Senator Kevin Thomas And Senator Majority Advance Legislation to Support Diversity in Education

(Albany, NY) - Senator Kevin Thomas and the Senate Democratic Majority today passed major legislation to address the inequity in New York schools and support diversity in our education system. The bills advanced will implement ‘Grow Your Own’ initiatives to help more New Yorkers become educators, expand eligible religious holidays observances, determine ways to increase SUNY participation in the Educational Opportunity Program, and provide more support, training, and mentorship opportunities for educators. 

“This legislation package continues our commitment to supporting New York students regardless of their zip code or school zone. This package supports school districts in providing the resources necessary to attract underrepresented candidates into the teaching professions, and it also supports SUNY and CUNY by expanding religious holidays and studying educational opportunity programs,” Senator Kevin Thomas said. “I thank my colleagues in the Senate Majority, and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for continuing to expand education diversity. We will continue supporting New York students, and tearing down barriers that exist in the classroom.”

The bills advance by Senator Kevin Thomas and the Senate Majority include: 

  • ‘Grow Your Own’ Initiatives: This legislation, Senate Bill S.1100 sponsored by Senator John Liu, develops ‘Grow Your Own’ initiatives at school districts, boards of cooperative educational services and higher education institutions to attract underrepresented candidates into the teaching profession. 
  • Expanded Observance of Religious Holidays: This legislation, Senate Bill S.1137 sponsored by Senator John Liu, mandates that the state and city universities of New York shall hold students harmless for their observance of religious and culturally significant holidays.
  • Commission on Affordable College Education: This legislation, Senate Bill S.1520 sponsored by Senator Jamaal Bailey, establishes a temporary State commission to study the ten SUNY community colleges that have not participated in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and make recommendations for legislative action based upon its findings.
  • Amistad Commission: This legislation, Senate Bill S.1924 sponsored by Senator Robert Jackson, moves the Amistad Commission from the Department of State to the New York State Education Department. The Amistad Commission was created in 2005 by the Legislature to review New York State's curricula regarding the transatlantic slave trade and slavery in America, and make recommendations for improvement.
  • Regional Conventions for Underrepresented Educators: This legislation, Senate Bill S.1984 sponsored by Senator Robert Jackson, directs the commissioner of education to convene statewide and regional conventions to bring together underrepresented teachers to discuss experiences, best practices, and provide for mentorship and networking opportunities.
  • Establish a Task Force on Educator Diversity: This legislation, Senate Bill S.2555 sponsored by Senator Jabari Brisport, establishes a task force on educator diversity in New York State.