POTSDAM - Clarkson University recently hosted New York State Education Commissioner John B. King and Deputy Commissioner Kenneth Slentz. The State Education officials were touring the north country as part of a BOCES district evaluation process.
The commissioner met with Clarkson President and NCREDC Co-Chairman Tony Collins and representatives from SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Canton, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES, Franklin- Essex -Hamilton BOCES, Champlain Valley BOCES, Salmon River Central School District and the Empire STEM Learning Network.
The two-hour round table discussion focused on how the State Education Department could facilitate stronger connections between public school districts and higher education institutions.
Among the suggestions were increase summer experiences on campuses for teachers and secondary students, expand the career and technical education programs and early college-high school initiative, allow Carnegie credit for internships and mentoring experiences, grant relief from the seat-time requirements and bell structure, allow greater flexibility in the CoSer regulations, offer more on-line learning options for high schools, facilitate stronger investment of business and industry professionals and college professors in schools, and support the STEM Learning Network.
Derek Dustin, a sophomore biology major at Clarkson University and Salmon River Central alumnus, offered comments about how his connection through a university-high school robotics partnership helped him decide to attend college. He also noted that typical high-school courses are not challenging enough to prepare students for the difficulty level of college courses, particularly in the sciences.
The north country visit is one of 15 fact-finding tours that the commissioner is making throughout the state to evaluate the effectiveness of regional BOCES. Commissioner King and Deputy Commissioner Slentz visited elementary and secondary schools, technology centers, and model programs and met with school board members, school administrators, teachers and parents.
Overall, the experience was a very positive one, said Tom Burns, district superintendent of St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES. The Commissioner was impressed with the attitude of cooperation among the stakeholders in the north country.