Commissioner Emphasizes Partnerships to Advance State’s Education System

Commissioner Emphasizes Partnerships to Advance State’s Education System

AMHERST, N.Y. -- New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia emphasized that more collaborations between schools and higher education institutions are essential to advancing the state’s education system at a discussion held Oct. 22 at Daemen College.

Elia spoke at the Daemen Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series before a well-attended gathering of presidents and other top education officials from colleges and universities from across the Buffalo Niagara region.

“To move forward on creating higher quality educational standards in New York State, we all must work together to ensure students have the skills they need for college readiness and success,” said Elia, a Western New York native and graduate of Daemen. “As partners, we will function as a more cohesive system that will, ultimately, strengthen the workforce by developing a more unified education pipeline for our students. Right now, this is not happening.”

Elia pointed out that taking steps to help students in school districts around the state will be a boost for higher education institutions. “We are all working hard to better prepare students so that remediation is not the norm when they enter college,” she said.

A teacher for 19 years, Elia also addressed the perception toward the teaching profession and educating the next generation of teachers. “There is the notion that all teachers are bad. We need to change that image,” she said. “Our teachers do great work and have a positive impact on our students and their success. Colleges and universities like those in this region provide high quality opportunities for students to pursue teaching degrees to be sure we continue to have outstanding educators in our classrooms.”

Elia talked about other current education issues, including progress in the Buffalo Public Schools and efforts by the district’s new superintendent, improving attendance in schools, and implementing additional P-Tech (Pathways in Technology) programs, which prepare students for highly-skilled jobs by bringing together public school districts, employers and higher education institutions. Common Core learning standards were also addressed by the commissioner, who encouraged those in attendance at the discussion to give feedback in an online survey recently launched by the state education department.

Traveling extensively to engage in conversations with stakeholders around the state, Elia noted she has logged more than 10,000 miles on her car since starting as education commissioner in July.

Following her presentation, Elia took questions from several area presidents, including Sister Margaret Carney, St. Bonaventure University; John Hurley, Canisius College; Sister Denise Roche, D’Youville College; and Dr. Cynthia Zane, Hilbert College.

As part of her visit to Daemen, Elia met with President Gary A. Olson and other college administrators and participated in a campus tour.