images of parents with their children
June 26, 2020
Dear Parents,

We announced this week that the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the New York State Library are partnering with 1,100 public libraries and neighborhood branches statewide to launch the 2020 Summer Reading at New York Libraries program. The free, annual program gives children and their families the opportunity to access the vast resources of New York's public libraries to support summer reading and learning. To help celebrate this year's launch, I shared one of my favorite stories, Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss in a video message.

Local libraries unlock the magic of reading for families with free access to thousands of age-appropriate books and e-books, all with just a local library card. More than 2.5 million young people participated in last year's summer reading program. Virtual services are available 24/7 so families can safely support learning and exploring all summer long.

This year's theme is "Imagine Your Story" and, due to COVID-19, local libraries across the state are reimagining summer reading this year in new and different virtual formats with exciting online activities, programs, and events. You and your children can visit your local public library's website to find out how to sign up for Summer Reading events and activities, then register online to track books and e-books and earn badges and prizes from your local library.

While summer is just underway, we are working to develop guidance and regulatory changes that will enable New York's schools to continue safely educating their students this fall. Over the past two weeks, the New York State Board of Regents and NYSED have hosted four virtual Regional School Reopening Task Force meetings. Each meeting included more than 300 experts and stakeholders from the fields of health and education who provided their expertise. Parents, teachers, school and district leaders, non-instructional staff, school board members, health experts, and other interested parties from every region of the state participated in the meetings and gave feedback to the Board of Regents and NYSED to help guide schools and school districts in the safe reopening of schools.

This week, we also heard from students from across the state who joined a virtual meeting to offer their unique perspectives about reopening schools. Student voices are critical as we work through the important questions that need to be answered in order to plan for the upcoming school year. By working together with students and other stakeholders, we will ensure that the issues of health, safety, and educational equity always come first.

As we continue to emphasize equity in education for all students, NYSED launched the Financial Transparency Reports website last week. The data and website provide greater transparency and help districts and schools learn more about the equity and effectiveness of educational resources - including, for the first time ever, spending data at the individual school level. The data is available through a user-friendly report included in the school and district Report Card on NYSED's interactive public data site.

These reports provide important opportunities for school districts, parents, taxpayers, and other stakeholders to cultivate a better understanding of school finances and exactly how funding is being used for our students. Through greater transparency, we will help spur local discussions about equity, accountability, confirmation of best practices, and opportunities for improvement in financial management and educational programming.

Thank you for reading. I encourage you to check our COVID-19 web page, our news page, and our social media channels ( Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) frequently for all the latest updates.


Shannon Tahoe
Interim Commissioner