Posts from May 7th, 2012
May 7, 2012
- Scheduling conflicts mean not every student at Cardozo High School gets a lunch hour. (SchoolBook)
- U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he supports same-sex marriage rights. (L.A. Times)
- Bunny, Owl, and a menagerie of critter friends take tests in a parody of the “Pineapple.” (Insideschools)
- The more things change, the more they stay the same, at least with testing warnings. (Answer Sheet)
- A study surprised its author by finding big gains for California schools getting SIG funds. (Hechinger)
- Chicago is starting to flesh out its approach to evaluating special education teachers. (Catalyst)
- A teacher is surprised by resenting being asked if he will give “whatever it takes.” (Urban Teacher’s Ed)
- Droves of staffers in the U.S. DOE’s Elementary and Secondary Education office have left. (Politics K-12)
- A retired teacher defends expanding AP courses beyond the very top-tier students. (Pissed Off Teacher)
- A Colorado principal questions if the state’s “growth model” is worth replicating. (Ed News Colorado)
- Common Core’s science standards are set to be released in draft form this week. (Curriculum Matters)
- Hawaii will keep its Race to the Top funds for now after coming close to losing them. (Politics K-12)
May 7, 2012
Three years after city officials first considered forming an “academy” to teach parents about the school system, the teachers union has found a group of parents who are tired of waiting.
Plans for a parent training center have been in the works since 2009, when state legislators told the city to create one. But requisite funding never materialized and the project lay fallow until last fall, when Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced plans to open a parent academy for the 2012-2013 school year.
The city’s parent academy would give parents study tools, and inform them about the high school and college process, Walcott said at the time. The city is now seeking proposals from community organizations that could be involved in creating the training program, which is scheduled to begin this fall.
The workshop series, planned by the teachers union and longtime parent organizer Mona Davids under the name “Parent Leadership Academy,” will touch on those issues. But with workshop titles such as “Parent as Leader,” and “Parent as Lobbyist,” the academy’s main purpose is to motivate parents to advocate on behalf of their children and schools, and demand education policy changes.
About fifty parents—ten from each borough—packed a third-floor conference room at union headquarters for the new academy’s inaugural meeting on Saturday morning. The parents were invited to participate by borough liaisons to the union, according to Anthony Harmon, a union official who conducts parent outreach. Several veteran city activists, including Juan Pagan and Laurie Frey mingled with self-described lobbying naifs, who took turns practices short introductory speeches in the style of a public testimony.
Davids herself has championed the causes of both charter and district school advocates first as a parents association president for the Bronx’s P.S. 160 in 2008, and now as the leader of the New York City Parents Union.
The morning’s activities were designed to prompt parents to think about and articulate positive qualities of their schools, as well as issues to complain about, from teacher turnover to confusing test policies. (more…)
May 7, 2012
After months of charging that the city’s controversial “turnaround” plans reflected an over-reliance on closures to improve schools, the UFT and city principals union are making an about-face.
In a lawsuit filed today in State Supreme Court to halt the plans, the unions argue that turnaround doesn’t amount to closure at all. That means, they argue, that no process exists in their contracts to guide staffing changes under the federally prescribed school reform strategy.
The suit means that three and a half months of heated public hearings and fiery rhetoric is likely to come down in court to a single question: Does giving a school a new name and identification number make it a new school?
The city’s answer is yes. Under turnaround, 24 schools would close and reopen immediately with new names, many new teachers, and, in many cases, new principals — but the students would stay put. The city is using existing procedures for school closures to smooth things along — in essence collapsing an established multi-year closure process into a single moment. That includes using a clause in the UFT’s contract with the city to guide rehiring at the schools.
But union officials charged today that not much would change under turnaround.
“These are not really closures and therefore they cannot use the contractual procedures that apply to closures,” said Adam Ross, the UFT’s top lawyer, at a press conference today about the long-promised lawsuit. “The only thing they’re changing in these schools is the identification number. It’s the same students in the same buildings doing the same things.” (more…)
May 7, 2012
City students at selective public and elite private schools have long had the option to study Latin. Now several schools with less affluent students are breathing new life into the long-dead language by requiring all students to study it.
At a panel discussion on Friday organized by the New York Classical Club, educators from across the city spoke optimistically about the revival of Latin at their public schools.
“A lot of schools are pushing to go back to what works, to what they know produces intellectuals and thinkers. Latin is a return to norms that once were,” said Kathleen Durkin, one of two Latin teachers at Maspeth High School, which opened in Queens this year.
Educators on the panel said one attraction of Latin instruction is the idea that it could help fuel academic achievement in other subjects.
“I chose it because of the timelessness of it. When in doubt, go to Latin. You can’t go wrong with it,” said Lester Long, executive director of the South Bronx Classical Charter School, where students start taking Latin in third grade. “We want students to use Latin to understand what they read in English. That’s our big driver.” (more…)
May 7, 2012
- Advanced Placement courses, once just for top students, are a key strategy for schools to add rigor. (AP)
- Aaron Academy, a school for students with special needs, includes sex ed as part of its mission. (NY1)
- Michael Winerip: UMass students are resisting a new trend of outsourcing teacher training. (Times)
- One city charter school has students counting the words they read in a gap-closing bid. (GothamSchools)
- The principal of Manhattan’s Museum School is under investigation for being frequently absent. (Post)
- Brooklyn’s Packer Collegiate School is struggling as its identity evolves and profile strengthens. (Times)
- Charles Blow starts Teacher Appreciation Week by lauding his mom and the teaching profession. (Times)
- California is issuing pink slips to teachers for the fourth straight year, but fewer are actually laid off. (AP)
Last week on GothamSchools:
- Early childhood advocates are unhappy about the city’s step forward in an overhaul process. (Friday)
- M.S. 244 in the Bronx is winning accolades for its data-driven approach to helping students. (Thursday)
- Mayor Bloomberg’s budget proposal cuts after-school slots — and counts on added state aid. (Thursday)
- For the first time in years, Bloomberg’s budget would allow the city to hire new teachers. (Wednesday)
- A high-paying charter school attracted would-be teachers despite bumps in its early years. (Wednesday)
- The City Council grilled education officials over rising numbers of school referrals to EMS. (Tuesday)
- The U.S. Justice Department sued Princeton Review over fraudulent tutoring claims in the city. (Tuesday)
- Students and teachers at P.S. 261 highlighted what they could have done instead of testing. (Tuesday)
- Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the members of a promised education reform commission. (Monday)
- A self-critique by the city’s charter sector praised scores but found room for improvement. (Monday)
- Kenneth Cole said it would remove a controversial billboard days after we reported about it. (Monday)