In spring, Carol Burris, the principal of the year, announced she would retire from the South Side HS, RVC, and that she would allocate more time to advocacy for public education. Diane Ravitch, the NPE president, announced that Mrs. Burris would become the Executive Director of the Network for Public Education Fund (501-c-3).
Burris had this to say about her new role with NPE:
“We are living in a time of unrelenting attacks on the women and men who have dedicated their life’s work to educating and caring for children. Our youngest students are buckling under the pressure of excessive testing, and our most vulnerable children are unfairly classified as failures. Parents are skeptical of and confused by the Common Core. Profiteers are seeking to capitalize on dissatisfaction and confusion.
We must now stand together to stop the privatization of our democratically controlled local schools and protect all children’s rightful heritage to a free and equitably funded public education. I am proud to join Ravitch and the members of the NPE in leading that fight.”
On Tuesday, August 4, 2015, NYSAPE steering committee members Carol Burris, Nancy Cauthen, Jeanette Deutermann, Leonie Haimson, Jessica McNair, Lisa Rudley, Anna Shah, Bianca Tanis, and Katie Zahedi along with Diane Ravitch sat down with the new Commissioner of Education, MaryEllen Elia. Also in attendance was SED Chief of External Affairs, Dennis Tompkins.
The purpose of this meeting was to introduce ourselves to the new Commissioner and inform her of our position and our views of troubling NYSED policies. Commissioner Elia was cordial and spent a great deal of time listening to our concerns. Our meeting confirmed what many have already surmised, Commissioner Elia is deeply committed to the Common Core standards and the test based accountability system that has led to the widespread opt out movement. Of note, NYSAPE learned that NYSED will still be using the fired testing company Pearson’s ELA & Math tests this spring with Questar assessments beginning in the 2016-2017 school year. We informed Commissioner Elia of parent concerns and assured her that the opt out movement will continue to grow until changes to laws and policies are made. This document was presented to Commissioner Elia. NYSAPE may meet with the Commissioner and members of her leadership team in the future as she expressed an interest in keeping the lines of communication open.