May 14, 2021
Dear Parents,
Interim Commissioner Betty A. Rosa
This week, the Board of Regents acted on important measures to advance diversity, equity and inclusion and to promote civics education opportunities in New York’s schools. Building on its Framework on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in New York’s Schools, the Regents approved a Policy Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) that expresses the Board’s expectation that all schools and institutions of higher education will adopt and implement meaningful DEI policies and practices.

The policy statement notes that a growing body of research finds that all students benefit from schools with strong DEI policies, and describes the elements the Board expects districts to include in their policies. The full text of the Board of Regents Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy Statement is available on the Department’s website.

Additionally, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) continued its work to create a New York State Seal of Civic Readiness and proposed a Civic Readiness Pathway to Graduation. Civics education increases the likelihood that students will participate in political and community activities; be more committed to fundamental democratic values and principles; and be more tolerant of those who may have different points of view. Civics education, when steeped in the fundamentals of the Board’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, will provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to question and engage in civil discourse and offer sustainable solutions to issues that are important to them and their communities. 

Public comments on the proposed Civic Readiness Pathway regulatory amendments will be accepted until July 26, 2021 by email at

Also this week, NYSED released a report summarizing feedback on the issue of “substantial equivalence of instruction” in nonpublic schools gathered during six regional meetings held last fall. Representatives of the racial, linguistic, cultural and religious identities encompassed in New York’s more than 1,800 religious and independent schools, as well as public school leaders from around the state, participated in these meetings. The feedback will be used to inform revised proposed regulations.

About 500 individuals participated in the stakeholder meetings, representing approximately 230 religious and independent schools, 65 public schools/districts, and 18 BOCES, as well as state-level organizations of public and nonpublic education leaders, advocacy organizations and community-based organizations.

Students are entitled to an education that enables them to fulfill their potential, be contributing members of society and participate in civic life. Proposed regulations must both respect the diversity of schools in New York State and ensure that all students have substantially equivalent instruction so they have opportunities to succeed.

Last month, NYSED named the fourth class of New York State My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Fellows who have been identified as leaders in their MBK Communities and who will be provided with mentor relationship opportunities in government, education and business. The 73 Fellows, all high school juniors, represent 25 New York State school districts. The MBK initiative helps boys and young men of color—and all students—realize their full potential. The new class of Fellows was inducted via a virtual ceremony during the 2021 New York State MBK Symposium, which was attended by hundreds of students, parents, educational leaders and advocates from across the state and country.

Finally, I am pleased to share the good news that NYSED's Cultural Education Center will re-open to the public on Monday, May 17, 2021 with new COVID-19 protocols in place. The Cultural Education Center (CEC) in Albany is home to the State Museum, State Library and State Archives. The new, temporary hours for the CEC will be Monday through Friday, 10 am – 4 pm. The CEC will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays until further notice and on all state-observed holidays. As always, admission to the Museum, Library and Archives is free.

We are excited to welcome the public back to our wonderful exhibits and resources at the CEC. While we’ve remained connected by offering virtual events and resources online, we are delighted to once again provide an enjoyable experience for in-person visitors with the necessary COVID-19 precautions in place.

Per COVID-19 restrictions, visitors to the Museum and Library should make reservations online or by phone to schedule admission. Walk-in admission will be available only as space allows.

As always, thank you for your continued interest in the work of the New York State Education Department.


Betty A. Rosa