Posts from October 2012
October 31, 2012
According to the Department of Education, 200 of New York City’s 1,400 public school buildings are currently “not operational” because of damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy. We visited a few of them today.
October 31, 2012
Schools will remain closed for students for the rest of the week following Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg announced this afternoon.
But he said the city is asking teachers and school staff to report to work on Friday.
Two hundred of the city’s 1,400 school buildings had suffered some damage because of the storm, according to Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who appeared with Bloomberg at the afternoon press conference. Most of the damage was minor, Bloomberg said, but other schools were hit harder.
“There’s an awful lot of schools that have received damage or don’t have power,” Bloomberg said. He added, “Hopefully by Monday everything will be back perfect.”
The 200 damaged schools are currently “not operational,” according to Erin Hughes, a Department of Education spokeswoman. Eighty-six schools currently do not have power, she said. (more…)
October 30, 2012
New York City schools will be closed for an unprecedented third straight day Wednesday as the city continues its clean-up and recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy swept through the region Monday night.
Some parts of the city remain underwater and it is likely to be many days before the city’s subway system is fully operational again, Mayor Bloomberg announced today at his first press conference since the storm ended. Residents displaced from their homes continue to be housed at shelters inside 76 school buildings, as well, suggesting that it could be some time before schools can reopen.
Some of the shelters lost power Monday night and are now operating using generators, Bloomberg said today.
It is becoming clear that at least some schools have suffered more extensive damage. A video taken this morning showed what appeared to be an explosion inside John Dewey High School, located just blocks from the water in eastern Brooklyn. The fire started in Dewey’s basement, according to a Twitter feed that reports FDNY alerts, and efforts to assess the damage are underway now, according to a Department of Education spokeswoman.
State Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny published a picture this morning of I.S. 239 Mark Twain School, located blocks away from Dewey also on the shore, that showed water lapping up around the building. Other photos we’ve seen on Twitter today show smashed-up school buses at a Brooklyn depot; a tree down outside the building Coney Island Preparatory Charter School shares with I.S. 303; and a large tree down outside Brooklyn Technical High School, which is being used as a shelter.
(Add links in the comments section to school-related photos you have seen or taken of Sandy’s aftermath.)
Several readers have asked us whether the days off will be rescheduled. The answer is yes, probably, but no official word has come down yet. (more…)
October 29, 2012
New York City schools will be closed for a second day Tuesday because of Hurricane Sandy, the powerful storm that is set to wreak its worst effects on the city tonight.
Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement this morning in his first storm briefing of the day, 24 hours after calling off today’s classes. The two-day closure is the longest the school system has undergone in years; schools were closed one day in 2010 and one day in 2011 because of snow.
In addition to canceling Sunday’s administration of the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, the Department of Education has also canceled public meetings about changes to schools that had been set for today.
But administrative offices are officially remaining open, as part of Bloomberg’s efforts to make sure that the city delivers essential services during the storm. He said today that he had advised the heads of city agencies to use their own discretion when asking employees to report to work.
A Department of Education employee who reported for work at one of the department’s Brooklyn offices said the building was “like a ghost town” this morning.
October 26, 2012
- Saturday’s specialized high school exam is on, but Hurricane Sandy has canceled Sunday’s. (DOE)
- The 42 percent of applicants who would have taken Sunday’s test will get three extra weeks to prepare.
- AFT President Randi Weingarten took questions and heat during an “Ask Me Anything” today. (Reddit)
- New Jersey teachers are discussing their role in giving students “soft skills” such as grit. (VIVA N.J.)
- A teacher wonders how a student hasn’t learned any English, and why she isn’t fazed. (NYC Educator)
- A new teaching assistant worries about his role in the “white savior industrial complex.” (GS Community)
- The debate path from China’s currency manipulation to “We all love teachers!” is explained. (Hechinger)
- A court affirmed that the city didn’t share plans to protect South Bronx students from toxins. (Schoolbook)
- We’ve know how the DREAM Act is helping immigrant students. Here’s a teacher’s take. (Jose Vilson)
- The Common Core’s creator named priorities in his first talk as College Board chief. (Curriculum Matters)
- Here’s a sneak preview of GothamSchools’ next event. We’re looking for a few good teachers to help us!
October 26, 2012
Some of our most thought-provoking comments this week came in response to a first person account of starting a new school in the GothamSchools Community section.
In his post, teacher Stephen Lazar described his inner conflict over helping to start Harvest Collegiate High School this year. He believed in the new school, he wrote, but he knew that it would occupy space vacated by a school that was being closed. That school is Legacy High School, a struggling small school that will share its building space with Harvest in Union Square until it finished phasing out.
Lazar chose to join Harvest’s founding team, but still, he said, the question stymied him: Should a teacher help create a new school if he objects to the policy that led to its creation?
Commenters were divided in their answers.
“Former Turnaround Teacher” said that Lazar’s discomfort about his participation in the city’s reform effort is a common among educators at new schools and phase-out schools:
When I was looking to transfer at the end of the past school year I often faced a similar decision. I could not bring myself to apply to certain schools that I know where in current phase out buildings. However I did apply to some schools in buildings that had finished phasing out. When it comes down to it, in the current system unless you are lucky enough to get into the 20% or so of High Schools that are either specilized or the DOE for whatever… (more…)
October 26, 2012
It may have math and science in its name, but lately the Collegiate Institute of Math and Science in the Bronx is all about art.
Concerned that students weren’t receiving a well-rounded education, Principal Shadia Alverez decided this year to cut back on support staff — she has just one assistant principal when the student body of 650 would often warrant two — and hire Larry Minetti to teach four introductory art classes.
Minetti has taught on the Christopher Columbus Educational Campus for 17 years, until recently at Christopher Columbus High School, which is in the process of phasing out. Since starting at CIMS in September, he has already landed his students their first exhibition: On Dec. 6, Minetti and his students will hang as many as 200 pieces of student artwork in State Sen. Jeffrey Klein’s office in the Bronx.
But Minetti said he wants to teach students more than simply how to use artistic principles to create beautiful works of art. He always wants students to understand the interplay between art and their everyday lives, including in the other subjects they study.
GothamSchools spent Thursday morning in Minetti’s class, observing as students applied last week’s still life lesson on their own canvases and then speaking to Minetti about his instructional approach. As when we have chronicled other classes in the past, we’ve included the teacher’s commentary in block quotes beneath our observations.
10:08 a.m. Students filed into the art studio, whose walls are hand-painted with inspirational phrases and peppered with student work, and took their seats. In the middle of the room, a still life scene featuring two bottles, a paint can, a lemon, and a green apple was set up against both sides of a wooden board. The whiteboard at the front of the room displayed a hand-drawn replica of the still life scene, with the day’s aim and curriculum objectives written for the students to see. (more…)
October 26, 2012
A citywide effort to make government more efficient has prompted the Department of Education to propose eliminating a handful of the data reports it compiles each year. But as a vote on the proposal approaches, opponents are ratcheting up the pressure in hopes it will not pass.
In 2010, voters approved a referendum to create the Report and Advisory Board Review Commission, which would identify “outdated or redundant” functions in city agencies. Each city agency was asked to suggest ways to trim its oprerations without disrupting government services.
The education department recommended that it report class sizes once a year instead of twice and eliminate one place where it compiles the number of classrooms held in trailers.
That proposal joined 12 other reports that the seven-member commission recommended eliminating at its first meeting in February. The commission, to which the majority of members were appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, also recommended eliminating seven regulatory boards that currently operate in the city.
The commission was supposed to take a final look at the recommendations on Oct. 30, in a meeting that has been rescheduled for Nov. 19 because of a scheduling conflict. Comptroller John Liu and other education advocates say they hope the commission will use the extra time to reconsider the Department of Education’s proposal, which they characterized as an effort to cover up overcrowding issues. (more…)
October 26, 2012
Teju Cole, in speaking about “KONY 2012,” controversially coined a term he calls “the white savior industrial complex.” He uses this term to describe when white people expend “big emotions” in helping racial minorities so that they can “validate” their own economic privilege.
I can’t help but ask: Does this apply to me? (more…)
October 26, 2012
- More schools than ever are appealing their budget allocations and asking for extra money. (Post)
- Officials defended school support networks at a Council hearing. (GothamSchools, NY1, Schoolbook)
- Fewer Regents exams are getting scored exactly 65 in response to grading changes. (GothamSchools)
- Merryl Tisch said parents who opted out of state tests set a “dangerous precedent.” (GothamSchools)
- Tisch is among the officials who support mayoral control but wants to see some changes. (Epoch Times)
- A 1960 DeWitt Clinton alum is making a documentary about the school’s long history. (Riverdale Press)
- Classmates of a Staten Island girl who committed suicide said she was bullied in school. (Post, News)
- An expansion project will allow two highly-regarded high schools to operate together. (Times-Ledger)