Karen Magee: Progress Toward Teach And Inspire

Jan 21, 2016

As I sat listening to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address, I was struck by the more positive tone he took toward public education. His words of respect for the great work that New York’s dedicated teachers do in their classrooms are much appreciated. 

  In 2014 in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute partnered with the Seymour Fox Memorial Foundation to establish The Seymour Fox Lecture and Prize for Biotechnology Innovation.

Now in its second year, it is a local high school academic competition focused on pairing innovative ideas of local students with the resources available at Rensselaer’s CBIS, to improve life through biotechnology.

The submission deadline is February 1 and we are joined now by Dr. Glenn Monastersky to tell us more. Dr. Monastersky is a Professor of Practice in Biomedical Engineering at RPI and is the Principal Investigator and Director of the Rensselaer Center for Stem Cell Research.

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During the Great Recession, schools had to make difficult choices. In New York, as state aid was pulled back, many schools had to lay-off staff and eliminate programs.


New rules on the use of physical restraint in public schools will soon take effect in Massachusetts.

Fred Kowal: 2016 UUP initiatives

Dec 24, 2015

Last December, UUP proposed a series of legislative initiatives that we pursued in 2015. We focused on student debt relief for recent SUNY graduates, and maintenance of effort plan so tuition increases aren’t used to pay basic costs like lights and heat. 

Audio Pending...

To pop the champagne or not pop the champagne, that is the question.

National Education Association

 No Child Left Behind is being left behind as both the House and Senate in Washington have agreed on a new comprehensive education bill that now goes to the president’s desk. The measure, which President Obama is expected to sign, will give more power back to the states, but it will maintain federal mandates for testing for grades three through eight. However states will have authority over how these test results are used in gauging student and teacher performance. The President of the National Education Association Lily Eskelsen-Garcia spoke with WAMC News today about the new law.

  Carolyn Stefanco was inaugurated as President of the College of Saint Rose in April of this year. Just a few months later, Stefanco proposed changes, including program cuts, to academic offerings at the Albany private liberal arts college as the college works to identify the best ways to reduce a $9 million deficit and boost enrollment.

Stefanco discussed the specifics of her recommendations with trustees two weeks ago. While no specific cuts or increased areas of spending were announced, a statement noted the college had refinanced its debt and lowered its borrowing costs; eliminated 40 staff and administrative positions, 23 of which were filled; eliminated contingency budgets; and reduced spending for employee benefits and other areas.

While the trustees met on the Friday before Thanksgiving, faculty, students, and alumni rallied outside to protest the cuts. To discuss the fiscal woes and future plans, we welcome Dr. Carolyn Stefanco to the RT this morning.

  In his new memoir, educator Paul Cummins shares his journey from privileged kid and ivory-tower scholar to hands-on progressive educator, working to achieve social justice through education for all youth: from children of celebrities to foster and incarcerated youth and those facing sometimes unimaginable circumstantial hurdles to education and accomplishment.

Paul Cummins’ new book is Confessions of a Headmaster. Cummins is an educator and founder, CEO, and President of Coalition for Engaged Education. He has founded and co-founded numerous schools including Crossroads School, New Roads School, Camino Nuevo Charter School, and New Village Charter School, as well as P.S. Arts, an NPO providing arts classes to children in Title I schools.

Time is running out to take part in New York state's public opinion survey on the Common Core learning standards.

Pat Bradley/WAMC

In the wake of fierce debate over the implementation of the Common Core education standards in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed a task force to undertake a comprehensive review and present recommendations. WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley was in Lake Placid last night for one of three simultaneous public listening sessions.

Pat Bradley/WAMC

The North Country Alliance for Public Education held its fourth “Open Forum on Open Education” Thursday evening. The panel included the region’s state representatives and one of its newest Regents. As WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports, the discussion focused on the impact of Common Core on the state’s education system.

Karen Magee: The Politics Of Receivership

Oct 29, 2015

In an impoverished section of Albany, the Philip Schuyler Achievement Academy is an oasis.

There, caring and dedicated Albany teachers provide a safe, nurturing learning environment for 300 or so students — 90 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged.

 It’s been a busy week in Washington.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut Representative Elizabeth Esty speaks with WAMC’s Alan Chartock about something more personal. 

A student at a Saratoga County high school has started a petition after he says school officials told him he could not go to prom in drag.

Karen Magee: Swinging Back Towards Sanity

Sep 25, 2015

I normally don’t put too much stock in opinion polls.

But, let me be honest with you: I smiled broadly when I heard about the recent Quinnipiac poll on education.

  When Mark Zuckerberg announced to a cheering Oprah audience his $100 million pledge to transform the downtrodden schools of Newark, New Jersey, then mayor Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie were beside him, vowing to help make Newark “a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation.” But their plans soon ran into the city’s seasoned education players, fierce protectors of their billion-dollar-a-year system. It’s a prize that, for generations, has enriched seemingly everyone, except Newark’s children.

Dale Russakoff explores all of the ins-and-outs in her book, The Prize: Who's In Charge Of America's Schools?

Blair Horner: The Debate Over Educating Prisoners

Sep 14, 2015

Recently the Obama Administration took a step to try to deal with one of the nation’s most intractable problems: how to reduce the recidivism rate of those released from prisons.  There are approximately 1.5 million people in state or federal prisons.  Those prisoners are serving time because they have been convicted of a serious crime.  But the question is – what happens when their time is up and they are released back into our communities?

  As the new school year began , the New York State School Boards Association urged a truce in education, asking all sides of the often emotional debate over common core and other issues to hold off on the arguments and focus instead on the students who were returning to class. The executive director of the State School Boards Association, Tim Kremer, says unfortunately the truce did not last very long.

  It’s a statistic that’s sure to surprise: close to 45 percent of postsecondary students in the United States today do not enroll in college directly out of high school and many attend part-time. Following a tradition of self-improvement as old as the Republic, the “nontraditional” college student is becoming the norm.

Back to School by Mike Rose is the first book to look at the schools that serve a growing population of “second-chancers,” exploring what higher education—in the fullest sense of the term—can offer our rapidly changing society and why it is so critical to support the institutions that make it possible for millions of Americans to better their lot in life.

  Among the first generation of boys prescribed medication for hyperactivity in the 1980s, Timothy Denevi took Ritalin at the age of six, and during the first week, it triggered a psychotic reaction. Doctors recommended behavior therapy, then antidepressants.

Nothing worked. As Timothy’s parents and doctors sought to treat his behavior, he was subjected to a liquid diet, a sleep-deprived EEG, and bizarre behavioral assessments before finding help in therapy combined with medication. In Hyper, Timothy describes how he makes his way through school.

  Dan-el Padilla Peralta is one of millions of young undocumented men and women brought to the country as children. He is also a gifted scholar who made his way to some of the world’s most elite schools.

Peralta’s new book is: Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey From A Homeless Shelter To The Ivy League evocatively recounts Peralta’s journey from the New York City shelter system to the Ivy League.

 Jackie Mercurio lives with her husband, five children, and black Lab in New York. She was recently named Winner of the Good Housekeeping Memoir Contest (2014). Her website

Challenges Await For New State Ed Commissioner

Jul 14, 2015
Karen DeWitt

New York's new education commissioner has been on the job just over a week, and she’s been traveling the state on a listening tour to reach out to teachers, school boards and others who’ve been buffeted by an intense political climate during the most recent legislative session.  Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia attended a meeting of the Rural Schools Association in Cooperstown Monday.

Some state colleges and universities are adding graduate programs and changing their names to attract more students — and precious out-of-state tuition dollars.

  Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans―predictable, error-prone individuals.

His new book, Misbehaving, accounts the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.

Richard H. Thaler is a professor of behavioral science and economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and, in 2015, the president of the American Economic Association.

Two words — “sharp dissent” — are not normally used in the same sentence as “New York State Board of Regents.”

The schedule called for the New York State Legislature to be home for the summer by this week, but lawmakers are still in Albany as legislative leaders and Governor Andrew Cuomo try to reach agreement on a number of major issues, including making the 2 percent tax cap permanent, and changes to the charter school limit. While those are education issues, Tim Kremer, the Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association, says everything has been tied to just one issue.

  A young lad who would rather draw than do math, spell, or gargle finds the perfect outlet for his always-on imagination in this manifesto to creative joie de vivre, featuring a book within a book, from the brilliant minds that brought you The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Full of nostalgic references to a time when TV was black-and-white and Sunday newspapers had things called the funnies, this wildly fun story-within-a-story is based loosely on children’s book legend William Joyce’s third grade year, and includes a sewn-in mini-book of that tale of the world’s smartest booger.

  Since 1996, Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar has been helping students from low-income families acquire the academic skills they need to earn high school diplomas and enter college.

The agency, founded by civic leaders and social entrepreneurs in 1996, currently serves over 400 aspiring scholars from Albany, Schenectady and Troy High Schools.

Support includes weekly homework sessions, paid tutors, graphing calculators, fees for advanced placement courses, SAT preparation and testing, and for college visits and applications.

Here to tell us more is Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar Executive Director, Bill Corbett.