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State Education Commissioner Talks Potential Partnerships With Community College President

The State Department of Education Commissioner is traditionally responsible for what's called P-12 education, preschool to high school, but MCC President Anne Kress says with programs like early college high school and dual enrollment, the line between high school and college is getting blurrier.

"So we really want to make sure that we can align our aims and purposes with what the broader aims and purposes of the state are."

Commissioner Elia was invited up to MCC to talk about partnerships between local high schools and community colleges, to make the transition easier.

She was also given a tour of MCC's Applied Technologies Center, home of their HVAC, automotive, and machinist training programs. Elia says she was really impressed by the facility, and she was also excited about a feature on MCC's website called Career Coach. It's a page where students can search for jobs in the region, find out the pay, and see what courses are needed to qualify them.

"Those are all real things kids are interested in, and we need to make them available."

Elia says she's happy to help get the word out about programs like career coach to secondary school kids across the state, and she says she wants to see the model replicated in other community colleges.

The commissioner also took the time during her visit to discuss some of the challenges she's faced since she came into her position over the summer.

Elia's department is currently in the process of reviewing and possibly making changes to common core exams. She says her job so far has been to listen to teachers and get their feedback about what's best for students.

"I'm a great supporter of higher standards for students, and I think that practitioners need to be involved as we move through what is a major shift in how we're teaching."

Common core is also under evaluations by a team appointed by Governor Cuomo, but both the state education department and the Cuomo Administration are outspokenly supportive of common core.

Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.