Posts from April 19th, 2012
April 19, 2012
- The U.S. Department of Education unveiled its vision for revamping vocational education. (Politics K-12)
- An advocate of apprenticeships offers her take on the country’s career education approach. (The Nation)
- A guide to spending on lobbying in New York State starts with always-hot education. (New York World)
- The DOE’s former number-two warns about the “vultures” who would curb mayoral control. (SchoolBook)
- In Florida, the decline of tourism has given rise to roadside hotels filled with homeless families. (HuffPo)
- A new Brookings Institution report argues that housing policy is education policy, too. (HuffPo)
- A group that has focused on helping schools improve is now working with start-up schools. (SchoolBook)
- The city’s budget watchdog sees little hope of recouping early childhood intervention costs. (GS Scribd)
- A Staten Island principal praises a female student who completed an unlikely project. (Soaring Seagulls)
- A Common Core implementation convention of states focused on teacher prep. (Curriculum Matters)
April 19, 2012
The two events were so unrelated that one might expect them to appear together in a story on the state’s English language arts exam.
This afternoon, critics of the city’s school closure policies gathered for a protest on one side of the Department of Education, while just meters away inside City Hall, Mayor Bloomberg was congratulating I.S. 318′s chess team on their underdog win at last week’s National High School Championships.
The protest outside the Department of Education’s headquarters drew about 40 teachers and students, including many from schools that face a closure vote next week.
Turnout was denser inside City Hall, as Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott crowded in for a photo shoot with the I.S. 318 students, who returned from the tournament just in time for the start of annual state tests.
Banter between the students and the officials soon turned to this week’s tests. Several of the students are in eighth-grade and described for the mayor their confusion upon being asked to answer questions about a story called “The Pineapple and the Hare.” The story, an adaptation of a story by the absurdist children’s author Daniel Pinkwater, had flummoxed the students, who said they were not sure how to answer a question about why the pineapple was eaten. (more…)
April 19, 2012
Persistent concerns about school space-sharing got a fresh airing today at a City Council hearing about the Department of Education’s approach to co-locations.
The process by which multiple schools are placed in a shared building is at times controversial, most frequently when the department has proposed moving a privately managed charter school into an existing school’s building. It is also a cornerstone of the city’s efforts to expand school choice by opening hundreds of small schools.
Who decides where and when schools should share space could prove to be a litmus test for Democratic mayoral candidates, but so far, likely candidates have been hesitant to say where they stand. At a policy breakfast earlier this week, three of the candidates said they would consider giving district parent councils more of a decision-making role in school closures, openings, and colocations, but none said specifically that he would want the councils to be able to veto city plans.
Several State Assemblymen recently proposed a bill that would endow the councils with veto power. Separately, City Councilman Al Vann is drafting a city resolution that would call on the state legislators to amend the city’s school governance law to give the parent councils the ability to vote on both co-locations and school closure decisions.
At today’s City Council hearing, Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson argued that co-locations disrupt learning and exacerbate unequal distributions of resources. (more…)
April 19, 2012
At most of the public hearings about the city’s plans to “turn around” dozens of struggling schools, Department of Education representatives have insisted that closing and reopening the schools with new principals and teachers would be in students’ best interest.
That was not the case at Bushwick Community High School Wednesday night.
After hearing dozens of students deliver emotional speeches in defense of the transfer high school, the department’s second-in-command offered a testimonial of his own.
“This is a school that looks at the whole child. This is a school that gives students second chances. It’s a place of redemption. It’s a family. It saves lives,” said Shael Polakow-Suransky, the department’s chief academic officer.
“I was moved by what you said tonight,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of public hearings and I think it’s a tribute to the educators in this community that students here speak with such passion, with such eloquence, and so thoughtfully about what works.” (more…)
April 19, 2012
The Department of Education isn’t paying attention to recent improvements at the school it has proposed for “turnaround,” teachers and students said at two of the schools Wednesday evening.
At Flushing High School, teachers said during a public hearing about the turnaround plan that a recent leadership change had created conditions for success — and that any consideration of the school’s performance should taken into account its large immigrant population. At the Bronx High School of Business, teachers said the staff had been overhauled this year but hadn’t yet had a chance to demonstrated success.
The city has been holding public hearings about the turnarounds, which would require schools to be closed and reopened after replacing many teachers, since late last month. The final two hearings are tonight, and the city’s Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote on the 26 total proposals next week. It has never rejected a city proposal.
Flushing High School
According to the dozens of students and teachers who testified at Wednesday night’s closure hearing, Flushing High School is on the upswing after suffering from years of poor leadership and budget cuts.
More than 100 protesters of the city’s plan to close the school using the turnaround model struck a tone of optimism and passion as they sat in the Flushing auditorium, wearing red T-shirts and, in some cases, glittery horns to represent the school’s mascot, the Red Devils. A group of sophomores from a band class drummed forcefully on plastic tubs before city officials began the hearing, chanting, “Save our school.”
Deputy Chancellor David Weiner cited the school’s low four-year graduation rate — 60 percent for the past two years — as the main reason the Department of Education believes Flushing would benefit from turnaround. As he spoke, teachers and parents in the audience sporadically shouted over him. “Nobody wants this!” one called. “Fix truancy,” another shouted. A third person yelled, “They’re not English-speaking,” referring to Flushing’s large number of English Language Learners. Of Flushing’s 3,075 students, 618 are ELLs. (more…)
April 19, 2012
New York City’s controversial school turnaround proposals represent a tiny piece of a sweeping effort, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, to overhaul the country’s lowest-performing schools. In the second of three articles about the reform effort produced by Education Week, The Hechinger Report, and the Education Writers Association, Andrew Brownstein looks at the strange juxtaposition of School Improvement Grants against a context of state budget cuts — an issue that is less acute in New York than in many other states but relevant nonetheless.
For the casual visitor, it’s easy to miss that Southeast High School in rural Kansas — once among the lowest academic performers in the state — is in the midst of a profound transformation.
Like so many other Kansas schools, the building in Cherokee (population: 722) shows the telltale signs of a suffering economy. Bus routes have been cut, as have supplies. Custodians, secretaries and cafeteria workers took an eight-day pay cut. During the harsh winters, students bundle up to make it through classes where the temperature hovers at an uncomfortable, but cost-saving 68 degrees.
But look deeper, and another picture emerges.
Every one of those students is assigned a MacBook for the year. Teachers use iPads on classroom walkthroughs designed to improve instruction and boost student engagement. And the entire school improvement process is underscored by consultants from Cross & Joftus, a Washington, D.C.-area consulting firm.
The schizophrenic portrait of school funding is not unique to Southeast. It is one of roughly 1,200 schools in the nation to win a federal School Improvement Grant (SIG), given to those in the bottom 5 percent in the country to spark radical improvements in school culture and student performance. The backdrop of the recession means that many of these schools have funding to do things they’ve never done at the same time that they’re hamstrung to fund many of the basic things educators typically take for granted. (more…)
April 19, 2012
- D.C.’s new five-year plan for its schools emphasizes instruction and closures. (Washington Post)
- The city will give credit to high schools for students who enter the military after all. (GothamSchools)
- For students with disabilities, the state’s longer-than-ever exams can be even longer. (GothamSchools)
- Four Fordham HS of the Arts students are performing in a national monologue competition. (Daily News)
- Kindergarten wait lists are, as always, especially long in some Brooklyn neighborhoods. (Daily News)
- Feverish fundraising means a Brooklyn Catholic school will stay open. (NY1, Daily News, Post, Times)
- Boston is giving bonuses to school workers who help clear a growing special ed backlog. (Boston Globe)