Posts tagged "shael polakow-suransky"
May 20, 2013
City principals who heard Chancellor Dennis Walcott deliver a stemwinding political speech on Saturday will get an extra day of summer vacation to make up for it.
This year, for the first time, the Department of Education told principals that they could take a day off during the summer to compensate for attending the citywide principals conference, held Saturday at Brooklyn Technical High School.
“To encourage attendance, any principal who attends the conference will receive one compensation day that can be used between June 27 and August 30,” the department’s weekly bulletin to principals said for at least the last two weeks.
The tradeoff isn’t sitting right with some, including UFT President Michael Mulgrew, whose union frequently battles the department to ensure that teachers are paid for time they spend working outside of the regular school day. Mulgrew cited the prohibition on city workers participating in political activity on the job.
“You’re using taxpayer dollars to pay New York City workers to come in and listen to you do a political rant,” Mulgrew said. ”It’s at least inappropriate, but it really borders on questionable ethics.” (more…)
April 29, 2013
For thousands of sixth-graders at 20 city middle schools, the school day is about to get a lot longer.
The schools will offer an hour of intensive literacy tutoring and 90 additional minutes of community-inspired programming such as yoga and gardening, as part of the city’s latest effort to spur improvements in the lowest-performing middle schools.
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced today that they are adding 40 schools to the city’s two-year-old Middle School Quality Initiative. Twenty of those schools will be randomly chosen for the three-year extended day pilot program.
Walcott made middle schools his priority when he took office, rebranding an initiative that Quinn had spearheaded as MSQI and expanding it to include focuses on literacy, teacher collaboration, and using data to drive instruction. Since then, MSQI has grown from 18 to 49 schools, and in the fall, it will include 89 schools. (more…)
March 18, 2013
When it came time to teach her ninth graders to write a research paper, Ann Neary, a teacher at Dewitt Clinton High School, decided that rather than write about a topic distant from their lives, students would try to decipher the school’s city-issued progress report.
The idea formed in November, when the city announced that Dewitt Clinton was so low-performing it might be closed. The school had just received an F on its November progress report, Neary told teachers at a conference about education and social activism hosted by the Museum of the City of New York over the weekend.
The city ultimately opted not to close Dewitt Clinton, though the Panel on Education Policy voted last week to shrink the school and move two new schools into the building. But back in November, when it still looked like the school might close, students got to work.
“We were really rallying around this issue in the school,” Neary said. “So I adopted it as a way to teach research.” An assistant principal had just asked all Dewitt Clinton ninth-grade writing teachers to assign a Common Core-aligned research paper, Neary said, and urged them to focus on non-fiction texts that included graphs for students to analyze.
“It wasn’t an assignment I thought would be interesting to my students,” she said. “I thought the F would be more meaningful to them.” (more…)
November 27, 2012
Last year, the Department of Education withheld progress reports from seven schools because their data raised red flags.
At the time, officials said the irregularities could have been caused by innocuous reporting errors. But they said the suspicious data could also reflect cheating. The department makes important decisions about which schools should be closed, and which principals should receive pay boosts, based on the progress reports.
Investigations were launched. And a year later, all but one of the schools have new progress reports, released yesterday, but still don’t have their 2010-2011 reports.
At a briefing on this year’s progress report release, department officials said those investigations are still unresolved, and they’re opening up a new one at a Bronx high school accused of fudging its numbers.
“The goal of the investigation is to get it right,” Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said, explaining why the investigators have so far taken more than a year to look into the irregularities. “We’re going to take the time we need to get it right.” (more…)
November 26, 2012
At a briefing on the latest high school progress report grades this afternoon, Department of Education officials touted the small boost in the number of schools receiving the best grades, but warned that the high grades might not be fully warranted.
It wasn’t easy for schools to keep their graduation rates or progress grades up this year. For the first time, most students were required to pass five Regents exams before graduating, and schools’ college readiness rates were factored into their overall progress scores. Still, 72 percent of schools received As and Bs—up from 64.4 percent last year.
Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky told reporters that the gains showed that schools were able to meet the new challenges before them.
“When you set a high bar and you give people time as you phase it in, people rise to the challenge,” he said. ” I think it’s a real accomplishment … but we’re very interested in getting schools to push higher.”
But that could mean raising the threshold for a good progress report grade—necessary to stay off the city’s list of schools it might close—for the second time since the progress reports were designed in 2007.
“If everyone’s reached the goal that we’ve set, then we typically up it because we want to push people to keep striving higher,” Polakow-Suransky said. If that happens, he added, the department will announce the new cut-off point this winter, giving schools time to reset their expectations. (more…)
November 15, 2012
Realizing that its strategies for stocking the city’s ever-expanding supply of schools with excellent principals have fallen short, the Department of Education is launching new programs aimed at slowing down the transition from teacher to administrator.
The largest of the new initiatives is the Teacher Leadership Program, aimed at developing leadership skills in hundreds of teachers who are still working in the classroom. Other initiatives are meant to prepare leaders to handle the special challenges of running middle schools and to capitalize on the leadership skills of principals who are already in the system.
And a foundation that helped the city underwrite a fast-track principal training program is now paying for educators to earn degrees in school administration at local universities.
“Most of our principal training work that we’ve done historically is focused on that last year before you become a principal,” Chief Academic Office Shael Polakow-Suransky said. “It’s the last step in the process, and what we’ve come to understand is that there [are] a lot of steps that happen before that in someone’s career. … We want to begin to do that kind of training.”
The new programs represent a strong shift away from the Bloomberg administration’s early approach to cultivating school leadership at a time when the city is losing about 150 principals a year, even as it has ramped up new school creation. Together with existing programs, they are set to produce 134 new principals and engage 300 teachers this year, according to the department. (more…)
November 6, 2012
Students in 22 city schools will miss a seventh straight day of class on Wednesday while the Department of Education continues to restore buildings damaged and disrupted by Hurricane Sandy.
And thousands of other students will have to make their way to school on their own because the department does not have enough buses to move all of the students who need transportation.
After calling local private bus companies and petitioning the state and federal emergency relief organizations, the city has rounded up more than 100 additional buses to join the 7,400 that ran on Monday, officials said this evening. But still, buses will serve students at fewer than half of the 43 schools that are so severely damaged that they must be moved. Those schools, which together enroll about 20,000 students, are opening for the first time on Wednesday.
A major problem, Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said this evening, is that the department’s transportation hub, located in Long Island City, still does not have power. The department can only add new routes, not make the ones it already operates more efficient, while the computer system that programs the city’s 7,700 school bus routes is down, he said.
“We don’t have access to any of that,” he said. “Everything we are doing at this point is by hand.” (more…)
October 26, 2012
Some of our most thought-provoking comments this week came in response to a first person account of starting a new school in the GothamSchools Community section.
In his post, teacher Stephen Lazar described his inner conflict over helping to start Harvest Collegiate High School this year. He believed in the new school, he wrote, but he knew that it would occupy space vacated by a school that was being closed. That school is Legacy High School, a struggling small school that will share its building space with Harvest in Union Square until it finished phasing out.
Lazar chose to join Harvest’s founding team, but still, he said, the question stymied him: Should a teacher help create a new school if he objects to the policy that led to its creation?
Commenters were divided in their answers.
“Former Turnaround Teacher” said that Lazar’s discomfort about his participation in the city’s reform effort is a common among educators at new schools and phase-out schools:
When I was looking to transfer at the end of the past school year I often faced a similar decision. I could not bring myself to apply to certain schools that I know where in current phase out buildings. However I did apply to some schools in buildings that had finished phasing out. When it comes down to it, in the current system unless you are lucky enough to get into the 20% or so of High Schools that are either specilized or the DOE for whatever… (more…)
October 25, 2012
Facing criticism that the Department of Education does not hold the organizations responsible for supporting schools accountable for their success, Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky told members of the City Council today that the opposite is true.
In fact, he said during a heated hearing about the department’s network support structure, he has changed the leadership of 15 of the department’s 55 networks.
“Fifteen of those [former network leaders] are people that I did not have confidence in and we wanted someone to do better,” Polakow-Suranksy told the city council members during a lengthy hearing. ”There is very clear accountability.”
That revelation was one of many data points he and other top officials shared this afternoon at a City Council Education Committee hearing on the school networks and their nebulous roles supervising each of the city’s 1,700 schools. The networks fit into a complicated and at times unintuitive picture of the school system’s structural make-up. They were created in 2007, several years after Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office and his former schools chancellor, Joel Klein, dissolved the 32 Community School Districts that once supervised the city’s schools and made academic and operational decisions. (more…)
October 24, 2012
The sharp complaints that UFT President Michael Mulgrew leveled a week ago at the city and state’s Common Core rollout were based on anecdotal reports, according to union officials.
Now the union is hoping to back up Mulgrew’s harsh words with the voices of more than 100,000 educators. Today, every UFT member received a survey by email asking them whether they have received the curriculum materials, professional development, and technology they need to tie their instruction to the new standards.
A message from Mulgrew that accompanied the survey signaled that the union is looking for problems.
“With this online UFT survey, we are gathering vital evidence of the DOE’s lack of instructional support as we demand that the DOE provide you with the tools that you need to teach to the new standards,” he wrote. “We will use this evidence to do our own evaluation of the DOE’s support of our work.”
The state is in the process of developing curriculum materials aligned to the Common Core, a move that few, if any, of the other 45 states that have adopted the new standards are making. In the city, the Department of Education has built some curriculum materials and recruited hundreds of educators to build more in an effort to give teachers a helping hand during the transition. (more…)