Posts tagged "dotting the i’s"
March 28, 2012
More than two months after the city announced plans to “turn around” 33 struggling schools, the Department of Education has asked the state for permission to move forward.
Since Mayor Bloomberg announced the turnaround plans, which would require schools to close and reopen after replacing many of their teachers, the city has begun replacing some principals and asking others to develop plans for their new schools. The city also launched its school closure process by releasing “Education Impact Statements” with details about each turnaround plan.
But until now, the city had not formally informed the state about its plans, even though State Education Commission John King must approve them in order for them to receive federal funding. The department missed a self-imposed deadline to submit the applications in early February and then delayed the submission further as plans for the new schools were being formed.
The department finally turned in the applications late Tuesday, about 24 hours before a spate of city hearings about the turnaround plans was set to begin. Its cover letter, which the city released today, emphasizes that department officials have already spent “several months” preparing for the turnaround processes.
Now, it is up to King to decide whether the city should receive nearly $60 million a year in federal School Improvement Grants for the schools. (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…)
January 24, 2012
The city has started running through its closure protocol at dozens of low-performing schools it wants to “turn around.”
At Brooklyn’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, Superintendent Aimee Horowitz held a tense meeting with teachers to talk about the closure plan Monday afternoon. Hours later, she detailed the plan to about 50 angry and bewildered parents at an “early engagement” meeting that has for the last two years been the Department of Education’s first step in letting schools know they could be closed.
The pattern is set to repeat this week and beyond at dozens of l0w-performing schools that were midway through federally mandated overhaul processes known as “transformation” and “restart” until earlier this month, when Mayor Bloomberg announced that the city would instead try to use a different process, “turnaround,” at the schools. The switch, aimed at letting the city sidestep a state requirement that it negotiate new teacher evaluations with the United Federation of Teachers, would require the schools to be closed and immediately reopened after having at least half of their teachers replaced.
The mass-replacement plan drew fire from parents and students who said FDR’s teachers are essential if academic performance is to improve.
“I feel tortured,” said Abdul Sager, a ninth-grader whose first language is Bengali. “If a new teacher comes who doesn’t know about my feelings and strategies … to learn English, it’s going to take more time.” (more…)
April 8, 2011
The city’s official request that Dennis Walcott be allowed to become schools chancellor even though he doesn’t meet all of the state’s requirements is now in Albany. Bloomberg sent the waiver request letter to outgoing State Education Commissioner David Steiner last night, city officials said.
Until the waiver is approved, Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky is legally the city’s chancellor, according to city officials.
State law requires district leaders to fulfill a host of requirements, including holding a superintendent’s license, which Walcott does not have. But the law also allows state officials to grant exceptions to the requirements for prospective district leaders who have “exceptional training and experience” in education.
Bloomberg’s letter to Steiner emphasizes Walcott’s training and experience. The deputy mayor has a master’s degree in education and significant experience in city education policy, as well as a year and half of experience as a kindergarten teacher in the mid-1970s. Former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein received a waiver based, in part, on teaching experience that was shorter. Steiner approved a waiver for ex-Chancellor Cathie Black only after she agreed to make Polakow-Suransky, a longtime teacher and principal, her second-in-command.
Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told GothamSchools yesterday that the state had not yet received a waiver request for Walcott, but that she had promised Bloomberg quick approval once it did. (more…)