Posts from January 3rd, 2013
January 3, 2013
- The UFT’s latest filings show the union has growing pension costs for its own staff. (Dropout Nation)
- A surprising new answer to the puzzle of why urban crime rates dropped in the 90′s. (Mother Jones)
- The new chairman of the House subcommittee on K-12 policy is an Indiana conservative. (Politics K-12)
- A critic of excessive education spending charges that consolidation isn’t the right path. (Antonucci)
- Mayoral candidate Tom Allon is hosting an informational event for parents. (Tom Allon for Mayor)
- A teacher and his school leader talk about how to make teacher retention work in practice. (Goldstein)
- The path to McKinsey and Goldman Sachs continues to run through Teach For America. (Dealbook)
- Report: New teachers are no more likely to use technology in the classroom than veterans. (Ed Week)
- An argument against teaching “thinking skills” apart from content. (Behavior Guru via Joanne Jacobs)
- Inside the Newark blended-learning charter school at the heart of a heated dispute. (Hechinger Report)
- The next frontier of government-funded education research: continuous-improvement ideas. (ISR)
- An Israeli news site features Paul Tough, using a photo of him and his son from our event. (Calcalist)
January 3, 2013
Teachers who worked outside of their regular school day to enter information in the Department of Education’s special education data system last year will get paid for their time, according to a labor decision announced today.
After teachers told the United Federation of Teachers that using the new system to record information about their everyday activities was burdensome, the union filed an official complaint in mid-2011. An arbitrator heard the union’s case and the Department of Education’s defense on 19 dates between December 2011 and October 2012 before concluding that the department’s implementation violated the union’s contract.
“After the longest arbitration in UFT history, the independent arbitrator, Jay Siegel, today concluded that the workday provisions in our contract had been violated,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew wrote in a letter to other union officials late today.
The city was permitted to introduce the system, called the Special Education Student Information System, without the union’s consent, Siegel decided. But he ruled that it was wrong to require educators to record their encounters with students when doing so required them to work outside of their contractual school day. (more…)
January 3, 2013
Principals and teachers spent thousands of dollars from their city-issued cash cards on purchases that they were later unable to justify, including furniture, Kindles and $200 worth of movie tickets, according to an audit released today by Comptroller John Liu.
Liu found that of the $130,000 in audited transactions, $85,551 was spent illicitly. Receipts were unaccounted for, transaction logs didn’t match spending records, and, in one case, pizza receipts appeared to have been doctored to make up for the missing documentation.
Liu’s office targeted 500 receipts from five high schools that had suspicious records. The selected sample represented just a slice of the $17.2 million that city schools spent using the debit cards in 2011, called procurement cards, or p-cards.
The city adopted the purchasing method in 2003 to provide more flexibility over budget spending. A teacher can use p-cards to pay for admission into museums or zoos for class trips; a school, meanwhile, could use them to quickly buy a new ink cartridge at a Staples instead of ordering through a vendor, which takes longer and costs more in processing fees.
Liu’s audit concluded that the flexibility had come in exchange for lax oversight. Although the city requires that schools follow considerable compliance when using the cards, Liu’s report suggests that the audited cardholders were not being required to follow the rules.
Cardholders must file receipts and fill out transaction logs detailing why the purchases were made. To maintain a tax exempt status, cardholders must complete a form at the time of their purchase. Some types of meals are banned from being expensed to the p-cards. And for individual purchases over $250, cardholders are required to first solicit bids from at least three vendors before deciding on the lowest-priced options
Sixty-three of the 541 audited transactions — worth about $30,000 — did not have documentation that proved it was an “educational need.” That includes $775 on five Kindle from Amazon.com, $194 in movie tickets from Costco.com and two sofabeds from Target worth nearly $700. (more…)
January 3, 2013
Embracing recommendations by a commission that he convened, Governor Cuomo yesterday offered a first glimpse of what his education agenda might look like when he rolls it out in his State of the State address next week.
His comments suggested that, unlike in previous years, in 2013 he will avoid taking a stand on some of the more divisive education issues, including teacher tenure and charter schools.
Cuomo formed the education reform commission last year as the engine to drive his promise to shake up the state’s school system, which, in his 2012 State of the State address, he painted as excessively expensive, under-performing, and driven by interest groups.
Exactly a year later, the commission’s first set of recommendations struck a less acerbic tone, endorsing policies that won the approval of a diverse set of groups — and a much more tepid reaction from the most aggressive reformers.
The headline recommendations included consolidating small school districts; strengthening teacher and principal preparation, including creating a bar-like exam for teachers; rewarding teachers for good performance, without clearly defining what that looks like; extending the school day and year; and creating community schools offering nonacademic services to low-income students.
“I think that, by and large, this was a consensus document,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, a member of the commission. Weingarten said she would have liked if the report focused more on state education funding, but added, “There’s no one who dissented from it.” (more…)
January 3, 2013
- Gov. Cuomo’s ed commission released its initial recommendations. (GothamSchools, Post, WSJ, Times)
- One idea — district consolidation — has been tried often, but is usually unsuccessful. (Times Union)
- The Post praised the commission, but says the next step is to keep costs down and secure union support.
- Students displaced by Hurricane Sandy returned to their regular school buildings Wednesday. (NY1)
- Cuomo said it’s the city and union’s fault if no evaluation deal is in by Jan. 17. (Daily News, Schoolbook)
- Dennis Walcott says that a bus driver strike remains possible because of an ongoing labor dispute.
- Leaders at one Indiana school are struggling to keep pace with required classroom observations. (AP)