A pair of special education experts from New York City will head up Andrew Cuomo’s new education team, the governor announced on Monday.
Elana Sigall is Cuomo’s new deputy secretary for education, a position that has seen steady turnover since he took office in 2011. Sigall, a lawyer and law professor, served a recent stint as the chief executive officer of the city’s division of special education and English language learners.
Sigall will be the fourth person to act as Cuomo’s top education policy advisor since he took office in 2011. The seat had been unfilled since July, when Ian Rosenblum departed after eight months on the job. (Cuomo’s first deputy secretary, David Wakelyn, also left after eight months as well.)
Sigall currently also serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia’s Teachers College and at the Columbia School of Law. She has come under fire during Fariña’s tenure for her limited teaching experience. According to her LinkedIn profile, Sigall taught for two years, before attending Harvard Law School and representing a charter school operator called the Learning Project from 2000 to 2002.
Paola Therasse heads to Albany as Cuomo’s program associate for education after seven years of teaching special education at the Bronx Leadership Academy, a Bronx high school. The State University of New York’s Jay Quintance, named assistant secretary for education, rounded out Cuomo’s appointments.
The appointments come less than two weeks after Cuomo was elected to a second term vowing to focus on uprooting the traditional public school system, growing the charter school sector, and strengthening teacher evaluations — an agenda that should lead to more clashes with the state teachers union.