Research


New York State Education Dept. Office of the Commissioner Audio and Video Tapes of Speeches and Interviews of Commissioner Gordon M. Ambach

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
This series consists of audio and video recordings of Commissioner Gordon Ambach. Included in the audio recordings are speeches and addresses given at colleges, universities, professional meetings, and Capitol Region call-in radio programs. Video recordings include television programs and portions of instructional programs intended for New York public television and for communications networks of school districts and BOCES; addresses at professional meetings; television interviews, public service announcements, and call in television programs.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
13 audio recordings and 36 video recordings
Inclusive Dates:
1972-1982
Series Number:
B0563
Sponsor:
This series’ description was enhanced as part of the States’ Impact on Federal Education Policy Project (SIFEPP), in June 2010. The New York Community Trust - Wallace Special Projects Fund provided funding for this project.

Arrangement

Arranged into two subseries: 1. Video recordings; 2. Audio recordings

Administrative History

Gordon MacKay Ambach was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1934. After graduating from the Providence school system, he went on to attend Yale as an undergraduate, and received several graduate degrees in education from both Yale and Harvard. He taught history in East Williston, New York from 1958 to 1961, eventually becoming President of the East Williston Teachers Association. He later served with the U. S. Office of Education in 1961-1962, and from 1961-1963 was a program planner and legislative assistant for U.S. Commissioner of Education Frank Keppel. In 1963-1964, he served as Executive Secretary to the Higher Education Facilities Act Task Force.

Ambach joined the New York State Education Department first as a Special Assistant, later becoming Assistant Commissioner of Education for Long-Range Planning from 1967 to 1970. From 1970 to 1977, he served as Executive Deputy Commissioner of Education. He was inaugurated as Commissioner of Education and President of the University of the State of New York in 1977, and served in that capacity until 1987. During these years, Ambach, working with the New York State Board of Regents, developed and implemented the Regents Action Plan, the most comprehensive school reform plan in the nation at the time. The Regents Action Plan enacted rigorous graduation standards and more stringent benchmarks for both teacher and school performance.

Ambach’s work as commissioner also produced important changes in pre-kindergarten and adult education, as well as education technology. He played an important role at the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Science in 1979 and again in 1991. He also served on the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science from 1980 to 1985. Additionally, he continued the work of his predecessors in increasing access to education for minorities and the disabled.

In 1985, Ambach was elected President of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Consequently, in 1987, he left his post as New York State Commissioner of Education to become the Executive Director of the CCSSO and continued his work in education until his eventual retirement in 2001.

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of audio and video recordings of Commissioner of Education Gordon M. Ambach.

Audio recordings are of speeches and addresses given at Nazareth College and State University of New York at Geneseo, as well as meetings of education-related organizations. These organizations include the New York State School Boards Association, the New York State Council of School District Administrators, the American Association of Museums, and the New York State Retired Teachers Association. Also recorded are two appearances on call-in radio programs in Albany and Schenectady, as well as a Christmas Eve 1979 recording of a bell-ringing ceremony at the State Education Department in solidarity with the American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran.

Video recordings include a number of television programs and portions of television programs intended for broadcast on New York public television stations, and for distribution via videotape through the communications networks of school districts and BOCES. These include appearances by Commissioner Ambach in videos on reading comprehension testing, the selection of district superintendents, school breakfast programs, and the importance of instructional television. Ambach also made a number of videotaped addresses shown at meetings of education organizations, designed to show the potential of video recordings for communication and instruction. Also included are segments and interviews from Albany-area television news programs, including those reporting on Ambach's appointment to the post of Commissioner of Education, and on a 1980 scandal involving the illegal sale of questions from that year's Regents examinations. The series also contains television programs in which in-studio and telephone audiences ask Commissioner Ambach questions about educational issues and NYSED policies. Also included are public service announcements for American Education Week, in which Commissioner Ambach encourages parents to visit their children's schools, and for the Parent Reading Partners program, which advise parents to read to their children for at least 15 minutes a day.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of the material.

Alternate Formats Available

Digital versions exist for all recordings in this series.

Related Information

Related Materials

Series B1829 Gordon M. Ambach education policy papers, contains records from Ambach's other education-related activities, particularly his tenure as Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers

Series B1054 Photographic prints and negatives of Commissioner Gordon M. Ambach and Education Department staff, dates from 1987, Ambach's last year as Commissioner of Education.

Access Terms

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Detailed Description

Subseries 1: Video Recordings

Dates:
1972-1981
Physical Description:
36 video recordings

Scope and Content Note:

This subseries contains video recordings of speeches, television appearances, and news footage featuring Gordon M. Ambach. Some of the videos were created when Ambach was Deputy Commissioner of Education under Ewald B. Nyquist. These include speeches delivered via videotape to meetings of education organizations in New York, meant to show the benefits of videotape for educational communications and instruction. Also in the subseries are a number of television programs and portions of television programs intended for broadcast on New York public television stations, and for distribution via videotape through the communications networks of school districts and BOCES. These include appearances by Commissioner Ambach in videos on the Degrees of Reading Power test (regarding reading comprehension), the selection of district superintendents, school breakfast programs, and the importance of instructional television. The subseries also contains segments and interviews from Albany-area television news programs, including those reporting on Ambach's appointment to the post of Commissioner of Education, and on a 1980 scandal involving the illegal sale of questions from that year's Regents examinations. In addition, there are television programs in which in-studio and telephone audiences ask Commissioner Ambach questions about educational issues and NYSED policies. Also included are public service announcements for American Education Week, in which Commissioner Ambach encourages parents to visit their children's schools, and for the Parent Reading Partners program, which advise parents to read to their children for at least 15 minutes a day.

Arrangement:

Chronologically

  

Contents Box Othertype

Accretion: B0563-05
Video Tape 1
Video Tape 2
Video Tape 3

Accretion: B0563-98
Video Recordings 1

Subseries 2: Audio Recordings

Dates:
1979-1981
Physical Description:
13 audio recordings

Scope and Content Note:

This subseries consists of audio recordings of Commissioner of Education Gordon M. Ambach. Included are speeches and addresses given at Nazareth College and State University of New York at Geneseo, as well as at meetings of education-related organizations. These organizations include the New York State School Boards Association, the New York State Council of School District Administrators, the American Association of Museums, and the New York State Retired Teachers Association. Also recorded are two appearances on call-in radio programs in Albany and Schenectady, as well as a Christmas Eve 1979 recording of a bell-ringing ceremony at the State Education Department in solidarity with the American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran. Educational topics covered by the recordings include Regents Competency Examinations, public attitudes toward education, teacher education and recruitment, school discipline, the role of libraries and museums in education, standardized test scores, and federal and state funding for education.

Arrangement:

Chronologically

  

Contents Box

Accretion: B0563-80
Audio Recordings 1

Accretion: B0563-98
Audio Recordings 2