Posts from June 20th, 2012
June 20, 2012
- Senate GOP is “concerned” that a proposal to shield teacher eval data isn’t private enough. (Cap Ton)
- Petrilli questions the wisdom behind the lastest charter school report on special education. (Gadfly)
- A reform advocacy group has collected all of the teachers union contracts in Connecticut. (ConnCAN)
- The new Times’ city education reporters worked the Middle East and city copes beats. (CapitalNY)
- The teachers union attacked a charter school parent and fundraiser for his background. (EdWize)
- A Chicago study found that the carrot and stick approach boosted student test scores. (Yahoo!)
- Union pressure prompted Change.org to drop two reform groups from their client list. (HuffPo)
- Council members want the DOE to mandate that free meals be offered in classrooms, too. (Schoolbook)
- A cost-cutting measure has science teachers upset that frogs will be dissected online. (Digital Ed)
- PTAs are chipping in thousands to subsidize part-time salaries at strapped schools. (Schoolbook)
June 20, 2012
Under pressure from the for-profit tutoring industry, lawmakers in Albany are backing a bill that would subvert the state’s efforts to change the way extra help is delivered to needy students.
Last month, New York won permission from the Obama administration to give federal funds that had gone to the tutoring companies to a group of organizations that state officials would vet.
Under the legislation promoted by the tutoring companies and peddled to lawmakers, that change would be revoked. State lobbying records show that the legislation followed a spending spree of tens of thousands of dollars in the last six months by the tutoring industry.
The sponsor of the bill in the Assembly, Karim Camara, said in an interview today that he decided to introduce the legislation after a lobbyist hired by a Miami-based tutoring company brought it to him.
“I saw the bill, I read the bill. So I decided to introduce this bill,” Camara said.
Education committee chair John Flanagan sponsored a companion bill in the State Senate. (more…)
June 20, 2012
Advocates filed a federal complaint today against the city Department of Education that they said represents years of troubling reports from parents who don’t speak English.
Hundreds of those parents have come to the advocacy groups with concerns that the department doesn’t provide sufficient language services for navigating special education. And with extensive special education reforms in progress, the need for language services is more pressing than ever, said Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children.
AFC, which represents low-income students and students with disabilities, joined with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest to file the complaint with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights on behalf of 19 city families. The complaint charges the city with violating federal, state, and city laws by failing to provide translation services for the parents of children with special needs.
The complaint profiles one of the parents in detail. Nyuk Siem Looi, who speaks only Cantonese, has two sons who are autistic and cannot speak. According to the complaint, Looi has been told to bring her own interpreter to meetings and pressured to sign documents about her sons’ educational programs that she could not understand.
Parents named in the complaint were joined by dozens of others at a rally on the steps of City Hall today after the complaint was filed, many holding umbrellas to relieve themselves from more than 90-degree heat. (more…)
June 20, 2012
Educators sweating the state’s shift from old to new learning standards have received their first clues to what new tests will look like.
Teachers across the state opened their email inboxes Tuesday to an announcement from State Education Commissioner John King: Sample test items are now available.
Educators across the state have known for more than a year that next year’s elementary and middle school reading and math tests would be aligned to the new standards, known as the Common Core. But they hadn’t yet gotten detailed information about the assessments to help them revamp their instruction.
“It’s true that this is going to be a change in terms of the topics that are taught and the number of topics,” Shael Polakow-Suransky, the Department of Education’s chief academic officer, said this spring. “Planning for that is difficult given that we don’t know all the information at this stage.”
In his letter to teachers, King quoted an upstate official who told him, “The items are ambitious, but not unattainable.”
“We must be ambitious,” King added.
The Common Core shifts the focus of English lessons from narrative fiction to expository and argumentative writing. In math, it emphasizes word problems and problem-solving. And across all subjects, it favors assignments that deal with authentic, real-world questions. (more…)
June 20, 2012
Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan suggested that New York City look upstate for help fulfilling its school reform promises.
After early difficulties, the state is now doing an admirable job carrying out the changes it promised when it won Race to the Top funds from the federal Race to the Top program, Duncan said, reiterating praise he extended when the state reached a deal about teacher evaluations with its main union in February.
But New York City still has not adopted new evaluations, costing it this year’s federal School Improvement Grants. Last week the city became the last of 10 eligible districts across the state to remain cut off from the funds.
Duncan said New York City’s failure to adopt new evaluations was “obviously the big issue” in the state but that it could be overcome.
“If nine out of 10 districts can figure this thing out together, I’ll expect that hopefully they’ll follow suit,” Duncan said about the city. (more…)
June 20, 2012
Local politicians, stars of the stage, and a high-profile shoe designer will fete city graduates at commencement ceremonies over the next week.
The annual roster of graduation speakers includes three Broadway stars who themselves graduated from city public schools, according to a list the Department of Education distributed today. (The list is posted below. Fill us in on what’s missing.)
Lin-Manuel Miranda, author of “In The Heights,” will speak at Washington Heights in the neighborhood his Tony Award-winning play features, Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School. Jeannette Bayardelle, a Bronx native who graduated from Fiorella LaGuardia High School for Art and Music & the Performing Arts and has appeared in “Hair” and “The Color Purple,” will speak at M.S. 296 in the South Bronx. And Telly Leung, who vaulted onto the television show “Glee” last year after getting his start in Stuyvesant High School’s theater productions, will be speaking at his alma mater.
The graduation speaker with the most packed schedule is, as always, the city chancellor. Dennis Walcott will be speaking at 16 schools that span the range of options the city offers. Walcott will appear at elementary, middle, and high schools; selective schools and ones that accept students who have flunked out before; schools that prepare graduates for work as well as college; and one charter school in Harlem. At Truman High School, one of the few remaining large schools in the Bronx, Walcott will share the stage with Steven Madden, the founder and former CEO of the shoe company that bears his name. (Kenneth Cole, a competitor of Steven Madden, isn’t on the list.)
The city did not include information about the graduation ceremonies for any of the schools set to be renamed and reconstituted as part of a controversial “turnaround” process. But several of the schools have recruited high-profile speakers for their last graduating class before the changes. (more…)
June 20, 2012
- Nationally, charter schools serve fewer students with disabilities, a government report finds. (Times, WSJ)
- A charter lobbyist says changes, but not targets, can help the schools serve high-need students. (Post)
- The Assembly appears to be on track to pass Gov. Cuomo’s ratings privacy compromise bill. (Post, NY1)
- But the Bloomberg administration is lobbying to kill it, since it would give access only to parents. (WSJ)
- The Post says Cuomo’s compromise bill is clearly bad legislation because teachers unions back it.
- The Daily News says the legislation is “pretty good” because it balances transparency against privacy.
- Several city-produced foreign language exams contained errors. (GothamSchools, Daily News, NY1)
- The city welcomed its latest crop of Teaching Fellows, twice the size of last year’s. (GothamSchools)
- Parents and advocates are filing suit over the city’s treatment of English language learners. (Daily News)
- Jim Dwyer: A city program has “drown-proofed” 14,000 second-graders in the last 18 months. (Times)
- Ginia Bellafante: A Republican politician has taken sides in a school spat that’s been distorted. (Times)
- Michael Goodwin: The city should be looking to its Catholic schools for school reform advice. (Post)