Governor Cuomo Announces Smart Schools Commission Hosts Third Public Symposium

Experts Convene in New York City to Present Best Practices in Connectivity and Technology-Enabled Education and Learning

Print Email

Albany, NY - September 29, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Smart Schools Commission sponsored its third Public Symposium, in New York City, where technology and education professionals presented on innovative, successful approaches to school and community connectivity and technology-enabled education practices. The Smart Schools Commission is responsible for advising the State on how to best invest the Governor’s proposed $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act in order to enhance teaching and learning through technology. The Governor proposed the Smart Schools initiative during his 2014 State of the State in order to reimagine New York’s public schools for the 21st Century.

“Our children deserve to receive the best education possible – and transforming our schools with proven strategies that bring new technology into the classroom is imperative to achieving that goal,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Smart Schools Commission is gathering the information we need to truly bring New York’s classrooms into the 21st Century, and I am thankful for all who have come forward to help us invest in our children’s future.”

The Symposium featured a panel of eight education and technology professionals who responded to questions by two members of the Smart Schools Commission: Geoffrey Canada, President of Harlem Children’s Zone and Constance Evelyn, Superintendent of the Auburn School District in Cayuga County. Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman and Former CEO of Google, is also a member of the Commission. The community is encouraged to submit additional input on the Smart Schools Commission website; its findings will be incorporated in a final report published later this year.

The first public symposium was held on July 21 in Albany, and the second public symposium was held on September 17 in Buffalo. At each meeting, panelists highlighted to the Commission and community members the need and ability to: enrich the in-classroom learning experience by incorporating the use of tablets, laptops and smart phones; extend preparation for student instruction by using web-based software accessible at home; increase communication between the instructor and student's guardian; provide more descriptive academic progress reporting; and, importantly, to support these changes, build a robust network of high-speed broadband and wi-fi connectivity throughout New York's public schools and communities – which experts have noted is challenging given the state’s size.

Today, the panel of eight education and technology professionals reinforced the input by their colleagues in Albany and Buffalo, stressing a need for faster and more robust internet infrastructure in communities in order to accommodate for vastly increasing usage of technology in public education. The experts additionally presented to the Commission the practical ability and need to: seamlessly fit technology into existing best teaching practices; reimagine the classroom for the 21st Century; utilize online learning to supplement traditional instruction; and ensure that any change that takes place is done in a way that has the full understanding by students, parents and teachers.

MOUSE Executive Director Daniel A. Rabuzzi said, “Broadband is the paper, pen and ink of the 21st Century – without access to broadband, New Yorkers will not be able to compete equally and successfully in education and the economy. MOUSE is thrilled to participate in the Smart Schools Symposium to help address this challenge.”

International Association for K-12 Online Learning Vice President for Federal and State Policy Maria Worthen said, "In order to prepare our children for the career and college environments they will face tomorrow and into the future we must transform the way in which educators teach and students learn. This systemic transformation requires strong leadership and the integration of technology and innovative practice to personalize learning for all students. Today's symposium demonstrates New York's continued commitment to provide a world class education for every child in the Empire State."

Today’s symposium speakers included:

  • Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent of the Ithaca City School District, has built a collaborative district culture focused on using student work to make real-time instructional shifts. During his tenure at ICSD, the district’s graduation rate has increased from 7 percent to above 90 percent, while students are achieving significantly above state and national average on various standardized tests, by implementing a redesign of learning spaces, game-based learning and 1:1 mobile device implementations. Dr. Brown is the co-author of “ThinkTweets: 100 Transformative Tweets for Educators.”
  • Tricia Interrante, Executive Board Member of the New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education, has more than 10 years of educational technology experience in K-12 schools. Interrante also serves as the Coordinator of Instructional Technology at William Floyd School District on Long Island and is a member of the Association of Suffolk County Supervisors of Educational Technology board in the capacity of Past-President.
  • Joe Kardash, Superintendent of the Colton-Pierrepont School District, is a former IBM software engineer and believes strongly that the culture of education has to be redesigned in order for the system to prepare students for the world they will live in, rather than the world educators grew up in. Through his work at CPSD, Kardash hopes to be a catalyst for this change.
  • Jason Levy, Senior Advisor for Schools Technology for the New York City Department of Education, advises principals on how to build to build a vision for technology in their schools by working directly with school leaders and their teams to develop action plans and strategies for successful integration of technology into teaching, learning and efficient school operations. Levy is a former teacher of five years and principal, and successfully implemented a 1:1 laptop program at a public school in the Bronx.
  • Kevin Moran, Executive Director of Field Support Division of Operations for the New York City Department of Education, oversees critical infrastructure programs that ultimately support the education of 1.1 million students. Prior to serving in his current role, Moran was Executive Director in the Office of School Support, as well as Deputy Cluster Leader for the Division of Academics, Performance and Support and Deputy Executive Director of Operations at the Brooklyn Integrated Service Center.
  • Dr. Michael P. Nagler, Superintendent of the Mineola School District, focuses on leveraging technology to make his district optimized for efficiency and affordability – from buildings to grade levels – in order to maximize teacher resources while creating more program opportunities for students. Dr. Nagler lead one of the first 1:1 iPad initiatives, which led Apple to declare Mineola Middle School an “Apple Distinguished School,” and now accompanies Mineola’s recent acceptance in to the League of Innovative Schools, which is comprised of just 57 school districts nationwide.
  • Daniel A. Rabuzzi, Executive Director of MOUSE, previously held leadership positions at Year Up New York, The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and The Kentucky Virtual Campus, which was one of the first public sector colleges to provide web-based offerings to citizens who lacked robust educational services in their region. Rabuzzi was additionally a vice president at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company.
  • Maria Worthen, Vice President for Federal and State Policy for the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, is a former pre-school teacher and social worker. Prior to joining iNACOL, Maria served as Education Policy Advisor to the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. She also worked at the U.S. Department of Education, serving as Congressional Liaison in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs, Program Officer in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.

A full video of the second symposium, files of the speakers' presentations, a tool to see what funds each school district would receive and a place for the community to submit suggestions can be found on the Smart Schools Commission website here.

About the Smart Schools Commission

The Smart Schools Commission is charged with advising the State on how to best enhance teaching and learning through technology. The Governor instated the Commission in spring 2014 in order to reimagine New York’s public schools for the 21st Century. Access to advanced technology fosters a more interactive and personalized classroom experience while facilitating increased communication between parents, students, and teachers. Embracing innovation in education is an important step towards helping New York’s students gain the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century economy.

Members of the Smart Schools Commission include:

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman and Former CEO of Google: Mr. Schmidt joined Google in 2001 and helped grow the company from a Silicon Valley startup to a global leader in technology. He served as Google’s Chief Executive Officer from 2001-2011, overseeing the company’s technical and business strategy alongside founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Under his leadership Google dramatically scaled its infrastructure and diversified its product offerings while maintaining a strong culture of innovation.

Geoffrey Canada, President of Harlem Children’s Zone: In his 30 years with Harlem Children's Zone, Inc., Mr. Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform. The New York Times Magazine called Harlem Children’s Zone "one of the most ambitious social policy experiments of our time." In October 2005, Mr. Canada was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News and World Report, and Fortune recently named him one of the “World’s Greatest 50 Leaders.”

Constance Evelyn, Superintendent of the Auburn School District in Cayuga County: Ms. Evelyn has served as the Superintendent of Schools for the Auburn Enlarged City School District since August 2012. Prior to serving as Superintendent she has held a variety of leadership positions in Upstate schools, including the Ithaca City School District, Oswego City Schools, Rome City Schools, and Bedford Central School District.

To find out more about the Smart Schools Commission and submit comments and suggestions, please visit