The future of education is clearly at a crossroads in New York State.
That's why this update is so important.
The current level of anger, frustration and even outrage that's currently driving these critically important decisions isn't working. It's not working for students and families, number one. And it's not positive, by any measure, for local school districts.
Unfortunately, the consequences have reached into far too many local school districts and homes.
Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted to enact far-reaching educational reforms as part of the 2015-2016 New York State budget.
My Senate colleagues and I, very early on in this year's budget adoption process, rejected the broad scope of the original Cuomo education reform plan and, in particular, the plan's ridiculous over-reliance on testing.
The final 2015-2016 state budget attempts to move everyone toward a more reasonable common ground and, again, it does not enact the original Cuomo education reform plan.
The new state budget charges the state education commissioner and the Board of Regents with ultimately determining changes -- but not without undertaking a full public comment period that will allow every stakeholder (teachers, students, administrators, parents, and every other concerned citizen) who wants to provide input to provide as much input as he or she desires.
It gives teachers, superintendents, parents -- every stakeholder -- the ongoing opportunity to have input, to ensure the fairness that needs to be ensured, to continue to make the case against the over-reliance on testing that's now at the crux of this issue -- and, most importantly, to offer better answers.
Toward that end, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) is currently accepting public comment on developing new teacher evaluation standards. It represents the first opportunity to provide your input directly and specifically to NYSED, which you can send by e-mail to: Eval2015@nysed.gov.
It's anticipated that draft regulations will be announced at the next Board of Regents meeting on May 18-19, after which the public comment period will remain open for specific comment on the new draft proposal.
I'll do my best to provide additional updates as they become available throughout the critical months ahead.
And I hope that you will keep me updated on your ongoing concerns, criticisms and, most important of all, concrete suggestions for improvements.
[UPDATE, April 22, 2015: "Education Dept. delays new teacher evaluations"]
[UPDATE, April 23, 2015: The state Board of Regents have scheduled an invite-only "learning summit" in Albany on May 7, which will be live-streamed for public viewing. Read more from today's Capital NY, "Regents to hold teacher evaluation 'summit' in Albany", and see the attached copy below of the April 2015 memo from the State Education Department]
[UPDATE, May 4, 2015: from Capital NY, "Education chairs propose significant policy changes"]
[UPDATE, May 7, 2015: Board of Regents "Learning Summit" in Albany, watch the live webcast and submit questions here: http://www.nysed.gov/]
[UPDATE, May 27, 2015: "New education commissioner on Common Core and evaluations"]
[UPDATE, June 9, 2015: "Seven regents call for evaluation system delay"
[UPDATE, June 15, 2015: Board of Regents, June 15-16, 2015 meeting agenda and Webcast]
[UPDATE, June 15, 2015: "Senate Republicans Act to Further Protect Students and Schools"]
[UPDATE, June 15, 2015: NYSUT Statement on SED Regulations]
[UPDATE, June 16, 2015: "Regents approve school receiver plan, teacher evals"]
[UPDATE, July 9, 2015: "New testing company to replace Pearson"]
[UPDATE, July 10, 2015: "State tests, teacher evaluations top new commissioner's agenda"]
[UPDATE, July 10, 2015: "Elia will tap local leaders to review Common Core, testing"]
[UPDATE, August 11, 2015: "Read the state test questions for third through eighth graders"]
[UPDATE, August 12, 2015: "20 percent of N.Y. students refused standardized tests"]
[UPDATE, September 16, 2015: Regents Meeting for Wednesday, September 16 and Thursday, September 17]
[UPDATE, September 17, 2015: "State exams to get shorter, Elia says"]
[UPDATE, September 28, 2015: "Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of Common Core Task Force"]
[UPDATE, October 1, 2015: Find out more about and share your views with the Common Core Task Force at http://www.ny.gov/programs/common-core-task-force]