Editor's Note: Below is an unedited Letter to the Editor sent by Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association president, Beth Dimino.
As a member of NYSAPE we are issuing an Action Alert:
Change NYS Board of Regents Elections - ACTION ALERT! ACTION ALERT: The following Board of Regents members have terms that are set to expire, and we MUST affect the appointment process: • Christine Cea (Staten Island) • James Jackson (Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster) • James Cottrell (at-large) • Wade Norwood (at-large)
Never before has the Board of Regents appointment process been held to public scrutiny. But this year WE WILL MAKE AN IMPACT. The interests of our children MUST be represented by our elected NYS Assembly Members.
Here are 4 steps that we all must do on a weekly basis:
1.) Call and email: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) Phone: 212-312-1420 email@example.com Assembly Dem. Maj. Leader Joseph Morelle (D) Phone: 585-467-0410 firstname.lastname@example.org Governor Andrew Cuomo Phone: 518-474-8390 email@example.com
2.) Call and email Assembly Education Committee Chairpersons: Catherine Nolan (D) Phone: 718-784-3194 and 518-455-4851 firstname.lastname@example.org Deborah Glick (D) Phone: 212-674-5153 and 518-455-4818 email@example.com
3.) Call and email each of the following Assembly members: To affect Christine Cea appointment: Matthew Titone (D) Phone: 718-442-9932 and 518-455-4677 firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Cusick (D) Phone: 718-370-1384 and 518-455-5526 email@example.com
To affect James Jackson appointment: Aileen Gunther (D) Phone: 845-794-5807 and 518-455-5355 firstname.lastname@example.org Keven Cahill (D) Phone: 845-338-9610 and 518-455-4436 email@example.com John McDonald (D) Phone: 518-455-4474 firstname.lastname@example.org Patricia Fahy (D) Phone: 518-455-4178 email@example.com Phil Steck (D) Phone: 518-377-0902 and 518-455-5931 firstname.lastname@example.org Angelo Santabarbara (D) Phone: 518-382-2941 and 518-455-5197 email@example.com
To affect James Cotrell appointment: Focus on the legislators in items 1 and 2 above
To affect Wade Norwood appointment: David Gantt (D) Phone: 585-454-3670 and 518-455-5606 firstname.lastname@example.org Harry Bronson (D) Phone: 585-244-5255 and 518-455-4527 email@example.com
4.) Use the guidelines here to tell them that we need NEW Board of Regents members: - Tell them there are 4 Regents up for re-appointment. - Tell them you demand the appointment of Regents who support an immediate moratorium on Common Core, high stakes testing, and data sharing. - Tell them the public will hold NYS Assembly members accountable for their votes for or against the appointment of the NYS Board of Regents members.
Here is a sample letter to email that you can also use as a script to guide you on the phone:
Dear__________________________________ This year 4 members of the NYS Board of Regents are up for re-appointment, Cea, Jackson, Cotrell, and Norwood. New candidates will be interviewed by the Education Committees in February, and you will be voting on these re-appointments in March of 2014. I am writing to let you know that I am very concerned about the damaging effects of Regents Reform Agenda, and that this year, the public will hold NYS legislators accountable for their votes for or against the appointment of individual Regents. Therefore, I am asking that you please appoint Regents who support an immediate moratorium on Common Core, high stakes testing, and the uploading of student information to the inBloom cloud. The Regent’s Reform agenda in NYS is destroying public education and violating student privacy. As an elected NYS legislator, you MUST represent the interests of our children and the will of the people. Sincerely,
We suggest that you email each one individually. However, if you are pressed for time, here are all the email addresses that you can "copy and paste": firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Background Information on the NYS Board of Regents:
- Candidates wishing to apply to become a Board of Regents member must send a resume to the Assembly Education and Higher Education Committees before January 31. In-person interviews are conducted by Assemblywomen Catherine Nolan and Debra Glick in February.
- Legislators vote in early March, but they are generally given one or two nominees to vote on, less than 24 hours before the election, that are selected by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Although the public is told that the entire legislation votes, in reality it is Sheldon Silver that chooses. Many legislators abstain because the process is so dysfunctional. WE MUST CONTACT THE ELECTED OFFICIALS ABOVE SO THAT WE CAN INFLUENCE THE BOARD OR REGENTS APPOINTMENTS.
- The Regents preside over the New York State Education Department and SUNY.
- The Board consists of 17 members; 1 from each of the State's 13 judicial districts and 4 members who serve at large.
- The Board is headed by the Chancellor of the Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch.
- Those serving on the Board of Regents come from diverse backgrounds and fields. Some are former educators but most are not.
- The duties of the Board of Regents include: setting graduation requirements, testing regimens and curriculum and approval of the State Education Department's budget.
- The regents are not paid a salary and are not required to have any educational training or background.
Why is this important?
- The Board of Regents is responsible for the appointment of the Commissioner of Education. They also have the power to replace the Commissioner of Education.* (* It is interesting to note that John King was appointed as The Commissioner at the age of 36 with only 3 years of classroom experience. It would also be interesting to note that John King and Merryl Tisch pursued their doctoral degrees together at Columbia University.)
- While Commissioner King may have proposed the haphazard and incompetent implementation of the Common Core and subsequent testing, The Board of Regents approved this rollout.
-The process by which one becomes a regent is not widely understood. Members of the NYS Assembly may nominate a potential regent. Their appointment is confirmed by a joint vote of the legislature. The Democratic Majority in the State Assembly currently controls the selection process.
- Although a regent’s term expires after 5 years, historically a current regent is automatically re-appointed and will serve until they resign or retire. We must change this.
The Board of Regents wields a great deal of power, and they must be held responsible for their actions. Many parents have appealed to individual Regents and asked for their support of parent efforts to resist harmful education reforms. Likewise, powerful advocacy representing parents, teachers and school administers have also appealed to the Board of Regents but they are not listening.