February 4, 2016
New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and New York Board of Regents
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Ave.
Albany, New York 12234
Dear Commissioner and Board of Regents:
We are writing today to urge the Board of Regents to maintain its two decade long rule of electing
its Chancellor and Vice Chancellor at the March Regents meeting.
High Achievement New York is a coalition of 28 teacher, civic, parent and business groups
throughout the State, united to advance and protect higher learning standards and aligned
With the retirement of Chancellor Tisch and Vice Chancellor Bottar from the Board, a special interest
group is demanding the system be gamed in the internal process to choose their replacements, by
moving the vote to the following month when each will no longer be on the board. In addition, this
group is calling for specific members of the Board to be named Chancellor and Vice Chancellor.
This is inappropriate for a number of reasons:
1) The Board’s rules, adopted by vote in 1995, clearly state that “election for the offices of
Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of the Board of Regents shall be conducted during the regular
meeting of the Board in March…” Any change to when the vote takes place, therefore, would
need to be preceded by a Board vote to change the rules themselves. Those long standing rules
shouldn’t be changed in the middle of a process.
2) The Board should be able to choose its own leadership without outside interference, a point
that State Teachers Union President Magee made when she stated “we believe the internal
discussions and elections [of the Board’s leadership]…that’s their business. We stay out of that
3) Since the Board of Regents was established by statute in 1784, it has provided oversight over
education in New York at arm’s length from the day to day political process. Some, including
members of the outside group calling for this rules change, have argued that the Board has
been too reactive to the political process recently. Changing its rules to suit one group would
move the Board closer to day to day politics, not further away.
4) The current Chancellor and Vice Chancellor should have a role in choosing their replacements.
Organizations where outgoing leaders are leaving voluntarily have those leaders participate in
the process of vetting their successors. In addition, the Board should take advantage of the
current Chancellor and Vice Chancellor’s combined 40 years on the Board, rather than on new
members who will be sitting in their first meeting.
5) The Board rules and practices shouldn’t change simply because an outside interest group wants
to suit its political purposes.
In a time of such significant transition it is imperative the Board of Regents remain consistent with its
long standing rules and practices. An 11th hour change to the long held date for choosing Board
leadership could undermine the public's confidence in those practices.
We look forward to working with whomever the Board chooses, so that all children in New York
State have equal access to a high quality, rigorous education.
Mattituck Jr. Sr. High School
Heather C. Briccetti
President and CEO
Business Council of New York State Inc.
Clayton Huey Elementary School
Partnership for Inner City Education
Brenda W. McDuffie
Chief Executive Officer
Buffalo Urban League
Bethlehem Central Parents for Excellence
NY State Director
Council for a Strong America
Samuel L. Radford III
President Buffalo School District Parent
Coordinating Council (DPCC); Governor’s
Common Core Task Force, Member
President and CEO
New York Urban League
America Achieves NY Educator Voice
Homer Central School District
Felix V. Festa Middle School Campus
Students First NY
Vice President, NY Public Policy
American Association of University Women
High Achievement New York
Co-Founder and Co-CEO
Educators 4 Excellence
Buffalo Reform Ed