Posts tagged "Brooklyn"
November 6, 2012
Principal Rochel Brown hadn’t slept much since Friday, when she and her teachers began assessing the toll Hurricane Sandy took on the Red Hook Neighborhood School’s community.
The news she received then was grim: Several teachers lost their homes and cars in the storm, which was particularly devastating to Staten Island and Brooklyn’s waterfront neighborhoods, where many teachers from her school live. And many more families were unreachable because of power outages in the area.
To top it off, she and Shahara Jackson, principal of the Summit Academy Charter School, which shares the Huntington Avenue school building with the Neighborhood School, learned they would need to make room for another school—P.S. 15, a Red Hook school so damaged by the storm that it cannot reopen yet—by Wednesday, when its students and teachers will be temporarily relocated.
Brown told reporters this afternoon that she is managing “as smoothly as possible,” given the circumstances. The other principals nodded in agreement. (more…)
May 11, 2012
“Every second counts,” teacher Ryan Hall said about the math classes he teaches at Williamsburg Collegiate Charter Middle School.
The Brooklyn teacher, who was recognized by a national nonprofit as one of the top teachers in the country last week, packed a recent eighth-grade class with algebra drills and word problems, presented at a rapid pace to discourage wandering minds.
Last week TNTP named Hall, who got his start as a teacher with Teach for America in 2007, as one of 20 teachers up for the brand-new Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice. Though Hall did not win the $25,000 prize, he was one of just two city teachers honored as finalists.
GothamSchools spent Tuesday morning watching Hall teach at his school, which consistently posts top scores on the city’s annual progress reports. After class, Hall explained how he organized the class, grouped students, and assessed progress. Hall’s commentary is framed in block quotes beneath our observations.
8 a.m. By moments after first-period started, Hall’s 21 students were already sitting in silence, scribbling the answers to a set of six mathematical problems. As he does on most mornings, Hall started the class with two timed exercises: the “Cranium Cruncher” and the “Do Now,” which teachers across the city have used to kick off their classes since the Department of Education first mandated the “workshop model” in 2003.
Hall said it typically takes him 30-45 minutes to prepare for the class, which always takes place in the morning.
“The ‘Do Now’ is more like grade-level work, with five to six word problems, and we go over that,” Hall said. “Then there’s one to 12 problems on a ‘Cranium Crunch12.’ It’s a drill sheet — basic skills in isolation, like computation.” (more…)
March 19, 2012
An impending crackdown on how students can make up failed classes has some schools scurrying to help students rack up missing credits this spring.
Many schools allow students who are missing credits—either because they failed a class, or because circumstances kept them from attending or completing required work—to receiving course credit for completing extra assignments through a practice known as “credit recovery.” The practice, which accounted for about 1.7 percent of credits earned last year, offers students the chance to pick up narrowly missed credits without having to repeat classes, but it has also been criticized for devaluing academic credits because the make-up assignments are often less in-depth than those required in the regular classes.
Last month, following an audit that found errors and possible evidence of cheating at 60 high schools, the city announced that it would begin restricting credit recovery access to students, in part by capping the number of credits students may receive through credit recovery, limiting enrollment to students who attended at least two thirds of class they’re making up, and allowing students to make up credits only in the months immediately after they fail a course.
The new policies take effect July 1 — giving schools a four-month window to help students rack up credits before the restrictions kick in. Teachers and students at many schools said last week that they hadn’t heard about the looming policy changes. But some of those who did said the news had motivated a credit recovery spree among students missing credits—a response Department of Education officials say is inappropriate.
Students at a small school at the Lower East Side’s Seward Park Campus, said administrators had individually told students who are missing credits that now is the time to finish credit recovery. (more…)
January 20, 2012
Anger and uncertainty about the city’s plans to overhaul 33 struggling schools reigned today at a “Fight Back Friday” protest organized by teachers at one of the schools.
The handful of teachers who braved the cold to demonstrate outside John Dewey High School this afternoon were joined by about a dozen students, who all defend the strength of the school’s programs and longtime staff.
Mayor Bloomberg announced last week that in order to secure federal funding, he would require the schools to undergo a process called “turnaround,” in which they will close and reopen immediately with half of the teachers replaced.
Dewey, a large high school with over 2,700 students in southern Brooklyn, is one of 14 schools that had been receiving federal funds to undergo a different process known as “restart.” Teachers said the nonprofit group brought in to manage the school under the restart process, Institute for Student Achievement, has so far revamped Dewey’s schedule and offered new after-school activities to combat truancy. City officials said the relationship would continue even under turnaround.
Teachers said the startling news has already had a negative impact on the school community. Dewey narrowly escaped closure last year and now is set to get a new name as part of the city’s rapid close-and-reopen plan. (more…)
January 19, 2012
At the first school closure hearing of the year last week, students and parents said their school’s youth was a reason to give it another chance. On Wednesday night, families and staff at Brooklyn’s P.S. 19, the Roberto Clemente school, appealed to decades of existence as a reason the school should stay open.
“This has been a school that has been called Roberto Clemente for many, many many years.” said Barbara Medina, who attended the school in the 1970s and sent her son to it in the 1990s. “The name should carry on.”
P.S. 19, located in Williamsburg, was the lowest-scoring elementary school on the city’s progress reports this year. Families have spurned the school in droves in recent years, causing enrollment to drop to about 350 from more than 1,200 a decade ago.
Yet about 100 people turned out to protest the city’s plan to close the school, which the Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote on next month. They said more could have been done to prevent the school from dropping from a B grade in 2009 to an F this year and to soften the impact of the enrollment drop. (more…)
January 10, 2012
A plan to move a high school seven miles from its Williamsburg home has support from school leaders and students. But elected parent officials from its current geographic district and the one it would move to this fall say the plan is ill-conceived.
Members of both the Community Education Councils for District 14 and District 19 joined together at a public hearing Monday night to argue that the school’s high quality and focus on writing makes it a poor choice for the move.
Ever since the Department of Education announced it was considering moving Williamsburg’s Academy for Young Writers to East New York, members of the school community have given their endorsement. Under the plan, Young Writers would get space in a brand-new building and expand to include middle school grades.
“We’re excited about the opportunity described in the proposal,” Principal Courtney Winkfield said at a public hearing about the move Monday night, which drew about 50 people.
“In this current school year over 60 percent of our students come from East New York and Brownsville, and travel an hour each day. About 25 percent come from Crown Heights or Bed-Stuy, and travel an hour and 45 minutes to get here,” she said. “[The DOE] is taking a program that has served them for the past several years, and putting it in their neighborhood.”
But parent leaders in District 14, where the school is currently located but which supplies just 10 percent of students, said they don’t want to see Young Writers leave — in large part because a Success Academy charter school is set to move in under a DOE proposal. (more…)
November 29, 2011
Back-to-back rallies set for this afternoon augur a contentious co-location hearing for the newest outpost in the Success Charter Network.
The creation of Cobble Hill Success Academy, which won approval earlier this year to open next fall in Brooklyn’s District 13, has sparked conflict in District 15, the location of the school’s proposed site. Advocates and critics of the city’s plan to co-locate the charter school with two secondary schools and a special education program will lay out their cases during tonight’s public hearing — and beforehand, in rallies set for outside the Baltic Street building.
The public hearing is the first of the year and ushers in a season of rancorous co-location hearings.
Some families have lamented crowding in high-performing local elementary schools and said they would appreciate new options. But others say they are worried that the new school would strain resources at the proposed site without effectively serving the high-needs populations it was originally intended to serve.
Cobble Hill Success’s promise to serve low-income, immigrant families in District 13 was a boon to its application, according to Pedro Noguera, an education professor who green-lighted the school’s original application as a member of the State University of New York’s Charter Schools Institute.
“We have tried to take the position recently that we can put charter schools where there is clearly a need for better schools for kids, so targeting the more disadvantaged communities. We have also seen the areas that are a saturation of charter schools, so we want to encourage them to open in areas that have a high need and aren’t being served,” said Noguera, who will be participating in an education debate this evening in the West Village. ”A school in Cobble Hill clearly does not meet that criteria.” (more…)
November 10, 2011
For Principal Fred Walsh, every student counts.
That’s because his school enrolls fewer students than the Department of Education says it should.
With this in mind, Walsh tries to begin each school day by shaking hands with each student who walks through the doors of the Brooklyn School for International Studies, and, ideally, end them shaking hands with prospective parents from Cobble Hill’s elementary schools. In addition to handshakes, Walsh shares with local parents promises of the school’s growing elective programs in journalism and culinary arts and, for the first time this fall, polished brochures touting those programs.
Walsh says his dogged efforts to sell International Studies to Brooklyn families are necessary but also distracting from the task of running a school for fewer than 500 students. They highlight an unintended side effect of the Bloomberg administration’s “system of schools” in which high school and many middle school students select their schools: Few schools are many students’ first choice. And when too few students enroll, schools end up being saddled with students who made no choice at all.
That’s the situation that Walsh is trying to head off. At a time when most local parents are choosing to send their children elsewhere, Walsh is working hard to bring attention to his mid-performing neighborhood school. His attempts have ranged from the ambitious (building a state-of-the-art kitchen) to the bluntly pragmatic (hiring a public relations consultant).
But competition over students and Walsh’s old under-the-radar approach has caused the school’s enrollment to yo-yo and, over time, decline by nearly 10 percent since it opened with 512 students in 2004. The decline signalled trouble to the DOE, and opened the doors to increasing numbers of high-needs students.
And the small boost in enrollment the school saw last year—from a low of 445 to 481—might be too little too late: Next year the school is likely to be joined by a new Success Academy charter school in the squat, four-story building on Baltic Street it already shares with two other schools.
Last month the Department of Education identified the Brownstone Brooklyn building as the prime site for the charter school because both International Studies and the School for Global Studies, the school upstairs, have many more open seats than students in grades 6 through 12 to fill them. That means, the DOE says, that there is room in the building to spare.
Before the announcement, Walsh said he worried that both schools would have to increase class sizes and cut programs once they start sharing space with the charter school, which would open with 190 kindergarteners and first-graders next fall and slowly grow into a full-sized elementary school after that.
And even though International did not make the city’s list of potential closures this year, community members say they are worried that the DOE could close or move it in the future.
The only way to escape the pressure, Walsh said, is to raise International Studies’ profile. (more…)
June 8, 2011
Statistics students at a Brooklyn high school took an unusually high-profile final exam today: They presented an analysis of the city’s school report cards to an audience that included their principal and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
Their teacher, Eleanor Terry, had invited the Chancellor via email, hoping to put together an official audience for her Advanced Placement statistics students at the High School for Telecommunication Arts and Technology.
The school earned an A on its most recent progress report. But that didn’t stop students — who wore buttons depicting their statistics class mascot, the “normalcurvasaurus” — from scrutinizing the way their school was graded. They examined technical issues including bias in survey questions, the way students are broken into deciles by their eighth-grade test scores, and how different scores were weighted to come up with their school’s final grade.
The students peppered their presentations with recommendations for Walcott, ranging from offering the student surveys online to factoring a school’s size into its grading.
Walcott spent more than an hour scribbling notes during the presentations. When students described difficult experiences in freshman physics classes and adjusting to high school, which they said could affect the student progress section of the report, Walcott asked, “Should we be doing something different freshman year?”
“The kids were unbelievably impressed that he said he would come. And I can’t say my reaction was any different,” Principal Phil Weinberg said. (more…)
May 26, 2009
Overcrowding in Manhattan schools seems to be more acute than usual this year. But in the rest of the city, Manhattan’s overcrowding story isn’t news: For years, many schools in the outer boroughs haven’t been able to accommodate all of the children who live near them for years.
So writes Jeff Coplon in next week’s New York Magazine:
The DOE perennially “caps” the enrollments of dozens of schools in the Bronx and Queens and Brooklyn, busing hundreds of kindergartners out of places like Elmhurst or Norwood. In the northwest corner of the Bronx, the poorest urban county in the nation, District 10 leads the city in capped schools-seven by the count of the DOE, nine by that of Marvin Shelton, the president of the district’s Community Education Council. (The crush can only worsen this fall, given the closure of kindergartens at city-run day-care centers: more than 3,000 of the city’s least-advantaged 5-year-olds, thrown into the DOE’s Mixmaster.) The children are bused miles east to west in rush-hour traffic and arrive home so exhausted they take two-hour naps. More than a dozen other schools dodge formal caps by shunting students to annexes blocks away or hauling makeshift “mini-schools” or double-wides onto their properties.
Coplon’s report jives with data made available online last week by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which show that Manhattan is far from having the most crowded schools.