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New commission to advise state on proposed education funding

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— Gov. Andrew Cuomo formed a Smart Schools Commission, which will advise the state on how to invest the proposed $2 billion bond act and bring technology into classrooms statewide.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman and former CEO of Google, Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO for Harlem Children’s Zone, and Constance Evelyn, superintendent of the Auburn School District in Cayuga County, were selected as members of the commission, Cuomo announced Thursday.

“In the State of the State, we called for a $2 billion Smart Schools Initiative to transform our classrooms from the classrooms of yesterday to the classrooms of tomorrow,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This panel will help guide this bold initiative and reimagine our classrooms to provide New York’s students with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

The $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act will be used to purchase classroom technology, such as computer and tablets, high-speed broadband and provide funding for pre-kindergarten classroom space. It will be brought to a vote among state voters in November.

Schmidt joined Google in 2001 and helped to transform the company from a Silicon Valley startup to a technology giant. He was CEO until 2011 and led the company’s business strategy alongside its founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

“To prepare today’s students to compete in the global innovation economy, schools need to provide model educational environments that include the latest technology,” Schmidt said in a statement. “New York State’s efforts to upgrade classrooms with critical infrastructure like high-speed broadband and to equip students with digital devices are welcome first steps in achieving that goal.”

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