Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch will not seek another term on New York’s education policymaking body, saying Monday that she would spend the remainder of her tenure working to “calm the waters” around higher learning standards, testing and teacher evaluations.
Tisch, whose term runs through March, has been at the helm through the state’s rocky shift to the Common Core. Most states adopted the set of standards as a grade-by-grade roadmap to college readiness, but its rollout in New York was criticized as rushed and is now under review.
The state also was among the first to begin testing students on the new standards and saw a marked decline in student performance on standardized tests used in part to rate teachers. Parent frustration was reflected in a 20 percent opt-out rate for the math and English assessments given last spring.
“Some people say it was too much at once. Some even say implemented poorly,” Tisch said at the start of the Regents’ monthly meeting in Albany, where she announced her decision. “I say we disrupted stagnation, complacency and tried to imbue the system with urgency. I say we took critical steps to reignite and reinvigorate.”
Away from the board, she said, she would be “an independent and outspoken voice” in the continuing debate, with “the least politics and most independence possible.”
Tisch’s announcement comes four months into the term of state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and amid simultaneous reviews of the Common Core by the state Education Department and a panel appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I would like to take these next four or five months to calm the waters, create meaningful consensus for higher standards, curriculum assessment, professional development, accountability and evaluation,” Tisch said.
Her tenure drew praise from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and current Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called her “a constant champion for higher standards and expectations for our schools.”
Tisch’s relations with yeshivos, which started with much goodwill at the onset of her term, soured in recent years as she increased her involvement on the East Ramapo school board. She pushed for a state-appointed overseer on the Orthodox-led board and penned a critical op-ed, questioning how Orthodox Jews can run a school system when they send to private schools.
Tisch, a former first-grade teacher, was first appointed to the board in 1996 and was re-elected to five-year terms in 2001, 2006 and 2011. She became chancellor in 2009.