Posts tagged "principals"
May 17, 2013
Distressed by state tests that they say did not reflect the way they want students to learn, several city principals are pledging not to use the scores to help them pick their students.
Selective middle schools consider students’ fourth-grade reading and math scores, and selective high schools look at students’ seventh-grade scores.
But after the first round of state tests tied to new standards known as the Common Core, about a dozen principals have announced — in an open letter to parents, students, educators, and others with an interest in education — that they are abandoning the use of test scores in admission, at least for now.
“We welcome rigor, high standards and accountability, but demand that these three crucial words and concepts not be thrown around loosely; and, even more importantly, we demand that they be implemented in a proper, respectful and effective way,” write the principals, who come from a range of selective schools in three boroughs. ”Therefore, we cannot grant these recent tests the value others claim they have until [our] concerns are addressed.” (more…)
April 4, 2013
On his first day as principal of the Academy for Careers in Television and Film in January, Edgar Rodriguez had his hands full. The two phones in his high school office rang in short, steady intervals. After a few loud rings, he picked up the one on his desk and calmed the muffled voice on the other end. Then, with a couple of strides, he was on the second phone on the opposite side of the room. “Code Blue,” he said. It was a signal for staff members who could operate a defibrillator to report to one of the school’s rooms. “Okay, great. Get everyone there.” That day, ACTvF was doing a practice drill.
For more than four years, Rodriguez had been the assistant principal of ACTvF, a Long Island City high school with 419 students. The school opened in 2008 under the leadership of founding principal Mark Dunetz, Rodriguez, and a team of staff members whose vision was to create “a non-selective high school that provided a high quality education.” They did not screen students by their academic performance. Instead they opened their doors to a diverse mix of students, many from the surrounding Queens neighborhood.
Located just south of the bustle of 36th Avenue in Queens, ACTvF aims to train students for practical careers in television and film production through in-house work and industry internships. Within a year of opening, the school was attracting more applicants than it could accommodate. Soon, students were thriving and, when the school graduated its first class last year, all of the students in it had gotten into college. The 96 percent graduation rate helped the school post the third-highest score last year on its progress report, the tool the city uses to evaluate and compare schools.
In January, Dunetz left the school he founded to join the nonprofit New Visions for Public Schools as its first vice president of school support, a promotion that made him the main contact between New Visions and the 73 city schools it supports. His departure was a testament to ACTvF’s success — but it also meant that the school faced a leadership transition that many other new schools had found difficult to overcome. (more…)
March 22, 2013
Principals who were in the final stages of a school-supplies spending spree might want to put their wallets away.
Back in January, Chancellor Dennis Walcott told principals that they would not be able to save any of their school’s funds from this year to use next year, a practice that allows schools to plan ahead in an uncertain budget climate. That gave the principals an incentive to spend down their last dollars this spring.
But hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a state budget deal earlier this week, bringing the Department of Education’s financial situation into clearer relief, Walcott announced that he had retracted the decree. (more…)
January 18, 2013
Chancellor Dennis Walcott told principals today that he was thinking about them when he rejected a teacher evaluation deal. Then he warned them that their schools could see budget cuts as a result.
In his first communication with school leaders since months-long negotiations with the teachers union fell apart on Thursday, Walcott said the union had asked to be able to file more grievances over teacher ratings than a previous agreement had allowed.
If the city had acceded to the union’s request, Walcott said, principals would face union attacks over the data they collect from students, the way they communicate with teachers, and what they ask teachers to work on.
“In the end, I could not agree to the UFT’s demands because they would have stripped principals of much of your existing authority,” he said. (more…)
September 28, 2012
The Department of Education’s tools to assess schools are falling out of favor with New York City principals, according to results of the city’s most recent survey of school leaders. Instead, principals are getting behind new reforms that are aimed to strengthen individual students and teachers.
Released this week, the findings are based on principals’ responses to the ninth round of the survey, known as the Principal Satisfaction Survey. Since 2007, the education department has administered the surveys to principals to get feedback about the support they are receiving.
Overall, about three out of four principals said they were generally happy with how the city helps them do their jobs, slightly more than last year but lower than in 2009, when an all-time high of more than 80 percent of principals said they were satisfied. But the department initiatives that won the strongest approval have shifted, and principals reported being much less happy with the support they receive for students with disabilities.
In the past, the survey has also polled principals on their satisfaction with the chancellor and the Panel for Educational Policy, the school board that has never rejected a city proposal. But those questions were not on the survey when it was administered at the end of 2011-2012 school year. (more…)
July 31, 2012
For principals, August is usually a time for putting the final touches on staffing and curriculum decisions for the year — and for sneaking in a long-awaited vacation.
The principals of 24 schools that the city tried to “turn around” will spend the month putting their schools back together.
The turnaround process would have meant new names, shaken-up staffs, and new programs for the schools. But those changes were undone when an arbitrator ruled earlier this month that staffing plans for the schools violated the city’s contract with the teachers and principals unions.
Now, on the last day of July, the schools’ principals are finding out which teachers intend to return in September, according to a letter they received from the Department of Education this evening. The letter, which the city released to reporters, offered the most detailed guidance the principals have gotten yet about how to proceed after months of uncertainty and disorder.
In the email, the department official in charge of turnaround offers instructions ranging from what to call their schools in formal communications (by their original names) to what to do with all of the files generated by the hiring committees that were reviewing teaching candidates for the overhauled schools (lock them in a filing cabinet). (more…)
April 25, 2012
Last week, hundreds of parents, teachers, and students crowded Long Island City High School’s auditorium for a hearing about the school’s planned “turnaround.” On Tuesday evening, just a dozen parents attended a meeting to hear directly from the Department of Education’s latest pick to run the revamped school.
Gathered in the school’s band room, they learned that Vivian Selenikas, the proposed school leader, speaks four languages (English, Spanish, Greek and Italian. They found that she started her career in the 1980s as a Spanish teacher at Richmond Hill High School, another school on the turnaround list. And they learned that she believes careful curriculum planning will lift Long Island City out of a slump of low attendance (the rate last year was 80 percent) and poor city progress report grades.
They also learned that Selenikas is not afraid to stand up and cha-cha. When the school’s cheerleading coach led parents through impromptu dance exercises at the end of the Parent Association meeting, Selenikas joined in.
As a Queens network leader, Selenikas is no stranger to the large high school on Broadway, which required help from her and other Department of Education officials last year to resolve massive scheduling problems.
“It’s important that someone who knew the community and knew the needs of this neighborhood helped to move the school forward, should the decision be made that Long Island City will no longer be Long Island City,” she said.
But many parents say they are worried that the city is not planning adequately for turnaround. Some say they are wary of the abrupt leadership change, which would be the third in less than four years. The current principal, Maria Mamo-Vacacela, came under fire last year for overhauling most students’ schedules two months into the academic year. (more…)
April 20, 2012
A sprawling investigation into the leadership of a controversial dual-language school in Chinatown concluded that the school’s principal had falsified attendance data and accepted money from a non-profit hired to administer after school language lessons.
The Department of Education will move to fire Ling Ling Chou, who was removed from the school in September while as many as 16 different investigations were underway.
According to the report, she frequently faked numbers when reporting information about the school to the city and the United States Department of Education, including student attendance records and the length of the school day. The report does not conflict with a different report released last year by the special commissioner of investigations, which found that Chou and other staffers committed multiple improprieties, but did not outright steal public money.
“For years, Principal Chou engaged in dishonest behavior, unbeknownst to her students and school community,” said Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a statement. “Principal Chou’s conduct has failed to meet the standard we set for our principals, and I am filing charges to terminate her employment.”
Shuang Wen consistently boasts some of the strongest test scores in the city, but divisions between the staff and parents at the Lower East Side school have led to numerous allegations of and investigations into misconduct. (more…)
April 5, 2012
More details are emerging about how “turnaround” is proceeding at 26 schools still slated to undergo the controversial overhaul process.
For a month, the department has been informing principals of some of the schools that they would be removed at the end of the school year or even sooner. Now their replacements are making their first appearances at the schools, and teachers are starting to learn about the schedule for the rehiring process that could cost up to half of them their positions.
Teachers at Newtown High School found out this week that their longtime principal, John Ficalora, would be replaced by Marisol Bradbury. Bradbury has been working in school support at the Department of Education for the last several years but led a small high school in Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant Preparatory High School, before that.
A proposed principal for the school that would replace Long Island City High School toured the building yesterday with the superintendent, according to teachers there. The city’s choice to take over is Vivian Selenikas, Long Island City’s current network leader. Selenikas led the High School for Arts and Business in Queens from 2003 to 2007 and will replace Maria Mamo-Vacacela, who does not actually have to be removed under turnaround rules.
And at Flushing High School, teachers and families have been invited to a “meet and greet” with Magdalen Radovich on April 25, the day before the Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote on the turnaround plans. Radovich is currently an assistant principal at Queens Vocational Career and Technical High School. The city decided not use turnaround at Queens Vocational, where a residency program has been training teachers to work in turnaround schools. (more…)
March 20, 2012
Turnover is continuing in the principals’ offices of schools facing “turnaround,” the federally prescribed reform process that the city has proposed for 33 struggling schools.
Enrique Lizardi, the founding principal of the Bronx High School of Business, has resigned, according to a Department of Education spokeswoman. The spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, said Lizardi took another job within the department and would be replaced in the short term by an assistant principal. Teachers at the school were told that a new administrator would arrive next week.
Turnaround requires principals who have been in place for more than a few years to be replaced, and the city has started informing principals at some of the schools that they would be removed at the end of the year. But at least some are leaving mid-semester, just as the city is fleshing out details of the turnaround plans, which require half of teachers at the schools to be replaced this summer.
Lizardi is at least the second principal to move on in recent days. Barry Fried, the longtime principal of Brooklyn’s John Dewey High School, was removed abruptly on Friday and replaced by the founding principal of a successful small school who had trained teachers helping to overhaul some of the 33 schools. (more…)