Archive for the 'Leadership' Category

Former State Education Commissioner Richard Mills

November 8th, 2017 by Robert Lowry

Former State Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills died last week while hiking in the Adirondacks with a friend. He was 73 years old. Read the rest of this entry »

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13 Reasons Why NOT

May 29th, 2017 by Robert Lowry

Educators spontaneously share concerns about the effect on students of the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why.

In the series, a 17-year-old girl who has committed suicide arranged before her death to have audio tapes to 13 people explaining how their actions contributed to her tragic decision.

Students at Delaware Academy Central School District approached their superintendent, Jason Thomson, with a plan to share  “13 reasons why not” with fellow students.

Each day for the last 13 days of schools, a different student, teacher, or staff member shares a memory of a struggle they have overcome during the morning school announcements. Rather than casting blame, each speaker thanks someone for helping them through their tough time.

The post below was written and submitted by Delaware Academy Superintendent Jason Thomson. He is one of the 13 speakers.

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The Council’s Women’s Initiative

May 22nd, 2017 by Robert Lowry

On Friday, the Council’s Executive Director, Charles Dedrick, and General Counsel, Jacinda (“Jazz”) Conboy appeared on cable television’s Capital Tonight program to discuss the Council’s Women’s Initiative, launched and led by Jazz.

You may watch the segment here.

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What’s a Leader To Do?

August 5th, 2015 by Robert Lowry

This post was composed by Robert J. Reidy, Jr., the Council’s Executive Director.  It is excerpted from the Council’s Annual Letter to our membership.  The letter is titled, “What’s a Leader To Do?:  The Times — Shifting Sand, Political Rhetoric, High Emotion.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Home Room — January 2, 2014

January 2nd, 2014 by Robert Lowry

Happy New Year!

One of my resolutions is to get back to writing regularly for our blog.

Some items in the news over the past week or so… Read the rest of this entry »

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A postmortem on the evaluation deadline

January 21st, 2013 by Robert Lowry

All but six of New York’s school districts had teacher and principal evaluation plans approved by the State Education Department by the January 17 deadline prescribed by law at Governor Cuomo’s insistence last year.

We are relieved and surprised by the small number of districts without approved plans.

What superintendents think about the quality of those plans, their impact on teaching and learning, and what had to be done to get approval are questions we will be exploring in the weeks ahead.

The state’s largest district was one of the handful missing the deadline.

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The Elephant in the Room

January 14th, 2013 by Robert Lowry

There was an elephant in the room when Governor Andrew Cuomo talked about education in his State of the State address last week.  In this case, we’re not referring to the symbol of the Republican Party.

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Council Statement — Advancing the Safety of Our Students

December 19th, 2012 by Robert Lowry

Below is a statement from the New York State Council of School Superintendents — Advancing the Safety of our Students.

It was developed by the Council’s President, James Langlois (District Superintendent of Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES), with input from members of the Council’s Executive Committee and staff.

Council Statement on Advancing the Safety of Our Students

We mourn the loss of the school children of Newtown, Connecticut, and we honor the courageous educators who gave their lives protecting their students.  In the wake of this terrible event, because of our profound responsibility for the security of millions of students each day, we must ask, “What more can we do?”

Every public school superintendent in New York State begins every working day with the thought, “Have we done everything we can to keep the children entrusted to our care safe today?”  With that focus over the past several years, public schools have become more and more secure environments, ones in which evidence shows children are safer than in any other setting.

As the leaders of school districts, we are committed to the ongoing evaluation of the practices, the technology, the planning, the collaborations and the drills that strengthen the safety and security of our schools.

But there is more that must be done.

And so we call for several actions which are needed to strengthen school safety and security, but which are beyond our ability to control:

  • Our elected leaders – and all of us as voters – must reassess the choices we have made which have drastically reduced the resources available for mental health services and have kept the few remaining services too isolated from our schools. There is far too little capacity to deal with the mental health needs of our children and young people. Few are potentially violent, but some are.  We must serve them all.
  • We are not experts in criminal justice, but we must urge a newly vigorous state and national conversation about what weapons should be available and to whom – which weapons are appropriate for hunting, other recreational uses, or reasonable self-defense, and which types – like the high capacity assault rifle used in last week’s massacre – that simply have no place in the hands of ordinary citizens.
  • We also urge a robust and persistent national conversation about the consequences of an entertainment culture that relentlessly glorifies violence in movies, television, music and video games.

If the broader society can join with those of us who care for and educate its children in pursuing such an agenda, we believe that together we can move closer to making tragedies like Newtown far less likely than they are today.


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SED reports on evaluation progress, Governor holding firm on deadline

December 19th, 2012 by Robert Lowry

Governor Cuomo was emphatic and unequivocal in saying he would not alter the January 17 deadline for school districts to complete new teacher and principal evaluation plans and avoid losing increases in state aid.

The State Education Department issued a progress report on its review of evaluation plans:  665 districts have submitted plans, 27 have yet to submit.  Approval has been given to 442 districts.  Of the 223 districts with unapproved plans under review by the Department, 180 have received feedback.

Here is an Associated Press story quoting me and representatives of New York State United Teachers and the School Boards Association.  I touched on how the aid penalty might be especially damaging to poorer districts.  I also said I was encouraged that so many districts had completed their end of the process.

NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi discussed evaluations and the Newtown tragedy this morning on Susan Arbetter’s Capitol Pressroom radio show.

The Syracuse Post-Standard reports an interesting twist in local negotiations over evaluation plans:  “Teachers union leader: North Syracuse principals hold $4.7 million in state aid hostage.”

GothamSchools reports on the experience of states and districts around the country who were early adopters of new teacher evaluation procedures.

The Education Department’s reviewers will be working over the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  We encourage districts to promptly respond to any feedback from the reviewers and are available to assist.

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Home Room, December 18, 2012

December 18th, 2012 by Robert Lowry

Three leaders of the Council appeared on Time Warner Cable’s Capital Tonight show with Liz Benjamin last night to discuss school safety.

Council President James Langlois (Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES), President-Elect Mary Beth Fiore (Elmira Heights), and 2009-10 Past President Oliver Robinson (Shenendehowa) discussed what their schools have been doing in the days following the tragedy to ensure safety and reassure students and families, and how school safety has improved in the wake of past tragedies.

The segment is worth watching, here.  A Time Warner subscription is required, however.

Republican George Amedore claimed victory in the last unresolved State Senate race, a district covering part of the Capital Region and Ulster County.  Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk has not conceded, however, promising to appeal a Montgomery County judge’s decision to invalidate roughly 450 absentee and affidavit ballots.

If Amedore’s 39-vote lead stands, Democrats will have won 32 Senate seats and Republicans will have won 31.  However, one Democrat chose to organize with the Republicans and five Senators comprising the “Independent Democratic Conference” joined with the Republicans to comprise a “Bipartisan Coalition” to run the Senate.  With an Amedore victory, the Republican-IDC coalition would hold 37 of the Senate’s 63 seats.

Senate Democrats chose a new leader yesterday, replacing John Sampson of Brooklyn with Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers.  Senator Stewart-Cousins becomes the first woman to lead any of the party conferences of either chamber.

The state’s Mandate Relief Council meets today.

At a news conference after a cabinet meeting this morning, Governor Cuomo was asked if he would consider pushing back the January 17 deadline for districts which failed to have approved teacher and principal evaluations in place, despite a “good faith effort.”  The Governor’s answer was an emphatic and unequivocal no.  Districts without approved plans face the loss of any increase in School Aid they are due to receive.

Finally, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued an audit criticizing the State Education Department’s oversight of preschool special education.

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