Posts tagged "race to the race to the top"
June 9, 2010
Raise your hand if you know what the state’s 450-page Race to the Top application actually says. Besides, of course, “We raised the cap on charter schools and came up with a new way to evaluate teachers.”
Here’s a quick-and-dirty guide to what the application actually proposes, including some details about the proposal that I hadn’t heard before I read it. The application is divided into four main goals. You can find more background on Race to the Top here, and a copy of the state’s second round application is here.
Making better tests and curriculum:
National reading and math curriculum standards are coming, and New York education officials plan to opt in to them. The state wants to spend $26 million to write curriculum based on the new standards, which will show up in classrooms beginning in February 2012. Another $40 million would be used to create new tests, including a way to judge kindergartners through third-graders’ progress in learning to read. Students would start to take initial versions of those tests in January 2012. The final versions of exams based on the new standards would be due in 2015.
Building new databases to track student progress:
By “data systems,” the state means a program that can track students’ academic progress from the very beginning of their education to the end. The state wants to spend $50 million in Race to the Top funds to help build a program that will be used state-wide. Another $10 million would go toward linking information from grade schools to information from New York’s colleges and universities. The application describes a future data system that sounds a lot like ARIS, the city’s $81 million data system launched in 2008. (more…)
June 8, 2010
Some of New York City’s signature educational programs — including its principal training academies and school-based teams that examine student data — could go statewide if New York wins nearly $700 million in Race to the Top funds.
The state is arguing in its Race to the Top application that it can accomplish Obama administration educational goals by replicating city programs around New York. That could be a smart strategy, as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called New York City a model for how the federal government should spend its education funds. But city programs the state wants to duplicate include some of its most controversial.
Here are some of the programs that could get cloned, along with the justification provided in the state’s Race to the Top application:
New York will use $6 million in RTTT funds to replicate the successful Rochester and New York City Leadership Academies. Eleven more RTTT Management Team-coordinated Academies are planned, so that all regions of the State — including the remaining three large city districts — will be served…. The Academies will serve more than 700 principals in New York (about 15 percent overall) by Fall 2011. When all Academies are fully operational, school leaders will have access to research-based PD that is focused on the use of student data to improve student achievement and growth. (more…)
June 7, 2010
Was the State University of New York’s ability to approve and oversee charter schools truly at risk during last month’s charter school cap debate? The lead vignette of today’s Times profile of city lobbyist Micah Lasher suggests that it was:
Just when Micah C. Lasher thought it was safe to finally sleep one recent morning, three words appeared in his in-box: “It’s a sham.”
Mr. Lasher had stayed up all night helping write a bill to increase the number of charter schools in New York, a cornerstone of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s education agenda. But amid the frenzy, a highly contentious provision had slipped by him: the State University of New York would lose its power to approve charter schools.
If SUNY’s Charter School Institute really was only saved during a middle-of-the-night wrangling, that could be a bad sign for the organization’s future: the Institute is currently facing budget cuts that might gut its operations.
But all of our information suggests that lawmakers supported keeping SUNY’s ability to oversee charters. The provision that could have revoked SUNY’s chartering authority was the result of a manic bill drafting process and late-night fatigue, not an attack on the widely-praised charter school overseers. (more…)
Will New York win the second round of the Race to the Top? We don’t know yet, but add one more item to the list of ways the state’s application has gotten stronger: More teachers unions signed on to the plan this time around, and they added fewer caveats to their endorsements.
The percentage of unions signing on to the plan is now 70%, up from 61% in the last round. That includes New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, which, though it signed on last time, added caveats along with its “yes,” as Steven Brill reported in the New York Times Magazine. One major exception was a clause saying that unions could ignore any part of the plan that violated a union contract — even though, in the same memo, the unions promised to negotiate new contracts following the plan’s main ideas.
In the first round, some judges noted the caveats and the 61% figure as a reason they docked points from the state’s application. I couldn’t find any caveats in this round’s Memorandum of Understanding documents that unions and school districts had to turn in by Tuesday.
Still, among the dissenters are some pretty major unions, including the ones in Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Albany. That’s three of the state’s “Big Five” school districts. A typical explanation why came from Buffalo’s union president earlier this month, in the Buffalo News:
June 1, 2010
Less than an hour after the state’s second-round Race to the Top application was due in Washington, state officials have posted its new plan to the public.
Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said today that the newest version of the application is “round one plus the legislation.” She was referring to the two major pieces of legislation Albany passed in recent weeks designed to boost the state’s application: a new teacher evaluation system that includes measures of student achievement and Friday’s move to raise the state’s cap on charter schools.
Tisch added that the state education department also boosted the application’s section on its data systems, an area where the state lost points in the first round.
“Everything is good,” Tisch said. “And here we move on.”
But there are likely to be some changes in the 450-page application released today that go beyond the addition of a new teacher evaluation system and the possibility of 260 more charter schools. State officials have already said they intended to scrutinize the budget’s every line to weed out expenses such as the now-infamous executive chairs that helped doom the first application. And there are likely to be other substantive changes as well.
We’ll have a run-down of the highlights of this round’s application later; in the meantime, help us find the most interesting parts by posting in the comments below. You can read more about the Race to the Top competition here, and read New York’s first-round application here. And the full second-round application is below the jump: (more…)
One consequence of the charter cap legislation passed in Albany today is clear: it’s now possible for 114 new charter schools to open in New York City over the next four years, more than doubling the number of charters and students in them. Statewide, the door is open for 260 new charter schools to open by 2014.
But the new law also includes a slew of changes to the way the schools are opened and run, leaving advocates, officials and observers with at least five big unanswered questions.
1. What’s the deal with the new Request for Proposals process?
Under the old charter school law, educators could ask to open charter schools simply by applying to do so. Now, prospective school leaders will have to formulate their applications as responses to Request for Proposals. These will be issued by both the Board of Regents and the State University of New York’s Charter School Institute.
Advocates and union officials today disagreed on exactly how the RFP’s will be used. One school of thought is that the RFP will be a tool for limiting charter school leaders’ freedom to open in a location of their choosing. Indeed, the law declares that operators that receive an endorsement of their school district will have a leg up in the RFP process. That could make it harder for operators to open schools in some upstate districts whose school boards strongly oppose charter schools. (Or imagine a less charter-happy mayor in New York. Mayor de Blasio?) (more…)
It’s over, folks. The State Senate voted this afternoon to allow 260 more charter schools to open in New York State in the next four years, improving the state’s likelihood of winning Race to the Top.
The vote was 45 to 14, with a handful of senators who had been vocal opponents of charter schools swinging to the pro-charter side. Among them was Senator Bill Perkins, whose Harlem district is home to one in five of the city’s charter schools, and who is facing a primary against a candidate put up by charter school supporters.
Opposition to the bill came from Senate Republicans, who opposed a provision in the bill that bans more for-profit charter schools from opening.
The no votes (via Liz Benjamin) were: Farley, Flanagan, Golden, Griffo, O. Johnson, Larkin, Lavalle, Libous, Maziarz, McDonald, Nozzolio, Padavan, Saland, Young.
With both the union and charter school supporters declaring victory, let the spin begin.
The State Assembly passed a bill this morning to more than double the number of charter schools allowed in New York State.
The deal, hammered out in negotiations that lasted into the early morning, raises the cap on charters from 200 to 460. But charter operators hoping to open new schools will have to jump through a new hurdle, a new Request for Proposals process managed by the Regents and the State University of New York charter authorizers.
The bill includes several measures dear to charter school critics. It bans for-profit charter operators from managing schools, allows the state controller to audit the schools, and creates new regulations around how the schools serve special education students and English language learners. And the bill sets up new rules that govern how New York City charters share building space with district schools.
The bill includes one change from the version of the bill that was being circulated this morning. The Assembly passed a chapter amendment that clarifies that SUNY can act as an authorizer independently from the Regents.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where sources tell us that Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson is ready to vote the bill up. But Republicans are holding up the bill because they oppose its prohibition of for-profit charter operators. (more…)
May 28, 2010
After negotiating late into the night, the Assembly, Senate, Mayor Bloomberg, and city teachers union are closer than ever to a deal on how to make New York more competitive for Race to the Top. But even the seemingly final bill introduced today may not be the last version. An Albany source said there are already plans to amend the bill.
This bill would raise the cap on charter schools to 460 from 200, but change the way schools are opened. Prospective charter school operators would have to respond to Request for Proposal documents, like contractors, rather than applying on their own. Exactly how this process would work is unclear, but one effect could be slowing the pace of charter school growth. The bill puts a cap on the number of newly approved charter schools that could open by September 2011 — 32.
The deal also aims to ease the tensions (and sometimes all-out wars) that have happened when charter schools are placed inside traditional public school buildings. Now, before schools are placed together, the city’s Department of Education would have to write up a new document called a “building usage plan” outlining exactly which rooms would be used by which schools, and proposing how the schools can share common spaces like cafeterias, libraries, playgrounds, and auditoriums. (more…)
After being criticized for fudging union support for its first-round Race to the Top application, New York State education officials are proceeding cautiously to make sure that they’re not embarrassed again.
In order to be eligible for any grant funds that the state might win, school districts, charter schools and unions are required to submit a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to participate in programs proposed by the state’s application. This round’s deadline to sign onto the application is 5 p.m. tomorrow.
In the first round, the MOU listed individual tenets of the state’s Race to the Top plan and allowed districts to choose a la carte which provisions they supported. The teachers union agreed only to provisions that would not require a change to its contract. Though the state claimed to have the full support of the city union, Race to the Top judges said that the qualified agreement would hurt the state’s ability to enact its plan. (You can read more about the state’s failed first-round application here.)
This round’s MOU is an all-or-nothing deal — districts, schools and unions must agree to everything in the state’s plan or not sign on at all. That won’t be a problem if union and city negotiators hash out a deal tonight to raise the charter cap and smooth the way for full passage of the teacher evaluation deal struck by the state and union earlier this month.
But if a deal falls apart, the city and union will be forced to choose whether to sign onto the application anyway. In the first round, the city unsuccessfully tried to use its MOU signature as a bargaining chip to pressure legislators into lifting the charter school cap.
A copy of the current MOU, as well as the state’s “Frequently Asked Questions” document about it, is below the jump: (more…)