Charles Bendit will resign from the state’s education policymaking body this month, creating a surprise third opening on the Board of Regents and potentially allowing for a more radical shift of its ideology.
Bendit’s departure comes as the board is undergoing a seismic transition: Both of the board’s leaders, Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar, plan to step down in March, and four of the board’s 17 members were replaced last year. The openings have led to intense jockeying, as some 50 candidates have been vying to join the board.
The shakeup is part of a larger shift in state education policy away from a series of controversial changes spearheaded in part by Tisch, including teacher evaluations that use state test scores. On Monday, Bendit said his beliefs and ideals often aligned with Tisch’s, whereas many of the new members have made it clear that they favor policies that reduce the importance of testing.
A real estate developer and investor, Bendit has brought an interest in creating partnerships between public education and private companies. He serves on the board of PENCIL, which works to connect schools and businesses. Bendit’s term would have ended in 2017.
“My time on the board was very meaningful,” Bendit told Chalkbeat on Monday. “I’ve always been passionate about public education. I’ve always been passionate about what we, as members of the private sector, have in supporting public education.”
Since Bendit fills a Manhattan seat, the legislature will have to conduct another round of interviews for the open position. Michael Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, said their intent is to fill the seat in March, but no interviews have been scheduled yet.
Bendit will attend the Regents meeting next week and will officially step down on Feb. 24.