The state Board of Regents made historical past Monday, electing Lester Younger Jr., as its first Black chancellor.
A former New York Metropolis educator and administrator, Younger has labored in public service for 5 a long time, serving on the board since 2008. He takes the helm of the board at a very difficult time, because the state’s roughly 700 districts method a full 12 months of disrupted in-person studying, and face grave issues about potential studying loss, enrollment declines, and finances gaps. Districts are additionally awaiting steering on whether or not state standardized exams will go on this 12 months.
When accepting the nomination, Younger highlighted that the nation has been coping with two crises over the previous 12 months: the coronavirus pandemic and a brand new racial reckoning stemming from incidents of police brutality.
“[The pandemic has] additional uncovered longstanding academic inequities, significantly impacting our most susceptible,” he mentioned. “We should use our management alternative on this second to set in movement the insurance policies and practices that can allow the over 700 New York state college districts to rethink college and education in methods that can remodel studying alternatives for all college students, academics, and college leaders alike.”
The chancellor put up has been vacant since August, when Betty Rosa resigned to function the state’s interim state training commissioner — the third individual to carry the momentary place since September 2019. Rosa’s election as chancellor practically 5 years in the past marked a brand new period in training in New York, as she was a vocal critic of controversial insurance policies that her predecessor supported, such because the Widespread Core studying requirements and a brand new trainer analysis system. Younger will lead the board amid a really completely different panorama, and a number of other training organizations are hopeful he’ll concentrate on addressing the inequities which have solely develop into extra obvious in the course of the pandemic.
As chancellor, Younger will work intently with Rosa and whoever ultimately fills the state training commissioner function. He additionally will work behind-the-scenes to construct consensus among the many board’s members on numerous coverage selections. The chancellor can also be answerable for appointing board members to completely different work teams and committees that oversee training policymaking in New York, together with pre-Okay-12 training, which Younger presently heads, together with early childhood studying, and the board’s search committee for a brand new commissioner.
Younger additionally chairs a piece group to enhance outcomes for boys and younger males of coloration — a difficulty that he’s taken specific curiosity in throughout his tenure on the board. The division credit Younger with main the cost to determine the state’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
At conferences, he typically questions how numerous insurance policies will have an effect on college students of coloration or asks for information that will illustrate that impression. When state assessments and studying requirements turned a flashpoint in New York, Younger mentioned, “When it was solely the kids in our city communities that had been scuffling with state assessments, you didn’t hear a phrase. Nobody mentioned something,” the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper reported on the time.
The son of late jazz legend Lester Younger, he grew up in Brooklyn.
Younger began his profession with New York Metropolis public colleges in 1969, serving as a trainer, steering counselor, principal, and a supervisor of particular training, based on the state training division. He left in 1988 to serve on the state-level as an assistant commissioner, serving to to supervise college enchancment and bilingual training, amongst different roles.
He returned to town training division in 1993 to develop into the superintendent of Brooklyn’s District 13. There, he helped set up two excessive colleges. Seven years later, he was appointed as a senior superintendent coordinating companies for 4 Brooklyn districts.
He retired from town in 2004 and went on to show at Lengthy Island College’s Graduate College of Schooling earlier than being appointed to the Board of Regents in 2008.
A number of training advocacy teams and officers celebrated Younger’s election. In a tweet, Chancellor Richard Carranza mentioned it was a “great day for the kids” of New York.
Jolene DiBrango, government vp of the New York State Academics Union, known as Younger “the suitable alternative” for guiding colleges by means of the pandemic and in addressing academic inequities.
Dia Bryant, deputy director and chief of partnerships officer for Schooling Belief-New York, mentioned Younger’s historic election because the board’s first Black chancellor “honors his invaluable contributions as an advocate for academic fairness for all college students.”
“We stay up for Chancellor Younger’s management and to working with him to pursue insurance policies that enhance training for college kids who’re traditionally underserved by our training system throughout New York State, one thing that’s much more vital at this second in our state and nation’s historical past,” Bryant wrote in a press release.