Posts tagged "randi weingarten"
November 5, 2013
For the two leading candidates for mayor, voting this morning was something of a final exam — even though neither cast his vote at a school.
“I feel like I’m taking a standardized test,” Democrat Bill de Blasio said as he filled out the ballot at a library near his home in Park Slope. (De Blasio has pledged to “put the standardized testing machine in reverse” if he’s elected.)
In Brooklyn Heights, Republican Joe Lhota cast his ballot at the polling site at Congregation Mount Sinai. He said he was “very optimistic” about the election results, which are projected to have him losing to de Blasio by a potentially historic margin. (more…)
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 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…)
August 26, 2013
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten fueled mayoral candidate Bill Thompson’s attacks on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s plan to fund universal pre-kindergarten, calling Thompson a “doer” and de Blasio an idealist.
“We need a mayor in the city of New York who will take this idea and actually get it done and not base it on a tax that may never materialize,” Weingarten said during a call with reporters that the Thompson campaign arranged.
Since last week, Thompson and his allies have been criticizing de Blasio’s plan, which would raise taxes on New Yorkers earning over $500,000 a year to fund universal pre-K. They say de Blasio’s plan relies too much on approval from Albany and does not consider that the state doesn’t even use all of the state pre-K funding that it gets.
Their first point is a fair one. De Blasio’s plan would require legislative approval, a step he says would come readily but which could be a heavy lift. The New York Times cited this shortcoming to explain why it did not endorse de Blasio.
But on the second point, about the unused state funding, Thompson’s campaign’s math does not add up. Calculating the true cost of expanding pre-K to all city 4-year-olds is a challenging task, pre-K advocates say, but no matter how the numbers are crunched, they suggest that the city would need more funding. (more…)
August 2, 2013
Bill Thompson, the teachers union’s preferred pick for mayor, said today that he owes no favors to the unions that endorsed him and criticized mayoral rival Bill de Blasio for suggesting otherwise.
De Blasio said yesterday that, like Mayor Bloomberg, he has his “own independence” from the city’s labor unions since he has failed to secure their support during the Democratic primary race. De Blasio suggested that as a result, he’d be more equipped to negotiate with those unions, all of which are without contracts and demanding retroactive raises. Full back pay for teachers would cost $3 billion.
“I am unburdened by the support of the municipal labor unions,” de Blasio said.
This afternoon Thompson, whose campaign didn’t immediately respond to the comments, issued a statement.
“I saw Mr. de Blasio’s comments yesterday, and I have to say we have a very different view of what leadership and governing and standing up for working people is all about,” Thompson said. “Apparently he is now finally free to govern independently because he didn’t get the union endorsements he campaigned for with such intensity.” (more…)
May 22, 2013
Randi Weingarten is ramping up her support for Bill Thompson’s mayoral bid, just days before her successor at the United Federation of Teachers is due to make an endorsement of his own.
Weingarten, UFT president from 1998 to 2009 before moving on to head the union’s national organization, is helping to host a Thompson fundraiser at Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch’s home on June 12, according to an invitation that’s being circulated to drum up support from women voters. Tisch is Thompson’s campaign chair.
Weingarten worked closely with Thompson when he was president of the city’s Board of Education, from 1996 to 2001, and counts him as a personal friend. She has previously donated to his campaign, as have other education heavyweights who have personal ties to the candidate.
Weingarten is in South America visiting schools as part of her work with the American Federation of Teachers and did not respond to requests for comment. But a spokesman said, “She has great confidence in his character and abilities.” (more…)
May 10, 2013
On a night when education leaders offered a spirited defense of the policies they are trying to implement, an unusual voice emerged as the dissenter: Paul Vallas.
The Bridgeport, Conn. superintendent — who has served stints in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans and earned a reputation as a turnaround consultant for struggling districts with big budget gaps — said reforms he backed were at risk of collapsing “under the weight of how complicated we’re making it.”
“We’re working on the evaluation system right now,” Vallas said of Bridgeport. “And I’ll tell you, it is a nightmare.”
The peripatetic schools chief’s self-proclaimed “Nixon goes to China” moment came during the high-profile panel at the launch of the CUNY Institute for Education Policy, a think tank that former New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner is directing. (more…)
May 2, 2013
Mayor Bloomberg said today that a deal to give teachers retroactive raises to make up for five years without a new contract would cost billions and cripple the city’s financial stability.
“It’s just something the city can’t possible afford,” said Bloomberg, who made the remarks while presenting a $69.8 billion spending plan, the final proposal of his administration.
Retroactive raises for the more than 100 municipal labor unions and organizations with expired contracts is a looming issue for the city’s fiscal future and in the mayoral campaign to replace Bloomberg. Bloomberg has refused to negotiate new deals if it means the inclusion of the raises, which would total 4 percent for the city’s 80,000 teachers.
He estimated today that costs from retroactive teacher raises would be $3.8 billion in 2014 and $1 billion every year after. Raises for all city workers would cost a combined $7.8 billion in 2014 and $3 billion in subsequent years, he said. (more…)
April 30, 2013
Wading in to the growing backlash against the Common Core standards today, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called for a moratorium on using scores tied to the new standards to make important decisions.
Weingarten made the proposal in a speech before business and civic leaders at the Association for a Better New York, days after students across the state completed tests aligned to the Common Core for the first time and months after local union leaders began sounding the alarm about the state’s Common Core rollout.
She praised the learning standards and said she did not oppose testing students on them. But she said a “failure of leadership” and a “broken accountability system” could derail the Common Core’s chances of boosting student achievement in New York and beyond.
States and districts frequently use test scores to decide which schools to close and students to retain. Increasingly, they are also using test scores to measure teachers’ performance, a policy shift that Weingarten has supported but many of her members have not. Waiting at least a year before acting on the scores of Common Core-aligned tests would give students and teachers the chance to adjust to the higher standards and let states and districts assess whether the tests are yielding meaningful results, Weingarten said.
“That’s what assessment and accountability are supposed to be,” she said. “You see if the whole shebang works, before you say it’s ready for prime time.” (more…)