 

23          us today, and that is a part of the section 

24          of their budget proposal that deals 


                                                                  298

 1          specifically with improving the outcomes for 

 2          boys and young men of color, but I think it's 

 3          a principle that we can probably use 

 4          throughout our system.  And that is they have 

 5          requested a specific funding for developing 

 6          exemplary school models and sharing those 

 7          practices.

 8                 So hopefully you will be able to and 

 9          we will be able to benefit from that in -- 

10          for the fact that you're trying to do this, 

11          you should be able to access some of those 

12          funds.  So we will be working together to 

13          make sure that happens, because that's what 

14          we need.  There are some really wonderful 

15          models.  And one of them, as you know -- I've 

16          spoken to you so many times about -- is the 

17          Harbor School, which is one of those just 

18          absolute jewels in your system, in our 

19          system.  And we need more of those.  We need 

20          a lot more CTE programs that work to actually 

21          prepare young people to go into the world and 

22          be more successful in many different areas.  

23          So I thank you for your attention to that.

24                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  To me, 


                                                                  299

 1          collaboration is much better than 

 2          competition.  Competition you care about 

 3          yourself; collaboration you have to be -- 

 4          your success should only happen if you bring 

 5          someone else along to success.  

 6                 So in our models we have what we call 

 7          master principals, master assistant 

 8          principals, and teacher leaders.  Which get 

 9          extra money -- not because their test scores 

10          are higher, but because they've opened their 

11          doors and shared what they've already learned 

12          with a lot of other people.

13                 So this spirit of collaboration works 

14          for all kids, and to me that's the model I 

15          want to see.

16                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Yes.  And 

17          personally and, you know, otherwise I worry a 

18          lot about the fact that children with the 

19          most needs are treated experimentally far too 

20          often, and what really works is never 

21          replicated widely, doesn't get factored into 

22          becoming part of the system and the way that 

23          we work with young people.

24                 So I'm just happy to see that both you 


                                                                  300

 1          and the commissioner are looking at ways to 

 2          look for the best practices and begin to 

 3          utilize them more widely.  So thank you.

 4                 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 6          much.

 7                 Mr. Felix Ortiz.

 8                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  I'm corrected, I 

 9          stand corrected.  Madam Chairwoman.  

10                 (Laughter.)

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you, 

12          Mr. Chair {inaudible}.

13                 MULTIPLE VOICES:  Your mic.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Is it now working?

15                 MULTIPLE VOICES:  Yes, it is.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Okay, I'm not 

17          going to repeat myself, but I will say 

18          welcome for being here.

19                 Just a couple of -- first of all, I 

20          would like just to thank you so much for 

21          intervening on PS 169 when we had a hard 

22          situation about banning the Santa Claus to 

23          come to PS 169.  The bad news is that that 

24          Santa Claus happened to be me.  So I really 


                                                                  301

 1          appreciate that you listened to the parents 

 2          that were really concerned.  To the 

 3          principal, I thank her as well, because I 

 4          don't believe that we should deny our kids an 

 5          opportunity to enjoy their holidays.  So 

 6          thank you very much for your intervention on 

 7          that.  Thank you.

 8                 I had a couple of questions regarding 

 9          a follow up on probably Senator Marcellino 

10          about guidance counselors and social workers.  

11          As you probably know, one of every six 

12          Hispanics, they're the age of 14 through 20.  

13          And when you mentioned the middle schools, 

14          this question came back to my mind again.  As 

15          a result that most of these girls happen to 

16          be Hispanic girls, who their thought is to 

17          have a tendency to commit suicide.  And this 

18          happened in my district as well.  We had an 

19          incident where a young girl was on 54th 

20          Street and 4th Avenue trying to jump on the 

21          rail of the subway station.  We had another 

22          one on 9th Street who was trying to jump on 

23          the rail.  We're talking about 13, 14, 15, 16 

24          years old.


                                                                  302

 1                 My question to you is, what kind of 

 2          assessment, mental health assessment, is the 

 3          Board of Education conducting in order to 

 4          assess our children within the school system?

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, we do have 

 6          protocols for guidance counselors on how to 

 7          talk about suicide in their respective 

 8          schools, that this is an issue.  We have 

 9          guides around suicide.

10                 In terms of assessing, having mental 

11          health clinics is one of the ways to do it.  

12          I think one of the challenges that we have is 

13          how do we talk to parents about how to talk 

14          to their children about this.  

15                 One of the things that we have found, 

16          at least personally, in the last couple of 

17          years that I've been here, is that there is 

18          no one pattern for most of our suicides.  

19          What seems to be a little bit more prevalent 

20          is absence from school or fear of some kind 

21          of repercussions.  But it's not about 

22          assessing which kids might be able to -- it's 

23          still based on teacher recommendations or 

24          parents coming to school to worry about their 


                                                                  303

 1          kids.  But also sometimes we also find that 

 2          if teachers -- and I just think of two cases 

 3          recently where teachers brought this to 

 4          parents, parents are in denial.

 5                 So there's got to be a lot more 

 6          workshops for parents about signs of, and we 

 7          have those.  We have brochures on those 

 8          issues.  And also to guidance counselors and 

 9          teachers, if you think your child is in need 

10          of an intervention, what should you do.  Our 

11          guidance counselors are prepared to talk 

12          about these issues, and putting more guidance 

13          counselors and more social workers in our 

14          schools is another way to go.  But it's not 

15          an easy topic.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Let me just 

17          entertain the question back again about 

18          the -- asking about how many social workers 

19          and guidance counselors and psychologists do 

20          we have in the system.  Do every school have 

21          a social worker?  Do every school have a 

22          guidance counselor?  Do every school have a 

23          psychologist?

24                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  The psychologists 


                                                                  304

 1          are used more for testing purposes.  Most 

 2          schools have either a social worker or a 

 3          guidance counselor.  Some schools have both; 

 4          some schools have three or four.  Depends on 

 5          the population of the school.

 6                 But we can get you the specific 

 7          numbers.  And that's a number we keep adding 

 8          to.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Yeah, I would 

10          appreciate it if you can get back to me on 

11          that.  Because as you know, I represent 

12          School District 15 and School District 20.  

13          And there's a big discrepancy about both 

14          school districts.  And I do visit the schools 

15          very often.  I go to the schools Fridays, and 

16          I speak to the kids.  And I have maintained 

17          my mission to be there for the last 22 years.

18                 And one of the biggest issues that 

19          continues to be addressed is we don't have 

20          enough guidance counselors, and we would like 

21          to have a psychologist inside; some schools 

22          have a psychologist.  Like you stated, and I 

23          agree with you, some need more help than 

24          others.  But I do believe that is a pattern 


                                                                  305

 1          that continues to happen in Sunset Park 

 2          itself.  

 3                 And I would like also to thank you for 

 4          what you did in PS 15 about the autism, to 

 5          address the autism in the school, because I 

 6          think that can serve as a model, which is 

 7          another issue that I have worked very hard on 

 8          it, to make sure that we take care of those 

 9          kids who are suffering from autism and be 

10          integrated into the regular mix.  I'm for it.

11                 My other question is you mentioned 

12          about -- which I also agree with you -- on 

13          art, music and, I will add to it, acting.  

14          I'm a very big fan of that.  Since I've been 

15          elected to office, I've been putting money to 

16          School District 15 and School District 20, to 

17          make sure that every school, as much as I 

18          can, will have instruments, will have the 

19          equipment necessary to present -- to give 

20          this to students in the school system.  But 

21          one of the lacking is that when I do that, 

22          they don't have a teacher.  We don't have an 

23          art teacher, they don't have a music teacher, 

24          they don't have an acting teacher.  We have a 


                                                                  306

 1          great model school in MS 443, which I work 

 2          with them very, very close, and PS 10, for 

 3          example, has another group, but they don't 

 4          have -- you know, some of them lacking in 

 5          teachers. 

 6                 My question is, what are you trying to 

 7          do in order to make sure that we can give 

 8          these opportunities to the kids?  Because 

 9          it's very helpful for the development and the 

10          intellect of our kids.

11                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, first, let 

12          me answer your three questions.  First of 

13          all, the fact that we're bringing back arts 

14          teachers means that there's been a number of 

15          years where many people didn't go into this 

16          field because they didn't think they would 

17          have jobs.  Because I meet with the deans of 

18          the School of Education like every three 

19          months, and I've said to them, these are the 

20          areas that I need you to prepare more people:  

21          Guidance counselors, ESL teachers, special ed 

22          teachers, arts teachers.  

23                 We know what the needs are going to 

24          be.  So that's one of the reasons we entered 


                                                                  307

 1          into this partnership with Lincoln Center, 

 2          with -- we're also thinking of other cultural 

 3          institutions where, for example, BAM could 

 4          help do some of this.

 5                 In terms of not having enough 

 6          teachers, especially in District 15, all they 

 7          have to do is pick up the phone, and we have 

 8          a department that helps people get those 

 9          teachers.  

10                 This year we also put out grants -- if 

11          schools were willing to share teachers and we 

12          specifically did it based on the issue that 

13          we brought up before, if an elementary school 

14          and a middle school wanted to share the same 

15          arts teacher, with the idea that eventually 

16          you'd move from here to there, we would pay a 

17          piece of this money.  Part of the $23 million 

18          was to encourage more arts teachers to be 

19          shared between two schools.

20                 But principals have to apply for this.  

21          They have to let us know -- we have an entire 

22          department that reviews resumes.  I can't 

23          imagine PS 10, Laura couldn't pick up the 

24          phone and say "Do you know of anyone?"  So I 


                                                                  308

 1          do think that's part of it.

 2                 The other thing is -- and I do 

 3          encourage you to look at the arts also from 

 4          residencies.  We have a tremendous amount in 

 5          all our boroughs, fabulous arts residents 

 6          that are willing to come to schools and work 

 7          with kids.  And there are many of them who 

 8          would do that work.  

 9                 And also the other thing we've entered 

10          into partnerships with is for schools that 

11          want to start instrumental programs, we now 

12          have a relationship with WH -- one of the 

13          media companies which actually donates 

14          instruments to schools if they want to start 

15          musical -- it will come to us, right.

16                 But the reality is we're having the 

17          right art teacher in the right discipline and 

18          making sure the principal has a plan.  The 

19          one arts form -- and I agree with you on 

20          theater arts, especially for our English 

21          language learners.  Getting up -- nothing 

22          improves speech more than getting on the 

23          stage and feeling empowered.  As part of the 

24          Hamilton money, the kids have developed 


                                                                  309

 1          monologues and they have to go on the stage 

 2          and compete with each other, the schools that 

 3          are coming.  That thing on Broadway is going 

 4          to be almost all day.  So that's partially 

 5          what we're going to do.

 6                 The most popular arts form right now 

 7          in terms of unexpectedness is dance.  Dance, 

 8          however, requires that we have a dance room.  

 9          It requires a certain kind of flooring.  It 

10          requires mirrors.  There's a whole other 

11          infrastructure that we have to put in place.  

12          But we're finding that more and more schools 

13          are requesting that.

14                 So I do think arts are alive and well.  

15          But, you know, just let me know and we'll 

16          figure out a way to get them teachers.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Last but not 

18          least, because my time is running out, I 

19          forgot to wear my NYU hat, but you have a 

20          beautiful one over there.  I did went to NYU 

21          myself as well.

22                 I have two pieces of legislation which 

23          I would like your staff to look into it and 

24          give us feedback.  One is mandating a social 


                                                                  310

 1          worker in every school in the State of New 

 2          York, and the second one is mandating a 

 3          guidance counselor and a psychologist in 

 4          every school.  I do believe fundamentally 

 5          that if we can identify the problems of our 

 6          children at an early stage of their life, we 

 7          will be able to intervene early, engaging the 

 8          family in the discussion, and make sure that 

 9          we can develop a plan of action to address 

10          the needs and the problems that this family 

11          faces, and this kid will be able to perform 

12          better academically.  So I hope that you get 

13          a chance to look at it.  

14                 It was a pleasure to see you.  Thank 

15          you.

16                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I love funded 

17          mandates.  I'm --

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Let me just -- let 

19          me just -- let me just put it on the record.  

20          It is not an unfunded mandate.  I do have a 

21          funding stream.  The problem is that I don't 

22          know if people here will agree with me.  I'd 

23          love to charge 25 cents to carbohydrate 

24          items, and if we can do that, we can come 


                                                                  311

 1          out -- and I have the econometric model to 

 2          prove it -- with $1.2 billion that will help 

 3          us also to address the issue that was 

 4          addressed by my colleague Cusick about 

 5          obesity, which has been another issue that 

 6          I've been addressing for many, many years.

 7                 So if you can support the surcharge on 

 8          sodas, we will be able to get $1.2 billion.  

 9          And I welcome your support for that.  Thank 

10          you.

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

12          much.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Our 

14          next speaker is Senator Nozzolio.

15                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Thank you.

16                 Good afternoon, Chancellor.  You were 

17          asked a lot of questions about a lot of 

18          different things.  Here's another different 

19          thing.

20                 We call them, in upstate New York, 

21          school resource officers.  I'm not sure what 

22          you call them in New York City.  But do you 

23          have trained retired or current police 

24          officers who are involved with safety in your 


                                                                  312

 1          schools?

 2                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, we have 

 3          school safety officers in all our schools, 

 4          and they're trained -- 

 5                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  In every -- and 

 6          that's what I wanted to know, the scope and 

 7          breadth of it.  In every single school?

 8                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Every single 

 9          school.  And how many there are, it depends 

10          on the number of students.  And they're 

11          trained by the NYPD, and we work in 

12          conjunction with them.

13                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  And they're 

14          deployed by the -- they're full-time 

15          employees of the NYPD?

16                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Yes, and they -- 

17          again, in our high schools they tend to be, 

18          depending on the number of students, anywhere 

19          from 3 to 7 to 8 of them per school.  But we 

20          have them in every single school.

21                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  And so these are 

22          paid for -- out of not your budget, but the 

23          school -- but the police department budget?

24                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  We pay for them; 


                                                                  313

 1          the NYPD trains them.

 2                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Could you explain 

 3          that a little more?

 4                 CFO ORLANDO:  Sure.  We make a payment 

 5          to the NYPD for the service that they provide 

 6          us of school safety.

 7                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  So reimburse them 

 8          dollar for dollar for what they --

 9                 CFO ORLANDO:  Yes, we give them the 

10          money for the service they provide us.

11                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Do you have any 

12          idea how many school resource -- school 

13          officers there are?

14                 CFO ORLANDO:  I think the number is in 

15          the thousands, but I don't have -- I can get 

16          that for you.

17                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Yeah, it would 

18          have to be at least 3,000, at least.  Because 

19          we have at least one in every elementary 

20          school, and then middle schools and high 

21          schools tend to have more.

22                 And what we also do, this year in 

23          particular we're working with the NYPD to 

24          retrain them, because we want them also, 


                                                                  314

 1          especially with our culture and climate that 

 2          we're trying to do, how to deescalate issues 

 3          as well as be there in terms of when an issue 

 4          does occur.  So we have a very good working 

 5          relationship, and also many of them work with 

 6          students, you know, in after-school programs 

 7          and a multitude of other things.

 8                 But that is something that's in every 

 9          single school.

10                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Chancellor, who 

11          assigns those officers, and how is that 

12          determination made?

13                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, first of 

14          all, we have a level of -- there are 

15          supervisors over them, and they take care of 

16          the deployment and the redeployment, 

17          depending on the issues in the particular 

18          school.  So if there's a school that is 

19          perceived to have more issues, there will be 

20          more what we call Level 3s, of the 

21          supervisors.  

22                 But I'm in constant discussion with 

23          the NYPD on what their roles are and what 

24          they do.  Principals have some ability to 


                                                                  315

 1          talk to them, but in terms of evaluating 

 2          them, it's done through the NYPD.

 3                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  And that NYPD unit 

 4          is specifically designed or tasked with this 

 5          particular skill set for officers?

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Absolutely.  It's 

 7          a separate title.  They're called school 

 8          safety agents.

 9                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  And those school 

10          safety agents, do they have individual posts 

11          or are they to walk freely through the halls?  

12          Or what is basically the modus --

13                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, the most 

14          important job that they do, they serve as 

15          security at the front door.  You cannot get 

16          into a school in New York City without 

17          signing in and showing ID, including me, to 

18          the school safety officer.  So depending on 

19          the size of the building, there is one person 

20          at the desk or two people.  That's their 

21          first job.  And that's one of their primary 

22          jobs.

23                 If it's a high school, they're also 

24          expected to walk the building, and 


                                                                  316

 1          particularly to walk the building in what 

 2          might be the hallways, the corridors, 

 3          whatever.  And they have rotation posts.

 4                 In elementary schools, they serve more 

 5          as the face to the public, so that no one 

 6          goes in there without an appointment.  You 

 7          have a sign-in book, as you go into a school 

 8          you have to sign, to show the ID.  And they 

 9          also give you a sticker that says where 

10          you're going.  So if you're walking the 

11          building, you have a special ID on you that 

12          shows -- usually they're yellow and it says 

13          "Visitor."  And you have to go to where it 

14          tells you that you're going.

15                 So there's a lot of protocols that 

16          we've put in place to ensure that they do the 

17          job that they're meant to do.  In high 

18          schools, we've been encouraging a lot more of 

19          walking the buildings in different ways and 

20          engaging in conversation with kids.  So you 

21          don't get to see students for the first time 

22          when they're in trouble, but it's a constant 

23          conversation.

24                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  And that's exactly 


                                                                  317

 1          the area I'd like to probe a little further, 

 2          that they're allowed to make conversation 

 3          with students, they're able to interact with 

 4          them and ask questions, answer questions, act 

 5          as role models, those kinds of things?  

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  It really depends 

 7          on them.  And what we've been trying to get 

 8          principals to do is to make sure they're more 

 9          used as preventive than coming after the 

10          fact.

11                 But again, like everything else, it 

12          depends on people's personalities.  I went to 

13          a school recently where the principal told me 

14          that the school safety agent in her building 

15          actually plays basketball with some of the 

16          kids during lunchtime.  And to me, that's an 

17          ideal situation.  Because if you have the 

18          same eight kids who are going to get in 

19          trouble all the time, get to know them first 

20          so maybe that doesn't happen.

21                 But that's not so much written in 

22          stone; it's an individual agent and an 

23          individual principal working on those 

24          agreements.


                                                                  318

 1                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Did those officers 

 2          engage in normal -- are those officers given 

 3          regular training specific to that type of 

 4          role?

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Yes, they are.  

 6          And last year, to enhance the role, we had 

 7          our first ever -- I'm a big believer in 

 8          celebrations, so we had our first celebration 

 9          for school safety officers, and we had it -- 

10          in order to be nominated, you had to go above 

11          and beyond what the job calls for.  And in 

12          most cases, above and beyond, that you did 

13          some kind of interaction, either with parents 

14          or students, that was not part of your normal 

15          job.  Because we're trying to show that 

16          people who go above and beyond are the people 

17          who should be celebrated.  

18                 And actually Commissioner Bratton came 

19          to the ceremony, we had all the brass coming 

20          to the ceremony, they got certificates -- and 

21          we're doing it again this year.

22                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Do you have any 

23          idea the total cost in the budget for this?

24                 CFO ORLANDO:  I can get it for you.  


                                                                  319

 1          I'm sorry, I didn't bring it.  I can get it 

 2          for you.

 3                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  And I think we'll 

 4          certainly probe this further next week in 

 5          Public Protection.  But this program is 

 6          extensive and in many cases may be needed to 

 7          be replicated across the state.  So thank 

 8          you.

 9                 Anecdotally, do you have success 

10          stories that you can relate?

11                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Yes.  I'll tell 

12          you we have one in elementary school that she 

13          is the chief reader.  Now, what is the chief 

14          reader?  She sits at her desk, she takes the 

15          -- obviously she's a security officer.  But 

16          there are children every day who somehow 

17          can't seem to sit still, and their job is to 

18          take their read-aloud book and sit by the 

19          school safety officer and read to her, and 

20          she can still do her job while she's doing 

21          that.

22                 I gave you the example of the one in a 

23          high school where he works with the kids.  

24          And then there's one in a middle school where 


                                                                  320

 1          there are three kids who are consistently in 

 2          trouble, so he mentors them on how to 

 3          behave -- I don't ask what that matters, you 

 4          know.  

 5                 But those are the people who were 

 6          nominated for these awards.  I'm trying to 

 7          think, there was another one that has been 

 8          doing this job for like 20-some-odd years, a 

 9          long time, and he mentors other school safety 

10          officers on how to do the preventive stuff.  

11          So there are a lot of people going above and 

12          beyond.  And, you know, we celebrate 

13          custodians who go above and beyond.  

14          Celebrating good work I think is really 

15          important.

16                 SENATOR NOZZOLIO:  Thank you very 

17          much.  Thank you, Madam Chairman.

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you, Senator.  

19                 Assemblyman O'Donnell.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Good 

21          afternoon.  I just want to echo everyone's 

22          comments about how impressive you are.  I 

23          want to publicly thank the mayor for 

24          convincing you to take the job and say in all 


                                                                  321

 1          my years of sitting in this room I have never 

 2          seen any witness that is as knowledgeable and 

 3          as thorough as you have been here today, and 

 4          I want to thank you for that.

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Thank you.  I'm 

 6          going to say that to my husband, who's 

 7          enjoying his time in Florida while I'm doing 

 8          this.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Well, yeah, I 

10          guess.  We all have husbands.  Yes, I 

11          understand.

12                 (Laughter.)

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  So let me tell 

14          you that I represent District 3 in Manhattan, 

15          which is not considered a high-needs district 

16          -- but I represent the northern half of 

17          District 3, okay, not the elite part.  The 

18          northern part.

19                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I know.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  And what I 

21          want to address with you is a very parochial 

22          issue, but I think it gets to the heart of 

23          some of the problems that we have.  There are 

24          two schools in my district that are 


                                                                  322

 1          phenomenal schools.  They have phenomenal 

 2          principals, they have engaged parents, they 

 3          are phenomenal.  I would send, if I had 

 4          children -- I tell my constituents, send your 

 5          children to PS 75 and PS 163.  

 6                 You know what the problem is?  They're 

 7          under threat.  They're under threat because 

 8          of building construction.  They want to build 

 9          a 22-story nursing home 12 feet from the 

10          windows of PS 163.  That's as close as you 

11          and I are.  Right?  For 26 to 30 months.  

12          Okay?  They want to do that by putting a 

13          crane that would swing over the roof of PS 

14          163.  

15                 At PS 75, they're intending to build 

16          adjacent to the school in the next -- right 

17          across the street, which is the street where 

18          the children currently line up to go into 

19          school.  Right?  PS 75 is the place where 

20          that unfortunate accident took place, right?

21                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Yeah.  That's the 

22          Emily Dickinson School.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  That's 

24          correct.


                                                                  323

 1                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  And I know the 

 2          principal there.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Okay.  

 4          Unfortunately, we have been able to get 

 5          nowhere with the City of New York about 

 6          should this be allowed.  In my opinion, it 

 7          should be against the law to build 12 feet 

 8          from a public school window.  And because of 

 9          school choice, what's going to happen if 

10          these plans go forward, those schools will be 

11          destroyed.  PS 163 may be physically 

12          destroyed if some accident occurs.  

13                 But we have school choice, and the 

14          parents who choose to send their children to 

15          a Title I school in District 3 are going to 

16          bolt.  They're going to bolt, Chancellor.  

17          They're going to bolt.  And I can't really 

18          blame them.

19                 So my first question to you is, do you 

20          have any ability to weigh in on what is 

21          happening adjacent to the property that you 

22          control, with the city to say this is an 

23          unacceptable thing for you to allow to 

24          happen?  Or do you not have any role?


                                                                  324

 1                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  We don't -- we do 

 2          not have a role.  I've been to 163 several 

 3          times already, so I know the situation.  What 

 4          we were able to offer 163 is the ability to 

 5          give them a person, under Deputy Chancellor 

 6          Rose, to help oversee the construction.  

 7          Because they have certain things they had to 

 8          do -- and Gabru {ph} has been very involved 

 9          in this issue as well, what guidelines -- and 

10          one of the things they had asked for is for 

11          not having the work being done during certain 

12          school hours or during arrival or dismissal 

13          time.  So that's the kind of thing we can 

14          impact.

15                 But in terms of stopping them from 

16          building, that's not within our jurisdiction.  

17                 75 is a whole other situation.  And 

18          that principal is doing such a -- and that's 

19          one of the few schools -- originally 

20          arts-focused, with a lot of things going on 

21          there that --

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Yes, my chief 

23          of staff went there as an elementary school 

24          student, yes.


                                                                  325

 1                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  It also has one of 

 2          the model dual-language programs in the City 

 3          of New York.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Yes, it does, 

 5          yes.

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  So to me, I didn't 

 7          know about this PS 75 issue, and I will 

 8          certainly call -- Robert Ryan is still there?

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Oh, yes, he's 

10          still there.

11                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Yeah, okay, so 

12          I'll speak to Bob.

13                 163 I'm very aware of because I've 

14          been to several evening meetings there.  But 

15          I can get back to you specifically.  But I 

16          know we looked into it, and there's no way 

17          that we can stop -- we can give assistance in 

18          what hours they work, what kind of work they 

19          do while the kids are in the building.  So 

20          that's the kind -- and we can give the 

21          principal, which is what they asked for, help 

22          so they don't have to do that aspect of the 

23          job in terms of supervising.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Well, I had 


                                                                  326

 1          the distinct pleasure of being raked through 

 2          the coals by the New York Times Editorial 

 3          Board for sending a yoga teacher into the PS 

 4          163 when the previous construction down the 

 5          block was happening.

 6                 This construction is happening over 

 7          their heads.  And if you and the mayor can't 

 8          do something to stop that construction, you 

 9          will destroy that school.  It will become 

10          what it used to be, which was a school that 

11          kids only went to when their parents couldn't 

12          figure out where else to send them.  And that 

13          would be the biggest shame in the world, 

14          because Dr. Pepe and the current principal 

15          have done such a phenomenal job, and those 

16          parents have killed themselves.  And now it's 

17          all for naught.  And, you know, I don't think 

18          they should be allowed to build a 22-story 

19          high rise within 12 feet of the windows of a 

20          public school.  Because I don't think there's 

21          any way, while that school is occupied, for 

22          those children to be safe or for them to have 

23          an adequate learning environment or a safe 

24          ingress or egress.   There's just no way to 


                                                                  327

 1          do that, given the scale of what they intend 

 2          to build and given the time frame.

 3                 And, you know, they've currently won 

 4          the first phase of the lawsuit the parents 

 5          brought, which makes me very happy.  But, you 

 6          know, it's all very good to hear about how 

 7          we're going to build new schools or we're 

 8          going to do these new programs, and I support 

 9          all that 100 percent, but if we don't take 

10          the jewels that we have and keep them that 

11          way, we're going to end up failing in the 

12          long run.  And then what's going to happen is 

13          all those elite schools to the south of me, 

14          that's where those parents are going to start 

15          demanding that their kids go, and we've been 

16          through that once before.

17                 Thank you very much.

18                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

20                 Senator?

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

22          much.

23                 And I just have a quick question and 

24          then I'll, when the time is right, turn it 


                                                                  328

 1          over to Senator Liz Krueger.

 2                 I appreciate all of the answers you've 

 3          given today; you've been very thorough.  I 

 4          was wondering about the renewal schools.  And 

 5          I appreciate what you've been able to allay 

 6          today regarding them.  But I do know that 

 7          part of the agreement on the renewal schools 

 8          is to expand the school day by one hour.  And 

 9          the question is, is that something that you 

10          look toward in the future to do for all of 

11          the schools across New York?  And if it's 

12          good for renewal schools, why is it not good 

13          -- or good -- for the other schools?

14                 And if you could please comment on 

15          that, please.

16                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, I think 

17          you're talking about finances and resources 

18          and where do you put your priorities.  So 

19          right now the money that was made available 

20          was made for our struggling schools, so 

21          that's where we're starting.

22                 And the other thing is that one of the 

23          things we do very carefully in New York City 

24          is we assess everything we do.  So once this 


                                                                  329

 1          year comes to an end, we will assess this 

 2          work, what were the results.  Certainly no 

 3          change in public education or any education 

 4          takes a year.  I mean, that's one thing 

 5          MaryEllen and I have discussed forever.  We 

 6          don't undo years of neglect or whatever 

 7          overnight.  This is not a magic potion.

 8                 So that is part of what we do.  Many 

 9          of our schools run extra programs.  But in 

10          terms of systemically doing it, we really 

11          have to wait and see how the resources come 

12          down.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So you said you 

14          will be assessing that.  

15                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Absolutely.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And when you do 

17          that, do you issue some sort of public 

18          report?  Do you just give it to the mayor?  

19          Do you share it with the public?  Because it 

20          would be interesting to see what the results 

21          of the information you receive actually is.

22                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Yeah, I think at 

23          least for this year and next year it will be 

24          more anecdotal, or certainly in terms of 


                                                                  330

 1          being the things I would like to see 

 2          improved.  And that will be public.  Which 

 3          schools have improved attendance, which 

 4          schools are going to have teacher retention, 

 5          which schools have -- we have something 

 6          called the snapshot in quality review.  We 

 7          evaluate all our schools.  And one of the 

 8          things that we looked at in terms of the 

 9          schools' evaluations is do teachers work 

10          collaboratively, is there rigorous 

11          instruction.  So those are evaluation tools 

12          we already have in place.  

13                 So it's maybe making public, in the 

14          renewal school roles, these evaluations in 

15          terms of how they improved before they had 

16          resources and now with the resources.  So 

17          that we can actually -- they are public.  

18          They're on the internet right now.  You can 

19          go on and download the information from any 

20          single school in New York City.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I think that would 

22          be very helpful because of the 

23          decision-making process that we undertake 

24          here, and also just sharing information as 


                                                                  331

 1          far as policy goes.  So thank you for that, 

 2          Chancellor.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Titone.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Thank you, 

 5          Chancellor, and good afternoon. 

 6                 Certainly from my perspective you hit 

 7          on so many points that are near and dear to 

 8          me.  But with respect to the arts -- and I 

 9          can tell you, I've had three requests from 

10          schools for so-called discretionary funding 

11          for ballroom dancing at those schools.  So 

12          that's great.

13                 But sadly, what I'm not hearing is 

14          something that I'd really -- you know, we've 

15          discussed before in the past.  I just want to 

16          give an example.  You know, for decades on 

17          Staten Island, on the north shore, there's 

18          been an abandoned building that over the 

19          years not only the residents, the people 

20          around it, but the press and -- it's just 

21          been, for decades, crying "Just tear it down, 

22          just tear it down before something bad 

23          happens."  Finally, tragically, a 16-year-old 

24          boy was in the building playing, and he died.  


                                                                  332

 1          Weeks later, the building finally came down.

 2                 I bring that up because my question is 

 3          with respect to transportation of our special 

 4          ed children.  What is it going to take to 

 5          finally get the city to change the way we're 

 6          doing business when it comes to transporting 

 7          our children with special needs?  

 8                 We've seen, you know, just very 

 9          recently on Staten Island a young boy with 

10          special needs who the bus driver could not 

11          find his home, despite the fact that he had 

12          GPS but refused to turn it on.  The bus 

13          matron was of no help.  This boy was on this 

14          bus for over six hours without anyone 

15          stopping to give him water, to let him go to 

16          the bathroom, with no information to the 

17          parents or to the school.  And the horror 

18          stories keeping coming.  It was put upon the 

19          parents to adjust this poor boy's behavior 

20          when he refused to get on the new bus because 

21          he was traumatized by his experience.

22                 The horror stories keep piling on and 

23          yet we're still at, you know, Point A with 

24          respect to this issue.  We have special-needs 


                                                                  333

 1          children who are being placed on school buses 

 2          with general education kids, so we have 

 3          young, young kids with special needs being 

 4          placed on the school bus with high school 

 5          kids because that is more economically 

 6          feasible.  What is it going to take for us to 

 7          change that?

 8                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I mean, I am very 

 9          happy to set up a meeting with you to discuss 

10          this issue with Deputy Chancellor Rose, but I 

11          know that we have been working hard -- and to 

12          be very honest, that particular family 

13          emailed me directly, and I answered them 

14          directly.  But once again, the amount of 

15          busing in New York City -- and we've just 

16          added for more busing -- is a very 

17          complicated issue.  It's probably one of the 

18          ones that, you know, is one that requires a 

19          lot more -- but why don't we make an 

20          appointment, and I'm happy for you to sit and 

21          talk with -- because I can't be specific 

22          about a whole bunch of things.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  I understand 

24          that.  But I hope the urgency of which I 


                                                                  334

 1          speak -- that, you know, you're coming here 

 2          and we're talking about the Campaign for 

 3          Fiscal Equity; I would like to be hearing the 

 4          city and you saying:  We need this money, 

 5          Albany, so that we can change a potentially 

 6          very dangerous situation.  We don't have the 

 7          money that we need to transport our special 

 8          education kids safely.

 9                 Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

11                 Senator?  

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you, 

13          chancellor.  I think we're all very 

14          appreciative both of your time here today and 

15          what you're doing for the schoolchildren of 

16          New York City every day.  I certainly am 

17          someone who can speak to the fact that your 

18          administration has been incredibly 

19          responsive, and the people of my district 

20          appreciate that.

21                 A number of issues, so many issues 

22          were raised.  But an earlier issue was 

23          mayoral control in a one year continuation 

24          versus longer.  I'm just curious, since you 


                                                                  335

 1          have an enormous system in New York City, 

 2          with a million students, is --

 3                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  A million plus.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- a million-plus 

 5          students and over a thousand schools?

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Sixteen hundred.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Oh, way, way over.

 8                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  But who's 

 9          counting.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  What 

11          would it mean if suddenly at the, literally, 

12          turn of a dime we didn't have mayoral 

13          control?  What would happen to you and these 

14          over a million children?  

15                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Well, a little bit 

16          of chaos, I would think.  

17                 Right now I think we have the best of 

18          all possible worlds.  We have mayoral 

19          control.  And remember, a mayor campaigns on 

20          his educational belief systems, so people 

21          choose you because they believe you believe 

22          what they believe in.  And then by he or she 

23          picking a chancellor who's on the same page, 

24          there's a certain continuity that's just 


                                                                  336

 1          going to, I think, work well for everyone.

 2                 I think the other thing is that I 

 3          believe in the law it goes back to this kind 

 4          of school board, if not the individual school 

 5          boards by district, it goes back to like a 

 6          receivership which would have gone back to 

 7          the days of, let's say, Cortines, 

 8          Fernandez -- I can give you all the names -- 

 9          who on a dime might be fired because the 

10          mayor wasn't happy about something they had 

11          no control over, they weren't their people, 

12          so they didn't work out their issues 

13          together.

14                 To me, what you want in a system, 

15          especially if you want to improve a lot of 

16          things, you want stability.  You want 

17          continuity in this.  You want people who 

18          speak with one voice.  I mean, it's not just 

19          the mayor and I, but it's a group now -- you 

20          have UFT, CSA.  We generally -- I mean, 

21          there's going to be times we disagree on any 

22          number of things.  But isn't it better for a 

23          teacher and a principal to go to work in the 

24          morning and say one of the things I don't 


                                                                  337

 1          have to deal with is all the politics around 

 2          this, everybody is on the same page?  

 3                 So that's the best answer I can give 

 4          you.  Because honestly, I have been around 

 5          for all the structures and I have seen the 

 6          good, the bad, and the ugly.  And this, to 

 7          me, allows us to do things quickly, 

 8          comprehensively, and still with a lot of 

 9          community input.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And am I correct in 

11          understanding that if this were to happen, 

12          even if you're describing that we would go 

13          back to a pre-system, we don't have that 

14          structure.  There aren't community school 

15          boards.  We would actually have to recreate 

16          them and have separate elections.  There 

17          aren't separate superintendents in the old 

18          definition of what they were with community 

19          school board districts.  So we would have to 

20          literally start from scratch to rebuild any 

21          system; would that be correct?

22                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  We have community 

23          superintendents since I've become chancellor.  

24          But the thing that I think is particularly 


                                                                  338

 1          meaningful is that they're instructional 

 2          people.  They do not have to play politics, 

 3          they have to agree and they meet with elected 

 4          officials, but they're able to select what I 

 5          consider the right principals and focus on 

 6          instructional priorities rather than some of 

 7          the things that I, as a former district 

 8          superintendent, had to spend maybe more time 

 9          on things that were more political rather 

10          than instructional.  

11                 So I think that's what -- you need an 

12          instructional system where everyone is 

13          focused on the kids and putting the kids 

14          first.  And I think this system does it.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And no system is 

16          perfect, but -- not off the cuff today, but 

17          do you think that you could prepare a 

18          comparison list of how the New York City 

19          school system is doing today as far as the 

20          kind of indicators we all look at for 

21          improvements in our schools compared to under 

22          the old system? 

23                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I think the one 

24          thing I can say with certainty, because I've 


                                                                  339

 1          been around long enough, is that there is 

 2          more equity in the system.  Felix, correct me 

 3          if I'm wrong.  I can tell you that when I was 

 4          a superintendent, I assumed that District 15 

 5          was the model.  I just assumed all districts 

 6          ran like ours.  We had a very reasonable 

 7          school board, we had committed principals.  I 

 8          became a principal in District 2, some of the 

 9          same models.  

10                 And then when I became a regional 

11          superintendent, I was in charge of four 

12          districts.  And one of the things I realized 

13          is that professional development in some 

14          places didn't exist, that programs were 

15          chosen for all kinds of reasons, sometimes 

16          other than the right person for the right 

17          job.  So the students in these districts 

18          geographically may not all have been given 

19          the best advantages, the best instruction, 

20          the best teachers.  And again, it's no one's 

21          fault, it's just -- 

22                 This is now about saying no matter 

23          where you live in New York City, all the 

24          superintendents go through the same training.  


                                                                  340

 1          I personally meet with all the 

 2          superintendents once a month.  All the PD is 

 3          universal for all the teachers.  It's not 

 4          teachers in District 2 or 15, which always 

 5          had good PD, but it's teachers in District 7 

 6          and District 9 and District 12, the unanimity 

 7          that we have.  When we open our schools to 

 8          each other, I expect teachers from the Bronx 

 9          to visit schools in Staten Island.  We have 

10          to learn from each other.  It was two 

11          separate, two uniform people that were happy, 

12          were very, very happy -- District 26, very 

13          happy.  

14                 But we need to all be happy.  And we 

15          need to say the best practices, the best 

16          principles are universal.  And I think that 

17          is something that I can honestly say right 

18          now is true that wasn't true in the past.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

20                 There was discussion about middle 

21          school issues earlier, and you even described 

22          that people go into teaching and imagine 

23          being elementary teachers or high school 

24          teachers, but nobody really ever plans on 


                                                                  341

 1          being a middle school teacher.  For the 

 2          record, when I graduated high school I went 

 3          back to my middle school and apologized to 

 4          the teachers for being so God-awful, because 

 5          there is something about that age range --

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  They're wonderful.  

 7          I love seventh-graders.  But it takes a 

 8          certain person to see them for what they are, 

 9          which is they're these little imperfect 

10          beings who need to express themselves, and 

11          you can't take it personally.

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Right.  So my 

13          curiosity, we have some K-8 schools, some in 

14          my own district, District 2.  I'm wondering 

15          what the evaluation is from your perspective 

16          of whether that helps in improving the sort 

17          of -- both the continuity for young people 

18          and the kind of education they're getting 

19          when you don't throw them all together by 

20          themselves in separate buildings. 

21                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I think it really 

22          depends school by school.  But just as a rule 

23          of thumb, it takes a certain number of 

24          students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth to 


                                                                  342

 1          create a good middle school culture, whether 

 2          it's a K-8 or a stand-alone.  And anything 

 3          less than 300-something, you do not have the 

 4          special programs that middle school kids 

 5          have.  And when there's a stand-alone middle 

 6          school -- but they have to be good.  Whether 

 7          it's K-8 or what, it has to be a good school 

 8          with a good principal and good teachers -- 

 9          you have kids making more independent 

10          decisions.  They are being maybe raised a 

11          little bit more sophisticated to go on to 

12          high school.  

13                 So it's all about the preparation for 

14          high school.  And I think that really depends 

15          on the school.  Many of our stand-alone 

16          middle schools do a lot of work with high 

17          schools.  They give high school courses or 

18          they take business to high schools.  In the 

19          K-8, in some of the schools they do that too, 

20          but in others they're more babied or 

21          whatever.  

22                 So I don't want to say -- it depends 

23          on the schools.  But I went to a K-8 school; 

24          however, I see the merits in stand-alone 


                                                                  343

 1          middle schools.  I do think that there's a 

 2          lot to be said for the opportunities, the 

 3          choices that kids can make.  There's 

 4          certainly after-school programs, the arts and 

 5          all other things.  So pretty much individual 

 6          decisions.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And finally, I 

 8          applaud you for what you're doing to expand 

 9          young people's opportunities to prepare for 

10          college and go to college, particularly those 

11          students who may be the first generation to 

12          even consider college in their family, 

13          perhaps new Americans where there's no one in 

14          the family who even has any kind of, you 

15          know, experience to offer their own children 

16          when attempting to go to college.  

17                 I urge you, when you're doing this 

18          work, because we see it as so broadly out 

19          there in New York City, we need to make sure 

20          these students are being encouraged, 

21          supported, directed into quality education 

22          post-high school.  Too many of the 

23          proprietary schools are great at convincing 

24          young people to sign on the dotted line, use 


                                                                  344

 1          up their TAP, their Pell, any loan money they 

 2          might have, to join them in their, quote, 

 3          unquote, educational institutions, and then 

 4          completely fail to provide the actual 

 5          education.  Then the students find themselves 

 6          having used up their money, potentially in 

 7          debt for the rest of their lives, with no 

 8          education.

 9                 And I say that from experience, that 

10          it is the exact population that you want to 

11          help go to real colleges that gets sucked in 

12          so easily by the fake schools.  So I hope 

13          that you are building in that reality to what 

14          you're doing.

15                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  I think that's 

16          really one of the trainings that we're giving 

17          the guidance counselors at the high schools 

18          in terms of preparing kids for college.  It's 

19          also why we need more mentorships and 

20          internships, different kinds, at that level 

21          so that if they have someone who's -- one of 

22          the things we're hoping is happening today in 

23          a lot of schools, as teachers talk about 

24          where they went to college and what they 


                                                                  345

 1          learned at college, that they can make that 

 2          statement.  But I'm certainly very cognizant 

 3          of that.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I believe Senator 

 7          Marcellino has one more follow-up question, 

 8          or maybe more.

 9                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:   No, just one.  

10                 Chancellor, you talked about 

11          suspensions, and I remembered back when I was 

12          teaching and we had a rule -- I was the dean 

13          of students at the time.  You couldn't be the 

14          dean of boys, you had to be the dean of 

15          students.  A suspension was for five days 

16          max.  And the principal was the only one who 

17          could suspend.  I could recommend.  The 

18          teacher could beg; they couldn't do anything 

19          about it.  They would come to me, I would 

20          pull the kid out, we'd talk to the child.  If 

21          it was something really serious, we brought 

22          it to the principal, who would have to make 

23          the recommendation.  But five days was max.  

24          You couldn't do it for longer than that 


                                                                  346

 1          unless there was an arrest involved and 

 2          something else took over.  

 3                 You were talking about 20 days or a 

 4          time like that.  When did that arrive? 

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  This is one of the 

 6          reasons why we're redoing our suspension 

 7          policy, because it was a little all over the 

 8          place.  So we're going to come out with new 

 9          protocols on how many days you can do it for 

10          and what is the infraction, and then it has 

11          to be aligned with the number of days.  And 

12          also who you need to get permission from in 

13          order to do it.  Because there has to be a 

14          protocol in terms of is it the principal -- 

15          we have principal suspensions, now we have 

16          superintendent suspensions.  

17                 But there has to be -- again, when I'm 

18          talking about equity, it's not just about 

19          equity of teachers, it's equity of our 

20          suspensions.  There has to be a fairness 

21          around the city that your suspension is not 

22          dependent on the neighborhood you live in.  

23          So that's one of the things we're working on.

24                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Okay, thank you.


                                                                  347

 1                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:   Thank you.  Thank 

 2          you very much.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:   Thank you, 

 4          Chancellor.

 5                 (Scattered applause.)

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARINA:  Thank you.  I 

 7          appreciate the ability to come before you, 

 8          because also now that I know that you're 

 9          listening, I'm going to send you my requests 

10          in writing.  Thank you.

11                 (Laughter.)

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  11:30, United 

13          Federation of Teachers, UFT, Michael Mulgrew, 

14          president; New York State United Teachers, 

15          NYSUT, Andrew Pallotta, executive vice 

16          president, and Christopher Black, director of 

17          legislation.  Are you here?  

18                 (Discussion off the record.)

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yes, we are ready.  

20          Folks, can we move it out?

21                 (Discussion off the record.)

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Good afternoon.  

23                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Good afternoon.  

24          Senator Young, Assemblyman Farrell, Chairs 


                                                                  348

 1          Marcellino and Nolan, members of the Assembly 

 2          and Senate, I am Andy Pallotta.  I'm the 

 3          executive vice president of NYSUT, 

 4          representing over 600,000 members from 

 5          throughout New York State in K-12 education 

 6          and higher education, healthcare, and our 

 7          retirees.  

 8                 Thank you for the opportunity to be 

 9          here today on the proposed 2016-2017 budget.  

10          With me is Michael Mulgrew, president of UFT, 

11          also Chris Black, the political and 

12          legislative director of NYSUT, and Cassy 

13          Prugh, the legislative director of UFT.

14                 Public education I feel is going 

15          finally in the right direction.  And moving 

16          that way, we would hope to continue to work 

17          together with the members of the Assembly and 

18          the Senate to ensure that every child in this 

19          state receives a great education.  

20                 We must continue to reduce testing in 

21          this state and ensure that any remaining 

22          tests are solely diagnostic in nature.  We 

23          must restore the joy of teaching and learning 

24          for our children and for our teachers.


                                                                  349

 1                 I will summarize my testimony.  First, 

 2          school aid.  While the proposed school aid 

 3          increase of $961 million is one of the 

 4          largest we've seen in recent memory, we also 

 5          have to point out that we have to 

 6          significantly see much more going into this 

 7          budget.  This year in particular, we have a 

 8          state support of schools that is crucial.  

 9          The tax cap is near zero; actually, it's a 

10          mere 0.12 percent, not even 2 percent.  This 

11          devastatingly low tax cap will cripple local 

12          ability to raise funds.  Under a true 

13          2 percent tax cap, $700 million would have 

14          been generated, which could have been used to 

15          offset what the state will have to make up 

16          for.  

17                 A significant increase in school aid 

18          can be supported by the state.  New York is 

19          no longer running a deficit and instead has a 

20          surplus of $5.4 billion, half of which is 

21          recurring revenue.  New York public school 

22          students are still owed $4.4 billion in 

23          Foundation Aid and $434 million in GEA 

24          funding.  An increase of $1.7 billion in 


                                                                  350

 1          school aid is needed just to keep things as 

 2          they are, the current levels of programs.  

 3          NYSUT is calling for an increase of 

 4          $2.6 billion in general-purpose school aid.  

 5          This includes a $2.1 billion increase in 

 6          Formula Aid and $500 million in targeted 

 7          funding.

 8                 The $2.1 billion in Formula Aid is 

 9          needed to greatly increase Foundation Aid, 

10          eliminate the GEA, and fully fund 

11          expense-based aid.  This $500 million in 

12          funding would go for support of struggling 

13          schools, for support for English language 

14          learners, expansion of pre-K programs, 

15          high-quality professional development, and 

16          for college and career pathways and CTE.  We 

17          also request full payments of the 

18          $318 million in prior-year aid claims that 

19          are owed to school districts.  

20                 On the tax cap, we have said that it 

21          is very problematic.  Living under this cap, 

22          most districts throughout this state are not 

23          able to restore cuts that have been made.  

24          The tax cap also hurts our poorest districts 


                                                                  351

 1          the most, placing severe limits on their 

 2          ability to raise funds.  

 3                 To address this problem, we urge 

 4          modifications to the current law which would 

 5          include changing the tax limit to 2 percent 

 6          or CPI, whichever is greater; eliminating the 

 7          supermajority requirement; eliminating the 

 8          possibility of negative tax caps; and 

 9          providing exemptions for increased 

10          enrollment, school security, BOCES capital 

11          expenses, and preventing PILOTs from 

12          negatively impacting tax levy limits.

13                 On community schools, we've heard a 

14          lot today about this model.  We support and 

15          appreciate the proposed $100 million for 

16          community schools, for conversion from 

17          struggling and high-needs schools, but 

18          obviously there is much more to be done.  We 

19          would also ensure that community schools have 

20          the wrap-around services that they need.  

21                 We must work together to ensure that 

22          any action taken to support community 

23          schools' conversion takes into account the 

24          unique needs of small and rural schools.  


                                                                  352

 1          Under the proposed formula, a high-needs 

 2          rural school district could receive only 

 3          $22,000, not enough for real change.  

 4          Therefore, we request an additional 

 5          $75 million be provided for struggling 

 6          schools and other high-needs schools 

 7          throughout the state.

 8                 On receivership, we call for repeal of 

 9          the receivership law and for supportive and 

10          collaborative community school models to 

11          replace this current punitive statute.  The 

12          state has acknowledged concerns with the 

13          implementation of the new state standardized 

14          tests, and just like the prohibition on the 

15          use of certain state tests and decisions for 

16          students and teachers, the state should 

17          provide the same delay for districts.  The 

18          decision for districts to be placed on a 

19          struggling schools list should not be even 

20          partly determined by student performance on 

21          invalid state tests or by test scores.

22                 Further, the $75 million previously 

23          allocated for struggling schools was released 

24          six months late.  Instead of the required 


                                                                  353

 1          July 1, 2015, the funds were finally released 

 2          only a couple of weeks ago.  And the removal 

 3          of dedicated teachers from their profession 

 4          is a very harmful practice.  Teachers in 

 5          receivership schools often feel punished, and 

 6          these educators have devoted their lives to 

 7          the high-needs schools that they work in.

 8                 We also should not attack collective 

 9          bargaining in these schools.  In fact, the 

10          high-needs receivership schools are owed more 

11          than $2.7 billion in Foundation Aid and GEA 

12          combined.

13                 Teacher centers, something close and 

14          dear to my heart.  At a time when we are 

15          asking so much more of teachers and educators 

16          in the field, we must provide them with the 

17          tools that they need.  The Executive Budget 

18          eliminates completely all funding for teacher 

19          centers.  Funding for these centers is 

20          crucial, and we call on the Legislature to 

21          restore funding to the 2008-2009 levels of 

22          $40 million.  

23                 On the Parental Choice in Education 

24          Act, we continue to oppose this, which 


                                                                  354

 1          creates a back-door voucher program and 

 2          constitutionally questionable tuition tax 

 3          credit.  The Education Scholarship and 

 4          Program Tax Credit drives $70 million to 

 5          corporations and the wealthy, who would 

 6          receive a tax credit equal to 75 percent of 

 7          their authorized contributions, up to an 

 8          astounding credit of $1 million.  The Family 

 9          Choice Education Tax Credit would also set 

10          aside another $70 million to provide a $500 

11          per student refundable personal income tax 

12          credit.  We urge you to reject this.

13                 On charter schools, New York public 

14          schools are still struggling financially.  

15          Currently one-third of these districts still 

16          receive less than they did in 2009-2010, and 

17          nearly a combined total of $5 billion is 

18          still owed to these schools.

19                 Despite this, the budget increases for 

20          all charter schools and unfreezes per-pupil 

21          aid for New York City schools.  We do not 

22          support the continued increase in charter 

23          school tuition, especially without 

24          accountability.  And you should consider the 


                                                                  355

 1          fact that companies that operate charter 

 2          schools have hundreds of millions of dollars 

 3          in reserve.  Contrary to many reports, there 

 4          is nothing in the budget proposal that 

 5          strengthens accountability for charter 

 6          schools to enroll and educate ELL students 

 7          and students with disabilities.

 8                 On Career and Tech Ed, we must 

 9          continue to support and expand access to CTE 

10          programs.  Therefore, we fully support 

11          increasing the aidable salary for all CTE 

12          programs and increasing BOCES aid for Special 

13          Services Aid.  

14                 We urge the Legislature to provide 

15          regular, predictable increases in the tuition 

16          rates of 4201, 4410, 853 and Special Act 

17          schools, and assist them in achieving parity 

18          with surrounding school districts.  

19                 In conclusion, we look forward to 

20          partnering with the Legislature to ensure 

21          that all of our students throughout this 

22          great state receive the best education that 

23          they can, and we know that the best 

24          investment we can make is in the future of 


                                                                  356

 1          our students.

 2                 Thank you.

 3                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you, Mr. Pallotta. 

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 5                 MR. MULGREW:  I have submitted our 

 6          testimony, and I'll try to make this quick 

 7          because I know everyone has been working 

 8          diligently today.  

 9                 I want to first thank the chairs:  

10          Assemblywoman Nolan, Senator Marcellino, 

11          Assemblyman Farrell, and Senator Young.  

12          Thank you very much for having this hearing 

13          today.  And it's been a long -- this is my 

14          eighth year, which I consider a long time at 

15          this point, and we've come a long way.  And 

16          the last year has been quite contentious at 

17          certain times, but right now we're seeing a 

18          ray of light.  

19                 But I am here to represent New York 

20          City, first and foremost.  And as I am so 

21          proud of hearing my chancellor's presentation 

22          just before me, I also know that our level of 

23          need in New York City is continuing to grow.  

24          And when I say the level of need, I'm talking 


                                                                  357

 1          about the need of our students as well as the 

 2          size of our school system.  

 3                 A lot recently has been written about 

 4          homelessness in New York City.  I can tell 

 5          you right now that 84,000 children last year 

 6          in New York City at some point were involved 

 7          in temporary housing, and on average, every 

 8          night of the school year, 28,000 children 

 9          will be sleeping in a temporary housing 

10          facility.  At the same time, our numbers and 

11          percentages of students with disabilities as 

12          well as English language learners are growing 

13          exponentially.  These are responsibilities 

14          that we take on as the educators of the City 

15          of New York public school system.  And we 

16          take that very seriously.  But we also know 

17          that it does make a difference when it comes 

18          to funding how to service these children.  

19                 And we have made great strides over 

20          the last couple of years.  I know the mayor 

21          was up here yesterday talking about our 

22          graduation rate.  You heard from the 

23          chancellor today about all of the different 

24          things and programs that we are implementing 


                                                                  358

 1          to deal with all of the children's needs in 

 2          our city.

 3                 But I also was up here a couple of 

 4          times already this legislative session, and I 

 5          heard a lot about GEA, which is great.  I 

 6          believe every child should be funded what the 

 7          state owes them.  But I don't hear a lot 

 8          about CFE.  And the Contract for Excellence 

 9          is something that we feel very strong about.  

10          We want every child to be fully funded.  We 

11          believe that the legislature should adhere to 

12          a settlement, a court settlement, and we are 

13          hoping that this is this the year that this 

14          gets done, because we are moving in the right 

15          direction in New York City but we still have 

16          a lot to do.  

17                 We have a capital plan that needs to 

18          be pushed up even further.  As we know, we 

19          still have children -- despite the gains 

20          we've made recently, we still have a lot of 

21          children inside of temporary school 

22          facilities, trailers.  And right now, for the 

23          last two years, we are now at a 15-year high 

24          in our class size for pre-K through 3.  We 


                                                                  359

 1          like the fact that we have pre-K for all, and 

 2          we like the Governor's proposal to do it 

 3          across this entire state.  But that also 

 4          includes funding that goes with that.  

 5                 So we are hoping at this point, we are 

 6          very strong about our belief that the 

 7          Legislature should make sure that there is a 

 8          real down payment this year on CFE.  And it's 

 9          not just the money amount, it is also the 

10          adherence of the plans that school districts 

11          have submitted with them to be followed.  

12          Class size is a major issue inside of New 

13          York City, as I am telling you.  We're 

14          overcrowded, that's one issue.  But even when 

15          we can reduce classes, we're not doing it.  

16          And if we receive this money, we want to make 

17          sure that it is going towards things that we 

18          know will make an educational difference.  

19                 One year ago today I sat before you 

20          and I was basically giving you a lot of 

21          research and facts about proposals that I was 

22          vehemently against.  We right now are at a 

23          better place.  We support the Governor's 

24          commission and their recommendations, but 


                                                                  360

 1          that's going to require a lot of work.  I do 

 2          believe it is in our state's best interest to 

 3          develop their own standards and develop 

 4          standards by working with all of the 

 5          stakeholders -- with parents, with 

 6          administrators, with teachers, and making 

 7          sure that it's just not a basic set of 

 8          standards but we're also designing 

 9          standards -- and this has never been done 

10          before -- making sure that we're supplying 

11          our school districts with standards for 

12          students with disabilities as well as English 

13          language learners.  Because we cannot 

14          continue to leave those segments of our 

15          student population behind and leave the 

16          teachers to fend for themselves.  

17                 So to do all of this work, we know 

18          that is going to require funding.  If the 

19          Board of Regents has adopted an action plan 

20          to redesign all of the standards for New York 

21          State, come up with basic curriculums that 

22          match all of those standards, have a training 

23          regimen put into a calendar so that all 

24          school districts have the ability to train -- 


                                                                  361

 1          unlike last time, where we just said, Here's 

 2          the new standards, here's the new tests, good 

 3          luck.  And we want to get it right this time.  

 4                 So I'm up here and right now in 

 5          New York City, we have 70 teachers who are 

 6          volunteering after school and on weekends and 

 7          are looking at those standards and taking 

 8          that all apart.  But we know that that work 

 9          is not going to get done without funding.  

10          Teacher Centers is an important piece, it's a 

11          very important piece to this budget, as well 

12          as designing an actual plan to get this work 

13          done for the entire state.  New York City 

14          would be more than happy to share any of the 

15          work that we do with the rest of the state, 

16          that is my word to all of you.  

17                 And when it also comes to Teacher 

18          Centers, I want to get to the piece on 

19          receivership that my colleague just spoke 

20          about.  Receivership is a very difficult 

21          issue.  New York City has a very aggressive 

22          plan.  We started a plan -- before the law 

23          was passed last year, we already started a 

24          plan to make changes.  You have to have an 


                                                                  362

 1          educational support system, which is once 

 2          again where Teacher Centers come in.  We are 

 3          doing community learning school work.  

 4                 But I cannot emphasize enough what my 

 5          colleague just said.  We all talk about this.  

 6          And we call them renewal schools in New York 

 7          City, not failing schools.  And if we 

 8          continue to use this as a focal point to 

 9          attack the staffs at the schools -- I am 

10          telling you right now the most difficult 

11          thing we have is attracting teachers to these 

12          schools, because they're like, Well, aren't 

13          those the schools they always write bad 

14          things about?  

15                 If we want our best and brightest 

16          inside of these schools, we have to give them 

17          the supports, we have to give them the 

18          services.  We make no excuses, we know -- and 

19          we were very happy to see in the State of the 

20          State address that there is a recognition 

21          that poverty matters when it comes to 

22          education.  We want those services, we need 

23          them to be targeted for our students' needs.  

24          But to continue and act like we can have this 


                                                                  363

 1          conversation here and say we need this, but 

 2          at the same time say we have to go after 

 3          those failing schools, acting like that does 

 4          not give us a problem at the level inside of 

 5          the communities to try to get people to do 

 6          this difficult work would be a little bit 

 7          disingenuous.  

 8                 So I am asking that we do something to 

 9          look at that law, talk about what these 

10          services are.  We support the community 

11          learning school model.  You know that.  I was 

12          up here five years ago talking to you about 

13          what we were doing in New York City, asking 

14          for funding.  We run -- the union in New York 

15          City runs 26 of its own.  We are very proud 

16          of that model.  We already have PS 335 in 

17          Brooklyn.  Four years ago, everyone was 

18          looking at it, it was a horrible school, on 

19          closure lists.  Now it's doing very well.  It 

20          has its services.  It has educational 

21          supports that are needed.  We have a resource 

22          coordinator based in the building talking to 

23          the community as well as to the staff and 

24          making sure everything is being coordinated 


                                                                  364

 1          the right way.  That is how you make 

 2          community learning schools work.  

 3                 It should not be just the state 

 4          throwing money at schools, saying boilerplate 

 5          here's these services, this is what you need.  

 6          You need to engage the community in the 

 7          process.  That is the way to do it.

 8                 And in terms of what I heard a lot 

 9          already in the questions about school 

10          discipline, as a teacher, it always goes like 

11          this.  First it was zero tolerance, now it's 

12          zero discipline.  We can't play politics with 

13          this.  This is tough work.  Okay?  Zero 

14          tolerance sounded nice for a little while, a 

15          whole bunch of people got behind it, student 

16          suspensions went up, parents were outraged, 

17          it was not the right approach.  

18                 The only way to truly do this work is 

19          with a school-based cultural approach.  We 

20          are asking this year for a new program, a 

21          program we've been running for two years as a 

22          pilot in New York City, the union, just as I 

23          came to you five years ago with community 

24          learning schools.  It's called the positive 


                                                                  365

 1          learning community.  We embed a behavior 

 2          specialist and the schools, the 15 schools in 

 3          New York City that are now running this, we 

 4          clearly have positive results, suspensions 

 5          are down.  And the surveys about how people 

 6          feel about the school are way up.  

 7                 It's not easy work, and you're always 

 8          going to hear these debates, number of 

 9          suspensions.  Remember when No Child Left 

10          Behind came out, how did a school get in 

11          trouble?  If it reported incidents.  So what 

12          happened?  Nobody reported an incident.  And 

13          then all of a sudden nobody's having an 

14          incident because they don't want to be on a 

15          persistently dangerous list.  

16                 It's time to get common sense into the 

17          discussion.  If we want to make a difference 

18          at the school level in terms of discipline, 

19          it's not easy, but we have to have people 

20          there who are guiding the school through this 

21          process, and that's why we are asking for 

22          this.

23                 Career and Technical Education.  For 

24          those of you who know me, and I like the 


                                                                  366

 1          support that I've heard about this all day, 

 2          it is something that it has been moving in 

 3          the right direction but I believe New York 

 4          State is on the precipice to take this to a 

 5          place no state has before.  You heard the 

 6          chancellor talk about this; there are some 

 7          impediments in current regulations, more 

 8          about the licensing and certification of 

 9          teachers, about how the system is slightly 

10          archaic when it comes to all of the new areas 

11          for Career and Technical Education.  

12                 We are absolutely in the business of 

13          making sure that we develop more of these 

14          programs.  The business community works with 

15          us hand in hand on these, developing these.  

16          And it's a lot of -- and I have to say, in 

17          terms of being an educator, it's just a lot 

18          of fun.  It's a lot of fun to go to a CTE 

19          school and see what's going on, see the 

20          excitement, see the different things.  And if 

21          you haven't been able to do that, just get in 

22          touch with me and I'm sure myself or 

23          Assemblywoman Nolan has a couple of schools 

24          that we could bring you to rather quickly.


                                                                  367

 1                 Now my topic which we always have fun 

 2          with every year:  Charter schools.  I will 

 3          start.  I will never paint the charter 

 4          schools with a broad brush.  There are 

 5          independent charters, there are charter 

 6          chains.  But in terms of any sort of 

 7          legislative proposals that include anything 

 8          with giving charter schools any more funding, 

 9          I am vehemently against.  

10                 When I was here last year, one of the 

11          few things I did support was the idea of 

12          finally creating what was called then 

13          anti-creaming language.  And the only thing 

14          that was created at the end of the 

15          legislative session was that the management's 

16          children, their families now had preference 

17          over children from the district.  This is 

18          absurd.  You want to be a public school, take 

19          all kids and keep them.  And in New York City 

20          you compound that with the fact that we now 

21          have to supply space, valuable public school 

22          space.  And when their attrition rates are 

23          going up every year, there are empty seats in 

24          their classes, yet our public school children 


                                                                  368

 1          are sitting in the same buildings, completely 

 2          overcrowded.  

 3                 It's time to stop the games.  It's 

 4          that simple.  All children, and keep all 

 5          children.  That's that we're asking for.  And 

 6          I can't make it any plainer than that.

 7                 In terms of revenue, as I said last 

 8          year and I will say again this year, we know 

 9          that everything we ask for costs money.  We 

10          believe that we should look at closing all 

11          sorts of different tax loopholes that we have 

12          in our state.  The hedge funds and the 

13          carried interest is something we brought to 

14          you many times before, as well as I do not 

15          believe that people who are not residents of 

16          our state should get all sorts of tax 

17          exemptions and tax preference on their 

18          residences.  If you don't live here but you 

19          want to own property here, you shouldn't get 

20          the tax incentives that a resident should 

21          get.  It's that simple to me.  

22                 And I can't thank you all enough for 

23          all of the work that we have been able to do 

24          together over the past year, and I look 


                                                                  369

 1          forward to working with all of you this 

 2          legislative session.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.

 4                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 5                 Cathy Nolan, Assemblywoman Nolan. 

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Just quickly, 

 7          thank you for your testimony today.  And I 

 8          know we have a lot of witnesses yet to go, 

 9          but I was asked by a number of my colleagues 

10          to get your opinion on what Commissioner Elia 

11          talked about in teacher evaluations.  Are we 

12          seeing a level of participation?  How do you 

13          think her looking at new perspectives for 

14          developing teacher evaluations is going, and 

15          your perspective on what she's doing in test 

16          development and her comments that the tests 

17          are diagnostic?  

18                 So I don't know if you were here for 

19          her testimony, but she did reference several 

20          times that she's trying to include teachers 

21          in everything she does going forward, whether 

22          it's evaluations, whether it's test 

23          development and how we use those tests.  

24                 So, I don't know, maybe Andy rather 


                                                                  370

 1          than Michael.  But whoever wants to respond.  

 2          Did I get it right, Harry?  Okay.  So some of 

 3          our colleagues who are not on the committee, 

 4          we try to ask questions for them.  Because we 

 5          have a big group here and we're trying to 

 6          speed it along.  So I'm really just helping 

 7          out here.

 8                 MR. MULGREW:  Okay, fine.  Yes, I can 

 9          tell you, as a matter of fact, that the 

10          commissioner has been very open about making 

11          sure that teachers are involved in all the 

12          different parts of the different processes 

13          and discussions that are happening.  That is 

14          very nice because that's not always what 

15          happened.  

16                 Quite frankly, what would happen is at 

17          the end of the process they would invite 

18          teachers to look at what they did and then 

19          say thank you.  And that is not what is going 

20          on at this point.  

21                 The company that is designing the 

22          tests that will not start until next year has 

23          already reached out to us as well as to NYSUT 

24          and has asked us for a group of our members 


                                                                  371

 1          to talk to them about different -- 

 2          development of different questions and how to 

 3          do this and making sure it's diagnostic, as 

 4          well as about how to administer a test.  

 5          Because that's another thing that seems to be 

 6          finally on the radar, about how -- it's not 

 7          just the test design, but the administration 

 8          of the test has a lot to do with how a child 

 9          will perform.  So this commissioner has been 

10          very open about it.

11                 MR. PALLOTTA:  I also want to thank 

12          you for your work on the task force, 

13          Assemblywoman Nolan and Senator Marcellino.  

14          The findings were very helpful to our 

15          membership and to our schools throughout the 

16          state, and we know it was a lot of work.  And 

17          we just wanted to relay the appreciation for 

18          what you did.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Well, I got to 

20          go to New Rochelle, I had never been, so -- 

21          in my tenure on this committee, the 10 years 

22          I've chaired the committee, I've been to an 

23          awful lot of the parts of the state I had 

24          never seen, a girl from Queens.  So 


                                                                  372

 1          New Rochelle was pretty nice.  

 2                 So yes, we did attend a lot of 

 3          hearings, Senator Marcellino and I, and I 

 4          think it was a more collaborative process.  

 5          And I think, you know, we're kind of moving 

 6          forward, I think, in allaying parents' 

 7          anxiety about the tests and stuff.  Thank 

 8          you.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

10          much.  

11                 Welcome to NYSUT and UFT.  So happy to 

12          have you here today.  I know that Senator 

13          Marcellino, as chair of the Senate Education 

14          Committee, has some questions or comments.  

15          So Senator?

16                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thank you, 

17          Chairman.  

18                 Gentlemen, lady, appreciate you coming 

19          in, appreciate your patience.  It's been a 

20          long day.  We were supposed to be out of here 

21          about three hours ago.  I think we expect it 

22          will take a little bit longer.

23                 You may know I was a UFT delegate when 

24          I was a teacher, and then when I moved into 


                                                                  373

 1          administration, transferred over to the dark 

 2          side and became a CSA member.

 3                 MR. MULGREW:  We always need a good 

 4          administrator.  Always.

 5                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  We always need 

 6          good -- amen to that.  Never crossed a picket 

 7          line in my life, never will.  

 8                 This renewal school negotiations 

 9          relative to the city, how have the negotiated 

10          changes impacted the teachers?  Is it 

11          working, is it not working?  I know longer 

12          days were part of that, and other things.  Is 

13          there an effect that you can point to?  Are 

14          the teachers reacting in any way, pro or con, 

15          on these things?

16                 MR. MULGREW:  There's two schools that 

17          we did a radical change, Boys & Girls and 

18          Automotive High School.  And the other 

19          94 schools, it was more of a spending extra 

20          time coming up with a plan, looking at your 

21          data, targeting it and moving it forward.

22                 It really is -- first, it's a process 

23          of trying to help, you know -- there is the 

24          we came here to teach and they're blaming us 


                                                                  374

 1          for everything.  And you have to get through 

 2          that part of it first, the union as well as 

 3          the Department of Ed.  But the union really 

 4          has invested a lot and we now have a separate 

 5          department who goes there.  We have a retreat 

 6          this weekend where half of those schools are 

 7          coming away with us for two nights.  

 8                 It is working, because you had to 

 9          create a team approach and get past the -- 

10          and let's just be frank about it, you had 

11          15 years in the United States where most 

12          people weren't saying nice things about 

13          teachers.  So this was added on in terms of 

14          we chose to work in really difficult 

15          situations, and now here they come again.  So 

16          it was getting past that process first.  

17                 We do have an issue, though, with 

18          trying to attract teachers into these 

19          buildings.  That is just factual.  And that 

20          is what scares me more than anything else, 

21          and where we want now to use the teachers who 

22          are in the building who really understand 

23          that this is a process more about our 

24          profession and showing folks that the most 


                                                                  375

 1          difficult teaching you can do is probably in 

 2          a high-poverty area.  That is the most 

 3          difficult job a teacher in the United States 

 4          probably can do.  And take that on as a badge 

 5          of honor and a responsibility.  It's more 

 6          that, that overcoming that -- the psychology 

 7          of it that has been problematic.

 8                 In terms of the work, they just, you 

 9          know, extra hour, we'll figure it out, roll 

10          up our sleeves.  How do we integrate with a 

11          CBO?  Great.  Somebody's here to help, 

12          finally.  They're coming and telling us what 

13          to do, they're asking us what we want.  

14          That's been a huge change.

15                 So we're happy at this point, we're 

16          seeing positive movement, but we're going to 

17          wait to see exactly what the data shows.

18                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  How has the 

19          waivers relative to the delay -- the task 

20          force recommended four years in the APPR 

21          application.  And during that time, 

22          negotiations are supposed to be occurring 

23          between the boards, superintendents, 

24          whatever, and the teachers and parents and 


                                                                  376

 1          the like.  Is this in fact happening?

 2                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Well, we appreciate the 

 3          waivers, that's for sure, because this mean 

 4          word that we used to describe the evaluation 

 5          system for the past couple of years has been 

 6          debacle, disaster -- most of them started 

 7          with a D.  

 8                 So what we have here is the entire 

 9          state looking to the Legislature to make 

10          changes.  You were able to give that 

11          responsibility to the Regents, the Regents 

12          have acted upon that, you have made your 

13          recommendations through the task force.  

14                 I believe that in my conversations 

15          today with superintendents and school boards 

16          here, there is still a lot of confusion, so 

17          they definitely need guidance on what they 

18          should be doing for that September 1st 

19          deadline.

20                 MR. MULGREW:  I can answer that yes, 

21          we are negotiating.  And I also think that 

22          there's an opportunity here, because of your 

23          work on the commission.  I think as a state 

24          now, the next challenge and the next debate 


                                                                  377

 1          really is what is authentic student learning.  

 2          And that's what we should be headed towards, 

 3          where most people have not.  They've said 

 4          that student learning is a test score or you 

 5          have nothing.  And I think New York State is 

 6          ready to tackle that.  Most people have not 

 7          been willing to tackle that.  

 8                 But as you know as an educator, 

 9          project-based learning, students doing all 

10          sorts of different portfolio and consortium 

11          work.  And I believe New York State is 

12          willing now, because we see this political 

13          willingness to do this, to move forward on 

14          tackling the question of what is real student 

15          learning.  And we want that as part of 

16          teacher evaluation.  We all understand the 

17          debate on the test scores, and we've been 

18          pretty forthcoming about our feelings on it, 

19          both what real student learning is -- and 

20          teacher evaluation is not just about real 

21          student learning, it's also about the 

22          development of the individual teacher.  It's 

23          supposed to be a support system.  Yet that 

24          never enters the conversation.  It never 


                                                                  378

 1          enters it.  It's all about, well, are you 

 2          good, are you bad, and what are we doing with 

 3          bad.  And it's supposed to be a development 

 4          and support system.  And also what is real 

 5          student learning.  

 6                 And I think we are having these 

 7          conversations.  We've had negotiating 

 8          sessions on this already in New York City.

 9                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Your people in 

10          your -- the people who look to you for 

11          protection, look to you for guidance and the 

12          like, I've heard back from many of my 

13          constituents, and they're not unhappy, 

14          they're happy with the way both your 

15          unions are being run.  I get positive 

16          feedback from both sides, from NYSUT and from 

17          my UFT constituents.  So you're obviously 

18          doing something right.  

19                 All I can suggest to you is the door 

20          is always open.  If you need anything or want 

21          to talk about something, whatever it is, give 

22          us a ring.  There will be a positive answer 

23          to that, and we'll try to help you out as 

24          best we can.


                                                                  379

 1                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you very much.  I 

 2          appreciate that.  And I'll take you up on it.

 3                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Do that.

 4                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Thank you.

 5                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thanks for 

 6          coming.  Appreciate your time.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 8          much.  

 9                 Assemblyman Murray.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Thank you, 

11          Mr. Chairman.  

12                 Thank you for coming.  I'll be quick, 

13          because it has been long day.  But a little 

14          earlier I spoke to -- Commissioner Elia was 

15          here and I brought up the issue regarding 

16          testing, testing this year and the opt-out 

17          movement and those sorts of issues.  

18                 There's a feeling among parents, and 

19          I'll tell you I've been contacted by some 

20          teachers as well, and it's why are we doing 

21          this this year when it's not going to count 

22          for the evaluations, it's not going to count 

23          for the grade scores.  Now, the 

24          commissioner -- and I don't want to -- I'm 


                                                                  380

 1          not going to get into evaluating her 

 2          response, but it was troublesome in that it 

 3          sounded again like all of the evaluations or 

 4          all of the assessments for the students come 

 5          down to this test.  And, you know, I would 

 6          think that assessments are ongoing, 

 7          constantly, by the teachers who are the 

 8          professionals.  

 9                 So it still troubles me when the 

10          answer was yeah, we should still be doing the 

11          tests because of the assessment.  I think 

12          it's ongoing.  So I kind of want to get that 

13          off my chest, because as I was having that 

14          discussion, I received a message from a 

15          teacher who messaged and said yeah, okay, the 

16          evaluations have been delayed a little, but 

17          I'm still getting evaluated on local tests 

18          and they're still going to be test-centric 

19          evaluations.  And that's troublesome.  

20                 So I wanted to hear your feedback, 

21          what you're hearing from your members, 

22          because you brought up an excellent, 

23          excellent point, authentic learning.  You 

24          know, learning today is -- it's just evolved 


                                                                  381

 1          to a point where it involves so much.  It's 

 2          teaching these kids what happens when they 

 3          graduate, where do they go from there.  We 

 4          talk about CTE, we talk about whether you're 

 5          college-ready.  But there's so many different 

 6          aspects and branches that they could go off 

 7          on, what is authentic learning?  

 8                 That's my concern.  And I'm getting 

 9          the feeling you're hearing the same thing, 

10          but I'd like to hear, are you hearing this 

11          from your members, that the concern is it's 

12          still going to be test-centric?  

13                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Well, I agree with your 

14          statement, and we are hearing the same thing 

15          from our members.  So the fear is that this 

16          will continue.  And I believe that the task 

17          force and the Regents will undertake to 

18          reduce the amount of testing, to shorten 

19          testing, and to make it a nonpunitive system 

20          of testing.  This is what has to be done.  

21                 This has been the outcry from, as you 

22          said, the opt-out movement.  They have said 

23          that this is a ridiculous way to run a school 

24          system.  They've voiced their opinions and 


                                                                  382

 1          they made them very loud.  So we agree with 

 2          the parents that this should not be what our 

 3          schools are all about.

 4                 MR. MULGREW:  In terms -- the federal 

 5          law has now changed, okay, so there is no 

 6          longer a requirement to use standardized 

 7          tests in teacher evaluation.  The federal law 

 8          only makes a requirement of giving a 

 9          standardized test each year, for 

10          informational purposes only.  So the federal 

11          government has clearly sent a signal.  

12                 In terms of teachers, the idea -- 

13          remember, standardized tests have been here, 

14          but it's supposed to be a diagnotic.  And the 

15          minute you put any stakes on it, it is no 

16          longer a diagnostic.  

17                 And New York City is a perfect 

18          example.  The political rhetoric was social 

19          promotion needs to go away, we need to use 

20          tests.  So we got rid of social promotion, 

21          which was a great little political term.  But 

22          the fact of the matter is once we used the 

23          tests as the only, the only criteria for 

24          promotion, more kids were promoted than ever 


                                                                  383

 1          and less were left back when you took the 

 2          discretion away from the teacher to say 

 3          whether the child is actually ready to move 

 4          forward.  That little fact never gets out 

 5          into the media.  

 6                 So the get-tough-and-use-the-test 

 7          actually did the exact opposite from what it 

 8          was purported to do when they were running 

 9          the campaign to make that happen.  

10                 So I do believe -- what is real 

11          student -- right now, this week, you have 

12          some schools in our state, most of them in 

13          New York City, consortium schools, who are 

14          doing their end-term exams.  Their exams are 

15          a student has to stand in front of a group of 

16          educators and actually go over whatever 

17          theory, hypothesis, whatever the work they 

18          were doing, challenging it.  And it is one of 

19          the most difficult things I have ever seen.  

20          It is much more difficult than any Regents or 

21          standardized test.  That's authentic student 

22          learning.  It's a lot more work on the 

23          teacher's behalf, but they like it.  And they 

24          know it's real.  


                                                                  384

 1                 And that's where I hope I see our 

 2          state starting to move.  The first step was 

 3          the commission saying enough, it's not right, 

 4          pause.  But the pause will be over, you know, 

 5          because -- like, oh, it's four years.  But 

 6          you know, we'll be sitting here in four 

 7          years, God willing, and I'd rather be at that 

 8          point or before that point saying this is 

 9          what New York State now stands for in 

10          education.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  And I agree with 

12          that, and I think that's the -- the pause 

13          button has been hit, that's great.  But we 

14          have work to do during that pause.  And if 

15          we're not moving in that direction -- and I 

16          think we have a lot of work on all sides, us 

17          included, in letting your members know that, 

18          you know, it shouldn't be test-centric, it 

19          should be authentic learning.  It should be 

20          about building a future for these kids.  And 

21          I think we all need to do a better job of 

22          letting your members know that, you know, 

23          they're the professionals.  You know, let 

24          them teach.  And we can rely on them because 


                                                                  385

 1          we have some of the best teachers around.  

 2                 So thank you for coming today.

 3                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Thank you.

 4                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you very much.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 Senator?

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  No one here.  Any 

 8          Assembly?  

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Mr. Abinanti, 

10          Assemblyman Abinanti.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  Thank you, 

12          Mr. Chairman.  

13                 I just want to very briefly discuss 

14          one subject that has been given very short 

15          shrift today, and that's special-needs 

16          education in traditional schools.  And I 

17          don't see anybody on the agenda either who's 

18          going to discuss that topic.  So I'd like to 

19          raise it with you gentlemen.  I know you 

20          mentioned it very briefly in your comments.  

21          But I want to put it in the context of a tax 

22          cap and minimal increase in state aid.  

23                 Being a parent of a child with a 

24          disability, being an Assemblymember who gets 


                                                                  386

 1          a lot of calls from parents of kids with 

 2          disabilities, we are very concerned that the 

 3          tax cap, in the light of the Foundation Aid 

 4          formula restrictions, has become an attack on 

 5          kids with disabilities.  Because what we see 

 6          is that the first programs that are going to 

 7          be cut are the most expensive programs, and 

 8          that's the programs that take care of kids 

 9          with disabilities.  Every one of the issues 

10          you discussed is magnified when you're 

11          dealing with a child with a disability, 

12          whether it's testing, whether it's program 

13          resources available, everything.  

14                 And I notice in here the Governor is 

15          trying to give the school districts a way out 

16          by basically allowing them to waive the 

17          requirements that have been imposed, the 

18          minimum requirements for what must be given 

19          to a child with a disability.  And we all 

20          know that the mandates become the minimum, 

21          not the maximum.

22                 MR. PALLOTTA:  In our testimony today 

23          we're saying, we're urging the Legislature to 

24          have parity between the Special Act schools, 


                                                                  387

 1          the 4201 schools.  I visited a school in your 

 2          district, Assemblyman, the School for the 

 3          Deaf, and what we're saying is we would love 

 4          to have parity with surrounding school 

 5          districts and funding.

 6                 Also on the tax cap, it's been 

 7          something that we've been fearing for years, 

 8          that there would be such a low CPI and that 

 9          we would see a 0.02 tax increase for 

10          localities.  It just -- if the state does not 

11          fund the schools the way they need to, 

12          they're making it impossible for a locality 

13          to raise the funds that's necessary.  

14                 And I've often spoken to folks from 

15          Massachusetts, where they do have a tax cap 

16          but the state infuses tremendous amounts of 

17          money into those schools to make up for what 

18          the locality cannot raise.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN ABINANTI:  I just want to 

20          reemphasize that.  Because when you're 

21          talking about such a small tax increase 

22          that's permissible, in some school districts 

23          where I am, the state actually contributes 

24          $1500 to the cost of education, $1500 per 


                                                                  388

 1          child, $1800 per child.  There's one school 

 2          district in Westchester where it's $950 per 

 3          child.  I'm not going to begrudge those 

 4          around the state who get $8,000 and 

 5          $10,000 -- they need the money.  But to say 

 6          that the school district now has to follow 

 7          the requirements that the state imposes on 

 8          all kinds of things like audits and things 

 9          that really don't go to the education of the 

10          children, yet they can't hire another teacher 

11          to deal with some kids who have special needs 

12          because they don't have the money, I think is 

13          absurd.  

14                 You think about the -- if a school 

15          district could increase its tax base by 

16          $50,000, one child with a disability moves 

17          into that district, it costs them $60,000 to 

18          educate that child, so they've got to cut 

19          something else.  

20                 So I appreciate your support for it, 

21          and I think it's important that we emphasize 

22          that.

23                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Thank you, Assemblyman.

24                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.


                                                                  389

 1                 Senator?  

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  I'm 

 3          sorry, we skipped two Senators.  

 4                 Senator Diane Savino.

 5                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

 6          Krueger.  

 7                 Welcome, gentlemen and ladies.  

 8                 I want to touch on something that came 

 9          up earlier today that Senator DeFrancisco 

10          raised with the state chair.  As you know, I 

11          think it's like once a week one of the 

12          tabloids loves to have a front-page story, 

13          usually on a Sunday, about teachers and the 

14          rubber room, a term I find particularly 

15          offensive.  But a couple of years ago I know 

16          the UFT in your contract negotiations, you 

17          negotiated a change to the teacher 

18          disciplinary process, and my understanding is 

19          it's actually improved considerably and sped 

20          up considerably.

21                 MR. MULGREW:  Yup.

22                 SENATOR SAVINO:  So can you clarify 

23          the tabloid journalism that claims that there 

24          is no expeditious handling of teacher 


                                                                  390

 1          disciplinary cases?

 2                 MR. MULGREW:  I don't know if I can 

 3          ever clarify some of the tabloids in our 

 4          wonderful state.  As the subject of a lot of 

 5          those stories, I find them quite fascinating 

 6          at times.  

 7                 We're very proud of the work we did in 

 8          terms of speeding up the process.  And the 

 9          numbers are there; they'll talk for 

10          themselves.  You saw that story was never 

11          picked up by anyone else because anyone who 

12          actually checked it just said, oh, it's not 

13          true.  

14                 And we are very happy, the mayor, 

15          Mayor de Blasio himself has said the process 

16          is working absolutely fine.  We made changes, 

17          we thought it would -- fast and fair is the 

18          way to go.  You don't want anything drawn 

19          out.  We understand we work with children, we 

20          have to have a greater degree of pause.  We 

21          get that.  But fast and fair.  It's not fair 

22          to the school, it's not fair to educator.  

23          And we're very proud of the work that we have 

24          done.  The tabloids, I leave that for you 


                                                                  391

 1          guys to try to fix.

 2                 (Laughter.)

 3                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  Just for 

 4          full disclosure, President Mulgrew is 

 5          actually one of my constituents, so I have to 

 6          be nicer to him than the rest of you.

 7                 (Laughter.)

 8                 SENATOR SAVINO:  But I want to touch 

 9          on two things that are in your testimony, 

10          both NYSUT's and the UFT's.  

11                 I had the opportunity about a month 

12          ago to attend a conference where they 

13          described this new program that you guys have 

14          started in the City of New York, the Positive 

15          Learning Collaborative.  Which is really -- 

16          if anybody hasn't seen it, you should really 

17          go and take a look at it.  It's really a 

18          wonderful way of dealing with some of the 

19          most difficult schools, bringing down 

20          violence, improving outcomes.  We're 

21          providing real resources.  

22                 So I know you're asking for an 

23          additional $1.5 million to expand it to 

24          another up to 20 schools.


                                                                  392

 1                 MR. MULGREW:  Correct.

 2                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Is that also -- is 

 3          that outside the City of New York, both -- or 

 4          just New York City?

 5                 MR. MULGREW:  We would be happy to 

 6          help train a school outside of the city if 

 7          they want to do that.  This is a union 

 8          initiative that we took on, just like the, 

 9          you know, rebooting community learning 

10          schools five years ago.  We got sick and 

11          tired about hearing these debates about 

12          incidents, suspensions, this -- and we're 

13          like, well, we're the ones who keep telling 

14          everyone it's about culture, so we'd better 

15          put something together.  

16                 We took our union money, we sent some 

17          people to Cornell for training, we asked if 

18          any schools were interested.  We funded it at 

19          this point.  We're funding all of it at this 

20          point.  Their teachers are then trained, 

21          there's a team at the school.  And it took a 

22          good eight months before we started seeing 

23          results, and now those schools we've had for 

24          two years, and you try to take away their 


                                                                  393

 1          behavior learning community team, and they'll 

 2          go nuts, they'll leave the building.  They 

 3          were in schools that -- and we dealt with 

 4          administrations who were like, if we report 

 5          every single thing, they're going to tell us 

 6          we're a bad school.  Do you understand that 

 7          no matter what we do, we can't win?  We're 

 8          like, yeah, we can win.  We've just got to 

 9          take a different approach.  

10                 And, you know, we understand the 

11          reporting requirements and all the rest of 

12          it.  But it's a fantastic program.  If anyone 

13          wants to come to see it, we would be more 

14          than happy to arrange the visit.  It's 

15          phenomenal.  And we would absolutely be 

16          willing to, if there's a school or a district 

17          that's interested, to bring them to New York 

18          City to take a look at what we're doing and 

19          try to help them do it also.

20                 SENATOR SAVINO:  How do you decide 

21          which schools would be, you know, a good fit 

22          for the PLC?  

23                 MR. MULGREW:  It's up to the school.  

24          If a school community says this is something 


                                                                  394

 1          we want to engage in, that this is -- we have 

 2          students who are really just coming to 

 3          school, they don't understand, we inherited a 

 4          school that -- it's usually a lot of folks 

 5          who just all of a sudden just say, all right, 

 6          this is not the way we want our school to 

 7          run.  And the majority of students want to go 

 8          to a safe place every day.  They want to go 

 9          to a safe and orderly environment.  

10                 And as the chancellor said, it's a 

11          small segment.  And you can buy -- you know, 

12          you never know who your student cohorts are 

13          going to be, and you can have students who 

14          have all sorts of challenges, and all you 

15          need is some intervention for that.  It could 

16          be that simple that it's a small number.  But 

17          this program isn't just about that, it's 

18          about creating a culture of respect for 

19          everyone.  

20                 So it's self-selected by the school, 

21          but you need leadership and you also need a 

22          group of teachers.  But right now what we 

23          have is a waiting list, because this is all 

24          being funded by union dues.  We have a 


                                                                  395

 1          waiting list of over 20 schools in New York 

 2          City who want to get in right now, and we 

 3          stopped adding people onto the waiting list 

 4          because that's -- we figured we'd come up 

 5          here and ask you guys.

 6                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Hopefully it will be 

 7          something we address in the budget.

 8                 Finally, in both of your testimonies 

 9          you refer to the concerns you have about the 

10          home-based childcare system.  If you 

11          remember, it was five years ago, I think, six 

12          years ago, I sponsored the legislation to 

13          allow for home-based childcare providers the 

14          opportunity to organize so that they could 

15          essentially band together for the purposes of 

16          improving and increasing the subsidies for 

17          subsidized childcare.  

18                 And I know that it's -- it was 

19          difficult, but I'm not sure, has there been 

20          any improvement in the subsidized childcare 

21          industry?  Are we seeing an increase in the 

22          vouchers?  Have they been able to utilize 

23          this organizing effort to improve their 

24          circumstances?


                                                                  396

 1                 MR. MULGREW:  Well, we have federal 

 2          intervention that's problematic at this 

 3          point, because right now there are a whole 

 4          set of new requirements on top of home-based 

 5          childcare providers that is in terms of 

 6          safety inspections, also different protocols, 

 7          they need sign-off from different agencies.  

 8                 Now, you have to understand that the 

 9          majority of home-based daycare providers have 

10          two to three children.  And it's a vital 

11          service in a lot of our communities.  So the 

12          vouchers, the number of vouchers is actually 

13          going down as more unfunded mandates, 

14          basically, are put upon them.  

15                 And what we hear is, well, everyone 

16          likes pre-K.  We're like, yeah, but we've got 

17          to get the child to 4 years of age first.  

18          And it's not just the child, it's the family 

19          that has to go to work that cannot afford to 

20          send their child to a lot of the different 

21          centers that we have that do childcare.  So 

22          the daycare provider is essential in so many 

23          of our communities, yet slowly you see that 

24          this is moving in the wrong direction.  


                                                                  397

 1                 So we need -- we are asking for 

 2          funding in our testimony, there's a funding 

 3          ask in there.  But it's really about trying 

 4          to help not just here at the state level, but 

 5          also we need to go have a conversation with 

 6          the federal government:  What are you doing?  

 7          What are you doing?  Who decided that you 

 8          need six different agencies to sign off on 

 9          someone who's watching three kids a day?  I 

10          mean, talk about ridiculous bureaucracy.  

11                 And then they'll say, oh, we're here 

12          for the welfare -- well, there's a way to 

13          license a daycare provider and there are ways 

14          to put that in a process so it's workable for 

15          all those involved.  But in the end, all we 

16          know right now are there are things that 

17          we're looking for funding to keep and just 

18          increase the number of people who need the 

19          slots, but at the same time we're going to 

20          need intervention at the federal level to 

21          say -- because right now I have to go to you 

22          guys, I need $90 million, and you're not 

23          increasing a slot.  That's just to do the 

24          work that the federal government is just now 


                                                                  398

 1          asking daycare providers to do so they can do 

 2          the work.  Which is a little absurd.

 3                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Certainly I look 

 4          forward to working with you guys on that.

 5                 We are also looking at center-based 

 6          daycare and some of the concerns and problems 

 7          there with the licensing requirements.  You 

 8          know, the state handles it one way and the 

 9          city handles it another way, and it's a very 

10          complicated industry.  So hopefully 

11          post-budget we can sit down and try and 

12          figure out how we can make it easier for our 

13          home-based childcare system, because as you 

14          pointed out, it's critically important to 

15          many working families.

16                 Thank you.

17                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you very much, 

18          Senator.  

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senate, to close.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

21          much.  

22                 Our next speaker is Senator Velmanette 

23          Montgomery.

24                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Yes.  Well, I'll 


                                                                  399

 1          be very quick.  I thank my colleague for 

 2          asking those questions about the childcare 

 3          program, appreciate it.  And I have similar 

 4          questions, of course, and look forward to 

 5          working with you and her on this issue.  

 6                 But for myself, I just want to say 

 7          very, very briefly and sincerely how much I 

 8          appreciate your working with the community, 

 9          the electeds, Principal Wiltshire and the 

10          Boys & Girls High School family, if you will, 

11          to make that school really happen, to keep it 

12          from going under, to keep it from becoming a 

13          massive charter school and all the other 

14          things that could have happened.

15                 So this is the best example of 

16          collaboration, and I want to just publicly 

17          acknowledge your participation and thank you.

18                 MR. MULGREW:  We acknowledge your 

19          participation also.

20                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Absolutely.

21                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you.

22                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  You know, it's -- 

23          we have to save that school.  

24                 And I also am happy that both of you