Posts tagged "albany report"
January 29, 2013
Nolan chastised Bloomberg for his role in New York City’s failure to reach a teacher evaluation deal, which will likely cost the city $240 million in state school aid.
Today, she told Mulgrew, “This is the fault of labor and management together.” Nolan chairs the Assembly’s education committee and usually sympathizes with the union on education issues.
“It is unbelievable to me that this union, with its great history, could not negotiate this deal,” Nolan added as she questioned Mulgrew, whose testimony before the legislature was supposed to be about the 2013-2014 state budget but focused instead on the failed evaluation deal and issues surrounding upcoming assessments aligned to new standards.
Mulgrew and Chancellor Dennis Walcott, whose testimony earlier in the day generated less confrontation, both told the legislature that they are open to resuming negotiations. Walcott even conceded that a misunderstanding could have fueled one major issue preventing a deal. (more…)
August 15, 2011
When David Steiner announced his resignation as commissioner of the State Education Department, people close to him speculated that he was burnt out by trying to push his agenda through.
In an interview posted today with Rick Hess, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Steiner describes the thoughts that led to his decision.
“There is an enormous investment in the status quo, even from those you would think have an incentive for change,” Steiner told Hess. “… Sometimes, I would look out from the offices in Albany and ask where the allies were.”
Steiner’s complaint reflects divisions among state education officials documented by Michael Winerip in today’s New York Times. Some officials — such as Steiner’s successor, John King, and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch — favor speedy policy changes in line with federal priorities. Others are urging a more cautious pace.
Now returning to Hunter College’s School of Education, Steiner told Hess that his biggest accomplishment as commissioner was to change certification requirements for new teachers. And he also said he is not confident that plans to boost test quality will pay off. “It’s still an open question whether the next generation of assessments will really match our aspiration to encourage rigorous, deep thinking rather than the rote-like product from the testing regime,” Steiner said.
May 17, 2011
A change in the state’s testing program meant to close an $8 million budget gap could have far-reaching consequences for city students and schools, principals say.
The Board of Regents voted yesterday to do away with the January administration of the state exams required for high school graduation. The tests will still be given in June and August.
City school officials criticized the change, which had principals across the city lighting up their colleagues’ e-mail inboxes with protests of the change. “The state shares our belief in high standards that prepare students for college — so it is somewhat disheartening that the Regents would make a decision that undermines the hopes of high school students who take courses and exams to graduate mid-year,” said Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a statement.
In 2010, about 360 students used January exams to graduate midyear, out of about 3,800 total midyear graduates, according to Matthew Mittenthal, a Department of Education spokesman. Under the new system, those students would have had to wait until June to try to graduate.
But principals say those figures underestimate the effects of the change. Many students use the January dates to increase the number of times they take the Regents exams, which in turns increases their chances of passing in the long term. Students also use the January administration to spread out their tests and avoid burnout. (more…)
May 16, 2011
John King is New York’s new state education commissioner, after a unanimous vote by the state Board of Regents this morning.
King, the deputy state education commissioner, replaces David Steiner, who announced he was planning to leave at the end of the academic year in April. The announcement was a surprise, but concerns that Steiner might leave the state in the lurch were tampered by the expectation that King, his close partner, would likely succeed Steiner as commissioner.
King and Steiner’s ambitious agenda has included changing the way teachers are prepared and certified, overhauling the state’s standards, curriculum, and assessments, and implementing a slew of other innovations laid out in New York’s winning Race to the Top application.
Part of that plan was an effort to change the way teachers are evaluated. Members of the Regents vote today on whether to approve the plan that state education officials are proposing. Under urging from Governor Cuomo, the plan increases the portion of a teacher’s evaluation that would depend on student test scores to 40%. Any actual teacher evaluation system, though, will have to be bargained in each local district by school officials and local teachers unions. (more…)
May 13, 2011
If Governor Andrew Cuomo angered Mayor Bloomberg by batting off his calls to end seniority-based layoffs, perhaps the governor redeemed himself in the mayor’s eyes today. Cuomo sent the chancellor of New York’s Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch, a letter saying he believes that student test scores should count for a larger portion of teachers’ annual evaluations.
His comments are a critique of a set of regulations put out by the Board of Regents that they will vote on next week. The regulations are to be used by New York City and other districts as a guide to implementing the state’s new teacher evaluation system.
In a statement today, Tisch vowed to support Cuomo’s recommendations at the meeting next week, saying that they “will lead to an even stronger teacher and principal evaluation system for New York.” It’s not clear if the other members of the board will agree with Tisch. A recent appointee to the board, the former city school official Kathleen Cashin, is a quiet critic of Bloomberg’s.
Another hurdle involves getting the teacher evaluations implemented in school districts. The new state law revising the evaluation system granted final power to local collective bargaining talks between districts and unions. That means that no evaluation system will become final without local unions’ approval.
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew responded to Cuomo’s letter obliquely, saying only: “We look forward to discussing the Governor’s recommendations with the Regents.”
Bloomberg’s reaction was more effusive:
“The thoughtful recommendations made today by Governor Cuomo will greatly improve the rigor of these new evaluations, and I am heartened that the Regents agreed to adopt them. But it will take the sustained commitment of all invested parties – and perhaps most importantly, the cooperation of the teachers union – if we are to make this evaluation system a reality.”
Here’s Cuomo’s complete letter: (more…)
March 8, 2011
Albany lawmakers voted in three new members of the Board of Regents today and re-elected two others amid complaints from some legislators who called for more local power over state education policy.
In a joint session of the State Senate and Assembly, legislators voted to approve three new Regents: Kathleen Cashin, James Cottrell, and James Jackson. Cashin, whose nomination to the Brooklyn seat I wrote about last week, is a prominent former Department of Education official and a quiet critic of some of Mayor Bloomberg’s education policies. Cottrell, an at-large member of the Regents, is an anesthesiologist and a professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Jackson, who will represent Albany and other towns in the third judicial district, is a former high school principal.
The legislature also voted to re-elected Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and Regent Anthony Bottar, both of whom have been on the board since 1996.
Most lawmakers signed off on the new and returning Regents members, but some criticized the selection process through which a committee of legislators vet applicants before the entire body votes. (more…)
March 1, 2011
A bill that would end the “last in, first out” layoff policy for New York City teachers passed in the State Senate today, but faces an uphill battle in the Assembly.
Introduced late last week by State Senator John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, the bill rules out seniority as the sole factor in determining who gets laid off. Instead, the bill offers eight pages of an extraordinarily complicated, prioritized list of which teachers and school supervisors would be first in line to be laid off.
The bill passed the Senate 33-27, with support from Republicans and two Democratic Senators — Jeff Klein and David Valesky.
Following the vote, Governor Andrew Cuomo put out a statement saying he plans to introduce a bill that would “expedite and expand ongoing plans to implement a statewide, objective teacher evaluation system.”
Rather than replacing “last in, first out” with other measures, which Flanagan’s bill does, Cuomo’s bill would put New York’s new teacher evaluation system in place sooner than was previously planned. The original law had it covering math and English teachers who teach grades 4-8 next year and expanding to all teachers and all subjects by 2012-13. Under Cuomo’s bill, the evaluation would cover all teachers beginning next year. (more…)
May 26, 2009
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his fellow Democratic lawmakers are gathering right now in a private conference to discuss the future of mayoral control of the city’s public schools, an Assembly member just told me. This marks the first time the lawmakers will meet as a group to discuss the subject since private debate and lobbying launched last year.
“I am waiting very anxiously,” Assemblyman Alan Maisel of Brooklyn told me on the telephone just now, as he waited for the topic to shift to school governance. “This is a culmination of like a year and a half of a lot of talk. This needs to be done.”
When Democrats in the state Senate met on the same subject earlier this month, the meeting ended with lines clearly drawn as to which lawmakers favor which kinds of changes. Tonight’s meeting could provide the same kind of insight for the Assembly.
Maisel said that Silver has already been meeting individually with lawmakers to get their opinions, especially lawmakers from New York City. Lawmakers have also been busily entertaining a parade of advocates (including, in Maisel’s case, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein) and meeting with each other.
Maisel said that his own meetings with other lawmakers suggest there is some consensus among Assembly Democrats. One surprise: Maisel said that most Assembly Democrats favor adding at least one of two substantial checks to the mayor’s power: either taking away the power to appoint the schools chancellor or taking away control of a majority of school board members.
“They just don’t want the mayor to have this autocratic control of the schools without any kind of participation from anybody else,” he said.
We first reported that this conference had been scheduled last week.
April 21, 2009
A retired education administrator, Carole F. Huxley, will take the helm of the state’s schools while officials search for a permanent leader, state school officials announced today.
The current commissioner, Richard Mills, retires at the end of June, leaving Huxley to steer some big projects, including allocating $2.5 billion in stimulus dollars sent by the federal government and manning an ongoing restructuring of the state’s Education Department. Huxley is coming out of a two-year retirement to take on the post. She served as the state’s deputy commissioner of cultural education for 24 years.
Merryl Tisch, who became education chancellor just last month, said that Huxley will be a “bridge” between Mills and the new commissioner. “Having Carole in place will ensure a seamless transition in leadership as the Board continues a wide and exhaustive search for the next Education Commissioner,” Tisch said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for the State Education Department said they are accepting applications but have no time frame for when a permanent commissioner will be chosen. “I am eager to continue the work underway and to guide the progress ahead until new leadership is ready to take on the task,” Huxley said in a statement.
February 19, 2009
In another development that does not bode well for the Bloomberg administration’s ability to get what it wants out of Albany on school issues, a state senator is signaling her opposition to the mayor’s plan to convert floundering Catholic schools into charter schools. The senator, Suzi Oppenheimer, who is the new chair of the senate’s education committee, volunteered her opinion in a video interview published today by the Journal News, a Westchester paper. The key remark:
By the way, I think in the last couple weeks we’ve seen that the mayor of New York City has been talking about taking the closed parochial schools and turning them into charter schools. I think what needs to be done is they need to remain regular public schools. Because we’ve set aside millions, billions, in order to create, build schools, but we’re finding it difficult to build them fast enough.
And here are school that could be utilized for the public system, save us money for not having to build those schools. That’s the direction that I would like to move the mayor’s idea about what to do with closed schools.
Liz Benjamin, who noticed the interview first, notes that Bloomberg gave money to Oppenheimer’s opponent in the senate race, a Republican, and that Oppenheimer enjoys the support of the state teachers union, which sometimes opposes charter schools.
In the interview, Oppenheimer said she doesn’t oppose charter schools — in fact, she likes their ability to innovate — but she does object to the way they are funded, which she said can deprive traditional public schools of per-capita dollars if their students leave to go to a charter school.