Posts from Geoff Decker
December 9, 2013
- The role of school factors heavily into the The New York Times’ tale of a homeless girl’s life. (GS In brief)
- Learning Matters is giving away tickets to a talk with Lee Hirsch, director of “Bully.” Email if you want one!
- Sol Stern explains the personal reasons for joining one side of the curriculum wars. (City Journal)
- Cold water is thrown on rumors that Kaya Henderson could be the city’s next chancellor. (Answer Sheet)
- Larry Littlefield chronicles cushy pension sweeteners that city teachers have received in recent decades.
- How educators in schools can think and talk differently to breed better collaboration. (Ms SpEducate)
- Stanford researcher Linda Darling-Hammond said she’s not a candidate for chancellor. (GS in Brief)
An evaluation of Connecticut schools shows most charters outperform nearby schools. (NECharters.org)
A beloved teacher busted for pot – wrongly, he says – was quickly removed from his school. (Buzzfeed)
A writer struggling through a co-location story breaks for a fleeting celebration of Madiba’s life. (HuffPo)
For siblings who were beaten by school classmates, one transferred quickly, but the other can’t. (DNA)
City lawmakers are poised to pass a resolution calling for changes to state testing policies. (GS in Brief)
December 9, 2013
Earlier today, we pointed out that some Democrats who supported one of Bill de Blasio’s rivals during the mayoral primary were coming around to a campaign pledge they once panned.
Another of those critics of Blasio’s expanded pre-kindergarten access plan—which calls for an income tax hike on wealthy New Yorkers—was American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who endorsed Bill Thompson in the primary. In August, Weingarten held a conference call with reporters specifically to criticize the plan.
“We need a mayor in the city of New York who will take this idea and actually get it done and not base it on a tax that may never materialize,” Weingarten said then, calling Thompson “a doer” and describing de Blasio as more of an idealist.
But when asked today if she remained pessimistic about the plan, which requires state approval, Weingarten said she had been mistaken.
“Sometimes you’re wrong, as I was during the campaign, when I suggested that Bill de Blasio couldn’t gain support in Albany for his early childhood education initiatives,” Weingarten said in a statement.
December 9, 2013
During the Democratic mayoral primary just a few months ago, Bill Thompson supporters were on an all-out crusade to discredit rival Bill de Blasio’s tax plan to fund expanded pre-Kindergarten. As the race heated up in late August, Thompson’s campaign even began dispensing elected officials and union leaders to join in the skepticism.
But now that de Blasio has won the election, calling the victory a mandate from voters to follow through on his campaign tax pledge, those officials are backing off a bit.
Staten Island State Senator Diane Savino told reporters in August that de Blasio was either ignorant or pandering if he thought higher taxes were the right way to fund pre-K.
“We have enough money,” Savino said in August. “What we don’t have is flexibility in the state’s regulations about how we spend the money we already get.”
But, as New York Daily News’ Ken Lovett first reported this morning, Savino seems to have warmed to the idea since de Blasio was elected.
Responding more recently to an unsolicited suggestion that de Blasio reconsider his plan, Savino took to her Facebook page to defend it:
“with all due respect to the all the advice givers, the DeBlasio plan is the better one for the city. it is not in the interest of any new program to constantly be dependent on Albany.”
December 6, 2013
- Teachers feeling the December lull between the holidays: you are not alone. (EdWize)
- Questions about Nelson Mandela’s life and beliefs to use for the classroom. (The Learning Network)
- State Senate co-leader Jeff Klein signed a petition asking Congress to fund pre-K programs. (Capital NY)
- The AFT is challenging the mega-merger of two major U.S. hospital systems. (WSJ)
- Kindergarten (and universal pre-K, too) is too late to get kids on track for a successful life. (HuffPost)
- A report on the disproportionate suspension rates in the San Diego school district. (Voice of San Diego)
December 6, 2013
As the frenzied effort to market Cathie Black as a viable choice to run New York City schools came to a close, the nominee herself came to a realization.
“Frankly this sucks and I cannot imagine a more poorly thought out decision on mb side,” Black, using a short hand for Mayor Bloomberg, wrote in an email on Nov. 23, 2010. That night, Black found out a panel convened to review her qualifications because she lacked the proper education credentials had rejected her appointment.
“To be hung out in public with no fore thought is inconceivable to me,” Black continued in the email, which was to Department of Education press secretary Natalie Ravitz. “But muscle on…I can only imagine the headlines tomorrow.” (more…)
December 6, 2013
As the dust settles from Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s two-day spree of administrative appointments, all eyes have now turned to his next big decision: who he’ll pick for New York City schools chancellor.
Speculation around a handful of candidates has been around for months, but this week the rumored list was shuffled and whittled down. Some names have vanished while others surfaced at the top of the rumor mill, a rearrangement that reflects concerns that de Blasio’s top administrative picks so far aren’t diverse, observers say.
The newest contenders to emerge are Kaya Henderson, District of Columbia’s schools chancellor, and Chicago schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was in New York City recently, fueling rumors of her candidacy, sources said. Montgomery County Superintendent Josh Starr also remained in the mix, as did New York-based Carmen Farina, the city’s former city chief academic officer and Regent Kathy Cashin.
Andres Alonso, the former chief executive officer the Baltimore schools once considered a frontrunner for the job, has not been mentioned as prominently.
The short list of education leaders outside New York City reflects a wide swath of backgrounds and ideas about education policy, some of which seem to align closely with de Blasio’s views, and some of which don’t. For de Blasio and his advisors, their choice will be a signal of how faithful he plans to stick to some of the campaign pledges that helped distinguish him from more centrist Democratic candidates during the primary. (more…)
December 5, 2013
- Graduation rates hit a record high. (GothamSchools, WSJ, Schoolbook, Daily News, NY1, Post, C-NY)
- Ways to save money: sharing school staff and keeping them inside city zip codes. (GothamSchools)
- Some people traveled more than 100 miles to a forum to vent about the Common Core. (Buffalo News)
- Complaints from families with special education students seeking private school tuition is up. (News)
- A Bronx parent says abuse complaints by her 9-year-old daughter have been ignored. (Riverdale Press)
- Campbell Brown criticizes Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not speaking up for the Common Core. (News)
- One in five parents say their young children get 15 minutes or less to eat lunch in school. (NPR)
- Professors are developing online coursework to help high school students with tough concepts. (Times)
- Why “The Hunger Games” trilogy makes for historically great textbooks for civics class. (WSJ)
- The school system’s biggest bus operator is closing after failing to cut labor costs. (News, Schoolbook)
December 4, 2013
- The de Blasio team started reaching out to rumored candidates Kaya Henderson and Josh Starr. (Times)
- At a pre-K presser, de Blasio said his chancellor search is an “open process.” (GothamSchools, WNYC)
- Kathy Cashin, another oft-floated name who wants the job, declined to comment. (GothamSchools)
- Dozens of districts have changed teacher evaluation plans, with many cutting tests. (GothamSchools)
- A legal fight over recouping special education tuition money reveals a “murky region of the law.” (WSJ)
- Thousands more city students are taking Advanced Placement and SAT exams. (GothamSchools, NY1)
- Facing criticism in Rochester, John King said Common Core is working in schools. (Democrat & Chron)
- Thousands of college students ripped off by an insurance company are eligible for refunds. (Cap NY)
- Cathie Black, whose pick de Blasio criticized again, wished the next chancellor good luck. (WSJ)
- Parents want the city to address deafening subway sounds outside a school in Queens. (Times)
- A teacher accused of physical abuse against a young student has a history of misconduct. (Daily News)
- Another teacher was arrested for pushing and injuring a student at a high school in Harlem. (Post)
December 3, 2013
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s ever-expanding transition team just got a little bigger.
De Blasio today introduced the six-person group in charge of figuring out how to make a reality out of his campaign’s boldest pledge, to provide full-day pre-kindergarten to nearly 70,000 four-year-olds. De Blasio first announced he would convene the group last week in a speech to build support for his plan.
Much attention up to now has been focused on how de Blasio wants to fund the expansion, an income tax hike that first needs approval from the state legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And while that part of the plan remains in doubt, a series of logistical hurdles also await de Blasio even after he secures funding from Albany.
De Blasio’s “all-star” working group will be tasked with advising him on those challenges. They include finding and renovating space to make room for 50,000 students who aren’t currently in full-day programs, hiring new teachers to teach those students, and setting standards to ensure New York City’s pre-K programs deliver a high-quality education.
“To achieve that pre-K initiative, we need some of the best minds in the city to start work right now on developing the practical approaches of making sure that we’re ready to go as soon as legislation is approved in Albany,” de Blasio said at a press conference inside of a crowded Head Start classroom in East Harlem.
December 3, 2013
A state education policy maker whose name has arisen as a possible contender for chancellor said today that while she thinks Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio should move quickly to change some Bloomberg-era school policies, others are worth keeping.
Kathleen Cashin, a former Department of Education official who now sits on the state Board of Regents, said the new mayor should preserve city schools’ “network” structure of school support while moving quickly to help schools that have many high-need students. She also said the state should be open to changing its approach to teacher evaluation and the Common Core — two initiatives where she has been a dissenting voice in Albany.
In an interview today, Cashin said changing course shouldn’t be seen as a repeal of the reforms and the purpose behind them.
“It’s not a sign of weakness,” she said. “I think it’s a sign of intelligence to revisit some initiatives.”
The comments, made at a small breakfast gathering for principals at the City College of New York’s School of Education this morning, come as New York City prepares for the education policies of the last 12 years to be revised after de Blasio takes over City Hall next month. De Blasio was critical of many of the Bloomberg administration’s school policies on the campaign trail. (more…)