Posts tagged "john king"
October 23, 2013
Randi Weingarten has been a national union boss for over three years, but her heart remains in the state that groomed her as a labor leader. So when California recently became the latest state to alter its testing policies amid reforms to learning standards and teacher evaluations, Weingarten said her thoughts turned to New York.
“I get embarrassed when a state like California is figuring it out more than my beloved Empire State,” Weingarten said Wednesday in a speech in midtown Manhattan, where she accepted an education award from the education nonprofit Teaching Matters.
Weingarten twice referred to California, which moved a step closer to eliminating high-stakes tests for a year, while making her latest case for why New York should strip high stakes from state tests for teachers and students in order to focus on adopting Common Core learning standards. She also appeared on a panel discussion with Commissioner John King, whose handling of state education policies she has been critical of. (more…)
October 22, 2013
Commissioner John King has a busy day scheduled in New York City tomorrow.
First, King and Chancellor Merryl Tisch are meeting up in Harlem where they’ll visit schools in the district of Assemblyman Keith Wright, a senior legislative member with influential positions in the state’s Democratic Party. Wright will take them to P.S. 180 and Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts, an embattled middle and high school that nearly closed last year and posted some of the lowest test scores in the state.
In the afternoon, King will travel to midtown Manhattan for what could be a more tense encounter: a panel conversation with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, one of his fiercest critics. The panel is hosted by Teaching Matters at The Harvard Club starting at 12 p.m.
For months, Weingarten and local union leaders called on King to hold off on tying high stakes to teacher evaluations until after schools fully adopted new Common Core learning standards, which students were tested on in April. Test scores plummeted and critics reprised calls for a moratorium in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the state teachers union said today that the evaluation data did not sway their concerns.
“The state’s rushed implementation of Common Core and last April’s testing debacle call into question the use of these scores in any high-stakes decisions affecting individual teachers or students,” said New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi.
Such a change would require a change to state law, which would require support from legislators like Wright. In an interview today, Wright said he recognized that the issue was a “hot topic” but said such a change wasn’t a priority among his parent constituents. (more…)
October 21, 2013
ALBANY — In their first meeting since a dramatic breakdown in public support for their ambitious transition to new learning standards, education policy makers struck a tone that was, at times, both defensive and conciliatory.
Officials at the State Education Department sought to dispel what they said were “myths” about the rocky rollout of the Common Core standards. And they showed no signs of giving into a demand from the city and state teachers unions to suspend the portion of teacher evaluations that are tied to new Common Core tests.
But the officials also sought a middle ground between abandoning policies altogether, and pressing forward with no changes at all. As evidence of their willingness to listen and respond to criticism, they cited the facts that they have allowed districts to nix some testing tied to teacher evaluations, are likely to delay introducing longer tests, and pursued a testing waiver for some students.
“Adjustments or tweaks didn’t come out of thin air,” said Regent Roger Tilles, of Long Island, where the criticism has been intense. “They came as a result of listening to people across the state.”
The balancing act came on the heels of two contentious weeks in which the State Education Department’s communication with concerned parents and teachers and handling of criticism has come under scrutiny. Under pressure, Commissioner John King rescheduled parent meetings that he had originally scrapped out of concerns that the forums resembled protests more than discussions. (more…)
October 18, 2013
Less than a week after he called off parent meetings that he said were “co-opted by special interests,” Commissioner John King announced a slate of new forums that will be moderated on different terms.
The new meetings, like the old ones, are meant to address concerns around the state’s transition to Common Core learning standards and the increased role of testing in schools, a contentious issue for parents who fear it’s leading to narrowed curriculum and instruction. A dozen of the meetings, which will begin in Albany on Oct. 24 and take place over six weeks, will be hosted in partnership with state lawmakers who will moderate the forums. Another four events will be broadcast on local public television stations with studio audiences.
The department didn’t release additional details for the meetings on Friday. None are planned for New York City, but a spokesman said the department was “looking to cover many more communities.”
After he canceled the meetings late last week, accusing outside groups of trying to derail the original purpose, King came under intense criticism from parents, teachers and lawmakers, with some calling for his resignation. They said the decision was just the latest move that showed King’s disinterest in hearing opposing views to his agenda. (more…)
October 17, 2013
Two sides of a heated debate over the role of testing in New York State schools are rushing to plan a series of dueling forums to give parents a platform to share their concerns.
The State Education Department is scheduling more than a dozen small forums about the Common Core, the state’s new standards, to replace ones that Commissioner John King canceled over the weekend. And the state teachers union is planning forums of its own in response to King’s decision.
But a statewide parent group caught in the middle of the fight isn’t sure if it’ll participate in either.
“Until we can tone down some of the emotion, we’re not sure we’re ready to go out into public forums yet,” said Richard Longhurst, executive administrator of the New York State Parent Teacher Association. (more…)
October 17, 2013
In New York starting this school year, classrooms will transform into havens of critical thinking and deeper learning — the opposite of the teach-to-the-test culture so reviled by many teachers for more than a decade. Or so promise proponents of the new set of standards known as the Common Core that the state’s schools are adopting in full for the first time this fall.
But some educators are worried the drill-and-kill culture will survive the shift to tougher standards as New York pushes forward with its plans to tie teachers evaluations to their students’ test scores. That shift started last year across the state and continues in New York City this year.
“If I’m a new untenured teacher, I could be very focused on trying to make sure those kids do well on the test,” said David Getz, principal of East Side Middle School, one of the highest-performing middle schools in New York City. (more…)
October 16, 2013
This October many high school students around New York State are taking an Algebra I quiz with some unusual and very tough questions. In one, students are asked about how much water is used in the tallest skyscraper in the world during a 24-hour period.
But the problem set forth in this mid-unit exam doesn’t include any set amounts; students are asked to estimate the numbers for the equation themselves and solve the problem based on their guesses. There isn’t one correct answer. Students must also write explanations of why an equation is right or wrong, instead of just solving it.
The quiz is part of a new set of state-sponsored curriculum materials that many schools across New York are adopting in full for the first time this fall as they try to meet the new Common Core State Standards in math and English. (New York students were tested on the Common Core for the first time last spring, even though many schools had not yet connected all their lessons to the new standards.)
The curriculums and the tests put New York ahead of the pack among the 45 states that have signed on to the standards, which are meant to increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills in the nation’s elementary and secondary schools and prepare more students for college. (more…)
October 15, 2013
A raucous Poughkeepsie parent crowd prompted Commissioner John King last week to cancel plans for future meetings with parents. But the disruption, in the video above, is just the latest instance of angry protesters derailing public events in recent years. In New York City, other meetings have long been the backdrop for battles over school closures, charter schools, overcrowding, teacher evaluations and testings have wages. Here are highlights caught on tape from event in recent years:
“Sex and the City” star gets jeered, then cheered
Nov. 12, 2008: Even the rich and famous don’t get a free pass to air grievances about the city’s public school system. “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon and noted education advocate spoke up at a Upper West Side meeting in opposition to an overcrowding plan that would move her son’s school to another building. Nixon was booed by the plan’s supporters as she stepped to the microphone. But her argument — that the plan exacerbated racial and socio-economic segregation — ended with applause. (more…)
October 8, 2013
At a panel geared toward current and potential education funders in New York City, city and state officials said they’d like to see some changes that philanthropy can’t produce. City Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky and State Education Commissioner John King both said they want to see the city’s next mayor use contract negotiations with the teachers union to give educators time to work together.
“The next union contract needs more professional development time,” Polakow-Suransky said. “One of the biggest mistakes Randi and Klein made in the last contract was removing professional development time.”
He was referring to Randi Weingarten and Joel Klein, who as UFT president and chancellor in 2005 negotiated a contract that traded about two hours a week of teacher training time for more teacher time with struggling students.
The city’s contract with the teacher’s union has expired, as have the contracts of all labor unions in the city, and one of the new mayor’s first tasks will be to negotiate a new one. (more…)
October 2, 2013
When the next mayor takes office on January 1, one of his first acts will likely be to choose a schools chancellor. His choice will send a strong message and a lasting impression about his vision for education in New York City.
Right now, Democrat Bill de Blasio appears to be the clear favorite in next month’s mayoral election. He hasn’t said anything about whom he’s considering for chancellor, but we know he wants to hire a career educator — and someone who will steer the city’s schools away from the way they’ve been run under Mayor Bloomberg.
Recent history shows that predicting a chancellor is a guessing game for those outside the inner circle: Three of the last four schools chiefs — Harold Levy, Joel Klein, and Cathie Black — were plucked from outside the world of education and came as a surprise to education observers at the time.
Still, as the leadership transition nears, names have started circulating about likely candidates to be de Blasio’s chancellor pick. Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who has stated repeatedly he intends to leave with the administration, seems to have taken himself out of the running.
We’ve sorted through the rumors and political jockeying to handicap several strong contenders. (more…)