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Three with TC Ties Named to New NY Education Reform Commission

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Michael Rebell

Michael Rebell

John King

John King

Three education leaders with ties to Teachers College have been named by Governor Andrew Cuomo to the New NY Education Reform Commission, a group of leaders from state government, state and city universities, business, and nonprofit organizations which will recommend new reforms for public schools throughout the state.

The three commissioners with Teachers College connections are Michael A. Rebell, Professor of Law and Educational Practice at the College; TC Trustee Eduardo J. Martí, Vice Chancellor of Community Colleges, City University of New York (CUNY); and alumnus John B. King, Jr. (EdD 2008), Commissioner, New York State Education Department.

A statement on April 30 from the Governor’s office said the new education panel, which will be led by Richard (Dick) Parsons, former Chairman of Citigroup and Time Warner, “is charged with recommending reforms to improve student performance so that all New York students are fully prepared to compete in the global economy.” It will explore solutions to a wide range of education policy challenges which, according to the statement, “other government bodies have not fully addressed,” including:

  • improving teacher recruitment and performance, including the teacher evaluation system;
  • improving student achievement;
  • examining the problems of high-need and low-wealth school communities;
  • finding more equitable education funding, distribution and costs;
  • increasing parent and family engagement in education;
  • evaluating the structure of the state’s more than 700 school districts.

According to figures provided by the Governor’s office, New York State spends more money per student than any other state in the nation, but ranks 38th in high school graduation rates. 73 percent of New York’s students graduate from high school and 37 percent are college ready. The Governor has asked the commission to recommend changes to make education spending more efficient and to reduce education expenses overall – “a difficult task amidst years of education-related budget cuts.”

Of particular interest to teachers colleges and teacher preparation programs, the commission will consider “incentives to hire and retain high-quality teachers; improvements in the teacher evaluation system to ensure New York is implementing one of the strongest evaluation systems in the country; the use of teacher evaluations for decisions regarding promotion, hiring and termination as required in the [state] teacher evaluation law; and teacher preparation, certification and education programs to ensure that teachers are properly trained to best educate our students.”

Rebell was founding director of the Campaign for Educational Equity and co-counsel for plaintiffs in “Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. v. the State of New York,” a path-breaking lawsuit which claimed that New York State was not adequately funding public schools in New York City and which won a multi-billion-dollar settlement in state funds for city schools.

Martí is Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges at City University of New York and former President of CUNY’s Queensborough Community College. In addition to serving on the Board of Trustees at Teachers College, he is on the Advisory Board of TC’s Community College Research Center. He also serves as Chair of the Board for the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS), a member of the Board of Governors of the Council for Aid to Education, and a member of The College Board’s Advisory Board on Community Colleges.   

King, who holds masters and doctorate degrees in education from Teachers College as well as a law degree from Yale and an undergraduate degree from Harvard, has notched several firsts in his career. In 2011, he was named New York Education Commissioner, becoming the first person of African and Puerto Rican heritage to hold that position and one of the nation’s youngest education commissioners. After three years of teaching middle school social studies, King co-founded Roxbury Prep, a successful charter school in Massachusetts, and led Uncommon Schools, a charter school network in New York. As New York State Education Commissioner, he also is President of the University of the State of New York.

The new Education Reform Commission is expected to meet multiple times and gather information from across the state through various public hearings. Its mandate is to produce an “action plan” which the Governor and the Legislature can implement for the 2013 school year. The commission’s preliminary set of recommendations will be released by December 1, 2012.

Below is the complete list of participants:

  • Richard (Dick) Parsons, retired Chairman, Citigroup, Chair of the New NY Education Reform Commission
  • Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
  • Geoffrey Canada, Founder & CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone
  • Irma Zardoya, President & CEO, NYC Leadership Academy
  • Elizabeth Dickey, President, Bank Street College of Education
  • Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, President, Say Yes to Education
  • Lisa Belzberg, Founder & Chair Emeritus, PENCIL
  • Michael Rebell, Co-Founder, Campaign for Educational Equity, and Professor of Law and Education Practice, Teachers College
  • Karen Hawley Miles, President & Executive Director, Education Resource Strategies
  • José Luis Rodríguez, Founder & CEO, Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Inc.
  • Sara Mead, Associate Partner, Bellwether Education Partners
  • Eduardo Martí, Vice Chancellor of Community Colleges, CUNY
  • Thomas Kane, Professor of Education & Economics, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Jean Desravines, CEO, New Leaders for New Schools
  • Michael Horn, Executive Director & Co-Founder, InnoSight Institute
  • Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor, SUNY
  • Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor, CUNY
  • John B. King, Jr., Commissioner, New York State Education Department
  • Senator John Flanagan, Chair, Senate Education Committee
  • Assembly Member Cathy Nolan, Chair, Assembly Education Committee

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