Posts from the "Margin Notes" Category
The Department of Education released its one-page “budget estimate” for public comment this afternoon. By law, the citywide school board must approve estimates of the “total sum” the DOE will spend in the coming year as well as the formulas that determine how that money is divvied out to schools. Normally, there’s a 45-day public comment period before the board votes, but because school budgets were so delayed this year, the panel will hold an emergency vote on the estimate this month.
For those who want to dive into the details of how the department plans to spend its money, there’s not much here. More detailed information on the proposed funding breakdowns is available in a City Council report here (pdf).
The city’s one-pager on the budget is below the jump: (more…)
Teach for America’s New York office has a new executive director.
Jeff Li, who will take over management of the city’s branch of the program for new teachers, has spent the last year working on the group’s fundraising, according to his LinkedIn profile. He joined TFA’s New York management after a tumultuous year as co-principal of the Brooklyn charter school KIPP AMP. That year, 15 of the school’s 20 teachers voted to unionize, prompting a months-long battle between the school’s teachers and KIPP managers. This year, the teachers reversed their decision and asked to leave the union in April.
Before becoming co-principal, he was a founding math teacher at the school and won the U.S. Department of Education’s American Star of Teaching award in 2008 for the achievement gains his students made. Li started out as a third grade teacher and TFA member in 2003 at P.S. 69 in the South Bronx after leaving a consulting career.
Li will start in his new role on June 16, said a TFA spokeswoman. An email that was sent to TFA teachers from Li and the outgoing executive director, Jemima Bernard, is below the jump. (more…)
Teaching Fellow C.W. Arp learned the news that Mayor Bloomberg had traded new-teacher layoffs for an all-teachers pay freeze — and that therefore Arp, a new teacher, wouldn’t be laid off — from a veteran teacher.
In a new Community post, Arp calls her Mrs. AlmostRetired:
“Why should you be laid off?” She asks me. “When I’m dying to get out of here and you want to stay. And you’re cheap!”
But Arp, who calls himself the worst teacher at his school and also Mr. MaybeFired, doesn’t think being cheap is a good enough reason for him to stay on. He has another argument: “in order to become a teacher, I need to teach.”, at 11:02 am
“The Lottery,” a new documentary that follows four very lovable applicants to Harlem Success’s charter schools, is playing tonight at the Apollo in a free screening.
The documentary is one of two new films whose wide release charter school supporters are eagerly awaiting as a way to get their message out to the general public. (The other is “Inconvenient Truth” director Davis Guggenheim’s documentary, “Waiting for Superman.”)
After tonight’s screening, a panel including Chancellor Joel Klein and a district principal — both of whom appear in the film, saying positive things about charter schools — will discuss the film.
The mayor’s decision to freeze teacher, principal and administrators’ wages for two years is final — but maybe not really final.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Chancellor Joel Klein offered two possible ways to bring back planned raises. Albany could come through with a less austere final budget than the one the governor has proposed. Also, Klein said, he still hopes that Congress will pass a $23 billion teacher jobs bill that has been staggering its way through the legislative process.
After being dropped in the Senate, the bill stalled in the House last week, mired in the politics of deficit spending. But lobbyists and officials from the U.S. Department of Education and national teachers unions, including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, told Politics K-12′s Michele McNeil that they are still confident that lawmakers will revive the measure. (more…)
Will New York win the second round of the Race to the Top? We don’t know yet, but add one more item to the list of ways the state’s application has gotten stronger: More teachers unions signed on to the plan this time around, and they added fewer caveats to their endorsements.
The percentage of unions signing on to the plan is now 70%, up from 61% in the last round. That includes New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, which, though it signed on last time, added caveats along with its “yes,” as Steven Brill reported in the New York Times Magazine. One major exception was a clause saying that unions could ignore any part of the plan that violated a union contract — even though, in the same memo, the unions promised to negotiate new contracts following the plan’s main ideas.
In the first round, some judges noted the caveats and the 61% figure as a reason they docked points from the state’s application. I couldn’t find any caveats in this round’s Memorandum of Understanding documents that unions and school districts had to turn in by Tuesday.
Still, among the dissenters are some pretty major unions, including the ones in Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Albany. That’s three of the state’s “Big Five” school districts. A typical explanation why came from Buffalo’s union president earlier this month, in the Buffalo News:
Now that we have a Race to the Top deal, the city’s teachers union is back to its regularly scheduled programing. The union launched a radio ad today lambasting the state legislature for threatening to cut education funding next year.
“I now hope that the entire legislature and the governor we can focus all of our energies on getting a budget that will have major education restorations,” said union president Michael Mulgrew in a phone interview today.
Both union and city officials are hoping that lawmakers will iron out a budget deal over the long weekend that will prevent them from having to lay off 4,400 teachers. Public school principals are expecting to have budgets next Tuesday and if the economic forecast does not change by then, layoff announcements could shortly follow.
The UFT’s ad, which will run throughout Memorial Day weekend, will air on radio stations WCBS, WINS, WBLS, WKTU, WSKQ and WPAT.
The full script of the ad is below the jump: (more…)
After being criticized for fudging union support for its first-round Race to the Top application, New York State education officials are proceeding cautiously to make sure that they’re not embarrassed again.
In order to be eligible for any grant funds that the state might win, school districts, charter schools and unions are required to submit a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to participate in programs proposed by the state’s application. This round’s deadline to sign onto the application is 5 p.m. tomorrow.
In the first round, the MOU listed individual tenets of the state’s Race to the Top plan and allowed districts to choose a la carte which provisions they supported. The teachers union agreed only to provisions that would not require a change to its contract. Though the state claimed to have the full support of the city union, Race to the Top judges said that the qualified agreement would hurt the state’s ability to enact its plan. (You can read more about the state’s failed first-round application here.)
This round’s MOU is an all-or-nothing deal — districts, schools and unions must agree to everything in the state’s plan or not sign on at all. That won’t be a problem if union and city negotiators hash out a deal tonight to raise the charter cap and smooth the way for full passage of the teacher evaluation deal struck by the state and union earlier this month.
But if a deal falls apart, the city and union will be forced to choose whether to sign onto the application anyway. In the first round, the city unsuccessfully tried to use its MOU signature as a bargaining chip to pressure legislators into lifting the charter school cap.
A copy of the current MOU, as well as the state’s “Frequently Asked Questions” document about it, is below the jump: (more…)
A deal on legislation to make New York more competitive for Race to the Top dollars could finally come tonight.
Quick reminder: That would mean that the state’s cap on the number of charter schools allowed to open would rise to 460 from 200, and the teacher evaluation deal worked out by state officials and the union would become law. In return, New York might rake in $700 million in federal grants.
Then again, the deal might not come today at all. When asked what he meant by a note telling us that a deal could come “tonight,” Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo sent the following Blackberry reply:
Lol. It is conceivable that tonight could be midnight or 10 a.m. Tmrw.
Nobody’s talking about exact sticking points in negotiations, which are mainly between Mayor Bloomberg (who enjoys support in the state Senate) and the city teachers union (which enjoys support in the Assembly). But presumably they’re similar to the ones raised in the last week of back-door negotiations. For more background on what Race to the Top is, read this.
Liz Benjamin has more on the details of when the Assembly and the Senate will actually do this (late tonight and tomorrow, respectively)., at 6:30 pm
A federal measure that would send $23 billion to help states avoid teacher layoffs would save 16,223 jobs in New York State, according to estimates released by the White House yesterday.
The emergency funds are folded into a larger spending bill that the House Appropriations Committee was scheduled to vote on this afternoon, but the vote was postponed. The measure has had a rocky start after its sponsor, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, couldn’t find enough support in the Senate to introduce it there. Wisconsin Democrat David Obey then announced he would introduce a version of the measure in the House.
If Obey’s measure passes the House — which is not certain — its passage through the Senate becomes far more likely, as senators will be unable to amend it without voting the whole bill down.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been pushing the legislation aggressively, both in Washington and at local stops like the one he made in New York last week. At a City Council hearing on the Department of Education’s budget earlier this week, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said that if the bill is passed, $400 million would fund New York City teaching jobs and help plug the department’s anticipated $750 million budget gap., at 6:04 pm