After President Donald Trump made headlines this week for equivocating in his response to a violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, officials reacted across the country – even at City & State’s “On Education” event on Wednesday. The conference brought together leaders in education, government, advocacy and business to discuss current schooling issues, as well as the impact the president’s policies and actions are having on New York.
Legislation from the previous administration was also a focus of the event. In a “Fireside Chat” event moderated by City & State Editor-in-Chief Jon Lentz, state Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and state Education commissioner MaryEllen Elia discussed the Every Student Succeeds Act. ESSA was signed by President Barack Obama in 2015 and offers guidelines for states to set their own performance goals in schools.
The state Education Department released a plan to reform New York schools under the ESSA in July. Gov. Andrew Cuomo must review and sign it before it is sent to the state Board of Regents for a vote.
“The ESSA plan, I believe, really is a game-changer,” Elia said. She called the plan “responsive” to the needs of students, and noted that state education officials were focused on equity, so children in New York City schools and in rural schools could receive the same quality of education.
“Our ESSA plan is an action plan,” Rosa agreed. “We are looking at issues of integration, issues of diversity, issues of kids who are in trauma, kids who are living in really subpar conditions, and we’re also looking at enrichment.”
“It really takes into consideration all aspects of all needs,” she said.
You can stream the full conversation below, or on iTunes.
The event also featured a keynote address by New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña who outlined her agency’s plans to improve city schools, and spoke about the importance of nurturing and inspiring teachers as part of that process.
“I think teachers are underrated, undervalued, and under-inspired, and if we don’t do something to get more people into the teaching position, we’re sunk,” Fariña explained.
On the higher education front, City University of New York Chancellor James Milliken also gave an address about upcoming CUNY initiatives. Like Elia, he spoke of the importance of equity in education.
“Talent is distributed evenly across demographic groups, income levels, every way you slice the human experience. Unfortunately, opportunity is not,” Milliken said. In response to those issues, Milliken spoke about the Connected CUNY program, which was devised to help students be adequately prepared for and able to complete college.
You can watch both Fariña and Milliken give their remarks below.