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Betty Rosa, new Regents chancellor, visits LI school

State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa visits

State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa visits with students in Jessi Sweet's dual-language kindergarten class at Medford Elementary School in Patchogue on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Credit: Randee Daddona

The newly elected chancellor of the state Board of Regents visited a Medford Elementary School dual-language classroom Tuesday afternoon as part of her first statewide listening tour since she assumed the post in March.

“I am going around the state and seeing these wonderful opportunities,” said Betty Rosa, a former Bronx special education teacher, principal and superintendent. “My goal is to make sure our children have the resources and opportunities and access to a quality education.”

Rosa, joined by Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael J. Hynes, spoke in Spanish and English to students in the classroom at Medford Elementary in Patchogue. The district is in its eighth year offering a dual-language program, with 375 students now enrolled.

Hynes, a vocal critic of high-stakes testing, praised Rosa’s vision — seeing what’s working in public schools and trying to replicate it statewide.

“Everything she focuses on is what’s best for kids,” he said.

Rosa’s selection as chancellor marked a dramatic shift in tone for the Regents board, where a majority of board members in the past had supported higher academic standards and other reforms, first enthusiastically and then with growing reluctance.

She was named chancellor shortly before state assessments were administered last month. A Newsday survey found that more than half of Long Island students boycotted the English Language Arts and math exams in April.

It was the second sweeping boycott in New York, driven by parents’ and educators’ rebellion against the exams, the tests’ links to teacher and principal performance evaluations and other state education reforms.

Rosa was joined on Tuesday’s tour by Jeanette Deutermann, a North Bellmore parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out.

“It is so hopeful for parents who have been fighting and fighting to have somebody at the top who understands what we are fighting for and believes in the same philosophy,” Deutermann said.

Rosa called Tuesday for less emphasis on state tests and said she believes teacher evaluations should not be tied to scores on those exams.

“We have to get back to what really matters — which is teaching and learning, and . . . our kids’ excitement to become learners,” Rosa said.

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