Posts tagged "John Liu"
May 16, 2013
Perhaps the candidates who showed up to Wednesday’s mayoral forum in a Harlem school auditorium thought they’d get a break when they saw who was asking the questions: a couple of high school kids.
But Michael Cummings and Alize-Jazel Smith, seniors at Democracy Prep Charter High School, turned out to be tough moderators. They shushed Bill Thompson when he spoke out of turn, politely interrupted Comptroller John Liu when his time was up, and pushed candidates to answer the questions they were asked if they had strayed off topic — as one candidate did often.
“So, Mr. McMillan, just to be specific,” said Cummings, referring to Jimmy McMillan, the perennial also-ran candidate of the Rent Is Too Damn High party. “Do you support or do you not support co-location inside school buildings for public schools and charter schools?” (more…)
May 13, 2013
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn fought hard to distance herself from the Bloomberg administration during a mayoral debate hosted by the teachers union on Saturday, but she could not escape being the only candidate to be booed by union members angry at the mayor’s education policies.
When UFT officials asked the mayoral candidates at the teachers union’s spring conference whether they believed the next chancellor needs to be an educator, Quinn’s answer stood out from the chorus of “yes” responses.
“Not necessarily,” she said.
It was not a new stance for Quinn, who has said for months that she believes a qualified non-educator could successfully lead the school system. But when she cited as someone who fit the bill U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, whose agenda overlaps with Bloomberg’s, she drew loud boos from the crowd.
It was a major misstep for Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner, as she worked to hit the right notes during the United Federation of Teachers’ mayoral debate, which came a month before the union — one of the city’s most powerful political forces — plans to endorse a mayoral candidate for the first time since 2001. (more…)
May 8, 2013
Mayoral candidates had to dig deep into history to unearth an unpleasant memory about the United Federation of Teachers at a schools forum in the Bronx on Tuesday night.
Asked to recall a time when they disagreed with the UFT, Bill Thompson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn cited the union’s initial opposition to district centralization nearly 20 years ago.
Thompson at first praised the UFT’s role in the re-centralization, which shifted some hiring responsibilities to the chancellor and required changes to state law. Pressed to name a time that he disagreed with the UFT, Thompson said it was when the union obstructed the same shift.
“The resistance, before that, of the UFT to change the system that existed, to changing from decentralization, was a mistake,” he said. (more…)
May 3, 2013
City schools’ annual letter grades would become a thing of the past if any of the mayoral candidates who attended a parent-oriented forum in Brooklyn Thursday evening takes over City Hall next year.
Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, and Bill Thompson each vowed to stop issuing the grades, which the Bloomberg administration has issued since 2007. The city has used the grades — which are almost entirely based on student test scores for elementary and middle schools — to pick which schools to close and which principals to reward.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and all of the non-Democratic candidates in the race skipped the forum, which was organized by a parent group that formed to oppose high-stakes testing and co-sponsored by the teachers union-aligned Alliance for Quality Education.
The school grading issue was one on which the candidates had not clearly staked out positions before moderator — and outspoken critic of the Bloomberg administration — Diane Ravitch asked them about it. But their unanimity reflected the tenor of the evening, in which the four men clamored to demonstrate their alignment with the parents who organized the event and against Mayor Bloomberg’s school policies. (more…)
April 26, 2013
Students and teachers have more than perfect spring weather to celebrate this weekend. They are also celebrating the end of this year’s state tests, which finished today with a set of open-ended math questions.
Last week, students in grades three through eight sat for three days of English exams that got harsh reviews for being overly long and confusing at times. The tests seemed to fulfill the warnings from city and state officials that the transition to new standards called the Common Core would cause scores to plummet.
But on Wednesday, the first day of the math test, teachers said the test had been surprisingly easy — so easy, in fact, that some doubted that it actually reflected the challenges of the new standards.
After two more days of math testing, teachers said the exam had required more of the critical thinking skills that the Common Core emphasizes.
April 25, 2013
An audit by Comptroller John Liu into one of the Department of Education’s school support networks found that it was doing its job — but concluded that the department can’t know just how much networks help schools in them.
Since 2007, the department has required principals to select support networks based on their philosophies and services, rather than grouping schools by geography. The shift means that support organizations, some run by the department and some by external nonprofits, essentially compete with each other for contracts to offer schools help with teacher training and administrative tasks, in a controversial arrangement that could potentially end when the Bloomberg administration does.
Scrutinizing just one of the city’s 55 networks, Children’s First Network 406, Liu’s office found that evidence that it was providing solid support for its schools. Principals in the network said they were satisfied with it, according to the report, released today.
But Liu concluded that the department cannot show how much networks cause schools to thrive or struggle. The report recommends that the department solicit more feedback on network performance and also develop “quantifiable criteria and standards” to isolate the impact of the network on a school’s performance. (more…)
April 5, 2013
In a new report, Liu — who is also running for mayor — urges the city to partner with technology companies to provide refurbished computers to students who otherwise might not have a computer in college. He also recommends that the city encourage businesses to donate their outdated computer equipment to schools; and expand nonprofit programs that place computers in students’ homes and train students to repair their schools’ computers.
The report on closing the “digital literacy divide” is the latest in a series about how the city can boost the number of its students who graduate from college and contribute to its economy. Altogether, Liu, who is responsible for the city’s fiscal stewardship, calls for nearly $40 million a year in new spending on computers and technology programs. (Expanding the student-led computer support program could save the city $15 million a year, according to the report.)
The report does not mention mobile technology, which a study released last month by the Pew Internet and American Life Project suggested might be closing the digital divide in some ways. (more…)
January 31, 2013
The city’s school board, used as a rubber stamp for mayoral proposals since 2002, would gain independence under a plan put forward today by Comptroller John Liu.
The plan makes Liu the first of the likely candidates for mayor to propose specific changes to the board, known since 2002 as the Panel for Educational Policy. Any changes would require the approval of the state legislature, which is next set to consider New York City’s school governance in 2015, to become permanent, but a new mayor could take some of the steps immediately upon taking office.
Whether and how to reform the panel is one of the stickiest questions that mayoral candidates face on education. (more…)
January 31, 2013
The city’s charter school sector is pushing back against a groundswell of support for a moratorium on the space-sharing arrangement that has allowed the schools to proliferate.
Their resistance is not unified in tone. Some charter school advocates are requesting that proponents of a moratorium reconsider and others are taking their fight to the street. (more…)
January 31, 2013
If education policy discussions among mayoral candidates were a song, the second verse would be the same as the first.
With two recent entrants to the Republican race absent, the lineup for Wednesday evening’s discussion, hosted by the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, was identical to the first education debate held in November, and the conversation was similar, too.
The four Democratic candidates — Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and former comptroller Bill Thompson — and the single Republican, Manhattan Media publisher Tom Allon, rehashed now-familiar positions on school closures (most want a moratorium), educator as chancellor (almost all are committed to that), and community schools (after a visit to Cincinnati, they are all on board with the model).
But CSA President Ernest Logan told GothamSchools that he thought sharper distinctions would emerge in the coming months, particularly about which elements of the Bloomberg administration’s school policies each candidate would maintain.
“I think [the candidates] are trying to come into their own,” he said. “If you dig down deep, I think you can find some disagreement.” (more…)