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Education chief: We can do better

TROY - New York's education chief says we can "do better" when it comes to educating our children, a declaration coming Thursday night while delivering his annual State of New York Education Address at Sage College in Troy.

 A central theme of Dr. John King's address was motivating young people, saying he wants "every student instilled with the notion that through hard work and effort, anything is possible."

At a time of unprecedented change in New York classrooms, and the accompanying controversy that goes with it, King's vision for school districts is to create "a culture of continuing improvement."

"New York is a state that has many excellent school districts and at the same time we have challenges," King says, "We know we can do better and we're engaged in a statewide effort to do better."

Kids learn about tech opportunities at Nano Career Day

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany. - File / WNYT

ALBANY - Hundreds of middle and high school students are spending the day at the nanotech complex.

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is hosting its annual Nano Career Day. Students take part in hands-on activities led by faculty members. They'll also learn about careers in the field.

The goal is to encourage more students to become excited about science and technology.

Pre-K funding fight leads to break in budget talks

The New York State Capitol in Albany. - File / AP

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Funding for pre-kindergarten programs has become a sticking point as New York's legislative leaders work to finalize a state budget.

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos emerged brusquely from closed door negotiations Friday morning to say that certain participants were concerned only about New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio when it comes to pre-K.

De Blasio wants to pay for citywide pre-K with a tax increase on the wealthy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Senate Republicans both oppose the tax hike.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he's focused on the education of all the state's students and it's "unfortunate" if Shelos has a problem with that.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

25 shave heads to support fight against cancer

A member of the St. Rose community gets their head shaved. - Matt Soriano / WNYT

If the cold weather doesn't break soon, more hats are going to be needed on the St. Rose college campus in Albany.

That's because more than 25 students, administrators and staff shaved their heads on Wednesday.

They are doing it to raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

St. Baldrick’s supports the fight against childhood cancer.

While a NewsChannel 13 crew was there, two freshman girls got their heads shaved.

Between the two of them, they raised $5,000.

Education advocates march to Capitol, deliver petition to governor's office

ALBANY – Advocating for more state aid to school districts, hundreds of students, parents, and teachers marched Wednesday from Empire State Plaza to the State Capitol – with the Cohoes High School Marching Band out in front.

"We've always heard that the band is going to be one of the first things to go," said Cohoes senior Stephen Galarneau, a saxophone player. "We've heard all the budget cuts have been going on. The arts are definitely going to be chosen first out of everything else."

Demonstrators from Albany, Berne-Knox-Westerlo (BKW), Cohoes, Mohonasen, Schenectady, and several other school districts attended the rally. Many of them carried paper tombstones representing the positions and programs they’ve lost.

Three Regents re-elected, despite Common Core criticisms

ALBANY – In a joint session of the legislature, the state Assembly and Senate voted Tuesday to re-elect three incumbent members of the state Board of Regents

Christine Cea, who represents Staten Island, Dr. James Cottrell, an at-large member from Manhattan, and Wade Norwood, an at-large member from Rochester, will serve five-year terms.

"I am obviously delighted that three of our members were re-elected," said Dr. Merryl Tisch, Chancellor of the Board of Regents. "It is an honor to serve with them. They are all good people."

Regent James Jackson, who represented much of the Capital Region, withdrew from consideration. The legislature elected Monticello Village Justice Josephine Finn to replace him.

Tisch declined to say why Jackson, a longtime teacher and principal at Shaker High School, abruptly withdrew the night before the vote. Attempts to reach Jackson were not successful.

Captain Phillips lands in Albany, inspires kids

Capt. Richard Phillips talks to students about his experience with Somali pirates. - Matt Soriano / WNYT

ALBANY - A group of precocious 10-year old school kids from Pennsylvania got to meet a reluctant hero in Albany on Friday.

Captain Richard Phillips, the Vermont man whose true-life kidnapping ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates made world-wide headlines back in 2009, agreed to meet the kids so they could interview him for a special class project.

The kids, from Pike County, Pennsylvania, have already met and interviewed Congressional medal of honor winners at Gettysburg, and now, in the kids' view, Captain Phillips has joined the ranks of being an American hero.

It was an American film thriller, a real life account of the 2009 Maersk Alabama cargo ship hijacking in the Indian Ocean, in which Captain Richard Phillips and his crew were taken hostage by Somali pirates.