Posts from March 27th, 2012
March 27, 2012
- A union analysis shows that small schools on shared campuses enroll fewer weak students. (Edwize)
- Rick Hess is proactively drafting a 2020 history of the Common Core’s first 10 years. (Straight Up)
- What this week’s Supreme Court arguments about health care have to do with education. (NSVF)
- A push for universal schooling has worked, overwhelming some countries’ school systems. (Opinionator)
- NYCSA’s Bill Phillips: The Regents are finally toughening charter school accountability. (Chalkboard)
- Students at Bronx Guild HS have started planting what would be the city’s biggest orchard. (DNA Info)
- Colleges are using data to predict who will pass before classes begin. (Inside Higher Ed via Hechinger)
- A teacher describes two ways of introducing fractions to his third-grade students. (Mr. Foteah)
- A city teacher who was terminated in 2010 is making a case against the city on his blog. (Teddy Smith)
- State education chiefs are frustrated that Congress isn’t tackling big education priorities. (Politics K-12)
March 27, 2012
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott repeated a promise not to touch principals’ budgets next year, saying that a proposed cut in school funding that would cost the city more than 1,100 teaching positions would likely disappear once the city finalizes its budget later this spring.
Of the 5,000 teachers who typically leave the system each year, the preliminary 2013 budget projects that only about 4,000 would be replaced, which would save about $64 million, according to the city’s preliminary budget . But Walcott said that funding would likely be restored in time for the final budget and that principals would be able to hire for any vacated positions.
City Council members pestered Walcott about that and much more at a hearing this afternoon on the agency’s $19.6 billion budget, a 1 percent increase that won’t cover the added expenses the department expects. While last year’s hearings focused almost solely on opposition to a proposal to layoff thousands of teachers, the concerns raised by elected officials today spanned a range of the city’s education policies, including increased class sizes, the small schools initiative, spending on technology and contracts, and Medicaid collection.
But they reserved most of their early criticism on the $64 million cut in areas that directly fund schools. The decreased sum represents a headcount reduction of 1,117 teacher positions, according to the city’s projections.
“Year after year the DOE has made cuts to school budgets,” said Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson. “How are schools supposed to make do next year given the loss of funding proposed in the budget?” (more…)
March 27, 2012
Schools across the city will go short-staffed for 15 days starting as soon as next month’s state tests conclude.
As happens every year, the Department of Education is asking schools to send teachers to help grade the tests. But this year, the scoring period is 50 percent longer — 15 days instead of 10 last year — and it’s largely taking place during the school day. The changes mean schools will lose more teaching time than in the past.
Schools with more test-taking students are required to send more teachers. So a school with under 100 test-taking students will lose just one teacher from late April through early May, but a school with more than 1,100 test-takers will have to send eight to centralized grading centers.
Anna Allanbrook, principal of the Brooklyn New School, is responsible for contributing five teachers for grading this year. She has decided to send teachers that work as support staff, to keep classroom teachers inside the classroom. While she won’t need to shell out money for substitute teachers by distributing staff in this way, she is still at a loss.
“It costs me time because they’re not doing what they’re normally doing,” Allanbrook said. “I often wonder if they put all that money into something else if it would improve student performance.”
The tests have undergone changes this year to make them longer and include “field” questions that are aligned to new Common Core standards but won’t factor into students’ scores. Allanbrook said she thought the changes could prove burdensome for young students.
But the experimental questions will be graded by machines, not teachers, and the longer test is not the reason for the extended scoring period, said DOE officials. Instead, they blamed the change on budget cuts and a lack of aid from the state. (more…)
March 27, 2012
A married couple could soon be barred from working in the Department of Education after investigators found that the husband arranged a job for his wife even though she was not qualified to hold it.
Investigators in the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation found that Angel Namnum, a former deputy superintendent who earned $190,000 in the department’s finance division at Tweed Courthouse headquarters, had arranged for his wife, Rosa Castillo, to be given a job in a Bronx office that he supervised.
Castillo underwent an accelerated hiring process before landing a $50,000 “community coordinator” job that had not previously been vacant. Her new colleagues quickly realized that she could not handle her responsibilities:
[Seniors Grants Officer Maite] Villanueva explained that Castillo barely spoke English, although command of the English language was required for her position because she dealt with school personnel and issued permits. Villanueva said that Castillo had no computer skills and the office was at a disadvantage while Castillo was being taught basic computer skills. Villanueva added that Castillo did not understand e-mail and was unable to respond to internal or external messages.
Namnum will no longer work for the city after today and Castillo will face a disciplinary hearing next week, Department of Education officials said today. (more…)
March 27, 2012
Teachers should be paid more — but they should have to prove their value before getting big raises or better positions.
That’s a central idea of a paper about teacher pay released today by the teacher advocacy group Educators 4 Excellence. The group convened a 16-teacher policy team last fall to study past and current experiments in teacher pay, survey city teachers about their views, and come up with recommendations about how to change the way city teachers are paid.
Currently, city teachers earn a starting salary of $45,530 and see their pay rise in small increments each year and as they accumulate additional credentials such as a master’s degree. Large salary jumps come late in teachers’ careers or when they move into administrative positions.
The group’s recommendations include increasing the starting salary by a third; creating a “career ladder” so teachers can be rewarded for strong performance without leaving the classroom; introducing bonuses for teachers who receive top ratings on new teacher evaluations; and paying more to draw teachers to hard-to-staff subjects, such as science or special education.
Educators 4 Excellence is aligned with school reform groups that have battled the teachers union in the past, and some of the group’s previous reports have influenced city and state policy proposals. But the teacher pay report does not side neatly with either Mayor Bloomberg or the UFT. It does not call for merit pay tied to student test scores, which Bloomberg has supported and the city teachers union has said it would never accept, nor does it support Bloomberg’s recent proposal to offer permanent pay raises to teachers who earn top ratings on new evaluations. But it also does not call for union-backed school-wide bonuses of the type distributed under a city program that was aborted after it did not lead to increases in student performance.
“We are not interested in replicating failed experiments. As teachers, we already work hard, and we know that more pay will not make us work harder,” reads the report. “But we do want to be recognized for our successes. We want to build up our supply of excellent teachers by recruiting and retaining professionals who might otherwise choose other fields.” (more…)
March 27, 2012
- The city and state jointly came up with a list of topics that shouldn’t be broached on state tests. (Post)
- Legislators won’t use the budget to shield teacher ratings from public view. (GothamSchools, Daily News)
- But some lawmakers said the issue of privacy could come up during a separate legislative session. (Post)
- Some parents say they want to know the outcomes of the state’s new teacher evaluation system. (Post)
- The Post and Daily News say the fight shows teachers unions’ influence, even though their position lost.
- The city has updated its list of schools with lights leaking toxic PCBs, and 149 buildings are on it. (NY1)
- A personal look at Bushwick Community High School, a transfer school that could close. (Times)
- The city won’t let Canarsie’s I.S. 211 grow; a charter school is set to move into the space. (Daily News)
- Students at several schools, including Hillcrest High, are competing in a monologue competition. (NY1)
- Chancellor Dennis Walcott got a warm welcome during his visit to Curtis High School. (S.I. Advance)
- City private schools are using data about parents’ wealth to intensify fund-raising pitches. (Times)