Press Release

AFT Leaders on MaryEllen Elia, the Next New York Education Commissioner

For Release: 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Kate Childs Graham
202/393-6354; cell 202/615-2424

NEW YORK—Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Florida Education Association President Andy Ford and Hillsborough (Fla.) Classroom Teachers Association President Jean Clements, as the New York Board of Regents prepares to appoint MaryEllen Elia as the state's next education commissioner.

"MaryEllen understands that you can only reclaim public education by giving educators the support they need to do their jobs well," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "As superintendent in Hillsborough County, Fla., she took to heart the adage 'Do it with us, not to us.' As everyone knows, our union is opposed to high-stakes testing and value-added model, but even when MaryEllen applied it as required under Florida law, she made collaboration her mantra. And as a result, even when the going got tough in Florida, she was able to work with multiple stakeholders to do what was best for Hillsborough students."

"New York will be lucky to have MaryEllen. We certainly have been in Florida," said Andy Ford, president of the FEA. "It's been an uphill battle here, a testing ground for unproven educational reforms that are sucking the joy out of the classroom and scapegoating our educators. But even in the face of all that, MaryEllen was able to bring people together and work with us to move a positive, proactive agenda in Hillsborough and across the state."

"MaryEllen brought great skill, experience and optimism to the job. She was determined to increase achievement levels of all students and improve the lifelong prospects of Hillsborough's children—whether high-functioning or underachieving, imbued with special talents or challenged with special needs," said Jean Clements, president of the HCTA. "In a large, dynamic and diverse community, she worked hard to build collaborative relationships with community and business leaders, and especially with the unions that represent the professionals she saw as the key to any success with our schools and students. She never shied from the difficult conversations, and she believed that, together, we would craft the best solutions for our students and the professionals who serve them."

# # # #

The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.