Posts tagged "Department of Education"
May 20, 2013
City principals who heard Chancellor Dennis Walcott deliver a stemwinding political speech on Saturday will get an extra day of summer vacation to make up for it.
This year, for the first time, the Department of Education told principals that they could take a day off during the summer to compensate for attending the citywide principals conference, held Saturday at Brooklyn Technical High School.
“To encourage attendance, any principal who attends the conference will receive one compensation day that can be used between June 27 and August 30,” the department’s weekly bulletin to principals said for at least the last two weeks.
The tradeoff isn’t sitting right with some, including UFT President Michael Mulgrew, whose union frequently battles the department to ensure that teachers are paid for time they spend working outside of the regular school day. Mulgrew cited the prohibition on city workers participating in political activity on the job.
“You’re using taxpayer dollars to pay New York City workers to come in and listen to you do a political rant,” Mulgrew said. ”It’s at least inappropriate, but it really borders on questionable ethics.” (more…)
May 17, 2013
When Lynn Sanchez, a Bronx parent activist, challenged police and education officials to address persistent school climate problems during a public forum on school safety last year, she did not think they would say yes.
And yet just months later, Sanchez was sitting with safety agents during one of their training sessions — which, for the first time, community members and advocates were helping to lead.
She saw a long-standing vision of collaboration coming together in that room. “We have to make sure everyone is on same page — we have to include school safety officers, teachers, principals, paras, students, and parents — in order for a school climate to change,” Sanchez said.
The community-run training sessions represent a striking shift in the city’s strategy for preparing safety agents to work in schools, where their role has historically been fraught. While the Bloomberg administration has famously considered principals to be the CEOs of their schools, principals’ authority does not extend to safety agents, who since 1998 have been under the authority of the New York Police Department in an arrangement that advocates say breeds tension.
The quiet shakeup so far has taken place only in a corner of the Bronx, where community groups were able to persuade the police department to let them play a role in the training of 450 agents, and its future is far from certain. But students, educators, and advocates say they are confident that the approach could go a long way toward easing some of the tensions that have plagued city schools, and a small-scale expansion of the first round of trainings appears to be in the works. (more…)
May 15, 2013
To make sure that all attendees of the city’s annual conference for families of English language learners today could go home with an autographed copy of her book, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor signed 3,000 copies of her book in two days.
She was able to write the book, she told parents at the conference, because her mother – who didn’t speak English — taught her to value words. “My mother loved reading. Seeing her read inspired my brother and me to read,” Sotomayor said in her speech.
The Department of Education’s annual conference is designed to help immigrant families navigate the city’s education system and support their children’s learning at home. Sotomayor’s address, as well as the workshops that followed, was translated into nine languages, just a fraction of the 180 languages spoken by students in the city’s public schools. (more…)
May 1, 2013
An escape route from the city’s most struggling schools that Department of Education officials touted as a significant innovation is unlikely to be an option for many eligible families, parents and advocates say.
When the city closes low-performing schools, new students aren’t allowed to enroll and current students stay on until they graduate. The arrangement has drawn criticism from state officials, families, and advocates who say high-need students see morale and support decline as their schools diminish in size.
This spring, just before finalizing plans to close 22 schools, department officials said they felt a “moral imperative” to help students who want to leave closing schools do so. They said they would mail transfer applications, including a list of possible destination schools, to all 16,000 students in the 61 schools that would be in the process of phasing out this fall.
“They presented it to families as an alternative to protect their children,” said Emma Hulse, a community organizer with New Settlement who has helped South Bronx families fill out transfer applications.
“But when the package actually hit people’s mailboxes, we realized it’s not a meaningful alternative,” she said. (more…)
April 16, 2013
After years of pressing Mayor Bloomberg to make school discipline fairer, students and advocates are turning their attention to the candidates seeking to replace him.
At a rally outside City Hall just before a City Council hearing on school climate Monday, students and advocates the Dignity in Schools Campaign called on the next mayor to take a different approach to school discipline. They want a model that relies less on suspensions and other punitive measures, and also ensures that black and Latino students are not disproportionately affected by school discipline.
“We need a mayor that is going to implement and fund restorative justice in our schools,” said Benia Darius, a junior at Bushwick School for Social Justice. “I am soon going to start my training as a peer mediator, and I’m going to be part of the change in my school. But what I want to know today as a student is what you as mayoral candidates are going to do to change these issues in our schools?” (more…)
April 12, 2013
The Department of Education’s chief operating officer is leaving to join the nonprofit organization headed by the architect of the Common Core standards, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today.
Veronica Conforme, who has been the department’s top operations officer since October 2011, will become vice president of the “Access to Rigor Campaign” at the College Board, according to a department press release.
The College Board, which Common Core architect David Coleman took over last year, is rapidly becoming a top destination for people leaving urban school systems. Jean Claude-Brizard, a former city Department of Education official who resigned as Chicago’s top schools official shortly after the teachers union strike there last year, recently became a senior advisor at the organization.
Conforme’s departure comes during a period of growing uncertainty at the Department of Education. (more…)
April 12, 2013
The city Department of Education has placed slightly fewer incoming kindergarteners on wait lists than it did last year, despite receiving over 2,000 more kindergarten applications.
But the news is unlikely to console the thousands of families who don’t yet have kindergarten seats for September. Wait lists at 105 schools contain 2,361 students, meaning that the average wait list is 25 percent longer than it was last year. (more…)
March 14, 2013
Three years after launching an effort to integrate more students with special needs in mainstream classrooms, the Department of Education has some news about the initiative’s effects.
The department today released data showing that students with special needs in schools that participated in the first phase of the initiative saw their test scores improve more than students with disabilities at similar schools that were not in the program. Their attendance rates rose and suspension rates fell more than the students with disabilities at similar schools, too.
And as the initiative expanded citywide this year, students frequently moved to less restrictive classroom settings in sixth and ninth grade, the years where the department required schools to serve all eligible students, regardless of their disability.
The information partially satisfied special education advocates, who are on board with the goals of the city’s reforms but have been clamoring for more data about the reforms’ impact for more than a year.
“From what I am seeing here it looks like there are positive trends — but I’m not seeing everything here that I want to,” said Maggie Moroff, who heads the ARISE Coalition of advocates. (more…)
November 5, 2012
District 15 Superintendent Anita Skop spent four hours this morning huddled in her car outside of P.S. 15 in Red Hook.
Her mission: to send away any families who brought their children to the school.
P.S. 15 is one of 57 schools so damaged by Hurricane Sandy that they cannot reopen this week in their own buildings. It is set to reopen on Wednesday at the P.S. 27 building, half a mile away.
In addition to the schools that will open in other buildings on Wednesday, 16 schools remained closed today because their buildings are still being used as shelters and 29 were shut because they still did not have power. For all 102 schools, the city has gone to extensive lengths to inform students and families to stay away today. (more…)
November 2, 2012
The good news came by email: Teachers facing snarled commutes and logistical headaches in the wake of Hurricane Sandy would not have to report to their schools today, the first workday after the storm, until 10 a.m.
The bad news was that the information did not arrive until nearly midnight on Thursday, long after many of the teachers had gone to bed.
For thousands of teachers who work in schools that were damaged by the storm, the late-night email also contained instructions about where they should report today for a workday that Chancellor Dennis Walcott said was meant to let them “reacclimate to their buildings” after a traumatic week.
“I’d like to plan my commute tomorrow, esp if I have to cross boros. Would be nice to know before I go to bed pls?” high school teacher Binn Thai wrote on Twitter shortly before 10 p.m. Thai’s school is on the Lower East Side, which is still without power.
Mayor Bloomberg announced midday on Wednesday that today would be a workday for city teachers. But nearly 200 school buildings were so heavily damaged by the storm that they still cannot be used. In an email to principals sent Thursday just before 6 p.m., Walcott promised principals that information about alternate locations for storm-affected schools would come “later this evening.”
But when the department informed principals at 10 p.m. about the delayed start time, it did not include a list of relocated schools. (more…)