2007-12-07 / Community

Chapey Hosts Educational Leadership Forum

Local resident Dr. Geraldine Chapey, Member of the New York State Board of Regents, recently hosted the Regents' Educational Leadership Forum at St. John's University School of Law.

For over 200 years, the Board of Regents has set educational policy for New York State and governed the University of the State of New York (USNY). USNY is the most unified and comprehensive educational system in the nation. In addition to schools and institutions of higher education, the Board presides over libraries, museums, cultural agencies, public broadcasting and the Office of the Professions.

"The year 2007 marks a historic breakthrough in the world of education," says Chapey. "Our Queens legislators joined Speaker Sheldon Silver and the entire NYS legislature in passing an unprecedented budget, making education a number one priority. This was signed by the Governor."

The Queens delegation - Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, Assemblywomen Audrey Pheffer and Barbara Clarke, both Members of the Higher Education Committee, Assembly Members Ivan Lafayette Rory Lanceman, Mark Weprin, Vivian Cook, Margaret Markey, William Scarborough, Ann Margaret Carrozza, Michael Giannaris, Jose Peralta, Anthony Seminerio, Michelle Titus and Ellen Young supported the huge funding for education. Queens Senators supporting the new four- year program include Senators Toby Stavisky, Shirley Huntley, George Onorato, John Sabini, Frank Padavan and Malcolm Smith.

"This Landmark Vote (a defining moment) approved the largest State funding package ever, including the Contracts for Excellence - a four-year program. Resources, therefore, were provided for New York City and other school districts to develop services that are research-based in five allowable categories (for example, small class size). With the funding comes new requirements of accountability," Chapey said. The challenge now is: "How do we use the resources most effectively to bring results?" Chapey added that the year 2007 brought dramatic change in the governance of New York City public schools by empowering educational leaders to expand their decision making related to fiscal, performance and programmatic accountability.

The Educational Leadership Forum was conducted in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York, the United Federation of Teachers, and the Council of Supervisors and Administrators. Attending the conference were presidents, deans and faculty of colleges and universities, superintendents, principals of all levels P-16, teacher leaders, parents, directors of cultural institutions and labor.

Dean Jerry Ross of the St. John's University School of Education extended a warm welcome to his colleagues and noted the value of this professional collaboration.

Legislators addressing the Forum included State Senator Toby Stavisky and Assemblymembers Rory Lancman and Ivan Lafayette. Lafayette focused on the role of the New York State Legislature in providing the funding for education as a top priority in our State. He noted the importance of the Regent's Learning Standards, the new role for superintendents, principals and teachers, and the need for smaller class size. Stavisky also endorsed the need for smaller class size. She firmly believes that an affordable, accessible and quality higher education is an absolute necessity. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, a former teacher and librarian, noted the great opportunities for learning in the P-16 schools in Queens and the importance of preparing students for success in their lives, in their careers and in their civic activities.

Regents participating in the Leadership Forum included: Vice Chancellor Merryl Tisch, and Regents Geraldine Chapey, Roger Tilles, Harry Phillips, Karen Brooks Hopkins, Charles Bendit, and Natalie Gomez-Velez.

The focus of the presentation, the P- 16 Action Plan, was dynamically described by Senior Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan Poitier and her team, Deputy Commissioners Joseph Frey, Sheila Evans Traumm and Rebecca Cort. The goals of the P-16 plan are twofold:

1. To close the great divide in achievement that presently exists along lines of income, race, ethnicity, language and disability.

2. To keep up with growing demands for even more knowledge and skill as competition increases in a rapidly changing global technological economy.

Collaborating in this endeavor were Dr. Marcia Lyles, Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education and Dr. Kathleen Cashin, Chief Executive Officer of the new Knowledge Network. Lyles spoke enthusiastically about the P-16 challenges and the high quality leaders and staff in the DOE. Cashin called for ongoing collaboration and highlighted the importance of content centered curriculum.

Partnering with this Forum were labor leaders Ernest Logan, President of the CSA, and Barbara Silberman, Queens UFT representative. They thanked the legislators for the huge funding increases and promised that "We as educators will make P-16 a reality as we prepare our children for the world of tomorrow." Chapey, a CUNY Professor, was emcee for the interviews at the Forum for the Queens Public Television Broadcasting System. The program will be shown on PTV in Queens, Manhattan and Nassau. The program was produced by Michael Benn.

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