From “Good Old Boys” to “Sisterhood,” A New Leadership Begins in Albany

The monthly meeting of the Board of Regents typically have lengthy agendas, some items are pro-forma, other subject to extended discussion. Each month a division of State Ed recommends the extension of charters, depending on the data either a full five year term or fewer years if there are problems to be remedied.. The staffers only recommended a three year extension for a few charter schools in Buffalo. Bob Bennett, at that time a Regents member for over twenty years and the former chancellor objected. He failed to acknowledge that his daughter taught in a charter school. He claimed he “knew the school” and it deserved the full five year extension. The “good old boys” huddled, changed the recommendation to five years, cast aside a few objections, and passed the full extension.

Merryl Tisch had a close relationship with the Shelly Silver, the disgraced former Speaker and the “good old boys” Regents members supported the Tisch/King initiatives. There was nothing evil or corrupt; Board members who had served together for over twenty years were collegial, very collegial.

The world of the Regents has changed, and changed dramatically. Over the past year seven new Regents members have been appointed by the new Speaker of the Assembly – six women, five of them educators, an active public school parent and a nurse.

The Regents moved from the “good old boys” club to the “sisterhood.”

On Monday Betty Rosa will assume the leadership of the Board of Regents.

Chancellor Rosa is not a naïf.

She was the superintendent in District 8, which covers Hunts Point and Soundview, one of the poorest sections in the nation. District 8 is in the Bronx and politics in the Bronx parallels politics in Afghanistan – warring families rule Bronx politics and Betty navigated the politics; excellent training for her current job.

The Chancellor of the Board of Regents cannot eliminate annual grade 3-8 testing. No matter how adamant the opt outs, the law requires annual testing. The Commissioner has already started the process to review sections of the Common Core – it will take a  year or more. Can you tweak the high school graduation requirements to jack up the graduation rate at the same time community college graduations rates are appalling?

The Chancellor has to choose a path, has to stake out her ground. She has to narrowly focus, a laser-like focus on a few areas, perhaps English language learners. The current regulations, passed only a year ago after many years of hassling behind the scenes are bureaucratic and unworkable.

Can the new Chancellor and the full Board work to further refine and implement the recommendations of the Working Group for Improving Outcomes for Young Men and Boys of Color?

The attacks will come from all sides.

The opt outs want aggressive actions to prohibit high stakes testing.

Well-funded anti-union super-PACs will continue to attack unions and tenure.

The district to district funding inequities are the “elephant in the room,” can you equalize school funding with a Robin Hood impact? Taking from the richer and giving to the poorer districts?

Hovering in the wings is the Speaker of the Assembly who selected the new Board members and the Governor, How much rope do the Regents have?  Can the new Chancellor and the Board, older and newer members, take actions that will be praised by the New York Times, parents and the unions?

The days are getting longer, daffodils bloomed, the tulips are up, warmer days; in a few weeks I’ll plant my herb garden, all of good with the world (if I avoid cable news); now our leaders in Albany have to hack through the weeds and thorns and create a path to a better world for our kids.

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2 responses to “From “Good Old Boys” to “Sisterhood,” A New Leadership Begins in Albany

  1. “THE WORKING GROUP FOR IMPROVING OUTCOMES FOR YOUNG MEN AND BOYS OF COLOR” I MEAN, WHO ARE THESE FOLKS? DO THEY HAVE OFFICES SOMEWHERE IN THE CITY? WHAT KIND OF OUTCOMES ARE WE TALKING ABOUT? AND IF THEY ARE VALID OUTCOMES, WHY SHOULD THEY BE SOLELY CONFINED TO MEN AND BOYS OF COLOR? I MEAN AREN’T THERE GIRLS AND WOMEN OF COLOR IN NEED OF SUCH OUTCOMES?AND INDEED IF THESE OUTCOMES ARE DESIRABLE, THEN SHOULDN’T THEY BE AVAILABLE TO ALL OF US AND ALL OF OUR CHILDREN?MY POINT BEING THAT EVERY TIME I HEAR THIS KIND OF MISSION STATEMENT, I KNOW THAT ITS MORE OF THE SAME OLD SAME OLD!

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  2. Carol Fineberg

    Why can’t they separate “high stakes” and “testing” so that schools will be reviewed for a variety of research-based characteristics, of which test results will be but one part of the data? Why must test results be given more power than other indicators that define a school in trouble, a school that is not adequately serving the educational needs of its students. Has the state published any study of schools under review over a period of time to determine whether they improved significantly with one or another “treatment?” Have they been studied to see how long they remained off the SUR list? Inquiring minds would like to know!

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