Tag Archives: Shannon Tahoe

Who will be selected as the next NYS Commissioner of Education? From within NYS? The acting Commissioner? A National Leader?  Will Principals/Teachers/Parents be part of the search process?

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,

The commissioner plays a major role in the “professions” determining licensing requirements and regulations and well as proprietary schools..

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?

Regents Cancelled, Budgets Gloomy, School Re-Opening In Question, Planning for an Uncertain Future

Kudos to Chancellor Rosa, Acting Commissioner Tahoe and the members of the Board of Regents; in these chaotic and stressful times they have addressed the range of troubling questions.

The detailed, very detailed, Q & A addresses most of the questions that were swirling in the education stratosphere.

All Regents examinations scheduled for June are cancelled.

 Students, who, during the June 2020 examination period would have taken one or more Regents examinations, will be exempted from passing the assessments in order to be issued a diploma.  To qualify for the exemption, students must meet one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • The student is currently enrolled in a course of study culminating in a Regents examination and will have earned credit in such course of study by the end of the 2019-20 school year; or
  • The student is in grade 7, is enrolled in a course of study culminating in a Regents examination and will have passed such course of study by the end of the 2019-20 school year; or
  • The student is currently enrolled in a course of study culminating in a Regents examination and has failed to earn credit by the end of the school year. Such student returns for summer instruction to make up the failed course and earn the course credit and is subsequently granted diploma credit in August 2020; or
  • The student was previously enrolled in the course of study leading to an applicable Regents examination, has achieved course credit, and has not yet passed the associated Regents examination but intended to take the test in June 2020 to achieve a passing score.

The guidance from State Ed includes a Q & A addressing the many, many issues that were hanging loose (See here) as well as a link to submit additional questions.

Any additional questions about the exemptions from examination requirements or the effect of such exemptions on student qualification for a diploma should be directed to emscgradreq@nysed.gov.

While Board of Regents/State Ed has clarified many of the outstanding issues the elephants in the room are dollars. As the budget dance was prancing towards the April 1 deadline the apocalypse descended. The process in New York State is driven by the Governor (See an earlier blog for an explanation of the arcane process). The Board of Regents asked for a $2 billion increase, the Governor offered $800 million, the final enacted budget – $0 – the same budget as last year, and, the Governor will have the authority to increase or decrease the budget, the legislature will have 10 days to turn down the Governor’s actions, highly unlikely.

The New York City budgeting process is beginning, the City Council and the Mayor usually agree on the budget by mid-June.

The Mayor released his proposal with $221 million in education reductions; the largest cut will directly impact school budgets.

The biggest single cut to the education department’s budget will take effect next fiscal year: $100 million will come out of the “fair student funding” formula, a city funding stream that directly finances school budgets and is designed to funnel more money to the highest-need schools. That represents a roughly 1.6% reduction to that funding stream.

 Additionally plans to expand the Pre-K for All (3-Year olds) will be halted, other initiatives in the Equity and Excellence agenda, including a program that pairs middle school students with one-on-one counselors, and another aimed at setting students on a path to college and a summer program that provides hands-on activities for students and visits to cultural institutions is also being scaled back.

The budget proposal also eliminates the Summer Youth Employment Program; the program, pays about 75,000 young people minimum wage for jobs at nonprofits, in government, and at private companies.

Each year the Council and the Mayor negotiate, add this, delete that, and, by mid-June a budget is agreed upon. This will be an especially trying year. The city budget must be balanced, and, if no budget is agreed upon the city cannot expend dollars; obviously there will be a budget; however, with future revenue unknown, the city budget, as the state budget, may be subject to modifications throughout the year.

I’m just off a Zoom call with a CUNY college president:  summer school could be in-person, could be online, have to plan for both; will regular classes be resumed in September?  Could the fall/winter bring another round of the virus?  We will have to plan for in-person classes and a resumption of online classes; and, the budget implications could continue to get worse.

Seders and Easter festivities at a distance, “virtual” hugs are essential …. take a deep breath, continue to exercise, yoga, eat healthy … this too will pass.

It’s time for all of us to stand together …

.Listen to Pete Seeger, “This Land is Your Land,” on January 21, 2009