images of parents with their children
Dear Parents,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to spend quality time with your family and friends. Families are important, and as parents, you provide a nurturing foundation for your children to learn. I am thankful for your support as we work to ensure that each child in New York State receives a high-quality education.

Last week, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) released guidance and resources for local school authorities and religious and independent schools regarding the statutory requirement for substantial equivalency of instruction at nonpublic schools to ensure that all students receive the education to which they are entitled. In addition, NYSED will begin to hold trainings for public and nonpublic school leaders on the guidance in December and continuing next year.

NYSED engaged in a deliberative and thoughtful process over two years to update the guidance, which reflects current law and feedback from both the public and nonpublic school communities. Our guidance recognizes that parents have a right to choose a nonpublic school for their child. We want to ensure that all students receive the education they are entitled to under state Education Law no matter which school they attend.

Another way that NYSED is working to ensure that all students receive the opportunities they deserve is through the New York State My Brother's Keeper (MBK) initiative. Across the state, communities and schools are accepting the MBK challenge to improve outcomes for boys and young men of color. As a New Yorker, I was very proud to learn that Yonkers, NY was recently selected as one of 10 " National Impact Communities" by the national MBK Alliance. The Nepperhan Community Center, part of Yonkers MBK, is a grant winner of this national competition to identify and invest in communities that are making steady progress to substantially improve the lives of boys and young men of color. Congratulations to the Nepperhan Community Center and the entire Yonkers MBK community for achieving this great honor!

Many other communities and schools across the state are working every day to ensure that young people have the chance to reach their full potential, and we continue to spotlight MBK programs in our MBK newsletter and share perspectives from MBK students and their parents in our social media campaign, #ChangingTheNarrative. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to check out our posts and learn more about these great programs.

Best wishes to you and your families for a healthy and happy holiday season. If you will be in the Capital Region this weekend, consider visiting the New York State Museum's Taste NY Holiday Market on Sunday, December 2. Admission is free, and visitors can shop at 30 "made in New York" food and beverage vendors offering samples and sales of chocolates; cheese; maple products; hand-crafted beer, wine, spirits, and cider; and other edible gifts. All participating vendors produce their products in New York State. There will also be cooking demonstrations, educational activities, and a chocolate fountain station courtesy of We Do Fondue and Price Chopper/Market 32. For more information, including a list of vendors, visit the Museum's website.
MaryEllen Elia