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Brooklyn voice on Board of Regents - Educator Dr. Lester Young, Jr. takes seat

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Brooklyn now has a stronger voice in the state’s education system. That’s because a veteran educator who spent 36 years working at schools in the borough was just appointed to serve on the Board of Regents. “I’m both excited and humbled,” Dr. Lester Young, Jr., told this paper. The Board of Regents was established in 1784 and acts as a supervisory committee to the state Education Department, as well as the State University of New York (SUNY) system. As a new member, Young’s first order of business will be to encourage state officials to reverse budget cuts to public schools. “There’s a state budget and then there’s a city budget. The state budget has not been finalized,” he explained. “The Board of Regents – they do recommend to the governor and the budget committee what the education budget should be.” Although officials say projections of a recession merit budget cuts, Young insists that education is not the place to slash funding. “Education should be a priority and that’s something that I would certainly advocate for and fight for,” he said. Young, who has worked as a teacher, guidance counselor, principal, superintendent, and administrator at the city Department of Education’s (DOE) Tweed Courthouse headquarters, will also fight to end the achievement gap between white and minority students. “There are a couple of priorities that I have,” he said. “One of them is the whole issue of equity and student outcomes. We still have a large achievement gap in the state and the city and that has to be a focus and a priority and certainly is a priority of mine.” “I’m very concerned about the number of young people who are dropping out,” he said. “To ensure that you have stronger completions, you have to have better beginnings. So we’ve got to ensure that we have strong early literacy programs so that when the youngsters arrive at the high school door, they are prepared to handle the high school curriculum.” “One of the things we’ve got to do is be very focused on ensuring that public schools are of quality,” he added. State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, whose son attended a school in District 13 – which includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights – while Young was the district’s superintendent, expects Young to be a fierce advocate for public school students while on the Board of Regents. “He has spent time in every level of the education field – at the state level, at the local district level as superinten­dent,” Montgomery said. “He has a long and very broad experience.”

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