FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 31, 2014
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123;
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190;
NYS Allies for Public Education

New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of 45 organizations from around the state, is endorsing a full slate of four candidates for the New York State Board of Regents: Audrey Marie Baker, Dr. Carol Mikoda, Michael Reilly, and Helen “Regina” Rose. The Board of Regents sets education policy for the state and appoints the State Education Commissioner.  Four Regents will be selected by the State Legislature in March and the interviews of more than 20 candidates will take place on February 4th and 11th at the Capitol Building in the Assembly Parlor.  NYSAPE is urging all citizens to contact their representatives and ask them to be a part of this interviewing and nominating process.

“At a time of unprecedented public opposition to the agenda pursued by Commissioner King, we are confident that these four candidates will thoughtfully respond to and address the concerns of parents and educators. These highly qualified candidates will steer the state in a new direction — strengthening our schools, rather than undermining them,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt-Out (of tests) group.

The candidates, if approved, would replace all of the incumbents whose tenure expires this March: Regents James Cottrell, Christine Cea, James Jackson, and Wade Norwood. All four incumbents have been unresponsive to the concerns of parents and have expressed little or no opposition to the policies pursued by Commissioner John King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch.

Audrey Marie Baker was a teacher, principal and administrator in the NYC public school system for over thirty-five years, with expertise in the area of special education. Ms. Baker is applying for one of the at-large seats on the Regents. She holds over 14 licenses and certifications in education. In response to our survey she wrote, “As a career educator, I hold myself accountable to the parents and students of NYS.” She pledges to survey parents to ascertain their concerns, and to meet regularly with key community stakeholders. She supports a moratorium on high stakes Common Core exams, and an independent study of the standards by a panel of experts in education and developmental psychology. Ms. Baker’s resume and survey responses can be viewed here

Dr. Carol Mikoda holds a doctorate in Educational Theory and Practice, with a specialty in teaching writing. She has taught at the middle school, high school and college level, for over thirty years. Dr. Mikoda is applying for one of the two at-large seats on the Regents. Dr. Mikoda advocates for literacy instruction that engages students even as it builds reading and writing skills. She is concerned about the over-emphasis on the reading of informational texts, which is part of the Common Core. She is also deeply committed to ensuring that all students receive a quality education. “I strongly support a move to step away entirely from the Common Core Learning Standards. Before the advent of Common Core Learning Standards, New York State already operated with some of the best standards in the nation, and did not need to look outside for guidance.” Dr. Mikoda’s resume and survey responses can be viewed here

Helen “Regina” Rose is applying to represent District III Region (Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster Counties). Ms. Rose is a former special education teacher with over twenty years of experience, and was a member of the Kinderhook Board of Education for six years. She has a grandchild in the public schools and has been a strong and vocal advocate for all students, especially those with disabilities.  In response to the NYSAPE survey, Rose wrote, “I cannot understand how our entire public education system is being treated as an experiment – they are building the plane in the air.  We cannot allow a generation of children to be used as guinea pigs.” Ms. Rose’s resume and survey responses can be viewed here

Mike Reilly is applying to fill the District XIII seat on Staten Island. Mr. Reilly, a former police officer, has been a respected community leader for many years. His three children attend the Staten Island public schools.  Since 2009, Reilly has served as a member of the district’s Community Education Council and sits on the Board of Managers of the Staten Island YMCA. He supports a moratorium on high-stakes, Common Core testing and opposes the disclosure of personal student data to inBloom Inc. or other vendors without parental consent. Presently, no member of the Board of Regents has a child in our public schools. Mr. Reilly would bring a needed parent perspective. Mr. Reilly’s resume and survey responses can be viewed here

In a spirit of transparency, NYS Allies for Public Education sent its survey via certified mail and email to Regents Cea, Cottrell, Jackson and Norwood in early December 2013, asking them to clarify their positions on a variety of key education issues. To date, not one of the incumbents completed the survey or responded to our request.

Upon hearing about the current Regents failure to respond, Chris Tanis, a New Paltz parent said, “Clearly, the four incumbents do not understand that they have an obligation to be accountable to the public and to clearly express their views on the current policies that have aroused such opposition among parents and other community members. The fact that they refused to respond to the NYSAPE survey – and more importantly have ignored the public outrage over the policies pursued by the State Education Department — makes a strong case for the need for new leadership.”

Although members of the Board of Regents are selected by the Legislature, they have traditionally kept their seats on the board until they choose to resign or retire. While the appointment process has escaped public scrutiny in the past, this year NYSAPE id urging parents, educators and concerned constituents to call on their Assembly Members and State Senators to nominate and vote for candidates who will work to reverse the current, disastrous reforms.

On February 4th and 11th, the chairs of the Assembly Education and Higher Education Committees, Assembly Members Catherine Nolan and Deborah Glick, will conduct in-person interviews of the candidates along with other members of the Assembly. In March, the full Legislature will vote on candidates pre-selected by its members, predominantly those in the Assembly.

According to Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters: “In recent months, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of concern and criticism directed at the agenda being implemented by Commissioner King – including the sharing of personal student data with inBloom Inc., without parental consent. Eight states have pulled out of inBloom or put their data-sharing plans on hold because of parent protest and opposition –but not New York. We need new Regents who will be responsive to the need to protect student privacy.”

In a recent editorial in Newsday, principals Carol Burris and John Murphy noted “The time has come for the public to insist that the appointment of Regents be more than pro forma. The fate of a generation of students is at stake.”

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