For the past year and more, the New York State Board of Regents has spent a huge proportion of its time designing and debating a test-based educator evaluation system. The system was developed by AIR (American Institutes for Research) and has been criticized as inaccurate by Bruce Baker, who says that even AIR recognizes how flawed the system is. Yet Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Tisch say “full speed ahead.”

Regent Roger Tilles, who represents Long Island on the state Board of Regents, wrote the following letter and distributed it to many people. He asks the right questions:

Last Thursday, Chancellor Tisch and I had a chance to tour some of the schools most affected by Hurricane Sandy. We met with teachers, principals and superintendents, hearing stories of how teachers, many of whom had lost their own homes, had gone door to door in an effort to determine where their students were living and trying to insure that their one constant, their school, would continue as best it could.


Friday, we were all witnesses to the horror of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. As the story unfolded, we learned of the selfless devotion of the teachers and administrators, putting themselves in danger while trying to protect their students, their children.


In trying to put these events in a context that we, as policymakers must try to do, I asked myself these questions:

1.      What kind of algorithm measures the kind of devotion that we saw and I am sure we would see in crisis after crisis in all of our schools?

2.      How do you establish a pre- and post-test for the kind of personal responsibility that these professionals demonstrated?

3.      How do we measure the trust that these children and their parents have placed in us as educators “in loco parentis”?

4.      What kind of virtual teacher would be able to foster the communication needed to create a trusting atmosphere where learning can take place?


Let us remember these questions as we are asked to develop policies that insure the future of our children and our country.

Roger Tilles, Member

New York State Board of Regents