images of parents with their children
July 26, 2019
Dear Parents,

You may have heard that I recently announced my resignation as Education Commissioner, effective at the end of August. It has been my great honor and pleasure to serve New York's students and educators over the past four years as commissioner.

I'd like to express my appreciation for your tireless efforts to support New York's students, schools, and communities. I admire your steadfast commitment to ensuring that your children - and all children in New York State - receive a quality education. As parents, you make a real difference in your child's learning - from reading with your child to helping your child with homework to spending time in your child's classroom. Your efforts to support your children's education, day in and day out, are nothing short of heroic. Please accept my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your input, your feedback, and your support.

The work of the State Education Department continues to move forward. Last week, the Board of Regents discussed the process for reviewing high school diploma requirements and graduation pathways. The goal of the process will be to define what it means to earn a New York State high school diploma. A Blue Ribbon Commission of stakeholders - including current or recent parents, students, educators, researchers, advocates, higher education representatives, and business leaders - will be created to review diploma requirements. The Board of Regents wants to ensure ample time is provided to select members of the Commission and to allow time for the Commission to carry out its work. Once its work is completed, the Commission will present its findings and recommendations to the Board of Regents. The process for reviewing high school diploma requirements and graduation pathways were outlined in this presentation to the Regents.

It's hard to believe that we're almost halfway through summer! One great way to help kids stay engaged in learning is to participate in Summer Reading. Summer Reading at New York Libraries is a free, annual program that gives you and your children the opportunity to access the vast resources of New York's public libraries to support summer reading. Children and teens participating in the program receive book recommendations and engage in creative and fun educational activities at their local libraries.

If you're looking for a way to engage teens in reading and learning throughout the summer, encourage them to enter the Teen Video Challenge! This national contest gives creative teens the chance to direct their own short videos showcasing the importance of summer reading and local libraries.

The Video Challenge is a great opportunity for teens to experience the many resources and programs at their local libraries. Five winners will receive cash prizes and win summer reading materials for their libraries. Submissions will be accepted through August 2.

Finally, if you will be in the Binghamton area, visit the Focus on Nature XV artwork exhibition featuring 87 illustrations by 69 artists at the Roberson Museum and Science Center. The biennial exhibition, which is organized by the New York State Museum, celebrates natural and cultural history illustration and the talented artists who create a connection between science and art.

These artworks are great examples of illustrations of the natural world by a group of very accomplished artists. We're proud to partner with the Roberson Museum to bring this nature-based art exhibition to Binghamton. The art showcased in the exhibit can serve as inspiration and encouragement for students to illustrate the natural environment and learn about the plants and animals in their community and beyond.

I hope you can take some time to relax and enjoy the rest of the summer with your families. Families are important, and as parents, you provide a nurturing foundation for your children to learn, which is essential during the summer months. I am grateful for your support as we work to ensure that each child in New York State receives a high-quality education.

As always, thank you for staying connected to our common goals.
MaryEllen Elia