Posts from September 10th, 2012
September 10, 2012
- A trending hashtag on Twitter last week documented things that #NoTeacherSaidEver. (Larry Ferlazzo)
- First Twitter responses to Chicago’s teacher strike ranged from exuberant to sad to incisive. (BuzzFeed)
- Here are a couple of views of how the strike’s first day played out on the ground. (Teacher Beat, Catalyst)
- Mitt Romney used the strike to pan Obama, but it’s Obama’s ally who is being protested. (Politics K-12)
- Among the ways new New Yorkers find affordable housing: a real estate service just for teachers. (Times)
- Chris Whittle’s new Avenues School blends public school, private school, business, and a mall. (NYMag)
- A city teacher argues that what education needs is a set of standards for digital learning. (SchoolBook)
- Michelle Rhee used to occupy an uncomfortable place in the Democratic Party, but no more. (Atlantic)
- A student who wrote about the city’s special ed reforms here is blogging his college search. (The Choice)
- Rick Hess says the Daily News’ takedown of School of One used research in twisted ways. (Straight Up)
- A teacher lists four ways that small schools hurt students, starting with curriculum. (Chaz’s School Daze)
- A father says (satirically) that Valium is too often left off school supplies shopping lists. (Insideschools)
- A teacher in a shared building takes issue with the new school’s promo materials. (Inside Co-Location)
September 10, 2012
ALBANY — Months after considering a plan to stop requiring students to pass a global history final exam in order to graduate from high school, state education officials are instead contemplating overhauling the test.
Under a proposal that the officials presented before the Board of Regents today, the state’s two-year high school global studies course would be divided in two. The first year would cover “foundational skills” economics, world history, geography, and civics and culminate in an end-of-course exam.
The second year would focus on themes and trends across world cultures and be aligned to more rigorous standards that the state is developing for social studies instruction. Only the material from the second year would appear on a Regents exam required for graduation.
Adjusting the current exam to conclude the second course would cost between $500,000 and $1 million, officials said. Creating a new test for the first course would cost more.
The proposal is the second one floated about the global studies exam in less than six months. Back in April, state education officials asked the Regents to allow them to make the exam optional in order to let students take other courses instead, particularly math and science classes that are seen as increasingly important in preparing students for college.
That proposal has been tabled for now, after social studies educators and some Regents balked at the idea. The exam, which covers about 2.5 million years worth of world history over the span of freshman and sophomore years, has the lowest pass rate of any of the five Regents tests currently required for graduation, and some critics said the state wanted to make it easier for students to graduate at the expense of a core subject. (more…)
September 10, 2012
When teachers in the country’s third-largest school district go on strike, the question is only natural: Could the same thing happen in New York City?
The answer is yes, in theory. But there are a host of reasons why New York City teachers probably won’t follow their Chicago colleagues in trading the classroom for the picket line any time soon. Here are several issues to consider:
Only some of the issues in dispute in Chicago are also under contention in New York City. Like Chicago’s teachers, city teachers would like a pay hike. They’ve have gone without substantial raises for several years. And like Chicago’s union, the UFT is very concerned about some elements of the reform agenda that the Obama administration has advanced, particularly about the use of student test scores in teacher evaluation systems. That issue has caused acute tensions between the UFT and the Bloomberg administration for more than a year, keeping the city so far from complying with the state’s new teacher evaluation requirements.
But New York City teachers don’t have to grapple with many of the issues Chicago teachers face. The union contract already contains class size limits, even if the union says they are sometimes skirted. Recall rights for laid-off teachers have been in place for decades. And the school year has long been 180 days.
And because the policy agenda that Mayor Rahm Emanuel brought to Chicago last year has been solidly in place in New York City for nearly a decade, city teachers and their union have had more time to adjust and reach compromises. While the Bloomberg administration and the UFT haven’t agreed on the technical points of teacher evaluations, they have struck a broad agreement on the concept that student test scores can play some role in ratings. They have already agreed to extend the school day and given schools options to add even more time. And their 2005 contract created an Absent Teacher Reserve with no time limit on how long teachers can draw salaries without occupying permanent positions after losing their old ones — a policy that city officials now want to change but so far have not been able to.
The UFT more resembles 2009′s Chicago Teachers Union than today’s. Like Chicago’s union until recently, the United Federation of Teachers has long been dominated by a single caucus that has been willing to work with city officials to reach compromises on issues such as teacher placement, extending the school day, and even evaluations. The compromises have angered some union members, who have criticized the union and its leadership for not adequately defending teachers’ rights.
But unlike in Chicago, where the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, or CORE, seized power in 2010, there hasn’t yet been a serious threat to Unity’s power. In the last union elections, the caucus’s candidate for president, Michael Mulgrew, won with 91 percent of the vote. (more…)
September 10, 2012
Chicago’s long-threatened teacher strike, which began today, isn’t just about Chicago teachers. It’s also something of a referendum on the current moment in education policy.
Of the many reasons for the strike, three stand out. We explain each one below — and then explain how the strike could evolve from here. In a second post, we’ll explain why the Windy City’s labor conflict matters here in the Big Apple.
1. A new mayor. Chicago teachers have been distressed for several years as budget cuts caused school closures and hundreds of layoffs. Tensions between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city mounted last year when former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor, bringing with him an aggressive approach to cost-cutting, the support of national education reform advocacy groups, and a superintendent who cut his teeth under Joel Klein in New York City. Jean-Claude Brizard quickly earned criticism as “anti-teacher” based on his record in Rochester, N.Y., where 95 percent of teachers gave him a “no-confidence” vote shortly before he departed.
Emanuel immediately announced that he was canceling raises promised to Chicago teachers and requiring teachers to work longer days and years. The extended-day gambit backfired when a state labor board ruled that Emanuel could not unilaterally require that kind of change. But Emanuel pressed on, offering incentives to schools that would add teaching time. He and Brizard also introduced a new rating system for schools, engineered closures and multiple “turnaround” efforts that cost some teachers their jobs, and introduced a new teacher evaluation system without union consent. (WBEZ Chicago has a comprehensive timeline of Emanuel’s education initiatives and how they were received.)
2. A new teachers union. Emanuel’s moves would have angered any teachers union. But since 2010, Chicago’s has one of the most aggressive in the country. That’s when a minority party known as the Caucus of Rank and File Educators, or CORE, took power from the reigning union leadership, which it criticized as complacent on issues of privatization and community engagement. After contract talks failed to satisfy the union this year, its members voted to authorize a strike in June, in a vote with a 91.5 percent turnout rate and a 90 percent approval rate. Since then, the city made several rounds of concessions and reached a deal with CTU about how to extend the school day. But several issues remained unresolved by the strike deadline on Sunday.
CORE started out as a minority party in the union that was organizing with the goal of pushing the union’s agenda to the left. As budget conditions worsened and city officials took an increasingly aggressive tone, the group gained traction with a platform that stood apart from most union leaders’. (more…)
September 10, 2012
- Chicago teachers have gone on strike for the first time in 25 years. (Sun-Times, Tribune, WSJ, Times)
- The handful of N.Y. districts with new teacher evaluation systems are doing things many ways. (WSJ)
- Bronx Health Sciences HS is under investigation for keeping problematic students out of class. (Post)
- A Manhattan charter school hired a convicted drug dealer after not fingerprinting their hire. (Daily News)
- New York State is creating a unit to oversee pre-K special ed costs after an audit found fraud. (Times)
- A tutoring company found to have shoddy financial practices is seeking another city contract. (DNA Info)
- Stuyvesant HS is issuing cheating suspensions. (GothamSchools, Times, Post, Daily News, WSJ, NY1)
- With high school admissions season underway, eighth-graders get a how-to guide. (Post, Daily News)
- For the first time, U.S. News and World Report has ranked hundreds of city high schools. (Daily News)
- The top-rated high schools include Hostos-Lincoln, Brooklyn Latin, and more. (Daily News 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Lesser-known schools such as KAPPA and Williamsburg Prep also get kudos in another list. (Post)
- The Daily News says the city needs to get its act together about rooting out “deviant” teachers.
- Families on one Brooklyn street are divided on how schools work under Bloomberg. (Daily News)
- Joel Klein: Critics of Mayor Bloomberg’s school policies ignore the facts of success. (Daily News)
- Joe Nocera: “How Children Succeed” offers a dose of optimism in a dismal education landscape. (Times)
- Multiple studies suggest that cheating is on the rise among high-achieving students in America. (Times)
- Hong Kong is dialing back its “moral education” plan after massive protests against it. (Times)
- Just because Texas school districts are wealthy doesn’t mean their schools are well funded. (Times)
- A Mass. father says his family’s case highlights the troubling practice of isolating students. (Times)