images of parents with their children
Dear Parents,

I am always excited and energized by the start of another school year. I hope this school year is off to a smooth start for you and your children.

Today, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) proposed changes to regulations to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The proposed changes reflect stakeholder input and public feedback and will be presented to the Board of Regents at its meeting on Monday, September 17. If the Board acts on the proposed changes at its meeting on Monday, the public comment period on the proposed changes will begin October 3.

Paramount to any good public policy is engagement with stakeholders. Following a thoughtful and productive discussion and considering the comments received, I am confident these changes will benefit students across the state. ESSA fosters educational equity by providing support to districts and schools as they work to ensure that every student succeeds. When paired with the work we have already put in, these amendments will move us even closer to meeting that goal.

Teachers are the number one in-school factor for student success, and I have made lifting up the teaching profession a priority. To that end, NYSED awarded $2 million annually in grants to 25 recipients to implement Mentor Teacher Internship Programs (MTIP). These programs enable experienced teachers in a district or BOCES to provide guidance and support to beginning teachers in their first or second year of teaching. The mentor and new teacher relationship will engage teachers in a productive experience designed to enhance educators' skills and increase the likelihood of their remaining in the teaching profession. Funding for this initiative was approved by the Governor and Legislature in the 2017-2018 State budget. NYSED will award the grants beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

Teaching, more so than any other profession, determines our future--and we will not rest until we get it exactly right. This program helps prepare and support our teachers, who then take that strong foundation into the classroom, and are able to put their students on the road to success.

Student health and safety are also of the highest importance. If you have a child who relies on epinephrine, please reach out to your child's school to ensure they have all the information they need. Guidance was issued to health care, school health, and child day care providers outlining steps that families can take to ensure they have access to epinephrine products.

It's so important that there is open, effective communication about medical policies and protocols in our school communities. When every second counts, parents, students, administrators, and school health officials all need to know who is trained to administer epinephrine and where this life-saving medicine is stocked and stored. Please be sure you know the protocols at your child's school.

Finally, September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, and NYSED and the Board of Regents will continue to underscore the importance of standing by our students and defending their rights. Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and I recently released a statement rejecting any changes by the U.S. Department of Education on sexual misconduct on college and university campuses. This is the latest in a line of misguided and ill-conceived proposals by USDE.

New York has one of the strongest laws in the nation protecting students from sexual assault. The New York State Office of Campus Safety provides guidance to enhance the safety of college campuses. If you have a college student, I encourage you to become familiar with the guidance and resources.

I hope the new school year is off to a great start. Have a wonderful year.


MaryEllen Elia