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Letter from Associate Commissioner Elisa Alvarez June 8, 2020

June 8, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have spent our lives dedicated to ensuring that all students and their families receive the best that we can offer through our responsibilities as professionals in the New York State education system. We understand that providing an education of excellence is an obligation for us to provide, and a right that our students deserve.

During school closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to advocate and provide the best educational opportunities possible for our students. We saw essential workers, and in particular medical personnel, rise to face daily unknown risks to treat those who have fallen ill, as well as to bring comfort and relief for patients and their loved ones.

We rallied as good neighbors to focus on helping others and extended kindness to all who needed a helping hand. The best of humanity shone as a bright light in our battle to fight the pandemic that engulfed our communities.

How then, do we simultaneously face the inconceivable death of George Floyd? As the Associate Commissioner of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages, I reflect upon educational opportunities created over the years and up to the present as a result of social justice movements to promote civil rights, civic equity, multiculturalism – and ultimately, the power of knowledge and inclusion. Dr. Betty Rosa, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, has identified various investments and programs enacted by the Board of Regents to continue addressing inequities in our education system. For example, among other important programs and initiatives, the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and the Culturally Responsive – Sustaining Education Framework seek to empower all our scholars and eliminate persistent opportunity gaps.

As a voice for English Language Learners and Multilingual Learners, who are among our most vulnerable students, we stand firm as one voice with you to ensure that we continue to promote high quality civic education and equal educational opportunities in New York State classrooms. We will continue to strengthen opportunities and equity for all students and recognize we must understand our history to move forward together into our shared future. I look forward to a day when all students are educated in the understanding that diversity is as beautiful as the sun when it rises and as necessary as the moon when it covers us at night.

In unity,
Elisa Alvarez