Posts from March 5th, 2012
March 5, 2012
- On deadline day, public notices about half of the city’s proposed “turnarounds” aren’t up yet. (GS Twitter)
- Half of all online instruction in America is now made up of credit recovery courses. (Harvard Ed Letter)
- UFT vice president Leo Casey unpacks the city’s agreed-upon appeals process for evaluations. (Edwize)
- A story of a smart fourth-grader who refused to take the state reading test. (The Diamond in the Window)
- Poking holes in the idea that value-added data would identify consistent low-performers. (Shanker)
- A top teacher offers a view into the value of collaboration in teacher improvement. (Gotham Gazette)
- On a rubric for assessing Teacher Data Report coverage, GothamSchools gets an A. (Sherman Dorn)
- Advice for a teacher fretting over being trapped in a toxic environment: “Breathe. Just breathe.” (Salon)
- A parent offers a new view on a beleaguered Chinatown school. (A Concerned Shuang Wen Parent)
- Linda Darling-Hammond: What happened in NYC is not the goal of teacher-evaluation reform. (EdWeek)
- A city teacher compares very different support two principals in two different schools offered him. (E4E)
- A drummer who teaches music at P.S. 66 in the Bronx says his school supports music. (Local 802 News)
- Joel Klein says education needs to take a more central role in the presidential contest. (WaPo)
- Laura Klein: Teaching is more about relationships than I thought it was supposed to be. (SchoolBook)
- Practical instructions for students who were not admitted to any high school last week. (Insideschools)
- The mother of an eighth-grader says the city’s high school admissions process divides students. (HuffPo)
- A subbing experience prompts questions about efforts to help schools as organizations. (GS Community)
- A parent parses a bureaucratic, jargon-filled, seemingly irrelevant letter that came home. (Insideschools)
March 5, 2012
It’s not often in education journalism that you reach a consensus on a controversial topic.
But that was the case for a group of high school reporters from the Global Learning Collaborative High School who asked their classmates for their opinion on one of the city’s most unpopular policies: the public school ban on cell phones and electronics.
The controversy was first raised in a lively story meeting that was part of a journalism class taught by Assistant Principal Rachel Dahill-Fuchel, who created the weekly class as one of several electives for students to choose from each semester. Dahill-Fuchel said she wants her students to have the opportunity to learn about the news industry and the role it plays in everyday life. (more…)
March 5, 2012
It’s hard to get students interested in your school when, according to the city’s “turnaround” plan, it might not exist in the fall.
That’s what Deborah Elsenhout, a guidance counselor at Banana Kelly High School, reasoned when droves of families walked right past her booth at last weekend’s Round 2 High School Fair, toward the hallway reserved for new schools opening in the fall.
As one of 33 schools proposed for the “turnaround” school reform model, Banana Kelly is waiting to learn whether it will shut down this June, to reopen in the fall with the same students but a new name and a staffing overhaul. Students who apply to the 25 high schools on the turnaround list would automatically be transfered to the new schools that would replace them.
Elsenhout said she either glossed over the turnaround situation to families who did stop, or didn’t mention it at all. But it’s hard, she noted, to advertise a school without a name.
“We do have a rigorous academic curriculum and a strong connection with the community,” she said. “But there’s a sadness, knowing people will be losing their jobs.”
Teachers at many of the turnaround schools have expressed persistent confusion about the plan and its implication for their students. They also found it posed a dilemma at the fair, where 270 schools were given a weekend to pitch their programs, new and old, to hundreds of eighth-graders who were not accepted at their top-choice high schools during the city’s main admissions process. Some teachers reassured families their schools weren’t going anywhere, but others said the schools were already gone. (more…)
March 5, 2012
This weekend, thousands of eighth-graders and their families descended on the Upper West Side’s Martin Luther King Campus to confront the bad news they received just days earlier: Unlike the majority of their classmates across the city, they still didn’t have a high school to attend next year.
That’s because these students — about 7,700 in all, according to city data — weren’t matched to any of their top high school choices through the Department of Education’s main admissions process. To help them find a school, the city recruited 270 high schools that are still trying to fill seats to a “Round 2 High School Fair.”
About 4,500 people attended on Saturday, according to officials in the Office of Student Enrollment, which organized the event. GothamSchools attended as well and spoke to dozens of families about their plight. We found there were a variety of reasons for why students ended up without a matched school. Some applied to only the most competitive schools; others didn’t fill out the applications properly; and some families suspected that schools turned away students with special needs. Other students were just unlucky.
Jaqueline Benitez’s son Joshua wasn’t matched to any of his twelve choices, which included top schools like Manhattan Village Academy and Museum High School. Jaqueline said she specifically singled out programs that a guidance counselor told her would have been able to accommodate her son’s Individualized Education Program and his need for Integrated Co-Teaching, speech therapy, and testing modifications.
“The thing that got me upset is that some of the same schools we chose are here for Round 2,” she said pointing to Museum High School and Baruch, which are among the many selective schools that are opening their doors only for students with special needs. (more…)
March 5, 2012
The UFT wants former Chancellor Joel Klein to take a break from running News Corporation’s education division to explain just how the Department of Education helped schools it was once barred from closing.
The union has subpoenaed Klein to appear in court in the next phase of a school closure lawsuit filed last year. It has also issued “notices of deposition” to require 11 current Department of Education officials, including Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky, to testify.
That lawsuit, which a judge ruled should not impede the city’s school closure plans, argued that the department had not provided 19 schools with promised support. The city had committed to providing the supports — which ranged from assigning temporary teachers to add extra support to providing additional teacher training — under the terms of a 2010 closure lawsuit.
The union’s 2010 suit focused on the city’s compliance with state law about public notification of closure proposals. A state Supreme Court justice ruled that the city had not followed the law, halting school closures for that year. In a settlement, the city promised to pour extra help into the schools to help them boost performance and avoid closure the next year. But a year later, 14 of the 19 schools were back on the chopping block. (more…)
March 5, 2012
A few weeks ago, New York State officials and the state teachers’ union settled upon a revamped teacher evaluation rubric, and many cheered the agreement as a giant step in the state’s school reform agenda. Under the current evaluation system, teachers are rated as either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” with few teachers across the state receiving (more…)
March 5, 2012
We want to extend a warm welcome to New York Times readers who found GothamSchools because of “Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher,” William Johnson’s essay in Sunday’s Week in Review.
In the essay, Johnson, a special education teacher at a Brooklyn high school and a regular contributor to the GothamSchools Community section, describes the pain and pressure of receiving an “unsatisfactory” rating that he felt didn’t take into account the challenging context in which he and his students worked.
The truth is, teachers don’t need elected officials to motivate us. If our students are not learning, they let us know. … Good administrators use the evaluation processes to support teachers and help them avoid those painful classroom moments — not to weed out the teachers who don’t produce good test scores or adhere to their pedagogical beliefs.
Worst of all, the more intense the pressure gets, the worse we teach. When I had administrators breathing down my neck, the students became a secondary concern. … I was scared of losing my job, and my students suffered for it.
Over the weekend, we received dozens of comments and email messages from teachers, parents, and professors across the country saying that Johnson gave voice to their own concerns about how teachers are being assessed. One even offered to buy Johnson a Starbucks gift certificate to show her appreciation for his perseverance under pressure.
A sampling of those comments is below. (more…)
March 5, 2012
- Principals are pushing the city to give credit for military enlistment in addition to college readiness. (Post)
- A class of second-graders at Brownsville’s P.S. 401 has had five teachers so far this year. (Daily News)
- Families are concerned that the city’s budget could cut child care services to 47,000 children. (Times)
- Principals at schools slated for “turnaround” are being told they’re being removed. (GothamSchools)
- Teacher William Johnson confesses an unsatisfactory rating and says he craves improvement. (Times)
- A top-rated teacher at Brooklyn’s P.S. 289 says he’s never had a student fail a state exam. (Daily News)
- Michael Winerip: The low scores of top teachers at Brooklyn New School show the ratings lie. (Times)
- A teacher at a charter school that pays more for more accountability had a low value-added score. (Post)
- A principal with many low-rated teachers blamed the ratings, inaccurately, on budget cuts. (Daily News)
- Teacher Julie Cavanagh says she got a top rating but doesn’t think it reflects her value. (Daily News)
- A student at Lincoln High School was arrested after threatening violence via Facebook. (Daily News)
- A video taken at Murry Bergtraum High School last week shows dozens of students brawling. (DNAInfo)
- The state’s teachers union withdrew concerns about Gov. Cuomo’s pension reform plan. (Daily News)
- Teachers at a Bronx school are defending their principal against claims that she misbehaved. (Post)