ALBANY, N.Y. November 3, 2008 - New York State United Teachers today praised Education Commissioner Richard Mills for his unwavering commitment to raising academic standards for all children and wished him well in future endeavors.
"From his first days in Albany, Rick Mills has shared our commitment to closing the achievement gap," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "He has repeatedly emphasized that all children can learn to high standards, and we couldn't agree more. Commissioner Mills has been a partner in NYSUT's work to ensure that all students - especially those children who live in poverty - attend schools that are adequately funded and have the programs they need to succeed. "
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira credited Mills for valuing the role of educators in helping children reach high standards.
"During his tenure, Commissioner Mills was a persistent steward of the standards movement here in New York. He visited classrooms regularly and always focused on what was working, so that the best practices in the classroom could be replicated," said NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira, who met regularly with Mills as head of the union's Division of Research and Educational Services.
Neira also noted that Mills "worked tirelessly to raise the graduation rate and was a strong advocate for schools having the funding - and programs- they needed to provide support to students who were struggling to meet the Regents' requirements."
"NYSUT extends its best wishes to Commissioner Mills as he moves into the next phase of his career," Neira added. "We look forward to continuing to work with him in the coming months."
NYSUT represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.
The State Education Department announcement follows.
New York's Education Commissioner, Richard P. Mills, Announces Plans to Step Down Next Year; Begins Preparing for Transition
After serving for more than thirteen years as New York's Education Commissioner, Richard P. Mills today announced that he has notified the Board of Regents of his decision to resign from Office by the end of June 2009.
Commissioner Mills said, "The Regents, my colleagues and I, together with our partners, have completed an enormous body of work and have taken the first steps in the next phase of the Board's agenda to raise achievement. We have established a timetable that ensures a seamless transition for my successor. I will complete the tasks the Regents assigned to me as we prepare the education system for the future."
Mills continued, "There is no better time for a transfer of leadership than when an organization is strong and the building blocks for the future are in place. I am confident that my successor will find an agency of strength with a compelling agenda for the future."
As Commissioner of Education, Mills serves as chief executive officer of the Board of Regents, which has jurisdiction over the most comprehensive state educational system in the nation. The system encompasses every education endeavor in the State, including public and non-public elementary, middle and secondary education; public and independent colleges and universities; museums, libraries, historical societies and archives; the vocational rehabilitation system; and responsibility for the licensing, practice and oversight of 48 professions.
"New York is unique," Mills said. "We are so fortunate that we have an education system here, a system that includes all of New York's educational and cultural institutions – schools, colleges, libraries, archives, museums, public television, the licensed professions, vocational rehabilitation, career and technical education, and so much more. And unlike any other state, all of these are under the care of one board, the Regents," Mills continued. "This system gives us a spectacular advantage, providing New Yorkers with the knowledge and skills that are the currency of today's global economy. We must take full advantage of the opportunities this unique system gives us."
Mills continued, "There are so many people I want to thank, starting with the members of the Board of Regents. They have had the courage to set high standards and to insist that all children can succeed. I'd also like to thank my colleagues in the Education Department, whose dedication as public servants is unmatched. Thanks, also, to the teachers and school leaders who work tirelessly to lift up our children. Finally, I thank the students – our children – whose boundless energy and enthusiasm delights us all. Their ability to achieve, sometimes against the longest of odds, is a testament to the strength of the human spirit," he concluded.
Mills was appointed by the Board of Regents as President of the University of the State of New York and Commissioner of Education in August 1995. Before being appointed Commissioner in New York, Mills served as Commissioner of Education in Vermont for seven years.
Mills said, "The experience of serving New York's children is exhilarating. Even the hardest days have a clear purpose. I never tire of it. But now it's time for me to begin a transition for the Department and for myself."
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