Home Home Home About Us Home About Us About Us About Us /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html About Us About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html
Home About Us About Us /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html
About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html










Camps & Sports


Children’s Corner

Collected Features


Cover Stories

Distance Learning


Famous Interviews


Medical Update

Metro Beat

Movies & Theater


Music, Art & Dance

Special Education

Spotlight On Schools

Teachers of the Month


















New York City

Sheila Evans-Tranumn: Associate Commissioner of Education
By Joan Baum, Ph.D.

An interview with Sheila Evans-Tranumn, Associate Commissioner for the New York State Education Department and a New Yorker with solid roots in the public school system, could not be more timely. The big word in her challenging professional life is “accountability” – the very “A” word Mayor Mike Bloomberg was invoking in his annual address on the state of the city on January 30th. “We must have mayoral accountability in education,” he said, adding that his interest is “not about power. This is about accountability in education.” He’s all for “more opportunities for parents to participate in our educational system,” but he doesn’t think a central board or the continuing system of local school boards is the answer. The Commissioner, charged with statewide responsibility for “School Accountability” across the board– from schools performing way above standard to those “furthest from the standard” says her first priority is to ensure that all children improve by holding all adults involved in the state’s educational plans “accountable.”

Though Ms. Evans-Tranumn points out that the State Commissioner and Regents have yet to issue a policy statement regarding the Mayor’s criticisms, she does indicate that the wider sense of who is accountable for student performance, as measured by exams mandated at the federal level, has already made a difference in the city for the poorest performing schools. She is proud to point out in talks around the country that New York State annually takes 18 schools off its probationary list, 12 of them in the city. She wants to keep the momentum going and of course succeed even more. What’s the trick? There is none, only hard work under a program called “extended time” where teachers work 15% longer (for pay) and cover more ground, proving that students can indeed learn, even under dire conditions. The results grew from the “privatization” initiative, which she credits with moving accountability to the forefront.

When the for-profits came along and said, we can do the job and you can hold us accountable for the results, she sensed the challenge, the model for the public schools here and nationwide.

Commissioner Tranumn is clear, however, about separating private schools from the privatization of public schools, a movement that in some ways resembles the institution of charter schools. In response to the Mayor’s general declaration that disruptive children must be removed from the schools, she says that, indeed, some youngsters do need to be pulled away, but she adds that some need only suspension while others can be turned around by a rigorous academic program. The challenge is particularly hers since she is charged with overseeing state efforts at school improvement and developing action plans for a number of programs, including SURR (Schools Under Registration Review), New York State Pre-kindergarten, Community Schools, Extended Day, Improving Pupil Performance, Categorical Reading, Early Grade Intervention, Homeless Youth, Parent Involvement, Reading Excellence, Title I Compensatory Education and the Early Grade Class Size Reduction Program. Though she says she feels confident that disruptive incidents do not occur in schools that are strong in administration and curricula, she is supportive of the three-years-and-you’re-closed-down policy that now applies to failing schools. Local officials have the power to remove 50% of teachers in a poor school and start anew or reconfigure. In the past only students were held accountable, she notes. Now it is the “adults.”

Ms. Evans-Tranumn, who is a graduate of North Carolina Central University, has a Masters from Long Island University and is working toward her doctorate at NYU, has been with the State Education Department since 1993. She is the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in education and is listed in various Who’s Whos for prominent educators, women, black Americans and urban leaders. She can be seen on Channel 25 (WNYE-TV) hosting the weekly television program, Education Dialogue, airing Mondays 5:30-6:00. But Sheila Evans-Tranumn has always known who she is, if not always what she would become. Impressed in the 80s with a principal in the city who really got parents involved in schools by requiring them to put in service hours, the Commissioner says that it was this dynamic woman– Adelaide Sanford– who inspired her to move into education. Earlier, a wonderful teacher at Erasmus Hall High School had made her fall in love with Shakespeare and she became an English teacher, with a double major in English and Math. She muses, originally, she had wanted to be a “brain surgeon.” Ah, but she is, though she works at her profession with a heart.#


Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.