Posts from April 2013
April 30, 2013
- Server problems halted the state’s computer-based tests for a second straight day. (State Impact)
- For a second straight year, Florida’s parent trigger bill died in dramatic fashion. (Miami Herald)
- A DOE official faced tough questions from parents over a student data-sharing plan. (Village Voice)
- A mother wonders how to deal with teachers who enable her underperforming son. (MotherLode)
- Obama covered a lot of ground at presser today. But he didn’t touch education. (Answer Sheet)
- Former state schools chief David Steiner took issue with a Times editorial about the Common Core.
- Buffalo’s teachers union head says he’ll fight to win back an abandoned teacher eval side deal. (WGRZ)
- The Walton Foundation announced it was giving a $8 million donation to StudentsFirst (L.A. Now)
- New research suggests that math tutoring for some young students doesn’t improve learning. (Reuters)
- A student from Seward Park Campus was arrested this afternoon for biting a teacher. (DNAInfo)
April 30, 2013
The city doled out $38.5 million in back pay to schools staff who were wrongly required to work overtime on a buggy special education data system, according to payment details released today by the education department.
Nearly 30,000 therapists, special education teachers, paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, social workers and psychologists received the overtime payments this month after an independent arbitrator ruled in January that the Department of Education violated the United Federation of Teachers’ contract. The first round of payments, on April 12, totaled $2.6 million for 1,700 occupational and physical therapists and the second and final payment — $35.9 million — went out to the rest of employees today.
The total number of educators who qualified for overtime far exceeded the UFT’s estimates, which hovered at around 10,000. The UFT filed the labor complaint in mid-2011, charging that staff should not have been required to work outside of their contractual school day. (more…)
April 30, 2013
Wading in to the growing backlash against the Common Core standards today, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called for a moratorium on using scores tied to the new standards to make important decisions.
Weingarten made the proposal in a speech before business and civic leaders at the Association for a Better New York, days after students across the state completed tests aligned to the Common Core for the first time and months after local union leaders began sounding the alarm about the state’s Common Core rollout.
She praised the learning standards and said she did not oppose testing students on them. But she said a “failure of leadership” and a “broken accountability system” could derail the Common Core’s chances of boosting student achievement in New York and beyond.
States and districts frequently use test scores to decide which schools to close and students to retain. Increasingly, they are also using test scores to measure teachers’ performance, a policy shift that Weingarten has supported but many of her members have not. Waiting at least a year before acting on the scores of Common Core-aligned tests would give students and teachers the chance to adjust to the higher standards and let states and districts assess whether the tests are yielding meaningful results, Weingarten said.
“That’s what assessment and accountability are supposed to be,” she said. “You see if the whole shebang works, before you say it’s ready for prime time.” (more…)
April 30, 2013
A Queens school that has won accolades in the past for encouraging its students to adopt healthy behaviors is taking things a step further by eliminating meat from its cafeteria.
The Active Learning Elementary School, which serves young students in Flushing, is the first school in the city to go all-vegetarian, and city officials say it might be a pathbreaker nationwide. Chancellor Dennis Walcott, a fitness and diet junkie himself, visited the school for lunch today.
Instead of serving sloppy joes or roasted chicken, the school will serve up “healthy recipes such as roasted chickpeas, braised black beans with plantains, tofu vegetable wrap with cucumber salad, vegetarian chili served with brown rice, falafel, and roasted tofu with Asian sesame sauce,” according to the city’s press release.
Principal Robert Groff said in a statement the city distributed that the change was spurred on by the school’s students. “We discovered early on that our kids were gravitating toward our vegetarian offerings, and we kept expanding the program to meet the demand,” he said. (more…)
April 30, 2013
After dropping hints in interviews and public appearances for weeks, AFT President Randi Weingarten is formally weighing in on the backlash to the Common Core standards today by calling for a moratorium on consequences attached to Common Core test scores.
Weingarten is making the proposal right now in a speech to business and civic leaders at the Association for a Better New York, a pit stop for public figures with new ideas to float. Among the high-profile audience members is state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who helped steer New York’s adoption of the tougher standards and has defended the state’s decision to test students on the standards before teachers had curriculum materials aligned to them.
Weingarten is expressly saying that she is not opposed to testing students on the new standards, which emphasize critical thinking and problem solving skills. She just doesn’t want states or districts to judge schools, teachers, or students according to the test scores.
“When states and districts get the alignment right — moving from standards to curriculum to classrooms to feedback and improvement — student success will follow,” Weingarten is saying, according to her prepared comments. “But until then, a moratorium on stakes is the only sensible course.”
The full text of the speech is below, and we’ll have more complete coverage, including reactions from Tisch and others, later today. (more…)
April 30, 2013
- Mounting Common Core backlash will get a boost from Randi Weingarten today. (Washington Post)
- The day will lengthen at 20 middle schools. (GothamSchools, WSJ, Daily News, Post, NY1, SchoolBook)
- The announcement featured Christine Quinn, a mayoral candidate, standing in for the mayor. (Times)
- Retirees cast more than half of the votes in the UFT’s presidential election last week. (GothamSchools)
- An upstate teacher was arrested for allegedly changing two students’ Regents exam answers. (NBC NY)
- A judge dismissed a lawsuit aimed at making charter schools have to pay rent. (GothamSchools, Post)
- Bob McManus: Merryl Tisch is putting politics first by supporting Bill Thompson’s mayoral bid. (Post)
- A new report finds that state preschool financing is down by about $400 a student nationally. (Times)
- A proposal to give more state funds to school districts with needier students is dividing California. (WSJ)
April 29, 2013
- A teacher who tweeted about N.Y’s tests knows now that the state is serious about secrecy. (RL Ratto)
- A series of graphs show striking changes in UFT membership and voter turnout over time. (JD2718)
- A teacher argues that apathy is the main reason that active teachers rarely vote. (Chaz’s School Daze)
- A teacher says retirees should vote in union elections, but only for certain positions. (NYC Educator)
- Watch tonight’s public forum on the controversial inBloom student data warehouse in full. (UStream)
- A math teacher says his experience struggling with topology at Yale helps him help students. (Slate)
- The feds give free breakfast and lunch to poor students. Wealthy students will now get brunch. (Onion)
- Added security at city high schools means recent alums can’t always come back for a visit. (Yahoo News)
- A teacher has an insider’s take on the hours of instructional time that’s lost to testing. (Accountable Talk)
- NBA player Jason Collins’s high-profile coming-out story includes advice for teachers. (Teaching Now)
- Andy Rotherham: Democrats made an unforced error by making the Common Core an issue. (Eduwonk)
- A student with autism successfully auditioned for a selective school, but others did not. (Insideschools)
- Obama’s big second-term education problem is his first term policies ignored equity. (Answer Sheet)
- Indiana is hitting “pause” on Common Core implementation, the latest state to push back. (Politics K-12)
- A Long Island high school reopened today after $10 million to repair Sandy damage. (SchoolBook)
- Foster parents blog about their challenges getting help from the Department of Education. (Fosterwee)
April 29, 2013
A judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking $100 million in rent from charter schools that have for years occupied space for free in public school buildings.
The lawsuit, filed by parents and advocates nearly two years ago, claimed that the city Department of Education was in violation of state education law by giving city-owned space to privately managed charter schools at no charge. The parents estimated that the annual free ride cost more than $96 million, a total they sought to steer toward hiring more teachers to reduce class sizes after years of budget cuts.
New York State Supreme Court Judge Barbara Jaffe didn’t rule on the fundamental issue of whether charter schools should pay rent. Instead, she ruled that it is not the court’s role to settle disputes over state education law. She said that must first go through the State Education Department, a precedent that was established in the UFT’s 2010 suit against rising class sizes.
But even as Jaffe ruled against the parent groups, she wrote that the concerns they raised were legitimate.
The charter sector has thrived under the Bloomberg administration, which has awarded free space to more than 60 percent of 159 charter schools. The schools are often placed alongside existing schools in a controversial arrangement known as “co-location.”
Critics have said that the policy introduces stark inequities and breeds unnecessary tension, issues that Jaffe suggested were valid.
“There is no dispute that charter schools, through public funding and private donations, have access to more financial resources than those available to traditional public schools,” Jaffe wrote. Those resources, she continued, are used for improvements for charter schools that are “within the full view of traditional public school students.” (more…)
April 29, 2013
For thousands of sixth-graders at 20 city middle schools, the school day is about to get a lot longer.
The schools will offer an hour of intensive literacy tutoring and 90 additional minutes of community-inspired programming such as yoga and gardening, as part of the city’s latest effort to spur improvements in the lowest-performing middle schools.
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced today that they are adding 40 schools to the city’s two-year-old Middle School Quality Initiative. Twenty of those schools will be randomly chosen for the three-year extended day pilot program.
Walcott made middle schools his priority when he took office, rebranding an initiative that Quinn had spearheaded as MSQI and expanding it to include focuses on literacy, teacher collaboration, and using data to drive instruction. Since then, MSQI has grown from 18 to 49 schools, and in the fall, it will include 89 schools. (more…)
April 29, 2013
More than half of the votes in last week’s United Federation of Teachers leadership election came from retired union members, according to a final vote tally that the union released today.
The complete count, released three days after the election, showed 19,808 votes for president from people who currently work in schools and 21,813 from retired members. The distribution reflects longstanding trends in union voting that were accelerated by dramatically lower turnout and a policy change that increased the weight of retirees’ votes.
Retirees make up a potent, and unusual, voting bloc in the UFT, one of the only labor unions in the country that allows retired members to continue to vote in union elections. They turn out in droves and almost always cast their ballots for the union’s leadership. This year’s election was no outlier, with 38 percent of retirees returning their ballots, compared to just 17 percent of active members. (more…)