Posts from Maura Walz
March 30, 2011
Here’s a small piece of news for New York, and a big one for GothamSchools: This will be my last post here.
Later this week I head to Atlanta, where I am about to begin covering education for Georgia Public Broadcasting. (That’s why we’re hiring.) In Georgia I’ll be part of a really exciting new project that will report on schools all around the South and will let me fulfill a long-time dream of working in radio.
Maybe, if I’m lucky, you’ll see links to some of my stories in Rise and Shine. If you know anyone who works in Georgia’s public schools, definitely let me know!
I’m excited to get to know a new school system with entirely different challenges and accomplishments. But I will miss New York and its byzantine system and impassioned parents, teachers, students and policy wonks.
I don’t want to leave without thanking you — GothamSchools’ readers, commenters and tipsters. Thanks for helping me learn something new about the New York City public schools every day I’ve been on this job. Thanks for holding me accountable when I’ve erred. And, most of all, thanks for being such curious and passionate readers with an intense interest in bettering schools.
No matter how much you can argue about the solutions to the problems of public education here — when you even agree on what the problems are — New York City is filled to the brim with people who care deeply about creating excellent public schools for every student. No matter what happens, your quest for better schools will make for a fascinating story. And it’s a story I will continue to follow as I transition from GothamSchools reporter to one of its many dedicated readers.
So farewell, and good luck to you all.
March 29, 2011
Americans want more news coverage of how teachers and students are performing, according to a survey released today by the Brookings Institution.
More than 70 percent of respondents said that they wanted more news coverage of teacher effectiveness and of student academic performance. Nearly the same percentage want to know more about school safety, curriculum, finances and school reform.
In previous studies, the report’s authors have found that education policy and curriculum issues are frequently under-covered in national news. Of the national news stories on education examined in a 2009 study, just under 5 percent were about education reform, and just 3.4 percent covered curriculum.
Many of the report’s other findings are unsurprising — for example, the survey found that younger adults, who are more likely to have school-age children, want more education news than senior citizens do. (more…)
March 28, 2011
Feel like New York City teachers need a morale boost?
Right now, the Blackboard Awards are seeking parent nominations of outstanding teachers and principals. They can be from district, charter, private or parochial schools — you just need to explain why they’re great. The awards program, which is run by the Manhattan Media group, is also surveying parents about their children’s schools to determine which deserve recognition. The winners are honored at a gala in June.
The deadline for suggesting a teacher or principal for the award, or to rave about your school, is this Thursday, March 31. Submit your nominations here.
March 25, 2011
When Gideon Stein first picked up the 2009 New Yorker profile of California charter school leader Steve Barr, he put the article down without finishing it. The story was all about Barr’s decision to work with the teachers union rather than fight it.
“I was like, eh, how great can his schools be?” Stein, an entrepreneur and real estate developer based in Manhattan, recalled in an interview this week.
A board member of at one of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Charter Network schools, where teachers are determinedly not unionized, Stein didn’t believe that anyone working with a teachers union had a shot at turning a school around.
But at the urging of his family, he finished the piece and was so impressed that he asked Moskowitz to broker an introduction. Soon he flew to Los Angeles to visit Locke High School, the school that Barr’s group, Green Dot, took over in 2008. The trip was “transformative,” Stein said.
In Barr, he saw the solution to the problem that troubles many education philanthropists: Successful transformations urban and rural schools are too rare. They have not achieved “scale.”
“While I love my work with Eva, and I think Eva is just an unbelievable educator and advocate for children,” Stein said, “if you really want scale, I think you’re going to have to make some compromises.”
He asked Barr how he could help Green Dot’s mission of re-making schools in partnership with labor.
Now Stein is the president of Barr’s national organization, which changed its name today from Green Dot America to Future Is Now Schools. And he’s rejiggered his social calendar. “I’ve now had dinner and drinks with Randi 10 times in the last eight months,” he said, referring to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Winning the Future (more…)
March 25, 2011
- The city’s elite schools admitted a smaller percentage of minorities who attended its prep. (Daily News)
- The state could get an on-time budget, but school aid is still the sticking point. (Wall Street Journal)
- A principal is under investigation for an alleged bias attack on one of his teachers. (NY1)
- The city’s $80 million ARIS data system is still evolving and struggling to get school buy-in. (WNYC)
- G.E. has avoided paying taxes through philanthropy, including a large gift to the DOE. (Times)
- P.S. 29 students will recite the Pledge of Allegiance after parents realized students didn’t know it. (DN)
- A charter school for older, under-credited students was approved in Brooklyn. (Brooklyn Daily Eagle)
- A crackdown on commercial bus drivers found two school bus drivers falsely licensed. (WSJ)
- Teachers at Queens’ PS 30 rallied against a plan to close the school. (Queens Chronicle)
- A D.C. principal was suspended because of allegations he doctored transcripts. (Washington Post)
- A Chicago school has seen more absenteeism despite an effort to keep students in class. (Times)
- A Texas superintendent’s leadership has drawn what some say are racially-motivated attacks. (Times)
March 24, 2011
- The census found that New York City’s population barely grew in the last decade. (Times)
- But Mayor Michael Bloomberg says those numbers are way too low. (Daily Politics)
- Florida’s governor signed an expansive merit pay plan into law at a charter school. (Orlando Sentinel)
- Why it’s important to understand the different ways child poverty can be measured. (School Finance 101)
- Does Joel Rose’s departure illustrate the gulf between talk of innovation and public sector reality? (Time)
- Customizing instruction is a way of getting beyond tracking, Mike Petrilli argues. (Flypaper)
- Green Dot’s Steve Barr discusses his plans to turn around two Bronx schools next year. (Inside City Hall)
- Responsibility for improving schools can’t be placed on teachers alone, a TFA alum argues. (Hechinger)
- The Times’ labor reporter is taking questions about unions and labor law. (City Room)
- Paul Vallas’ successor in New Orleans could be named in the next month. (Times-Picayune)
- Two N.J. principals have very different views of the value of social media in schools. (Hechinger Report)
- The state board of ed in Virginia voted to change the way they approve textbooks. (Curriculum Matters)
March 23, 2011
- Manhattan’s CB 1 urged lawmakers to extend the “millionaire’s tax” to offset school cuts. (Tribeca Trib)
- A union activist proposes a new way to talk to current and prospective charter parents. (Ed Notes Online)
- Bronx students are learning the art of the poetry slam from working poets. (GOOD)
- Parents pushing for charter schools in affluent areas have frequently been stymied. (NPR)
- Minority teachers take licensing tests later in their careers than white teachers, a study found. (Ed Week)
- Scholar Linda Darling-Hammond recaps last week’s International Summit on Teaching. (Answer Sheet)
- Chicago Public Schools wants to close eight schools and phase out another. (Chicago Public Radio)
March 23, 2011
The Times’ City Room blog today gave a peek behind the curtain that has frequently hidden Albany’s budget negotiations from public view — and showed that legislative agreement on major education issues may still be a ways off.
According to an internal memo leaked to the Times that appears to have been prepared by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office after the State Senate and Assembly each passed their own budgets last week, division between the governor and the two houses remains wide on each of the major education policy questions in the budget.
For each policy issue discussed, the 31-page memo lays out the governor’s position, the position of the Senate and the Assembly, and a column for possible compromises. None of the six issues listed related to kindergarten through 12th grade education have a potential compromise given.
And in one prominent case — the question of whether or not to end the state’s current layoff-based seniority system — the memo states that the Assembly’s position is “unknown,” which suggests that there has not yet been much discussion between the three parties on the issue. (more…)
March 23, 2011
- To counter anti-Bloomberg teachers union ads, the mayor paid for his own. (NY1, Times, DN)
- For the first time, a charter operator will try to turn around a struggling charter. (GS, Post, NY1)
- N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s school budget cuts unconstitutional, a judge reported. (Times, Star-Ledger)
- Eva Moskowitz: ending the seniority-based layoff system is a “complete no-brainer.” (Daily News)
- Although the N.Y. Archdiocese is laying off teachers, it is also recruiting young college graduates. (DN)
- In L.A., Arne Duncan said No Child Left Behind should be rewritten to reflect student progress. (LAT)
- Chicago schools are putting $18 million into an effort to create a “Culture of Calm” in schools. (NPR)
- A charter that requires students to pass six A.P. exams wants to open in D.C. (Washington Post)
- Sixth and ninth-grade survivors of a tsunami-struck school graduated, only a week late. (Times)
March 22, 2011
- Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent nearly $1 million on campaign-style ads to promote his budget. (NY1)
- Teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew called the ads a “vain attempt” to change voters’ minds. (DN)
- In spite of rezoning, popular UWS elementary schools still have long wait lists. (InsideSchools)
- The most popular word in NYC school names is “Academy,” followed by “Charter.” (City Room)
- Two local elected officials argue that the city needs to remediate PCBs in schools immediately. (HuffPo)
- Young soon-to-be voters told Gov. Cuomo they’d remember his education cuts. (State of Politics)
- New York has accessed less than 8 percent of its Teacher Incentive Fund grants. (Ed Money Watch)
- Former Chancellor Joel Klein defends N.J. education commish appointee Chris Cerf. (Star-Ledger)
- A Pennsylvania mother is trying to start a boycott of standardized testing. (CNN)
- Some of Michelle Rhee’s views about teaching seem to contradict themselves. (Quick and the Ed)
- How does school accountability relate to healthy lunches? An explanation. (Chicago Mag via Russo)
- A start-up is creating a marketplace for teachers to buy and sell lesson plans and tests. (Business Insider)