Posts tagged "automotive high school"
March 19, 2013
A middle school in eastern Queens has been hit particularly hard by the limits of the city’s high school admissions system, according to a local elected official who wants a new high school program opened to serve shut-out eighth-graders.
City Councilman Mark Weprin announced during a council hearing today that 67 students at M.S. 72 in Springfield Gardens wound up without a match last week when high school admissions decisions came out. The students made up 20 percent of the eighth grade, meaning that M.S. 72 students went unmatched at twice the citywide rate.
“There are 67 kids who think they did something wrong,” Weprin said. But their only offense, he said, is that students at M.S. 72 — which posts lower-than-average test scores but has a selective program — often don’t want to go to the high school most likely to accept them. (more…)
June 19, 2012
The hiring process has hit snags at several “turnaround” schools where teachers have been told to reapply for their jobs this year.
Staff from many of the 24 schools that the city will close and reopen this year under a reform model called turnaround are complaining they are facing confusion and misinformation over who qualifies to be rehired and what will happen to teachers who are not rehired. At a handful of the schools, interviews were delayed by days because of last-minute administrative changes and unexpected time pressures. And some of the school-based hiring committees are working long hours but still falling behind.
Department of Education officials say the rehiring process is underway at all schools and is moving smoothly considering the sheer number of interviews that must be conducted. Any teacher from the schools who applies to stay on is guaranteed an interview, and about 2,600 of them have. They represent 85 percent of the 2,995 teachers currently working in the schools.
“All of the committees are up and running,” said Marc Sternberg, the deputy chancellor overseeing the turnaround initiative. “Some are ahead of others, and some are getting momentum now. Offers are starting to be made.”
But teachers at the schools say the interviews and offers are coming only after logistical hangups that complicated an already stressful process in the waning weeks of the school year. (more…)
June 8, 2012
Some teachers this week are getting bad news about what they thought was already a done deal: their tenure.
Teachers come up for tenure, which confers stronger job protections, after three years. In their third year, their principals recommend a tenure decision to the superintendent, who has the final say on whether to approve, deny, or defer tenure.
But some teachers whose principals had already received superintendent sign-off found out this week that those approvals had been rescinded, according to principals, teachers, and union officials. The teachers are instead being offered an extension of their probationary periods, some for the second time.
The scenario has played out at multiple schools, according to officials at the United Federation of Teachers, who said the schools all seemed to have low scores on their Department of Education progress reports.
The reversals appear to mark a new phase in the Bloomberg administration’s campaign to make tenure tougher to earn — or, as Mayor Bloomberg put it in a 2010 vow, “ending tenure as we know it.” Last year, the city aggressively cut down on the rate of tenure approvals, instead extending the probationary period of 40 percent of teachers up for tenure, up from 8 percent in 2010, and many principals said their superintendents had rejected some of their tenure recommendations. (more…)
April 6, 2012
Public hearings about the city’s plan to “turn around” dozens of struggling city schools have attracted vociferous protest. But behind the anger and frustration we found teachers and students who had carefully considered their schools’ need to improve and the potential effects of the turnaround plan.
At six hearings in four boroughs, teachers and students said their schools had not been given enough time to improve with the help of federal School Improvement Grants, and warned that turnaround would make improvement more difficult. Here’s what some of them told us when we asked them to delve deeper into their thoughts about their schools’ pasts, presents, and future.
What changes have the School Improvement Grants brought to your school so far?
“I don’t know where this money went. Last year, the one when we were [using the federal model called] transformation, it seemed to me that most of the money went to pizza. Every event we had, the students had, there were 20 pizza pies.
The only thing that I see that New Visions, [the non-profit that supervises Automotive,] has actually done, which is a good thing, is they brought in something called “Datacation,” which is a great tool. It’s the best thing they’ve done. It’s basically a one-stop store for teachers. Gradebook, anecdotal logs, contact information. It’s a great tool. The only thing I can positively say that they did well. Other than that, they walk around into our classrooms, they jot down notes and you hear nothing.”
In what areas do you think the school needs further improvement?
“For the students coming in here, there can’t be 40 percent with [Individualized Education Plans for special education students]. Any school’s going to fail with 40 percent IEPs. There had to be a better proportion of non-IEPS to IEPs. We’ll take them, we’ll teach them, we love them, but 40 percent? Any school isn’t going to make the benchmark that the state wants.” (more…)
March 29, 2012
Three schools facing the same fate — a federally prescribed school reform strategy known as “turnaround” — registered their opposition in very different ways at public hearings Wednesday evening.
The hearings are a required part of the city’s school closure process. In order to execute turnaround at 33 schools, qualifying them for a total of about $60 million in funding, the city must close and reopen the schools after changing their names and many of their teachers. Tuesday’s hearings were the first in a series that extends to April 19, a week before the Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote on the turnaround plans.
At Sheepshead Bay High School, students and staff argued that the school is doing well despite a challenging student population. At Automotive High School, teachers acknowledged that the school desperately needs help — but they said past failures gave them little confidence the city could deliver it. And the community struck an entirely different tone at Harlem Renaissance High School, which would only be lightly touched by turnaround’s most stringent requirements.
Harlem Renaissance High School
Opposition to turnaround was all in a name for students, parents, and teachers at Harlem Renaissance, a transfer high school that accepts students who have been unsuccessful at other schools.
A large portion of the school’s 200 students turned out for the hearing, and many of the people who testified said their top priority was maintaining the school’s name. A representative of the local community district testified that “Harlem” is an essential part of the name to preserve as the neighborhood continues to gentrify and change in character. Ajee Joyner, a senior, focused on the word “renaissance” and explained that she had learned it meant “rebirth” — a poignant definition for students who failed at or even dropped out of other schools.
“From the moment I walked through the doors, the theme of experiencing your own personal renaissance was constantly reinforced,” said Joyner. “Every staff member reminds us on a regular basis that we can become whatever we want if we allow ourselves to be reborn in our learning and our educational paths.”
Few schools’ turnaround protests appear to focus on the renaming requirement. But at Harlem Renaissance, that could be the biggest disruption because it won’t have to replace any teachers: 10 of the 18 teachers joined the staff in the last two years, so they would be counted as new under the federal rules about teacher replacement. (more…)
March 8, 2012
Students and teachers at William Grady Career and Technical High School aren’t waiting until next month’s closure hearing to share what they think of the city’s plan to close the school this summer.
Students organized a week of protest last month, and teachers joined them with a rally and candlelight visit outside the school on Wednesday. Evelyn Katz, an English teacher, said teachers began the rally just after school let out at 3:09 p.m. and were joined at 5 p.m. by students who had stayed late for tutoring.
The rally came just hours after the school received a visit from a top state official whose assessment could influence whether State Education Commissioner John King endorses the city’s “turnaround” plan.
Multiple people who work at the school said Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the Board of Regents, spent several hours at Grady Wednesday morning. They said she toured the school’s vocational shops, which include culinary arts and automotive repair. (more…)
March 5, 2012
It’s hard to get students interested in your school when, according to the city’s “turnaround” plan, it might not exist in the fall.
That’s what Deborah Elsenhout, a guidance counselor at Banana Kelly High School, reasoned when droves of families walked right past her booth at last weekend’s Round 2 High School Fair, toward the hallway reserved for new schools opening in the fall.
As one of 33 schools proposed for the “turnaround” school reform model, Banana Kelly is waiting to learn whether it will shut down this June, to reopen in the fall with the same students but a new name and a staffing overhaul. Students who apply to the 25 high schools on the turnaround list would automatically be transfered to the new schools that would replace them.
Elsenhout said she either glossed over the turnaround situation to families who did stop, or didn’t mention it at all. But it’s hard, she noted, to advertise a school without a name.
“We do have a rigorous academic curriculum and a strong connection with the community,” she said. “But there’s a sadness, knowing people will be losing their jobs.”
Teachers at many of the turnaround schools have expressed persistent confusion about the plan and its implication for their students. They also found it posed a dilemma at the fair, where 270 schools were given a weekend to pitch their programs, new and old, to hundreds of eighth-graders who were not accepted at their top-choice high schools during the city’s main admissions process. Some teachers reassured families their schools weren’t going anywhere, but others said the schools were already gone. (more…)
February 28, 2012
Confusion about whether the city’s turnaround proposals would amount to school closures can be put to rest.
Eight of the schools the Department of Education has said it would “turn around” are on the Panel for Educational Policy’s April agenda — as closure proposals. The schools are among 33 the city has said it would overhaul in order to qualify for federal funding earmarked for overhauling low-performing schools.
The eight schools do not represent all of the closure proposals the city will ultimately make. Other schools that are not yet on the agenda, including Brooklyn’s School for Global Studies, were told on Monday that the city had scheduled public hearings about their closure proposals for late March and early April. (The panel approved 18 non-turnaround closures earlier this month.)
City officials have said that they would move forward with turnaround at all 33 schools, even after the city and union settled a key issue that had derailed previous overhaul processes at many of the schools and after it became clear that the schools’ performance varies widely. Turnaround would require the schools to close and reopen after getting new names and replacing half of their teachers.
Thirty-page “Educational Impact Statements” for each of the closure proposals offer clues about what the replacement schools would look like. The statements indicate that the city would maintain the schools’ partnerships, extracurricular programs, and many curriculum offerings. The school that replaces Automotive High School, for example, would still offer vocational certification in car repair. Several of the schools would be broken into “small learning communities” that include ninth-grade academies, according to the city’s plans.
In the statements, the department also explains the switch to a more aggressive overhaul strategy from the models that most of the schools had been undergoing until the end of last year, when their funding was frozen because the city and teachers union failed to agree on new teacher evaluations. (more…)
December 19, 2011
A dispute over who would take the fall if something goes wrong inside struggling schools is delaying a federally funded turnaround effort that had already gotten off to a slow start.
As part of its application to secure school improvement grants, the city agreed to hand over operations to independent education organizations at 14 of its lowest-performing schools through a process called “restart.” The Department of Education selected six nonprofits to take over the reins at those schools, awarding them more than $17 million altogether.
But four months after the groups started working in the schools, the money remains in the city coffers.
The sticking point is that city lawyers want the groups, known as educational partnership organizations, to cover their own legal costs for any litigation brought by teachers, principals, staff or students in the schools they’re working in.
The proposition is controversial because the groups are replacing an authority figure — the superintendent — who does not actually carry any of the liability costs. The DOE is effectively an insurance carrier for superintendents, so when a lawsuit challenges, for example, a teacher rating that the superintendent signed off on, the DOE bears the legal costs.
The EPOs said they assumed they would have the same protection against legal liability, known as indemnification, because the state’s regulations mandate that they adopt all of the roles and responsibilities of each school’s superintendent. But according to several EPO directors, the city’s initial contract language treats them like vendors providing services to the schools, not managing everything from hiring to budgeting to discipline.
“It’s been several months of frustration over what we see as a fairly straightforward issue,” said a program director from one of the EPOs. “We feel we should be covered to the same extent that a superintendent would be covered in the case of a lawsuit.” (more…)
November 9, 2011
On the same day that she spent time denying weeks-old rumors about being the future mayor, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch was rebuked by the current one.
Speaking with reporters in the Bronx today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg took aim at Tisch’s characterization that the Department of Education had “warehoused thousands of kids” in failing schools. Tisch made the comments to the editorial board of the New York Daily News after visiting Brooklyn’s Automotive High School, which started undergoing federally funded “restart” this year.
“She’s totally wrong on the facts,” Bloomberg said. “I don’t know where she got that from. … She’s obviously been misinformed.”
But Tisch had backed up her statement not with hard facts but with anecdotal evidence about what she saw in Automotive’s classrooms and hallways. “No one’s in the class and kids are wandering around the hallway. I couldn’t tell me for the life of me what the instruction was,” Tisch told the Daily News.
Bloomberg, whose administration has relied on data to drive school improvement, said today that Tisch’s approach to identifying and solving problems in schools is misguided:
You can’t run a school system on anecdotal evidence. We have a 1.1 million students to take care of and you can’t run it on … you have to have numbers. (more…)