Posts from July 6th, 2012
July 6, 2012
- On the Jersey Shore, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie shouted down a critic of his education policy. (City Room)
- Eric Nadelstern: We need more — but better — opportunities for credit recovery, not fewer. (SchoolBook)
- The birth of another GEM baby is cause for both congrats and worry about teacher activism. (Ed Notes)
- A teacher says he’s having a change of heart about putting together a portfolio of his work. (NYCdoenuts)
- A teacher says grading Advanced Placement exams each year is his best training. (Schools of Thought)
- There are still 10 states waiting for the White House to judge their NCLB waiver requests. (Politics K-12)
- TFA teachers in Philadelphia heard an anti-reform speech that has now disappeared. (Gary Rubinstein)
- A blog by Harvard education school graduate students pokes fun at the reform moment. (HugsyFunnies)
- If a New Hampshire legislator is right that kindergarten causes crime, New York is in trouble. (Yahoo)
July 6, 2012
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s testimony before an arbitrator drove one nail into the coffin of the city’s plans to replace or rehire teachers at 24 “turnaround” schools.
Last week an arbitrator determined that the city violated the city’s contracts with the teachers and principals unions when it moved to replace staff members at the schools. This afternoon the arbitrator, Scott Buchheit, released a detailed explanation of why he ruled the way he did.
The city was trying to use hiring procedures set for closing schools and their replacements. But the unions argued that the turnaround plans were “sham closures” that would not result in new schools. Instead, they argued, the city was unfairly using contractual provisions about “excessing” to remove teachers and administrators it deemed unsatisfactory.
In upholding the unions’ grievance, Buchheit at times turns Bloomberg’s and other city officials’ words against them.
He quotes a 2011 memorandum written by the Department of Education’s chief financial officer, which said, “excessing is not a permissible way to deal with unsatisfactory teachers.”
Yet city officials said they intended to do just that from the start of the turnaround process, Buchheit determined. (more…)
July 6, 2012
The city might have been empty and slow during this summer holiday week, but GothamSchools commenters stayed busy. Our comments section buzzed with talk of turnaround, teachers’ benefits, school gentrification, and more.
So as we do each week, we’re highlighting a sampling of thoughtful, substantive, and informed comments that help us meet our goal of elevating public dialogue about education.
Our post on former Department of Education official Eric Nadelstern’s paper about the network support structure he created focused on the portion criticizing the department’s current direction. But one reader, “east sider,” thought the more interesting material came earlier:
Forget about the Nadelstern comments – read the introduction to the article and the description of portfolio districts. Increasingly districts around the country are moving toward this model … and the word “union” is absent from the discussion.
It is attractive because it allows mayors to claim credit for successes and avoid blame for failures – the portfolio manager, be it a for profit or not for [profit], takes the hit.
Nadelstern and Bloomberg are the past – the future is more troubling.
Some readers took issue with researcher Jennifer Stillman’s argument in the Community section that achieving diverse schools in gentrifying neighborhoods is best accomplished by creating new schools. “Public school parent” wrote,
Public schools need to find a middle ground, and the “gentry” need to become willing to make some compromises rather than running off and starting their own schools, all the while congratulating themselves on being pioneers. But that won’t happen, because deep down, the gentry doesn’t truly believe their children will benefit from spending time with poor children of color. Or at least not a lot of them. Maybe one or two are okay. (more…)
July 6, 2012
Nasser is the principal of Harry S. Truman High School, one of the Bronx’s few remaining comprehensive high schools. Each fall, she requires new freshmen to take diagnostic exams that test their math and writing skills.
The students’ results rarely correlate with their scores on the state’s eighth-grade reading and math tests, Nasser said.
The tests are just one component of Nasser’s strategy for helping Truman’s teachers to understand their students’ needs by the end of the first week of ninth-grade. She also collects reams of data from the city about each student’s performance and attendance records and compares them to the diagnostics’ results.
Nasser said the early efforts have been key to keeping Truman above water even as other large Bronx high schools have struggled to stay afloat with many students entering below grade level. Truman regularly pulls B’s on its city progress reports and has a four-year graduation rate that’s right around the city average.
The school-wide diagnostic exams, which Truman’s math and English teachers create, accomplish on a vast scale what many teachers do at the beginning of the year: assess their students’ skills, so they don’t waste time teaching material that students already know or can’t handle.
By making the assessments consistent for every incoming student, Nasser said she can get a clearer picture of the class as a whole — how students stack up against each other, and how skill gaps vary by middle school. Some schools, she said, routinely send students whose scores seem to be inflated. (more…)
July 6, 2012
Less than two weeks after graduating from high school, Diana Rodriguez is staying busy. The Queens teenager is up at 6 a.m. to go for a morning run, work her two summer jobs, and take driving lessons a few months before she is set to start college.
It’s a heavy workload — but it’s not the biggest responsibility the 17-year-old has taken on. This spring, she led classmates at Grover Cleveland High School in a fight for the school’s life.
The school was one of 33 the city planned to close and reopen using an overhaul process, known as “turnaround,” that included changing the school’s name and replacing half of the school staff.
Rodriguez was enraged. Already the senior class president, she sprang into action galvanizing her classmates to protest the turnaround plans.
“I wouldn’t stand for it,” said Rodriguez. “You can’t mess with my education – education is a right.”
That was Rodriguez’s rallying cry as she joined other students in schools facing closure across the city in a group called Student Activists United. The group turned out students for public hearings, called Panel for Educational Policy members who would vote on the closures, and even held an early-morning rally outside Mayor Bloomberg’s Upper East Side home. (more…)
July 6, 2012
- Recent graduates endorse their transfer high schools, but accountability systems don’t. (Daily News)
- In five months, the White House has freed more than half of states from No Child Left Behind. (Times)
- The city’s summer jobs program, which researchers say add value, started Thursday. (GothamSchools)
- A Brooklyn high school teacher was killed in her Staten Island home. (S.I. Advance, Times, Post)
- David Brooks: Schools praise diversity but don’t allow for the diversity that boys provide. (Times)
- A study finds that the number of schools nationally that sell sugary drinks to students is down. (Reuters)
- Inexplicably and atypically, Texas is placing fewer students in special education. (Houston Chronicle)