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January 24, 2024

Dear Parents and Families,

Commissioner Betty A. Rosa

Happy New Year! The New York State Education Department (NYSED) began 2024 with a reaffirmed commitment to fostering a culture of educational excellence across the state—with a spotlight on reading and writing. Literacy is the cornerstone of academic success and a foundational skill for 21st-century learners. In fact, being a proficient reader, writer, and communicator has an impact on a student’s entire education and their life beyond. The Department understands the critical role that literacy plays in shaping the future of individuals and communities.

This month, NYSED launched a P-20 literacy initiative to ensure that teachers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to provide effective instruction to all students that is culturally responsive, grounded in research, and aligned with evidence-based practices. The initiative kicked off with a statewide literacy conference on January 10 in collaboration with the BOCES and Big 5 school districts. The conference provided New York State teachers, administrators, and literacy leaders with an opportunity to strengthen their knowledge of evidence-based literacy practices in PK-12 education. It was a day filled with learning as educators from across the state came together to focus on research-based practices and the science of reading to support students’ learning and development.

During the conference, NYSED was pleased to release a new series of literacy briefs that focus on the science of reading and may be used to strengthen knowledge of evidence-based literacy practices in PK-12 education. These briefs were produced by Dr. Nonie K. Lesaux, Professor of Education and Human Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Katie C. Carr, M.Ed. The Department is also examining state requirements related to literacy instruction. 


Working together, we can ensure all New York State students have equitable access to the high-quality resources they need to be successful in literacy and life. 

2024 NYS Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Art & Essay Exhibition  

We are celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day throughout January by showcasing student art and essays in honor of his legacy. The MLK Student Art & Essay Exhibition is a great way to inspire students to learn more about Dr. King's life and work, and to encourage them to become active and engaged members of their communities. Schools submitted original artwork for the exhibition illustrating Dr. King's Six Principles and Steps of Nonviolence or essays celebrating Dr. King's birthday. 

We are happy to announce that the 2024 NYS Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Art & Essay Exhibition is now viewable online. Thank you to all the students and instructors who submitted this year! 

Public Hearings on Mayoral Control of New York City Schools  

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, NYSED is conducting a series of public hearings as part of the State’s comprehensive review of the overall effectiveness of mayoral control of New York City schools. In accordance with Chapter 364 of the Laws of 2022, members of the public—including students, parents, teachers, school administrators and staff, and individuals with experience and expertise in education policy and school governance—are welcome to provide feedback on their experiences, assessments, and/or review of the mayoral control system of New York City schools to help inform the State’s review. 

Members of the public may participate by providing oral testimony at a public hearing, and/or by submitting written electronic testimony by 5 p.m. on January 31, 2024. The first public hearing took place on December 5 in the Bronx, the second on December 18 in Queens, the third on January 11 in Brooklyn, and the fourth on January 18 in Manhattan. The final hearing will take place on January 29 in Staten Island.

Visit NYSED's Mayoral Control website for more information.

Solar Eclipse Resources for K-12 Classrooms 

Get ready for the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024! Local libraries and cultural institutions have many different eclipse-related and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) events planned to engage students and adults in this rare phenomenon. 

The State Library Youth Services Eclipse Resources page offers a variety of helpful resources such as virtual training sessions, downloadable booklets, games, and activities. Additionally, this page provides information on safe eclipse viewing practices and guidance on where to acquire approved eclipse glasses.  

I hope your year is off to a good start. Please be sure to sign up for our email list to have these updates delivered directly to your inbox and encourage other families to do the same! 


Betty A. Rosa 


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