Posts from April 17th, 2012
April 17, 2012
- A third-grade teacher writes a letter to his students on the eve of their first state test. (Mr. Foteah)
- Another city teacher pens “An Ode to the Big Tests,” concluding that “this too shall pass.” (Jose Vilson)
- A longtime observer of gifted and talented programs answers post-screening questions. (Insideschools)
- A teacher lists the books she’s found are good at getting her students to read for 15 minutes. (prelife)
- A useful primer on how schools accumulate local, state, and federal funding. (Schools of Thought)
- A panel on education that included Joel Klein and Randi Weingarten stuck to the script. (Atlantic)
- Philadelphia is adding an average of 120 seats at 19 high-performing schools. (Notebook)
- Philadelphia is also recalculating the grades of schools where cheating was detected. (Notebook)
- An argument for forcing teachers to work together more often, instead of isolating them. (Atlantic)
- A math teacher offers 10 principals for designing math assignments that will engage students. (dy/dan)
- In a beautiful video, an NPR series analyzes just what makes up kids’ cafeteria food. (Russo)
- The education department Republican candidates love to hate probably won’t disappear. (CSMonitor)
- A Finnish education expert explains what the U.S. can and can’t learn from his country. (Answer Sheet)
April 17, 2012
When Mayor Bloomberg entered office in 2002, there were about fewer than 1,200 schools in the city. By the time he leaves, there will be about 1,800.
That number — representing a more than 50 percent increase — had Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a good mood during a press conference today to tout this year’s crop of new schools. Thirty Department of Education-run schools will open in September, as will 24 privately managed charter schools.
“We have created so many new schools. It is truly amazing,” said Walcott, who stood with Bloomberg and dozens of freshly minted principals at Manhattan’s Washington Irving High School, which will house two of the new schools. The pair touted a recent study by the research firm MDRC that concluded that the city’s new small high schools have continued to post higher graduation rates than other schools that remained open.
The addition of 54 schools created through the department’s new schools creation process will bring the total number of city schools to 1,750 this fall, 589 of them opened under Bloomberg’s watch. Bloomberg has promised to create at least 50 new schools next year — evenly split between charter and district-run — and he reiterated that vow again today.
Another 26 new schools would open under the city’s “turnaround” proposals but were not included in the small schools total touted today. Those proposals, which are likely to be approved next week, would close and immediately reopen 26 schools with new names and many new teachers in an attempt to win federal funding for the schools.
The sunny event came on the same day as two reports took aim at Bloomberg’s school policies, saying that his administration had fostered inequities and closed schools without first trying to improve them. The city decided this year to close Washington Irving, where teachers have said students had grown increasingly needy in recent years. The teachers also said that the school’s landmarked library, where the mayor’s event took place, had been closed to students since Washington Irving cut loose its librarian last summer.
If the criticism bothered Bloomberg and Walcott, they didn’t show it during their presentation. Instead, the pair engaged in friendly stage banter about the new schools. (more…)
April 17, 2012
Critics of school closures were not the only ones taking aim at the Bloomberg administration’s education policies today. A Massachusetts-based education foundation declared that the city’s schools systematically shortchange poor students and students of color.
Those students, who make up the vast majority of city enrollment, are less likely to attend top-performing schools as a result of educational “redlining,” according to a report released today by the Schott Foundation. The foundation gives grants to education advocacy groups across the country, including New York’s Alliance for Quality Education, a lobbying group formed to help win extra funds for city schools through the successful Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.
The term “redlining,” coined in the 1960s, refers to the practice of discriminating against people in certain neighborhoods or of certain races when deciding who should receive loans or other services. Writes New York University professor Pedro Noguera in a foreword,
While the term “redlining” might seem strong given that it implies a deliberate attempt to deny certain communities access to educational opportunities, this report will show that evidence of blatant disparities amount to Apartheid-like separations that have been accepted in New York for far too long. Rather than being angered by the language used, my hope is that readers of this report will be outraged by the fact that education in New York City is more likely to reproduce and reinforce existing patterns of inequality than to serve as a pathway to opportunity.
Using a methodology it has applied to other cities and research questions, the foundation assigned each of the city’s 32 school districts an “Opportunity to Learn Index” based on how likely it is that middle school students in the district attend schools in the top quarter citywide. It found that students in districts with many black and Hispanic students had a lower chance of attending top-performing schools. (more…)
April 17, 2012
After closing 140 schools since taking over the system in 2003, Mayor Bloomberg shouldn’t be allowed to shut down any more, according to Bill Thompson, who would like to succeed the mayor.
Thompson today announced that he has been lobbying legislators in Albany to impose a moratorium on school closures in New York City until after Bloomberg leaves office at the end of 2013.
Thompson, who narrowly lost to Bloomberg in 2009, said he had heard rumors from sources “inside and outside” the Department of Education, including legislators, that the Bloomberg administration is planning to close 75 schools next year.
“Why would we allow that to happen in the last year of a Bloomberg administration?” Thompson said. “We need to be protected against the DOE right now.”
Bloomberg dismissed Thompson’s comment this afternoon, saying, ”We can’t possibly know what we’re going to do next year.” But he added that his administration would “keep doing what we do right up until December 31, 2013″ when his term ends. (more…)
April 17, 2012
A scheduling conflict has parents at some “turnaround” schools miffed that they’re being asked to be in two places at the same time.
The Department of Education is hosting four meetings this week for parents whose children attend the city’s lowest-performing schools under federal accountability laws. The borough-wide meetings are intended to help parents learn about options for transferring out of their current schools through No Child Left Behind’s “Public School Choice Program.”
But the department is also hosting public hearings about proposed school closures at the same time, putting families who wanted to attend both events in a difficult spot. At Monday night’s hearing for August Martin High School in Jamaica, Queens, parents said they felt conflicted about which meeting to attend after receiving a postcard advertising the transfer meeting over spring break and phone messages about the closure hearing this week.
“I didn’t know which meeting was more important,” said Helese Crawford, whose husband attended the Queens transfer meeting at John Adams High School, about three miles down road, at the same time as the August Martin meeting. ”Thankfully, because we’re together, we were able to go to both.”
Laura Brown said she had planned to attend the transfer meeting to learn about options for her ninth-grade daughter — but then she drove by August Martin and recognized other parents and teachers outside the school.
“I saw that everybody was here and I thought they cancelled the other one,” she said. (more…)
April 17, 2012
Plans to close and reopen Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School using turnaround, the controversial school reform model, could leave this year’s juniors without state certification in the fields they have been studying for the past three years.
For the students and their teachers, Smith’s turnaround hearing marked a return to the front lines of a battle they thought they won two years ago, when the school was narrowly spared from closure.
After initially proposing to phase the school out, the city opted to keep Smith open but downsize it by eliminating all of its career and technical programs but one: automotive technology. Five other CTE programs — in carpentry, electrical engineering, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing, and pre-engineering — would close over time.
This year’s juniors would be the last to earn certification in those programs, entitling them to a license to work in some industries immediately after graduation. The school has continued to maintain a staff to help them through their career coursework.
But under turnaround, the school that replaces Smith will constitute a new staff, drawing from Smith’s faculty roster and elsewhere to find teachers to meet its needs.
If multiple teachers choose not to reapply for their jobs or are not selected during the hiring process — a conceivable outcome because the replacement school might not want to hire teachers for programs that would not exist after one year — Smith’s career programs could be severely affected. State certification for CTE programs requires schools to offer particular courses and have teachers with certain credentials.
Department of Education officials told attendees at last night’s closure hearing that it is not guaranteed that Smith’s replacement school would be certified to offer the technical programs. But the officials — who included the department’s former top CTE executive, Gregg Betheil — repeatedly assured families that students “should” still be able to receive CTE diplomas in coming years. They said they are encouraging teachers to gain certification to teach across disciplines so that no single program has a shortfall of qualified teachers and that they expected the state to sign off on the programs again. (more…)
April 17, 2012
- State Senate Republicans say they will not consider a bill to curtail mayoral control in the city. (Post)
- The state’s teachers union has given $85,000 to State Senate Democrats in the last month. (Post)
- Michael Powell: The city’s school closure policies trap needy students in withering schools. (Times)
- Some parents are boycotting state tests that start today. (GothamSchools, SchoolBook, Daily News)
- The test scores carry higher stakes this year because many districts are using them to rate teachers. (AP)
- The city’s deputy chancellor for students with special needs is retiring. (GothamSchools, SchoolBook)
- A family says it will sue over P.S. 197′s handling of an autistic kindergartener’s tantrum. (Daily News)
- A school-board fight in Jersey City, N.J., has turned into a showdown between mayoral supporters. (WSJ)
- Brooklyn’s I.S. 318, a middle school, won a national high school chess championship. (SchoolBook)
- Students at LaGuardia High School were offered grief counseling after a teacher was killed. (NY1)
- An ex-teacher at a private school was charged with having sexual relations with a student. (Times, AP)
- Kindergarten waiting lists are longer at perennially overcrowded Queens schools this year. (Daily News)