Students Call on Governor Cuomo
to Add Students to the
New York Education Reform Commission
Trustee Lafazan: Students are often left out of the conversation
New York – Students from throughout New York State are calling on Governor Cuomo to add three student representatives to the New York Education Reform Commission (“Commission”). This January, during his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo made history by proclaiming that this year he would become the “lobbyist for the students.”
In a letter submitted to the governor, New York State student leaders requested that two present secondary school students in New York State and one student who graduated from a secondary school in New York State and is currently pursuing higher education, be placed on the Commission. The letter specifies that:
“We encourage the selection of these students take place over the course of a brief application and nomination process. However, if the Office of the Governor believes that it can more swiftly appoint these students at its own discretion, then we recommend that the latter path be taken.”
Said student organizer and recent graduate of Great Neck South High School Zak Malamed, “This is an opportunity to understand what reform measures need to be put in place from those who are experiencing the consequences of the system’s flaws first hand – the students.”
The letter goes on to quote United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who recently observed that, “Students know what’s working and not working in schools before anyone else.”
Student signatory, recent graduate of Syosset High School, and recently elected member of the Syosset Central School District Board of Education Joshua Lafazan embodies the power of and necessity for the student voice in education reform.
In a statement, Trustee Lafazan said:
“I want to congratulate Governor Cuomo on the formation of the New York State Education Reform Commission. As Governor, he seems to be placing a priority on quality education in New York State while reducing expenditures. Students are often left out of the conversation, and having young people on the Commission will serve invaluable because we can contribute insight into the needs of today’s students.”
A copy of the students’ letter is attached below.
To learn more about this student led movement visit stuvoice.org or join the weekly #StuVoice Twitter chat on Mondays at 8:30 pm EST.
Dear Governor Cuomo,
As leaders in the movement to enhance the student voice in the development of education policy, we would like to request that you add three student members to the New York Education Reform Commission.
We suggest that you have two of the student representatives presently be public secondary school students in New York State. The third student should be a graduate of a public New York secondary school and maintain his or her primary residency in New York State, but should be presently pursuing higher education. We think that this would help bring a full spectrum of the student representation and experiences to the dialogue.
Despite the timing of this request, we encourage the selection of these students take place over the course of a brief application and nomination process. However, if the Office of the Governor believes that it can more swiftly appoint these students at its own discretion, then we recommend that the latter path be taken. Primarily, we are asking for prompt student representation on the commission.
Mr. Governor, in your State of the State address this January you made history by proclaiming that this year, you would become a “lobbyist for the students.” While solidifying your role as such, these nominations would provide you with the opportunity to lead our nation’s education system into a new era of student-centered learning.
The United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, recently observed that, “Students know what’s working and not working in schools before anyone else.” He is correct. Students have invaluable and unparalleled insight into the inner workings of schools, and the suppression of their voices has led our schools to failure. Students must not only be heard, but also be put in a position where their ideas can be put into action. Therefore, it is imperative that you place students on the New York Education Reform Commission as voting members, so that we may effectively evaluate and reform New York State’s education system.
We are looking forward to engaging with you on this matter.
- Jake Carias, 18, recent graduate of Eden High School, now attending American University
- Nikhil Goyal, 17, Syosset High School
- Marguerite Kellog, 18, recent graduate of Watkins Glen High School, now attending Kent State University
- Joshua A. Lafazan, age 18, recent graduate of Syosset High School, now attending Nassau Community College, Syosset Central School District Board of Education Trustee
- Zak Malamed, 18, recent graduate of Great Neck South High School, now attending the University of Maryland, College Park
- Julia Raphael, 18, recent graduate of Poughkeepsie Day School, now attending Johns Hopkins University
- Matthew Resnick, 17, Eleanor Roosevelt High School
- James Zieno, 18, recent graduate of Norwich High School, now attending the University at Albany-SUNY