News and Notes

November 2022

Dear Colleagues,

Happy American Education Week! This week, we are celebrating public education and the efforts of teachers, administrators, and support professionals to help students thrive. We know how hard you work every day to support New York's students. Thank you for everything you do.


At the November Board of Regents meeting, the Region 2 Comprehensive Center, led by WestEd, presented its report, “Graduation Requirements and Measures,” to the Board. The report presents the findings of a literature review, a state and international policy scan, and a summary of feedback from the public, stakeholders, parents, and students via surveys and more than 30 stakeholder meetings.


The report’s findings will inform the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures and will help us to explore the latest research and the experiences of other states and countries so we can see what is working to meet the needs of every student. In addition, stakeholder feedback underscored the importance of equipping students with the skills and competencies necessary to be successful wherever their post-secondary path leads. I thank our partners at WestEd and our Department staff for their work on this critical endeavor.


Additional information about the Graduation Measures initiative can be found on the Department’s Graduation Measures website.


Best wishes for a healthy and happy Thanksgiving.


Betty A. Rosa

Use of Indigenous/Native American Mascots 

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) wishes to ensure school districts’ knowledge of a recent legal decision and their concomitant need to ensure that mascots, team names, and logos are non-discriminatory.

In 2001, former Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills issued a memorandum “conclud[ing] that the use of Native American symbols or depictions as mascots can become a barrier to building a safe and nurturing school community and improving academic achievement for all students.” He asked boards of education “to end the use of Native American mascots as soon as practical” and many school districts heeded this directive while others have not.

In a Commissioner’s Decision, which was subsequently upheld in State Supreme Court, it was established that public school districts are prohibited from utilizing Native American mascots. Arguments that community members support the use of such imagery or that it is “respectful” to Native Americans are no longer tenable.

Those school districts that continue to utilize Indigenous/Native American team names, logos, and/or imagery must immediately come into compliance. Should they require guidance, districts may reach out to those districts that successfully retired their mascots or their local Board of Cooperative Education Services. The Department is developing regulations that will clarify school districts’ obligations in this respect.

Please refer to NYSED's memo, Use of Indigenous/Native American Mascots, for additional details.

State Education Department Partners With

Stanford Education Research Team to Study and Improve

Educational Equity in New York State

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NYSED and the Educational Opportunity Project (EOP) at Stanford University are partnering to study progress toward educational equity in New York State. The five-year project is driven by the Board of Regents' priority to remove inequities that stand in the way of success for students with the goal to improve educational opportunities and attainment for all children.

New York Teacher Surprised with

Prestigious Milken Educator Award and $25,000

An upstate New York elementary teacher received the surprise of a lifetime during a schoolwide assembly of cheering students, appreciative colleagues, local dignitaries, and media. Caitlin Garvey, a special education teacher for first, second, and third grades at Clyde-Savannah Elementary School, received the Milken Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000. Garvey is the first recipient to receive the award in the Clyde-Savannah Central School District. Alexander Trikalinos, NYSED's Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Teacher and Leader Development, attended the ceremony to help present the prestigious award to Ms. Garvey.

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues, and communities. Congratulations to Ms. Garvey for this well-deserved honor!

Caitlin Garvey

In this photo:

Stephanie E. Bishop, Vice President, Milken Educator Awards, Milken Family Foundation; Caitlin Garvey, 2022 Milken Educator Award Winner; and Alexander Trikalinos, Assistant Commissioner, NYSED Office of Teacher and Leader Development

Photo Credit: Milken Family Foundation

Public Programming Lecture Event: 

Agency & Identity: Cherry Hill’s Would-Be Sisters at the

New York State Museum

“Kitty” Putnam and “Minnie” Knapp

Join the New York State Museum on Thursday, December 1, 2022, for a free, in-person public program, Agency & Identity: Cherry Hill’s Would-Be Sisters.

Dr. Shawna Reilly, Historic Cherry Hill’s Director of Education, will explore the lives of “Kitty” Putnam and “Minnie” Knapp in terms of their plights, identities, relative vulnerabilities, opportunities, and the choices they made within their prescribed social roles. Each came to Cherry Hill after her mother’s death to be raised by Harriet Maria Elmendorf, a Van Rensselaer descendant. Although Kitty and Minnie were both wards, they were not quite sisters. Kitty was herself a Van Rensselaer descendant while Minnie was likely descended from an enslaved woman named Dinah Jackson. Each called Harriet Maria “ma,” but Minnie was raised as a servant, while Kitty would one day become the mistress of Cherry Hill.

This program is presented in partnership with Historic Cherry Hill.

NYSED Celebrates Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian,

as the 2022 Empire State Archives and History Award Laureate

Lonnie Bunch

The New York State Archives Partnership Trust, Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr., and Commissioner Betty A. Rosa celebrated Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute Lonnie G. Bunch III as the 2022 Empire State Archives & History Award laureate at an event in the Cultural Education Center. The award recognizes Secretary Bunch’s outstanding contribution to the nation’s historical narrative and increasing access to essential materials that support the study of human culture.

Secretary Bunch is the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the first historian, and African American, to be Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

Local, State, and National Leaders Celebrate

Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program Grants

Commissioner Rosa attended an event at the newly opened Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center celebrating federal fund awards to NYSED and the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets to strengthen food supply pathways for high-quality, nutritious food to schools and local communities. Commissioner Rosa spoke about the new and unique opportunity of the investment through the Local Food for Schools (LFS) grants and how the funds will help grow farm-to-school programs that connect students to agriculture and improve child nutrition.

Commissioner Rosa also participated in a roundtable discussion about healthy school meals, farm-to-school programs, and LFS funding. She then joined USDA Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt, Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball, and guests for a tour of the shared food service and student learning kitchens with CTE Center Principal Shelette Pleat.

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