The Honorable Governor of New York State Andrew M. Cuomo
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, New York 12224
Commissioner Betty A. Rosa
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234
Dear Commissioner Betty Rosa and Governor Andrew Cuomo,
As tireless advocates for students, families, and teachers, you know that the Covid-19 pandemic has created an unparalleled crisis for our education system. Not only have children missed out on the in-person learning so essential to an excellent education, but they have also endured prolonged trauma from isolation, fear, and family tragedies. This damage to students’ has been most acutely felt by students of color, students from low income families, students with disabilities, and students experiencing homelessness, as well as all the teachers who serve them.1
To address the profound learning loss and long-standing inequities further exacerbated by the pandemic, Congress has granted New York State nearly $9 billion under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.2 In light of the fact that the State Education Department has been gathering input from educators, families, administrators, and advocacy groups to inform a judicious plan for the dispersal of these resources, Educators for Excellence-New York would like to offer a teacher-informed perspective to the process.
On behalf of Educators for Excellence-New York and our more than 14,000 educators throughout the state, we urge you to prioritize evidence-based interventions for both unique student populations and students struggling with mental health - and assist local school districts to do the same.
In a survey of more than 400 New York educators, 93% of respondents named "special services for unique student populations (i.e., special needs, experiencing homelessness, significant learning loss)” and interventions to address "student mental health” as the two highest priority areas for the fall. Investments must include:
- Charting a course for all learning grounded in evidence-based literacy instruction;
- Identifying students who have fallen the furthest behind during the pandemic;
- Intensive tutoring for the students who need it most;
- Building strong relationships and culture within schools;
- Increasing the number and scope of mental health supports in schools; and
- Extended learning time for students with concomitant increases in academic staffing and pay.
We thank you for listening to the voices of teachers to help make the right decisions to help our students recover and thrive. Not only will these funds work to restore the massive learning loss and emotional toll on our students, but also lay the groundwork to end inequities that have left children behind for generations before the pandemic.
For more information, please contact Adam Davis, Managing Director of External Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paula L. White
Educators for Excellence-New York