images of parents with their children
Dear Parents,

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the NYSPTA Annual Convention. Regent Collins also attended the convention and participated in the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Caucus. I want to thank Kyle Belokopitsky, Executive Director at the NYSPTA, and her team for organizing and hosting the convention, which included many important discussions. As Commissioner of Education, I strive to stay connected to those closest to our students: their parents and families. I admire and appreciate the work you do to ensure a high-quality education for all our students.

Last week, the New York State Museum opened a new exhibition, Votes for Women: Celebrating New York's Suffrage Centennial . On display through May 13, 2018, the exhibition honors the centennial of women's suffrage in New York State and raises awareness of the struggle for equal rights through the present day. The exhibition features more than 250 artifacts and images from the collections of the State Museum, State Archives, State Library, cultural institutions, and private lenders from across the state.

It's important for everyone - especially our students - to fully understand this pivotal moment in our history. The women's suffrage movement in New York isn't just about the struggle for women's rights; it also teaches us about cultural heritage, activism, democracy, and the struggle for equal rights for all. It's up to us to inspire the next generation and show our children that they too can raise their voices and achieve great things. If you can, I encourage you to visit the State Museum with your children and see this exhibition.

In addition to exposing your children to educational experiences at the State Museum or other cultural institutions, you might also be helping them navigate the college application and admission process! If you have a student enrolling in college for the spring semester, Governor Cuomo announced that the Excelsior Scholarship application has reopened for students attending college this spring. The application is open through December 4 for students to attend SUNY or CUNY tuition free.

This week, NYSED announced that seven New York State mathematics and science teachers are state-level finalists for the 2016-17 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) at the secondary level (grades 7-12). The PAEMST is one of the highest honors in the nation for teachers of mathematics and science. The award recognizes outstanding teaching and leadership in science and mathematics education. The teachers being recognized here have become masters of their craft, and our students are lucky to have them and all the other teachers who do an outstanding job every day in our classrooms. For more information and the list of finalists, see our PAEMST news release .

Last month, NYSED proposed regulatory changes to provide an additional pathway to earn a high school equivalency (HSE) diploma by allowing individuals to use passing scores on certain Regents exams in place of the corresponding TASC subtests. The public comment period on the proposed regulatory changes is open through December 18. I encourage you to participate in the public comment period; we value your input.

NYSED also recently announced that more than  95 percent of schools in receivership made demonstrable improvement in the 2016-17 school year. A total of 61 of 63 schools in receivership showed progress on performance indicators jointly selected by NYSED and the districts in which the schools are located. The two schools that did not make demonstrable improvement will now be placed under an independent receiver.

I have visited many of the schools in receivership, and I am seeing schools tackle their issues in new and positive ways, which is encouraging. At the same time, much work remains to be done in many of these schools to provide an even greater focus with more intensive interventions to ensure that progress in these schools accelerates and they improve their outcomes for students.

Finally, next week is American Education Week, a great opportunity to celebrate public education. As part of American Education Week, November 14 is Parents Day, and NYSED will join in the celebration by launching a campaign on social media. Be sure to follow NYSED on Twitter and Facebook to check out some ideas and tips for parents to help support your children in school.

Thank you for all you do to support strong family and community involvement in our schools. We have made it easier to subscribe to our parent email list, so please spread the word in your communities and help us all stay connected!


MaryEllen Elia