The New York Board of Regents overwhelmingly elected Betty Rosa, a former Bronx superintendent, as its new chancellor on Monday. She becomes the first Latino chancellor of the board.
Rosa was nominated by her peers on the Board and she ran unopposed. Of the 17 Regents, 15 voted for her and two abstained. Chancellor Merryl Tisch chose not to seek reappointment to the Board after her term ends later this month.
According to Julie McMahon of Syracuse.com, Rosa garnered the endorsements of groups like Allies for Public Education, which have led the charge for allowing students to opt out of standardized tests administered by the Department of Education. Reportedly, last year, 20% of students in the 3-8 grades opted out of taking state tests in protest to the federally mandated Common Core standards. Rosa has said herself that if she had school-age children, she would have them opt out of the state assessments.
Rosa will likely oversee a quiet tenure compared to that of Chancellor Tisch, who became a lightning rod for criticism after aligning New York’s education system with the controversial Common Core learning standards and test-based evaluations of student performance.
The state teachers’ union lauded Rosa’s election. “There is a lot of handwork ahead. Yet we are optimistic that students, parents, and educators will have a more meaningful voice in fixing New York standards; reducing the burden of standardized testing; and creating a fair and objective evaluation system,” NYSUT President Karen Magee said in a statement. “New York public schools will be better of when the Regents completely achieve these goals, and we urge them to press ‘fast forward’ on the process.”
Bethany Bump of the Albany Times Union notes that Rosa has already received her share of criticism. A pro-common Core education group, High Achievement New York, has criticized Rosa for supporting the opt-out movement, arguing that it weakens standards and rewards children for not wanting to take tests.
“We are very concerned that Chancellor-elect Rosa was endorsed by a single-issue group whose sole aim is to take New York State back to a failed system where millions of children fell through the cracks,” High Achievement said in a statement. “However, we are encouraged by her long tenure on the Board, and we’re hopeful that she will work with us and recognize the voices of the majority of parents who want the highest standards and aligned assessments.”
For her part, Rosa also vowed to commit her tenure on the Board to combating the forces of discrimination. “We need to reconceptualize the work we’ve been doing – particularly around equity and justice,” Rosa said in her remarks after the vote. Her colleagues praised her for her independence, work ethic, and fearlessness.
Rochester lawyer T. Andrew Brown, who was elected as vice chancellor of the Board, will serve alongside Rosa. Like Chancellor Tisch, the former vice chancellor, Anthony Bottar, who served on the Board for 20 years, also chose not to seek reelection.