Posts tagged "principals’ weekly"
April 27, 2011
In his first policy speech earlier this month, new Chancellor Dennis Walcott extended an olive branch to teachers. Now he’s reaching out to principals, telling them that simplifying their jobs is one of his top goals.
“One of my top priorities is to free up more of your time so that you can focus on the critical tasks that directly improve student achievement,” Walcott wrote in this week’s Principals Weekly email, the first to contain a letter from him.
While Walcott has said repeatedly that he plans to continue the school policies that Mayor Bloomberg and former Chancellor Joel Klein established, his note indicates a subtle — but meaningful — divergence. Klein considered principals the CEOs of their schools and emphasized their management responsibilities, many of which brought new paperwork requirements. Walcott’s letter focuses instead on principals’ role as instructional leaders.
Walcott told principals he would starting working soon with their union and the groups that support them to “reduce even further the burden on your time of non-instructional tasks.”
Teachers and principals have complained in recent years about mounting levels of paperwork they are required to complete. A teacher who retired early in 2009 cited the mounting paperwork as a chief reason for her exit from the classroom. And research suggests that the burden of paperwork tends to fall most heavily on low-performing, high-needs schools, which compose much of the city’s school system.
Walcott’s complete message to principals is below. (more…)
December 23, 2010
In a nostalgic final missive to city principals this week, outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein suggested three things to do once he’s gone.
He urged lawmakers to end the last-in first-out process of teacher layoffs, pushed for an end to the Absent Teacher Reserve pool, and underlined his belief in the importance of closing struggling schools.
Klein’s statement that “we have to eliminate the ATR pool” ratchets up the city’s position on the pool of teachers — city teachers who lose their positions, don’t find new ones, but stay on the city payroll anyway. Previously, the city has asked the union, in contract negotiations, to add a limit to the amount of time a teacher can spend in the reserve pool. That would make the pool smaller, but it would not cause it to disappear altogether.
Describing the costs of keeping those teachers on the city payroll as exceeding $100 million a year, Klein argues:
We cannot afford it, and it’s wrong to keep paying this money. It amounts to supporting more than a thousand teachers who either don’t care to, or can’t, find a job, even though our school system hires literally thousands of teachers each year. That’s money that could be spent on teachers that we desperately want and need.
Klein also describes teacher layoffs as a sure thing. “I wish it were otherwise, but the economics of our state and city make this virtually impossible to avoid,” he writes.
The Bloomberg administration has a history of being bullish on layoffs in order to push for the end of the state law regulating how teachers lose their jobs. Klein reiterates that case in his letter:
If we have layoffs, it’s unconscionable to use the last-hired, first-fired rule that currently governs. By definition, such a rule means that quality counts for zero. Our children cannot afford that kind of approach. They need the best teachers, not those who are longest serving. (If you had to have surgery, would you want the longest-serving surgeon or the best one?) This doesn’t mean that many of our longest-serving teachers aren’t among the best, but this is not an area for “group think.” We need individual determinations of teacher effectiveness to decide who stays and who doesn’t.
Klein also quoted his favorite T.S. Eliot poem, “Little Gidding,” excerpting four cryptic lines that seem to summarize his “odyssey” as something more complex than a straight line of a progress:
We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.
Other curious lines from the poem:
… Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. …
March 11, 2009
In this week’s memo to principals, Chancellor Joel Klein offers some tips about the best ways to use the reams of student data the Department of Education is providing. One suggestion that seems slightly out of character (or at least out of caricature): Don’t gather too much data!
The motivating idea seems to be to save both paper and time by replacing binders stuffed with spreadsheets with online reports generated by ARIS, the computer data system that the city relaunched this year.
Here’s Klein’s own words, part of a list that he says the teachers union helped create:
2. Evaluate the information you gather and reduce redundancy in reporting. Consider whether information on student and school performance that is now being made available to your school through ARIS, your Progress Report, Quality Review, Learning Environment Survey, Inquiry Team Tool (ITT), and your Periodic Assessment reports makes it unnecessary for your school to continue gathering information in other, more time-consuming and less effective ways.
In particular, consider whether it is effective to print out and assemble binders of assessment results. In many cases, assessment information is available in ARIS or in other places on the Internet, and can be more easily accessed and analyzed in an online format. And, as you know, you need not create any binders or other documents for the sole purpose of preparing for the Quality Review. Quality Reviewers focus only on data and reports that schools actually use in the regular course of the day and the school year. For example, you can show reviewers how you use the “student groups” function in ARIS to track the progress of groups of your students throughout the year.
The full memo: (more…)
January 22, 2009
In the spirit of transparency, here is this week’s Principals’ Weekly, the newsletter Chancellor Joel Klein sends to principals alerting them to policy updates every week.
In his opening note, Klein tells principals why he went to Washington, D.C., on Monday for the Education Equality Project. He said he’s “calling out for our nation’s attention”:
Addressing the achievement gap and helping our students graduate from our schools ready for college or work is not a frill or an extra; these steps are fundamental necessities.
December 4, 2008
First Councilman Bill deBlasio waged war on Styrofoam lunch trays. Next Councilman Lew Fidler took up a crusade for energy-efficient light bulbs, pushing the issue at one and then another recent Council hearing. And now, there is a new petition urging Governor Paterson to make the state’s schools “incorporate green-minded curriculum into the classroom.”
So far, the Department of Education has made no indication it is boarding this bandwagon. But there was a little bit of tree-saving inside this week’s Principals Weekly, the regular memo from Chancellor Joel Klein. The memo discloses that the DOE is launching a pilot program to make surveys of teachers and students paperless. The Learning Environment Surveys, used to determine schools’ progress report letter grades, now are mailed to schools and completed by hand. Under the pilot, parents would still fill out the surveys with paper.
That could be a baby step towards footprint-reduction. Or, it could just be a way to cut costs.
November 6, 2008
Principals’ Weekly is the newsletter that Chancellor Joel Klein sends to principals every week, to keep them in the loop on internal policy news and updates. (Here’s a workshop.) It used to be available online for the world to see. Then it disappeared. Only principals can access it on the Internet now.
October 29, 2008
A newsletter that was a treasure trove for journalists, advocates, and anyone wanting to know the latest internal policy news from the Department of Education has disappeared from its home on the Internet.
The Principals’ Weekly has been cited in everything from local ed blogger Norm Scott’s post about the Broad Prize to Time Magazine’s exploration (more…)