Interim New York Education Commissioner Betty Rosa was given the job permanently Monday in a unanimous vote by the policy-setting Board of Regents.
Rosa has been interim commissioner since August 2020. The state’s Education Department has been without a permanent chief since MaryEllen Elia stepped down in August 2019.
She is the first Latina woman to serve in the position. The commissioner oversees more than 700 school districts with 2.6 million students, as well as 7,000 libraries, 900 museums and more than 50 licensed professions.
“Our state, our nation and the world are at a crossroads,” she said during a video meeting. “We must rebuild in new ways and on many levels. I submit that investing in education is foundational to our recovery and the future of our state and nation.”
Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown credited Rosa with providing stability to the Education Department during the pandemic and said she emerged as the most qualified candidate to permanently lead it “after an exhaustive search process.”
Rosa has a doctorate in education from Harvard University and also holds degrees from the City College of New York and Lehman College.
She began her career more than 30 years ago as a bilingual paraprofessional, teacher and reading coordinator in New York City.
Rosa became chancellor of the Board of Regents in March 2016 during her second five-year term and led the board until becoming interim commissioner. Rosa was first elected to the Board of Regents in 2008 to represent Bronx County.
The Board of Regents last month elected Regent Lester Young as the new chancellor.
Rosa is viewed by yeshivah advocates as being supportive of state oversight over private school education. The turbulence at the Education Department comes at a fraught time for the yeshivah community, as the Board of Regents is seeking to finalize new guidelines for private-school education by the beginning of next year.