regents race

District 3 CEC member, Hunter College educator frontrunners for open Regents spots

A member of the Upper West Side’s Community Education Council and a Hunter College educator endorsed by leaders of the opt-out movement are the likely choices for two open seats on New York’s Board of Regents, sources said Wednesday.

Nan Mead, the CEC member, and Luis Reyes, who ‎serves as the director of education at Hunter’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies, are favored by Assembly Democrats after their conference on Wednesday, multiple sources said. Regents members are chosen by the legislature, a process largely driven by Assembly Democrats.

Mead, who works for an investment consulting firm, according to her LinkedIn profile, was elected to District 3’s Community Education Council in 2015. She also serves on the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council and on the parents association of P.S. 180 Hugo Newman in West Harlem.

Luis Reyes, who was a member of the city’s Board of Education in the 1990s, has been an adjunct education professor at a number of CUNY schools whose work has focused on bilingual education and Puerto Rican students. He was endorsed by the leaders of New York’s opt-out movement, and expressed his support for parents who decide that their children won’t take state exams in a survey submitted to the group.

He also says the Regents should create a working group to review the state tests, with a focus on how they affect students with disabilities and English learners. He also supports investigating alternative ways for students to earn a high school diploma.

Reyes would fill the at-large seat that will be left by outgoing Chancellor Merryl Tisch, while Mead would become Manhattan’s representative. That position was formerly filled by Charles Bendit, who announced his resignation in February. (Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar of Syracuse is also stepping down next month.)

In recent years, the board has overseen a number of controversial education policies, such as the adoption of Common Core and a teacher evaluation system that uses state test scores as a factor. The new Regents will help shape how far the board transitions from those policies.

The legislature is scheduled to vote to fill the new seats on March 8.


Aurora’s superintendent will get a contract extension

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The Aurora school board is offering superintendent Rico Munn a contract extension.

Marques Ivey, the school board president, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“The board of education believes we are headed in the right direction,” Ivey said. Munn can keep the district going in the right direction, he added.

The contract extension has not been approved yet. Munn said Tuesday night that it had been sent to his lawyer, but he had not had time to review it.

Munn took the leadership position in Aurora Public Schools in 2013. His current contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Munn indicated he intends to sign the new contract after he has time to review it. If he does so, district leaders expect the contract to be on the agenda of the board’s next meeting, April 3, for a first review, and then for a vote at the following meeting.

Details about the new offer, including the length of the extension or any salary increases, have not been made public.

Four of the seven members currently on the board were elected in November as part of a union-supported slate. Many voiced disapproval of some of the superintendent’s reform strategies such as his invitation to charter school network DSST to open in Aurora.

In their first major vote as a new board, the board also voted against the superintendent’s recommendation for the turnaround of an elementary school, signaling a disagreement with the district’s turnaround strategies.

But while several Aurora schools remain low performing, last year the district earned a high enough rating from the state to avoid a path toward state action.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”