commissioner letterheadSeptember 2009

Overview: New Beginnings

School is in session with new students and new teachers, and you will welcome new leadership. This new school year brings need for all those who have a hand in education to understand, with a new sense of urgency, the need for policies, plans and actions to dramatically improve educational outcomes.

Your agenda includes an in depth discussion of rigorous and innovative approaches to teacher preparation. As you consider the graduation rates data, you will discuss how best to raise the bar to attain standards of performance enabling students to go on to higher education or to satisfying employment. You will review the status of strategies for improving special education programs and curricula in New York City. Implementation of enhanced programs that use technology and resources for the classroom and beyond will be presented.  The Regents will discuss current fiscal data and begin to shape strategies that ensure support for funding priorities.

Graduation Rate

The Committee will continue its discussion of the six policy decisions that the Regents need to make this fall concerning the graduation rate.  The additional information and data that the Regents have requested to inform their discussion will be provided this month to inform the Regents discussion.

Race to the Top

Regent Young will report on the current status of the New York application for the competitive Race to the Top grant, the next steps and the timeline. 


Regent Tallon will speak briefly about the PMO teams’ work.




H1N1 Flu Preparation

Dr. Richard Daines, Commissioner of the Department of Health (DOH) will join the Department leadership in briefing the Regents on the guidance sent to every school administrator and parent to plan for a major outbreak of the H1N1 flu.

Special Education in New York City

There will be a discussion on the current status and description of special education programs and services in New York City (NYC). Action steps agreed upon between New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and Vocational Education Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) and initiated to address priority areas requiring improvement will be reviewed.

The VESID committee will be looking at both the progress for students with disabilities in NYC and the continuing challenges to closing the gaps in performance.  Chancellor Klein has demonstrated his commitment to improving performance by appointing Laura Rodriguez to a new cabinet level position, Chief Achievement Officer for Special Education and English Language Learners.  Ms. Rodriguez and her Deputy, Dov Rokeach, will be guests at the Regents VESID Committee to discuss their priorities for the coming year.

Teacher Education in the Future

Commissioner Elect David Steiner will lead a broad overview discussion of the future of teacher preparation with the Professional Standards and Practices Board (PSPB) and the Regents.  For your information the PSPB is submitting its annual report at this meeting.

2010 Teacher of the Year

The outstanding educator selected as the 2010 New York State Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Debra Calvino, a secondary mathematics teacher who also serves as Chairperson/Supervisor of the Mathematics Department of Valley Central High School in Montgomery, New York.  Mrs. Calvino is a 27 year veteran teacher who has attained a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration along with her teaching credentials in Special Education and Mathematics.  Mrs. Calvino’s outstanding qualities as a teacher and mentor to other teachers have earned her the highest level of support from all stakeholders in her school and broader community.  She is known for her outstanding ability to help all students to succeed and for her advocacy of students and fellow teachers.  Her accomplishments include leading her district towards outstanding statewide mathematics scores and serving as a master trainer in data strategies, which are being used district-wide to support data driven instruction.  Mrs. Calvino is known for helping generations of students to love mathematics and to succeed in math related studies and career paths, including teaching.  She has enhanced district resources via her successful grant writing and advocacy.  She views teaching as the “path” for her life and serves as an exemplary role model in everything that she does.  The Valley Central School District is in the 9th Judicial District (Regent Harry Phillips, III).

Marge Tierney Scholarship

This year we are awarding the 2009 Marge A. Tierney Scholarship to Mr. Eli L. Albilia, of Syosset, NY.  This scholarship was established in memory of Marge A. Tierney, a State Education Department employee whose career in vocational rehabilitation spanned 33 years.  To honor Marge’s achievements and dedication, one student is selected each year to receive the scholarship to help defray the costs of tuition, books, and other college-related expenses.   

This year’s recipient, Mr. Albilia, is a graduate student in the Rehabilitation Counseling program at Assumption College in Massachusetts.  As a survivor of a serious injury, Mr. Albilia knows first hand how important it is for individuals who have experienced serious trauma to get back on their feet, to regain their confidence, and to do the best with what they have.  Mr. Albilia believes in the value of employment, and plans to use his experiences in his work as a vocational rehabilitation counselor to help others.

Mr. Albilia will receive a citation and $1,000 check. 

Cultural Education Fund

The Regents will consider the impact of the depleted Fund and discuss the strategies to ensure the operations of the State Library, State Museum and State Archives.

Talking Book and Braille Libraries

The National Library Service is implementing a new digital talking books program, which will have significant impact on access for individuals with disabilities and the work of the New York’s regional and sub-regional Talking Book and Braille libraries and library services.

9/11 Documentation Efforts

Access for researchers, teachers, students and the public at large to the documentary record of the World Trade Center disaster and its aftermath is now vastly improved. The staff of the State Archives participated in efforts to ensure that the documentary record of 9/11 would not be lost. Now, in an effort to reach more families who lost relatives in 9/11, and with encouragement from its support organization, the Archives Partnership Trust, is developing web-based training and tools that will bring the same high quality, thoughtful instruction to individuals no matter where they are located.  This presentation will center on the web resource and continuing preservation outreach to the 9/11 community.