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Reacting to Criticism, Cuomo Adds to His Education Commission

Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 03:50 PM

ALBANY — Seeking to address complaints about the makeup of his new education reform commission, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has added five additional members to the panel in advance of its first meeting later this month.

The new appointees include a parent advocate from Rochester, a newly elected school board member from the Adirondacks and a district superintendent from Central New York — three constituencies that the governor was criticized for not including on the panel when he announced it in April.

The commission, which is being led by the former Citigroup chairman Richard D. Parsons, has also gained two more well-known names from Wall Street: Sanford I. Weill, another former Citigroup chairman, and Stanley F. Druckenmiller, a billionaire hedge fund manager.

In addition to confirming the new appointees, Mr. Cuomo’s office on Thursday released a schedule of meetings for the commission, which is due to report back to the governor by December. The panel will hold 11 meetings around the state, beginning June 26 in New York City and ending Oct. 22 in the Finger Lakes region.

Like many of the commission's other members, several of the new members, whose names were reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, have been vocal supporters of the governor. The newly appointed parent advocate is Carrie Remis, the executive director of the Parent Power Project, an advocacy group in Rochester that has praised Mr. Cuomo’s “bold leadership” in the area of education.

The governor had been criticized by the New York State School Boards Association for not including any elected school board members on his commission. Technically, the panel still does not include any; one of Mr. Cuomo’s additions is Patricia Gallagher, who was elected last month to the school board for the Lake Placid Central School District, but will not take office until next month.

Ms. Gallagher, a registered nurse who has three children in the Lake Placid school system, said she was impressed by Mr. Cuomo’s interest in education reform and had advocated his agenda in her community.

“They’re actually taking a step back and looking where the money is going,” she said. “There’s been a huge increase in money going to administration, and yet it’s being taken away from programs and students. That’s not helping test scores go up.”

Mr. Cuomo also appointed Jessica F. Cohen, the superintendent of the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services, who is retiring from her post this summer.

Timothy G. Kremer, executive director of the school boards association, released a statement applauding Mr. Cuomo's addition of a school board member.

"As leaders of the school systems in their local communities, school board members have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that resources are allocated properly, and that students are well prepared for college and the work force," Mr. Kremer said.

Similarly, the appointment of Dr. Cohen was hailed by the Superintendents Council.

“Schools are going through a period of intense change now, with the implementation of new teacher and principal evaluation requirements, the transition to Common Core State Standards, and other Race to the Top initiatives," said Robert Reidy, executive director of the Superintendents Council, in a statement. "It is important for the governor’s commission to understand the effects of current state initiatives on schools as it considers new ones.”

The commission’s full schedule is:

Tuesday, June 26 — Meeting of the commission in New York City
Tuesday, July 10 — Capital District regional meeting
Wednesday, July 18 — Western New York regional meeting
Thursday, July 26 — New York City regional meeting
Wednesday, Aug. 8 — Southern Tier regional meeting
Tuesday, Aug. 14 — Central New York regional meeting
Tuesday, Aug. 28 — North Country regional meeting
Monday, Sept. 10 — Mid-Hudson regional meeting
Monday, Sept. 24 — Mohawk Valley regional meeting
Thursday, Oct. 11 — Long Island regional meeting
Monday, Oct. 22 — Finger Lakes regional meeting

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