Posts from May 1st, 2012
May 1, 2012
- A teacher describes how he handles the idea that the year is over because state tests are. (Jose Vilson)
- Parents barraged City Hall with phone calls protesting cuts to child care programs. (Capital NY)
- Changes to city procedures are creating a “wild west” in prekindergarten admissions. (Insideschools)
- Chancellor Walcott: The story of recent grad Tanairy Carbo shows the city’s needs to do better. (Atlantic)
- Taking a hard look at the report the city cites to show the success of its small schools. (Gary Rubinstein)
- Richard Whitmire argues that black and Hispanic students shouldn’t be lumped together. (USA Today)
- Ravitch explains ALEC, the right-wing legislators group that influences schools. (Bridging Differences)
- After criticism, the “publishers’ criteria” for Common Core materials were revised. (Curriculum Matters)
- The UFT says the charter sector’s data dump is a big step but leaves questions unanswered. (Edwize)
- After an antagonistic start, Cleveland is now working with a charter school partner. (Plain-Dealer)
- A surprise career teacher says she benefits from having experienced colleagues. (Shoulders of Giants)
May 1, 2012
Sonya Turner knew her daughter struggled in school, both socially and academically. But when an assistant principal called one afternoon last October to say that her daughter, Cashmiere, had turned suicidal and needed to be sent to the Emergency Room for psychiatric evaluation, Turner said she didn’t believe it.
When she visited the school that afternoon to follow up, she was told she would not be allowed to speak with Cashmiere until she met with school administrators. Turner refused and angrily confronted school officials until she had to be restrained school safety officers.
“I was livid, I was cursing, I was very irate,” Parker said. ”If anyone should have been admitted to a psychiatric ward it should have been me, not my child,”
In the end, school officials sent Cashmiere to the ER anyway. She is one of hundreds of students who each year are forcibly referred to emergency medical services by principals who believe that they could be dangerous to themselves or others.
Those numbers are on the rise, education department officials told City Council members at a hearing on mental health services in schools today. During the 2010-2011 school year, principals and assistant principals sent students to the E.R. 947 times, a 12 percent spike from the previous school year.
“We have work to do because that number is not going in the right direction,” said Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said in her testimony. (more…)
May 1, 2012
A company hired to provide tutoring services in New York City bilked the city out of millions of dollars in federal funding for poor students, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
The department today filed a civil fraud lawsuit against The Princeton Review, Inc., alleging that the company had gotten the city to reimburse it for tutoring it had not provided. According to the suit, the company’s fraudulent claims continued even after a city investigation — never made public — turned up misconduct in 2006.
The tutoring program, known as “supplemental education services” and mandated for low-performing students in high-needs under the No Child Left Behind law, reimbursed providers based on the number of students they served. Princeton Review documented how many students it had tutored by turning in signed attendance sheets; it also gave bonuses to supervisors of tutoring sites where attendance was high. One of those supervisors, Ana Azocar, is also named in the lawsuit.
The bonus system incentivized fraud, according to the suit. Investigators found that many of the signatures showing student attendance were falsified — and sometimes names were even misspelled. The company sought reimbursement for tutoring students who were out of the country and holding sessions when schools were closed, according to the suit. At one school, the now-closed M.S. 399 in the Bronx, the company said it had tutored 74 students on New Year’s Day. (more…)
May 1, 2012
In a nod to the rapid rate of change in online communication, the Department of Education will review its social media policy every three months.
That’s what Chancellor Dennis Walcott told principals when he sent them the first version of the policy on Monday evening. As the Wall Street Journal reported Monday night, the policy includes guidelines for how teachers should interact with students online but does not set out rules or consequences that exceed existing ones for misconduct by people working in schools.
Plus, the policy is designed not to interfere with educational activities that take place online.
“Our guidelines were created to provide support and information to Department of Education employees who use social media technology for educational and school-related activities,” Walcott said in the email.
Stephen Lazar, a high school teacher, said he was relieved that the department had not gone so far as to ban online communication between teachers and students, as has happened in other school districts. But he said the guidelines showed a lack of understanding about a basic reality: Students often see no distinction between email and other forms of online communication, including Facebook and Twitter messages. (more…)
May 1, 2012
Juniors at the High School for Graphic Communication Arts have a lot on their minds this month. They are putting the finishing touches on photography and graphic design projects, planning their study schedule for Regents exams, and signing up for the SAT.
The handful of students who met this morning to show off posters they designed for a local advocacy organization did not rank the school’s impending “turnaround” high on their list of worries.
As hundreds of students and teachers rallied around the city to protest the Department of Education plan — approved last week — to abruptly close, reopen and rename 24 schools this year, Graphics remained virtually silent. City officials floating closing Graphics last year but backtracked on the idea after large groups of students and graduates made their case for the school’s future at a tense meeting with DOE officials. But at its turnaround hearing this spring, just 32 people signed up to speak, compared with nearly 200 at some other schools.
Lantigua Sime, a longtime assistant principal at the Hell’s Kitchen Career and Technical Education school, said the students have already accepted the turnaround and moved on.
“You didn’t see any protests, you didn’t hear any noise here because we’re moving forward,” Sime said. “Anyone who is on the bus is on the bus. Anyone who isn’t is already waiting for their next one.” (more…)
May 1, 2012
Teachers and administrators who attended a panel discussion about this year’s state tests at a Brooklyn elementary school last week all agreed that the exams induced stress, boredom, and even violence among city students.
But they were divided about whether a boycott of the tests could change the situation.
The panel was sponsored by P.S. 261 Unite, a coalition of activist parents and teachers at the Boerum Hill elementary school. This morning, the group organized a rally at the school to highlight what students “could have been” learning had they not spent weeks preparing for and then taking state reading and math exams.
Students and teachers said they could have been working on projects about animals and Africa, doing creative writing, or taking field trips — but instead, they learned how to search reading passages for correct answers and fill in bubble sheets. One student, a fifth-grader named Leah, wrote, “I have been learning nothing,” before affixing her poster to a wall showcasing dozens of student and teacher contributions. (A video of students reading from the posters is below.)
“When testing comes around you have to put real learning aside,” Principal Zipporiah Mills said at last week’s panel. “The test even overshadows good teachers and a great curriculum.” (more…)
May 1, 2012
- The city’s new social media rules for educators encourage them to avoid students’ profiles. (WSJ, Post)
- A group of advocates in District 9 in the Bronx say if the city won’t fix their district, they will. (Daily News)
- Charter schools say they are strong but have room to improve. (GothamSchools, Schoolbook, Post, NY1)
- Parents at two Bronx charter schools say their kindergartners got “psychiatric suspensions.” (Daily News)
- Gov. Cuomo announced members of a state education commission. (GothamSchools, SchoolBook, Post)
- Clothing line Kenneth Cole yanked a controversial education-related billboard. (GothamSchools, WSJ)
- Cafeteria trash disposal at P.S. 154 in Windsor Terrace is attracting hungry raccoons. (Brooklyn Paper)
- The city Conflict of Interests Board fined two principals for abuse of power. (Daily News, Post, GS Twitter)
- Two ex-teachers at a Queens high school are suing, saying the principal plays favorites. (Daily News)
- P.S. 68 in Ridgewood was evacuated after a real-looking toy bazooka was found. (Daily News, DNA Info)
- New Jersey could get a set of high school subject exams similar to New York’s Regents exams. (WSJ)