At the July Regents Meeting Commissioner Elia announced she is resigning her position as state commissioner effective August 31st.
The only shock about the resignation Monday of state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is that it came so soon.
Tension between Elia and the Regents that had been building for more than a year hit a new peak at the board’s June monthly meetings.
The Board of Regents appointed Beth Berlin, a highly effective deputy as acting commissioner. A few months later Berlin left the Department for a job as COO at SUNY Empire College; somewhat surprisingly the Board appointed Shannon Tahoe, the Board attorney as acting commissioner.
On Thursday, May 28th, the position was posted with a quick return date of Monday, June 8th.
The Board seeks an individual who will bring visionary, transformative, inclusive, equitable, and decisive leadership to the position as the Board’s chief executive officer.
And goes on to describe the “attributes (the term used in the posting) sought in the next commissioner,
The Board of Regents seeks an individual with exceptional qualities of leadership, statesmanship, and unquestionable integrity … the ability to articulate a shared vision that will shape the future of the state’s largest educational enterprise, bringing creative, can-do problem-solving while carrying out the goals and policies of the Board of Regents in a responsible manner. As the face and voice of the NYSED, the Commissioner will be a forward-thinking, inspirational, and compelling statewide communicator.
… Regents Search Committee will identify a candidate with considerable emotional intelligence who will embrace the power of continuity with change.
Will the Search Committee include stakeholders?
I would list a few “attributes” that are more realistic,
* The ability to j ump tall buildings in a single bound and faster than a speeding bullet
* A reptilian skin and, at times, a venomous tongue
* Jesus-Moses-Mohammad-Buddha-like patience
* A combination of Lincoln and MLK oratorical skills
* Financial wizardry
* Political skills of LBJ and Boss Tweed
*Skilled in meditation, yoga and mindfulness
* A classmate of Plato in Socrates’ class
The posting requires that “The successful applicant will have an earned doctorate/terminal degree from an accredited institution of higher education (preferred) and a record,“ and lists fifteen “attributes,” most of which are “soft skills.”
Does the applicant have to have been a public school teacher, school leader and superintendent? I don’t know, I’m probably too old-fashioned.
New York State is unique, the governor has no formal roll in education governance, the legislature selects the Board of Regents members and the Board selects the commissioner, the powers emanate from the State Constitution, on the other hand, the Board and the commissioner have no role in determining the budget or the allocation of the budget, the funding formula: an awkward configuration. (BTW, New York State leads the nation in inequitable funding among schools). There are a few exceptions, the My Brothers Keeper initiative ($18m) is funded through the budget and managed by the commissioner.
I know this sounds crazy, the commissioner does not select, supervise and has limited authority over the 700 school districts and 4400 schools. Elected school boards hire superintendents and curriculum is the responsibility of the school district.
The commissioner requires specific legislation to intervene in any school district.
The Board of Regents and the SUNY Charter Institute are charter school authorizers and the commissioner recommends to the Board new charters, charter renewals and charter changes.
The Board and the new commissioner will be deeply engaged in a two year long review of graduation requirements,
In other words, it’s a complex job that requires being on the same “wave length” as the seventeen members of the Board of Regents, an ear at the governor’s keyhole, a respectful relationship with the legislature and, of course, working closely with unions and parent advocacy organizations.
Once upon a time a senior superintendent from the state would be selected as commissioner, and serve for many years with nary a mention in the media.
These days education is “covered” by print and online media on a daily basis.
Who are the frontrunners?
Do you go back to the former model and select a current senior superintendent or a popular younger superintendent, maybe Michael Hynes currently superintendent in Port Washington.
Rudy Crew, a former New York City superintendent announced he is leaving as President of Medgar Evers College ….
Are any of the current Board of Regents members interested? Six of the current Regents were superintendents in New York State, or,
perhaps a current superintendent from a large urban city or a commissioner in another state,
or, the current acting commissioner, Shannon Tahoe,
or, a candidate with a national reputation, perhaps Josh Starr.
What do you think? Any other candidates that would be a good fit?
Any currently unemployed super heroes?