Senate passes bill to change Board of Regents appointment process

State Senator Ken LaValle (Credit: Robert O'Rourk, file)
State Senator Ken LaValle (Credit: Robert O’Rourk, file)

The state Senate has passed legislation to create a new process for selecting Board of Regents members, which are the appointed officials tasked with crafting public education polices for schools in New York.

State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who sponsored the bill, said Thursday in a press release he believes the appointment process needs to change in order for there to be more participation in the selection process.

Under his proposed legislation, 17  Regents would be appointed, with the governor choosing 8, the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the Assembly picking three apiece, and the minority leaders of the Senate and Assembly appointing one person each. The final appointment would be selected on a rotating basis between the governorSenate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the Assembly, the press release states.

Mr. LaValle’s office said the legislation was presented two days after the state Assembly reelected  three incumbent Board of Regents members.

Legislators reelected James Cottrell of Brooklyn, Wade Norwood of Rochester, and Christine Cea of Staten Island. They also replaced James Jackson of Albany with Sullivan County Village Justice Josephine Finn after Mr. Jackson announced he wouldn’t seek reelection, according to a recent Poughkeepsie Journal article.

The Board of Regents and the state Department of Education have been heavily criticized by school officials for pushing the new rigorous mandates, known as Common Core standards, before they believed districts were ready for them.

“We just went through a process that made very little sense — selecting incumbents who were responsible for one of the biggest education fiascos that anyone can remember,” Mr. LaValle said. “The vote by the Democrat Majority in the Assembly is puzzling given the tremendous outcry on the Common Core curriculum.

“Parents, teachers and administrators have told members of the Legislature repeatedly that the Common Core Curriculum thrust upon them by the Regents is having a harmful effect on the children of our State,” he added.  “Change is imperative and the Legislature must alter the process to ensure there is greater responsibility and accountability to parents and children.”

The next step is for the Assembly to vote on the legislation. If passed, the bill would then go to Governor Andrew Cuomo for approval, officials said.

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