Posts tagged "Randi Weingarten"
June 14, 2012
A top United Federation of Teachers official who has been the union’s leading intellectual voice in recent years is heading south.
But he won’t be going as far as Florida, a common destination for union members who retire. Instead, Leo Casey, the vice president of academic high schools since 2007, said today that is taking a new position this fall as the director of the Albert Shanker Institute in Washington, D.C. The institute is a research arm of the American Federation of Teachers, the national union to which the UFT belongs.
In his role at the UFT, Casey has been both an intellectual and a seasoned activist. He has represented the union on various panels, forums, and debates on education policy and blogged prolifically for the union’s news and opinion site, Edwize. But he has been just as comfortable protesting at public hearings, where he was known to deliver fiery speeches against school closures, co-locations, and other policies that the union opposed.
In moving to the Albert Shanker Institute, a progressive think tank focused on education and labor policies, he will focus on research. Casey, a city teacher for 27 years, said that he hoped his legacy at the UFT would be of pushing against school reform that is driven by non-educators.
“I think one of the most important things that has driven my time at the UFT is to provide a voice for classroom teachers and that far too much of education policy making today is in the hands of folks who don’t understand what it’s like to teach,” Casey said.
AFT President Randi Weingarten, a close friend and former colleague who helped hire him as a board member on the Shanker Institute, called Casey “an exquisite choice.” (more…)
May 10, 2012
A study of New York City charter schools that found a strong link between the amount of instructional time students got and their achievement is being held up as an evidence for a national push for longer school days.
Roland Fryer, the Harvard University researcher who completed the study, found in a different investigation that student test scores inched up — by about .015 points per day of school — in years with few snow days.
Fryer spoke during a press call this morning announcing the debut of the Time to Succeed Coalition, which is calling for schools to expand their day and year — an often controversial proposition. It also calls on schools to redesign the way they use time in order to beef up the curriculum and ensure students get a well-rounded education.
The coalition’s chairs are Chris Gabrieli, the longtime extended-day advocate who chairs the National Center on Time & Learning, and Ford Foundation president Luis Ubiñas. They have attracted more than 100 coalition members from across state, sector, and political lines, ranging from the CEO of Netflix to the president of the NAACP. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, and State Education Commissioner John King have all signed on as well, committing to prioritize the expansion and redesign of school time in the coming years. (more…)
April 30, 2012
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in January that he would convene a commission to set a course for reforming New York’s schools, insiders said many members would likely come from out of state.
That wasn’t true when Cuomo revealed the composition of the commission in Albany today. All but a handful of the 20 commission members are based in New York, and about half are based in New York CIty.
But the commission is still a far cry from the last panel Cuomo convened, a “think tank” of educators and advocates who advised the state in its bid to escape some federal accountability measures. Few of its members work in organizations that interact directly with children, even fewer are advocates, and there are no district representatives. There is also no parent advocate on the commission, even it is being asked to devise strategies to increase parent engagement.
Instead, commission members are drawn from the highest levels of state government, the state and city university systems, and nonprofit organizations. They include State Education Commissioner John King, Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan, and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.
“It’s very blue-ribbon,” said CUNY education professor David Bloomfield about the panel’s composition. “The establishment nature of the commission makes it less likely that they will come up with anti-establishment recommendations.”
Working under the leadership of chair Richard Parsons, a former head of CitiGroup and Time Warner; and top Cuomo deputies, they will have seven months to make recommendations about how to boost student achievement and make education spending more efficient. Cuomo said today that he wanted the recommendations to form “an action plan” for his administration. (more…)
April 30, 2012
Hundreds of angry educators from across the country seem to have taught the clothing retailer Kenneth Cole a lesson about diction—and union politics.
Late last week we broke the news about a company billboard that invoked a loaded education policy issue using a slogan many teachers viewed as an attack on their profession.
This weekend teachers and advocates responded, in a flurry of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, and a petition 600 signatures strong, calling for a boycott of Cole’s clothing company. Even national union leader Randi Weingarten waded into the fray with Twitter posts criticizing the company, which is headed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s brother-in-law.
The company has now responded. This afternoon, Kenneth Cole Productions used Twitter to send a public message to the creator of the petition, a D.C. teacher-turned-activist, Sabrina Stevens Shupe, that it plans to remove the billboard.
“We misrepresented the issue – one too complex for a billboard – and are taking it down,” the company posted from its Twitter account, @KennethCole.
This weekend, the company posted a different Twitter message clarifying that the ad campaign’s “Intent is to stimulate debate, not pit teachers against students.” The message now appears to have been deleted. The company has not responded to a request for comment today. (more…)
March 15, 2012
Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew told teachers to dress for a funeral today.
Teachers who worked at schools that the city has closed or is trying to close gathered at “Mayor Bloomberg’s Cemetery” — actually Foley Square, in Lower Manhattan — to mourn the Bloomberg administration’s school closure policies.
Joined by about 60 union members, the teachers displayed pictures of tombstones etched with the names of schools the city has targeted for closure, including Bread and Roses High School, Legacy High School for Integrated Studies, Manhattan Theater Lab School. (more…)
October 12, 2011
Michael Rebell led the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s landmark school finance lawsuit for 13 years, but for a long time the lawyer was conflicted about the case.
He believed what he ultimately convinced the courts: that the state had given New York City schools less than their fair share of funding. But he was also persuaded by a counter-argument that he heard during the litigation: that more money wouldn’t help schools whose biggest problem was poverty. And the lawsuit itself wasn’t helping him reconcile the tension.
“We have this adversary system for dealing with legal matters in our courts, where two warring sides take firm and opposite opinions,” he said. “The truth is sometimes more complicated than that.”
Now, months after CFE laid off its last employee and the state trimmed the equity dollars for the second time, Rebell is trying a different approach to advocate for poor students. As the director of the Campaign for Educational Equity, a think tank housed at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Rebell is setting out to win not a legal victory but the hearts and minds of policymakers.
His first step: To solicit a set of academic papers, released this week and discussed at Teachers College Tuesday night, that make the case for what he calls “comprehensive educational equity.” A main point of the papers is, as the CFE lawsuit contended and the New York Times reported earlier this week, that the state should give more to its schools — $4,750 per poor student, to be precise. But they also sketch out a policy platform that Rebell said could help close racial and class achievement gaps. (more…)
September 9, 2011
It was less than a week into her job as principal and Lisa Siegman was already confronted with her first major crisis.
As a first-year principal on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Siegman was just a few hours into her third day on the job when two hijacked commercial planes struck the World Trade Center less than two miles away. Siegman’s school, P.S. 3 in the West Village, was immediately converted from a place of learning into a refugee shelter.
“It just turned into survival mode,” recalled Siegman.
Within hours, hundreds of students who had evacuated from schools near ground zero were pouring into P.S. 3′s nearly century-old building on Hudson Street. Some of those schools would not reopen for months, causing their students to temporarily become P.S. 3′s.
Siegman, who is still principal at P.S. 3, one of the top-performing schools in the city, said she remembers few details from that day other than how quickly her responsibilities as a school leader had changed and how urgently her skills were needed.
Parent phone calls needed to be made, but most phone lines were down. Information had to be disseminated to staff and parents, but initial announcements from the Department of Education was unclear and conflicting.
“It was this huge logistical problem,” Siegman said. “Suddenly I had to worry about this whole new set of challenges.”
As the city prepares to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on Sunday, new attention is being given to the largely unheralded success of educators across the five boroughs that day in coordinating evacuations and dismissals for more than one million students. (more…)
May 12, 2011
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the size of the rally. Thousands of people attended this afternoon’s rally, according to multiple people who attended and other press accounts. Protesters came from multiple locations and then converged near Wall Street.
Thousands of teachers joined elected officials in a symbolic march from City Hall to Wall Street this afternoon to protest Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget cuts.
“You took the money from us, now we’re going to where you sent the money,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped lead the march along with national teachers union president Randi Weingarten and half a dozen City Council members.
The march was designed to dramatize the argument that opponents of Bloomberg are making in response to his budget, which calls for laying off more than 4,000 teachers. In a year when Wall Street’s recovery contributed to a citywide surplus, they ask, why are teachers being laid off?
“I never expected to come home to see New York act like Wisconsin,” Weingarten told the screaming crowd.
Bloomberg has blamed the draconian budget on state cuts and pointed out that the surplus this year is not large enough to plug projected gaps next year — an assessment the Independent Budget Office seconded in a recent analysis. (more…)
March 7, 2011
New York City’s heralded $75 million experiment in teacher incentive pay — deemed “transcendent” when it was announced in 2007 — did not increase student achievement at all, a new study by the Harvard economist Roland Fryer concludes.
“If anything,” Fryer writes of schools that participated in the program, “student achievement declined.” Fryer and his team used state math and English test scores as the main indicator of academic achievement.
The program, which was first funded by private foundations and then by taxpayer dollars, also had no impact on teacher behaviors that researchers measured. These included whether teachers stayed at their schools or in the city school district and how teachers described their job satisfaction and school quality in a survey.
The program had only a “negligible” effect on a list of other measures that includes student attendance, behavioral problems, Regents exam scores, and high school graduation rates, the study found.
The experiment targeted 200 high-need schools and 20,000 teachers between the 2007-2008 and 2009-2010 school years. The Bloomberg administration quietly discontinued it last year, turning back on the mayor’s early vow to expand the program quickly.
The program handed out bonuses based on the schools’ results on the city’s progress report cards. The report cards grade schools based primarily on how much progress they make in improving students’ state test scores. A so-called “compensation team” at each school decided how to distribute the money — a maximum of $3,000 per teachers union member, if the school completely met its target, and $1,500 per union member if the school improved its report card score by 75%. (more…)
September 9, 2010
Davis Guggenheim’s education documentary “Waiting for Superman” doesn’t come out for another two weeks, but teachers union president Randi Weingarten has already assumed a fighting stance.
In an email sent to reporters yesterday — most likely in response to this NY Magazine review — Weingarten describes the movie as a moving, perhaps even emotionally manipulative, inaccurate portrayal of the public school system.
She criticizes Guggenheim for his flattering portrayal of charter schools and goes so far as to say that most charter schools perform worse than district schools. They are “an escape hatch-sometimes superior, most often inferior,” she writes.