From the CASDA Archives: The CASDA Origin Story

June 13, 2017

In 1949, CASDA was founded by a group of educational leaders from Eastern New York with the goal of linking the New York State College for Teachers with area school districts. The primary purpose of CASDA at the time was to examine emerging educational challenges and provide professional development to K-12 schools in the Capital Region, which were rapidly changing due to post-war expansion. Since then a lot has changed at CASDA and in the field of education. In order to showcase these changes, as well as the similar challenges we still face in our schools today, we will be featuring articles from CASDA newsletters dating as far back as our founding in order to showcase the education challenges we have faced in the Capital Region over the past 67 years. This month's featured article was written by A. Harry Passow of the State College for Teachers and was featured in our Spring 1950 newsletter. It details the origins of CASDA as well as the early collaboration between CASDA and the State Teacher's College in Albany. 


In January 1949, Dr. Joseph Leese, Professor of Education at the New York State College for Teachers at Albany, New York, received a request from the Schoharie County School Boards Association to describe the study council movement and discuss the possibilities of a council centered at the college after consultation with the President and Director of Training at the College, Dr. Leese addressed the school board members. Shortly after, the Principals' Association of Schoharie County directed Mr. William Firman of Cobleskill to encourage Dr. Leese in a survey of the interest of the College and of area schools in establishing a council.


Last May, the administrators who comprise the Capital District School Development Association further discussed the possibility of a study council. The name CASDA was suggested by Dr. Robert Frederick, then Director of Training at the college. In June, at the invitation of Mr. Hamilton Bookout of Delmar, New York, twenty-five principals met with Dr. Leese and Dr. Frasure to set the organization underway. An interim executive committee was appointed with Dr. Leese as interim executive secretary. Several ­conferences during the summer paved the way for a general meeting.


On October 25, 1949, ninety-five administrators from the Capital Area's eleven surrounding counties met to examine the possibilities of a study council. After further study, the election of an Executive Committee marked CASDA's s official launching. Thus, CASDA originated with the local schools who, alert to the implications of the study council movement, translated the idea into reality.


The Executive Committee's first real step of organization came on December 14 when it named five steering committees to select and define the specific situations and the problem areas in which member schools were to work. Responses to a questionnaire determined the general problem areas which the steering committees then proceeded to define. By the time of the general meeting held on January 25, 1950, four of the committees had expanded into working bodies and were ready to make their first progress reports. The third general meeting is planned for May 26, 1950.


This brief history, of course, lacks in details. It is impossible to include the many "birthpangs" which the organization has experienced in its short months of labor. But, the difficulties that necessarily attend such a birth from the embryonic idea to partial maturation are probably familiar to all who have participated in study council movements. College staff members have added the burden of consultation, visitation, and service to their usual college loads. Some eighteen staff members are directly engaged in some phase of the council's activities - ample evidence that, despite personal sacrifice in many cases, alert educators realize the tremendous possibility of the study council.   School boards, superintendents, principals and particularly classroom teachers have enthus­iastically contributed and participated. The past six months .have proved that they are genuinely interested in providing the best available education for their children.


At present, CASDA comprises thirty-seven member school systems with more than 1500 teachers and administrators. All types and sizes of schools belong, ranging from rural central to city schools from faculties of ten to those of 250. Two units of the State University of New York, New York State College for Teachers at Albany and State Teachers College at Oneonta, provide consultation service. Headquarters for the organization are located at State College at Albany.

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