images of parents with their children
November 8, 2019
Dear Parents,

As I mentioned in my previous update, I will depart the New York State Education Department on Friday, November 15. During my time at NYSED, I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the finest people I've ever met, and it has been an honor to serve alongside such committed individuals. While I have treasured my time here, serving in this role also presented challenges in finding balance between my personal and professional life, and it is important that I rebalance my time with my husband and children.

I'd like to thank you again for your commitment to ensuring your children - and all children - receive a high-quality education. Your support for schools and communities is truly remarkable, and your efforts make an impact for so many.

It is a time of transition at NYSED, and with this transition comes the opportunity for newly appointed leaders to help NYSED carry out its mission to raise the knowledge, skill, and opportunity of all New Yorkers. The Board of Regents this week appointed Shannon Tahoe as Acting Commissioner of Education effective November 16 and announced additional appointments to leadership positions.

Also this week, the Board of Regents and NYSED launched the first phase in the review of graduation measures in New York State. The ultimate goal of the review is to reaffirm what it means to obtain a diploma in New York State and what that diploma should signify to ensure educational excellence and equity for all students.

The information gathering phase includes partnering with Achieve to conduct a review of the relevant research and practices in other states and countries. In addition, the Regents and NYSED will hold regional meetings starting in January to gather feedback on five guiding questions to help inform the work of a Blue Ribbon Commission to be formed next year. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide a $100,000 grant to support our Phase I activities.

Our Graduation Measures web page provides information about the review process and a link to subscribe for updates. The specific dates and locations of the Regional Work Group meetings, which will begin in January 2020, will be added as they become available.

In addition to launching the graduation measures review this week, NYSED also proposed a draft four-year Perkins V State Plan in accordance with the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The plan is aligned with New York's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan and addresses New York's priorities to increase access to high-quality Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, support at-risk students, and improve career development for all secondary and postsecondary students. NYSED will hold three public forums and accept public comment via email in December and January.

The updated Perkins V plan is an opportunity to further build New York's CTE programs for all types of learners and to help address the critical need for recruiting and educating a new generation of skilled workers. Through our work with educators, business representatives, parents, students, state workforce representatives, and other stakeholders, we have a new vision for CTE that will help meet the needs of students, educators, and employers.

In other news, November is New York State History Month! The New York State Museum, New York State Library, and New York State Archives will celebrate New York State History Month with a variety of free public programs for children, families, and adults. You can celebrate by learning how to research your family's genealogy at the State Library and State Archives, by taking a tour of a Museum exhibit, or by attending lunchtime talks to learn something new about New York history from Museum historians.

In addition to being New York State History Month, November is also Family Literacy Month. You can celebrate Family Literacy Month and promote literacy at home by incorporating reading into your child's daily activities and making it a habit throughout the year. If you're looking for specific ideas to help develop the young readers in your family, follow along with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for suggestions!

Families across the state are already doing a wonderful job promoting literacy: This week, NYSED announced that more than 2.5 million students and children statewide participated in the State Library's 2019 summer reading program, an increase of approximately 134,000 participants over last year's program. In addition, students read over 114,000 e-books and logged over 1.6 million minutes of reading on the myON by Renaissance e-book platform, which offered free access to thousands of enhanced digital books to children and their families this summer. Thank you to the librarians, educators, and parents across the state for encouraging students and children to participate in the summer reading program. I encourage libraries to continue to partner with schools and community organizations to promote the importance of reading year-round. Congratulations to children and families statewide on a great summer reading achievement!

Finally, the New York State Department of Health has announced its Kids' Art Contest: "Superbug Superheroes," which is intended to educate elementary age children about antibiotic resistance and appropriate antibiotic usage.

Antibiotic resistance happens when the drugs we use to kill germs lose their effectiveness because of overuse and misuse of the medications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that each year, at least 2 million people in the U.S. get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and at least 23,000 die as a result.

The contest is open to New York State students in grades 3, 4, and 5. The deadline for submission of entries is December 1, 2019 by 5 PM. Information for teachers and parents is available on the New York State Department of Health website. If you have any questions about the contest, please send an email to [email protected].

Thank you for all you do to support strong family and community involvement in our schools.


Beth Berlin
Interim Commissioner of Education