As New York Closes the Door on Commissioner Elia’s Corporate Reform Agenda, NYSAPE Urges the Board of Regents to Include All Stakeholders When Choosing Our Next Commissioner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 16, 2019
More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com 
Jeanette Deutermann (516) 902-9228; nys.allies@gmail.com 
NYS Allies for Public Education – NYSAPE 
 
As New York Closes the Door on Commissioner Elia’s Corporate Reform Agenda, NYSAPE Urges the Board of Regents to Include All Stakeholders When Choosing Our Next Commissioner
 
MaryEllen Elia was the wrong choice for NY in 2015 when she was appointed as Commissioner by the Board of Regents and former Regent Chancellor Merryl Tisch. The Commissioner continued to demonstrate throughout her tenure an unwillingness to move beyond her corporate reform agenda, resulting in NYSAPE’s repeated call for her resignation. The children of NY deserve a state education leader who will put their well-being at the forefront of all education policies. 
 
“In 2015, NYSAPE sounded the alarms when Commissioner Elia was recruited by national and local education leaders to run NY’s education department as she did in Florida, with privatizing, common core, and high stakes testing, as her main priorities.  As the new leadership and education philosophy of the Board of Regents shifted towards child-centered learning, Commissioner Elia was focused on creating a culture of fear, misinformation, and intimidation throughout NYS school districts,” said Jeanette Deutermann, co-founder of NYSAPE and founder of Long Island Opt Out.
 
“Under Commissioner Elia’s direction, our children and schools continued to endure abusive, excessive testing, developmentally inappropriate state standards and data privacy breaches.  At every turn, Elia circumvented the Board of Regents and failed to steer public education policies in the right direction,” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester public school parent, Executive Director and co-founder of NYSAPE.
 
“The student privacy regulations just released by the State Education Department were the last straw,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters and co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.  “After waiting five years for NY Education § 2-d  to be enforced, state officials just proposed regulations that would allow contractors to sell and use personal student data for marketing purposes, in direct violation of the language of the law. And she has failed to deliver any of the annual reports required since 2014 that would detail the progress in following up on data breaches and parental privacy complaints.”
 
“We urge the Board of Regents to work with parents, advocates and other stakeholder groups in appointing the next Commissioner. Our children deserve a Commissioner who will move past the current test-and-punish regime, and towards a whole-child education and project-based learning,” said Chris Cerrone, a Western NY school board member, teacher and a co-founder of NYSAPE.
 
“The New York State Education Department under Commissioner Elia was never straight with parents regarding the state’s high-stakes testing program. Rather than present neutral information, the department engaged in deceptive practices, including creating PR “toolkits” designed to persuade families of the legitimacy of the tests, even though a growing number of respected educators and researchers have questioned their effectiveness. I hope her successor will be more focused on equity and partnering with schools rather than punishing them,” Kemala Karmen, co-founder of NYC Opt Out.
 
Elia repeatedly feigned inclusivity, exaggerating stakeholder input, such as the role of teachers in creating standardized exams, the ESSA implementation workshops where a popular Opportunity Dashboard was stealthily removed, and the “public” comments on teacher evaluations which were never made public. Elia also never responded to requests asking for the research showing the scientific validity of standardized testing, nor would she make public the invisible scoring formulas which make the results unverifiable,” said public school parent and NYC educator Jake Jacobs.
 
New York must get it right this time. The children of New York and our public schools can’t afford to wait any longer for the education leadership they deserve.
 

NYSAPE is a grassroots coalition with over 70 parent and educator groups across the state.

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