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News and Notes
Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back to school! I hope summer vacation gave you time to rest, recharge, and relax with family and friends.
As much as I am thrilled that school is starting again, the difficult news coming out of Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the events that happened in Charlottesville last month are reminders of the challenges facing our country today. Given the connectedness of the modern world, the heartbreaking images of flooding in Houston and news clips of the unrest in Charlottesville are nearly unavoidable. Even though these things took place many miles from New York, they still have a profound effect on us and our children.

On one hand, recent events have uncovered an unfortunate reality about our country - it's clear we have a long way to go to get to a place of true inclusiveness, understanding, and respect. But, on the other, more positive hand, these events have also helped to remind us about the kindness of neighbors and the resilience of the human spirit. They show us that in spite of these latest tests to our nation's character, there are reasons to remain hopeful about the future.
Most importantly for me, the events underscore the indispensable role of schools. Schools are places of respite for children who have lost their homes and much more; they are communities that provide comfort and security in times of need; and they are institutions where lessons go far beyond academics. In classrooms, children learn to be considerate and compassionate individuals who embrace diversity and differences with open minds and hearts.

In this context, our work becomes more even imperative. That's why I am eager for the new school year to get underway. This year, which will be my third as State Education Commissioner, we will continue to work together to build upon the progress that we've made over the past two years to improve public education in New York State.

Some of our homework assignments this year involve our Next Generation Learning Standards, the Every Student Succeeds Act Plan, a new teacher evaluation system, and new strategies to achieve equity across New York's schools. 

I will keep you updated as we work our way through these assignments. We realize that our homework won't be easy and we won't be able to do it alone. We'll turn to you for help. It's the same approach we teach our students - if you do your research and seek out other perspectives, your finished product will be much stronger.

Please watch my back-to-school video message to learn more about how we will work with you - our educators, administrators, parents, and community leaders - this year to make our schools stronger:

I wish you all the best for this school year. Together, we will make it the best one yet! 


MaryEllen Elia