Posts from Geoff Decker
May 20, 2013
Hundreds of top-rated upstate science and math teachers will be eligible for $15,000 in annual stipends under a new mentorship program announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon.
New York City teachers aren’t eligible for the stipends, in part because they still lack an evaluation system to identify them according to a four-tiered ratings scale. But the state is relying heavily on a highly-regarded city-based mentoring organization to implement the program in selected higher education institutions.
Under Cuomo’s “Master Teacher Program,” 250 teachers from schools located in four upstate regions — North Country, Mid-Hudson, Central New York and Western New York — will be selected to receive a total of $60,000 in extra pay over four years. In exchange, the teachers will be trained at State University of New York education colleges and tasked with mentoring new teachers in the science and math subjects.
Recruiting and rewarding top teachers to work in high-demand subject areas was one of the recommendations put forth by Cuomo’s Education Reform Commission last year. Cuomo also secured $11 million in the 2013-2014 state budget to develop the program, which is scheduled to expand to more districts.
“As part of the state’s work to transform our education system and put students first, we are committed to investing in great teachers to educate our students and create a highly-trained workforce to drive our future economy,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This program will reward those teachers who work harder to make the difference and whose students perform better as a result.” (more…)
May 20, 2013
“Every time it rains, like last week, the first words my son asks me” is if the house will flood, said Maryrose Spiteri. “He panics.”
Spiteri was part of a small group of parents and teachers from P.S. 38 on Staten Island who met in the school’s library this morning with three Regents: Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Buffalo’s Robert Bennett, and Staten Island’s Christine Cea. Principal Everlidys Robles estimated that 85 percent of her families “were devastated” by the storm and that 40 students — about 12 percent — had not returned. (more…)
May 17, 2013
The Board of Regents and the Assembly are teaming up next week to push for legislation that would give New York’s roughly 150,000 undocumented students access to financial aid for college.
On Monday, the board will convene a forum in Queens on immigration and education to wrap up their monthly meeting. The forum will discuss ways to increase opportunities for English language learners and undocumented students who were brought to the United States as children.
That has been part of the board’s legislative agenda for the past two years. The bill, the New York Dream Act, would give undocumented students access to state financial aid through the $1 billion-funded Tuition Assistance Program, or TAP. It would also allow them to open tax-advantaged savings accounts with private banks.
The TAP funding in this year’s budget is up from $885 million in 2010-2011. The Fiscal Policy Institute, an independent research organization, has estimated that the state would need to spend an additional $17 million annually to afford tuition assistance for the roughly 4,500 undocumented seniors who graduate from New York high schools every year. (more…)
May 17, 2013
For the second time in six months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tiny team of education aides is undergoing transition.
The departure of Katie Campos, Cuomo’s P-12 assistant education secretary since 2011, comes as one of the governor’s major initiatives, his education reform commission, prepares to renew its operations.
Campos’s last day is technically today as she prepares to enter law school this fall. But a spokesman for Cuomo said she’s sticking around parttime — and unpaid — through the summer to oversee the commission, which convenes next week for a second and potentially more controversial phase of meetings.
Cuomo and a small circle of policy advisors, including Jim Malatras, set the governor’s education agenda. But the execution of that agenda is largely left to a deputy secretary and two assistants. Campos’s is the second departure in a year for the triumvirate, of which Campos, at 27, was the most experienced member. (more…)
May 16, 2013
Perhaps the candidates who showed up to Wednesday’s mayoral forum in a Harlem school auditorium thought they’d get a break when they saw who was asking the questions: a couple of high school kids.
But Michael Cummings and Alize-Jazel Smith, seniors at Democracy Prep Charter High School, turned out to be tough moderators. They shushed Bill Thompson when he spoke out of turn, politely interrupted Comptroller John Liu when his time was up, and pushed candidates to answer the questions they were asked if they had strayed off topic — as one candidate did often.
“So, Mr. McMillan, just to be specific,” said Cummings, referring to Jimmy McMillan, the perennial also-ran candidate of the Rent Is Too Damn High party. “Do you support or do you not support co-location inside school buildings for public schools and charter schools?” (more…)
May 15, 2013
A pair of Department of Education employees were separately warned this week for breaking city ethics laws, according to letters released today by an ethics board.
In one case, a special education teacher, Faith Walters, used names of 15 former students without permission in a book she published in 2011. The letter doesn’t name the book, but it appears to fit the description of a poetry book that sells on paperback for $15.99 on Amazon. The name of the author of the 67-page book is also Faith Walters and she describes herself as a New York City special education teacher.
In the book’s description, Walters said she was inspired by an experience she had when she first started teaching:
The memory of my first day of teaching will forever be in my mind of having an almost fatal experience of losing one of my eyes because of a flying chair that hit the wall just as I opened the classroom door of 15 students who appeared to be very angry and fearful. (more…)
May 15, 2013
It was already slim odds that education would get much action from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature this session after they increased school aid, funded several education grants, and amended the teacher evaluation law during budget negotiations in March.
But in the aftermath of a federal corruption dragnet that has brought down several lawmakers, any glimmer of hope that education could get some attention seems to have vanished.
“With this legislative session, with all the corruption, I would be surprised if anything gets passed,” said Mona Davids, who runs the New York City Parents Union, a parent advocacy group. State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, of Brooklyn, sponsored a bill to end mayoral control that Davids lobbied for. The bill’s long odds grew even longer after Montgomery’s named surfaced last week as one of seven lawmakers recorded in the home of former Senator Shirley Huntley, who was cooperating with investigators to reduce a prison sentence. Huntley was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for embezzling funds from a charity she ran.
Davids said she believed Montgomery, who has not been charged, has done nothing wrong. Still, she said she doubted the bill could proceed before the session ends on June 30. “It’s May, but it’s over,” Davids said. (more…)
May 15, 2013
- Charter school advocates touted record-high demand for seats. (GothamSchools, Post, Daily News)
- As charter demand increases, so have the seats — and chances that students get one. (Schoolbook)
- Joel Klein and Sol Stern say hardliners on the left and right should embrace the Common Core. (WSJ)
- Merryl Tisch’s support for Bill Thompson is a political break from her husband, James Tisch. (Post)
- The public spat between Eva Moskowitz and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio continued. (Daily News)
- Prince Harry helped a Harlem charter school launch a coaching program for youth. (DNAInfo)
- Parents want tuition paid back from a Catholic school shuttered abruptly for health violations. (NY1)
- New Jersey is considering legislation to require statewide full-day prekindergarten. (Star-Ledger)
- As testing season heats up, parents are grappling with idea that their young children cheat. (WSJ)
- Chancellor Walcott on why the state should pick his evaluation plan — not the union’s. (Daily News)
- Greek civil servants are striking over the government’s efforts to quash a teachers union strike. (Times)
May 10, 2013
On a night when education leaders offered a spirited defense of the policies they are trying to implement, an unusual voice emerged as the dissenter: Paul Vallas.
The Bridgeport, Conn. superintendent — who has served stints in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans and earned a reputation as a turnaround consultant for struggling districts with big budget gaps — said reforms he backed were at risk of collapsing “under the weight of how complicated we’re making it.”
“We’re working on the evaluation system right now,” Vallas said of Bridgeport. “And I’ll tell you, it is a nightmare.”
The peripatetic schools chief’s self-proclaimed “Nixon goes to China” moment came during the high-profile panel at the launch of the CUNY Institute for Education Policy, a think tank that former New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner is directing. (more…)
May 9, 2013
Two years removed from his post as New York State’s schools chief, David Steiner is back in his old office with his old job. But Albany gave Steiner, serving a second stint as dean of Hunter College’s School of Education, a vision for how education policy can and should be shaped.
That vision is coming into fruition today with the formal launch of the CUNY Institute for Education Policy, a nonpartisan think tank that Steiner is directing.
In an exclusive interview, Steiner described his vision for a one-stop shop for policy makers to seek guidance, education leaders to settle disputes, and reporters and members of the public to get the straight story about education policies. Speaking in his corner office at Hunter’s Lenox Hill campus, Steiner spoke carefully about the lessons he learned in Albany during a transformative tenure that included the overhaul of state tests, the adoption of Common Core Standards, and an ultimately successful bid for federal Race to the Top funding. And he shared insights about the craft of teaching and the challenge of being non-partisan in a highly polarized climate. (more…)