Posts tagged "SIG"
August 21, 2012
A month ago, city officials said 24 struggling schools would have to miss out on costly school improvement programs because they were ineligible for federal “turnaround” grants. Now the city plans to pony up its own funds.
In a release to reporters this afternoon that was short on details, officials said the department would allocate $18 million to the schools as “one-time transitional support” to make up for the loss of $30 million School Improvement Grants.
City efforts to secure federal funding for these schools have been tense since the State Education Department yanked the funding from them and other schools late last December as a consequence for the city and union’s unresolved teacher evaluation negotiations.
To secure the funds, the city proposed to have 33 schools, later reduced to 24, undergo a stringent reform regimen called turnaround, which would have required the city to replace at least half the teachers at each school. To hit that quota, the city proposed closing the schools and re-opening them after replacing some teachers through a contractual process called 18-D.
But an independent arbitrator ruled that those plans violated the teachers’ contracts, and a court upheld the ruling in July. That ruling effectively made the city ineligible to receive the federal “turnaround” aid. (more…)
July 27, 2012
Even as city officials swore that they had not set any quota for rehiring at schools it was trying to shake up, they were assuring the state that the schools would replace at least 50 percent of teachers.
The assurances were made in nearly 800 pages of documents submitted to the state in March as part of the city’s application for federal School Improvement Grants. The city released the original application Thursday, four months after submitting it and two days after a State Supreme Court effectively torpedoed the city’s bid for the funds.
The documents include a letter addressed to State Education Commissioner John King from the deputy chancellor overseeing turnaround, an outline of the plans, and a 770-page tome on changes the city proposed for each of the 24 schools, along with the city’s justification for planning to close each of them. The release did not reflect changes that state and city officials said were made throughout the spring.
The city also released a shortlist of programs on Thursday that it says are now at risk after an arbitrator ruled that the city’s plans for staffing the schools violated its contracts with the teachers and principals unions.
Much of the application’s content for each schools mirrors the proposals the city released when it began preparing the schools for closure. But a separate section outlines just how changes at each school would meet federal requirements for “turnaround,” the overhaul process that the city was proposing. (more…)
June 22, 2012
Three months after the city asked the state for federal funds to fuel school ‘turnaround’ efforts, the state has responded — with a resounding “maybe.”
In a letter released late Friday, State Education Commissioner John King said the way the city plans to overhaul 24 struggling schools meets the state’s requirements. But he said he would only hand over the federal funds, known as School Improvement Grants, if the city meets steep conditions.
To meet some of those conditions, the city would need to come out ahead in arbitration with the teachers union over collective bargaining rules at the 24 schools. It must also prove that community members were looped in on the city’s planning process.
The arbitration, which covers a dispute over whether the city may use a process outlined in the teachers union contract for schools that close and reopen (called 18-D), is set to end next week. If the union comes out ahead, hiring and firing decisions at the schools would be reversed and, according to King’s letter, the city would not be able to collect the SIG grants, which total nearly $60 million.
Earlier this year, King said he saw the city’s proposal as “approvable.” But he stayed quiet as the city signaled it would not force schools to adhere to a central requirement of turnaround set by the U.S. Department of Education: that they replace at least 50 percent of their teachers.
King’s letter today says the city must meet the federal government’s staffing requirements.
State turnaround advisors say “the percentage matters,” SED spokesman Dennis Tompkins said over email. “18-D is the mechanism to achieve the required percentage.” (more…)
June 5, 2012
Speaking to philanthropists and foundation leaders on Monday, the city, state, and national schools chiefs presented a united front — except when it came to the sticky issue of whether to release teachers’ ratings to the public.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, State Education Commissioner John King, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan offered up tips on financing school reform at Philanthropy New York’s 33rd annual meeting.
The meeting drew representatives from major education organizations used to making and receiving philanthropic gifts, including the Harlem Children’s Zone and The After-School Corporation. It also attracted education policy neophytes from large private foundations: Many in the audience didn’t know how many of New York State’s 250,000 ninth graders typically make it to 12th grade without dropping out (Duncan furnished the answer: 188,000).
The trio of education policy heavyweights together urged attendees to think about how their contributions could support their priorities, such as implementing new learning standards, known as the Common Core, and overhauling the country’s lowest-performing schools. Walcott told the audience that private donations have fueled some of the city’s most innovative reform efforts, including the Common Core Library and the technology-infused iZone.
“I’m actually not coming here to ask you to give a lot more, although that would be great too, but to be really smarter in what you’re giving,” Duncan said.
But they were divided when moderator Beth Fertig, WNYC’s education report, asked whether they thought districts and states should make teacher evaluations available to the public, as New York City did in February in response to requests from several news organizations. It’s a question that state lawmakers could tackle this month. (more…)
May 18, 2012
Hiring is set to resume at the 24 “turnaround” schools under an agreement city and union officials reached late Friday afternoon.
But the hiring decisions could be reversed if an arbitrator ultimately decides that the unions’ complaint — that the city is attempting to circumvent contractual hiring and firing policies at the schools — is valid.
The city teachers and principals unions sued to stop the hiring process, but on Wednesday, a State Supreme Court judge urged both sides to accept arbitration rather than pursue litigation. Today, the city and unions agreed “in principle” to seek arbitration, selected an arbitrator, and selected a first meeting date — June 5.
In the meantime, the city will continue the process of rehiring or replacing teachers at the schools — but will have to run the risk of having those decisions undone if the arbitrator rules in the unions’ favor.
The outcome of the contractual dispute could affect the state’s ability to approve those 24 schools for a pot of federal funds, Commissioner John King told reporters today. (more…)
March 28, 2012
Department of Education officials are telling principals of schools slated for “turnaround” not to worry about quotas when they decide which teachers to hire for next year.
This guidance conflicts with the federal guidelines for the reform model, which require a school to replace at least half its teachers. It also contradicts the words of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials, who have done little to dispute this figure before alarmed teachers, students and parents at meetings held throughout the city.
The 50 percent figure has been repeated again and again in months since Bloomberg’s announcement, at forums, protests, union press conferences, and city presentations. Superintendent Aimee Horowitz told families and staff at Brooklyn’s William E. Grady High School and Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School that “up to 50 percent of the remaining faculty can be re-hired,” while at least 50 percent will have to leave. At a meeting of the Citywide Council on High Schools, Deputy Chancellor Elaine Gorman distributed a presentation that said part of the plan was to “re-hire no more than 50 percent.”
But behind the scenes, department officials have been telling principals to ignore this requirement. They said they have told principals at the 33 schools to hire the best teachers available without fretting over whether they are new or would be returning.
“Our goal is for schools to hire and recruit the most qualified teachers who meet the high standards set by their principals — not to remove a certain percentage of staff,” said Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “As that happens, we will work with the state to secure millions of dollars in funding that these new schools need and deserve.”
Principals who have been working on developing plans for the replacement schools say they plan to follow the department’s instructions and are anticipating replacing far fewer teachers than 50 percent. Multiple principals said they were expecting to replace about a quarter of their teachers over the summer. (more…)
February 15, 2012
Rather than filing through metal detectors when they arrive at school Thursday morning, students from Grover Cleveland High School plan to line up around the school’s perimeter, locking hands in a “human chain.”
They are hoping the display of unity will do what weeks of hearings and meetings have not — convince city officials to reverse plans to overhaul their school.
The purpose of the 7 a.m. march, according to senior class president Diana Rodriguez, is for students to demonstrate their passion for Grover Cleveland in the face of the city’s plans to close the school, change its name, and remove some teachers via a federal reform model called “turnaround.”
“There are teachers here I love so much, they’ve been teaching for 10, 20, 30 years, one for over 40 years,” Rodriguez said. City officials “think they’re saving money, but it’s just going to worsen the problem. Getting rid of 50 percent of our staff and turning around and swapping principals and teachers from school to school doesn’t solve the problem itself, it just extends it even more.”
Students will hold hands and form a chain around the perimeter of the school, then march in a circle holding signs they’ve made for the occasion or saved from last year, when they held a similar protest, she said. (more…)
February 14, 2012
Dozens of teachers, parents, students, and at least one principal from the eight Queens schools facing “turnaround” say they have brought their concerns to district superintendents and other Department of Education officials this month to no effect.
On Monday evening, they found a more sympathetic audience: Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who vowed to push back against the city’s plans to close the schools.
Marshall’s uncharacteristically aggressive promise came at a meeting at Queens Borough Hall that her office organized about the city’s plan to “turn around” 33 struggling schools. Under the plan, which Mayor Bloomberg announced last month as a way to secure federal funding, the schools would close and reopen this summer with new names and at least half their staffs replaced.
Marshall sat before a standing-room-only crowd with Dmytro Fedkowskyj, her appointee to the Panel for Educational Policy, the citywide school board that decides the fate of schools proposed for closure. As a panel member, Fedkowskyj has emerged as a frequent critic of the mayor’s school policies, signaling Marshall’s endorsement, but she has typically been soft-spoken on education issues.
That was not the case on Monday. Marshall often clapped and cheered as she listened to dozens of teachers and families defend their schools. Occasionally she even interjected to describe how her respect for teachers developed over years of working as an early childhood educator. (more…)
January 25, 2012
Two weeks after receiving the surprise news that their schools could close this June, some teachers are staging protests while others say they are too stunned to respond, for now.
At Herbert H. Lehman High School in the Bronx, Ann Looser is hoping fifty to 100 of her fellow teachers will stay after school tonight to protest city plans to “turn around” Herbert H. Lehman High School. As Lehman’s union chapter leader, Looser has led efforts to raise awareness about the city’s plan to “turn around” the school. Under the plan, which the city devised to keep federal funding despite a breakdown in negotiations over teacher evaluations, 33 low-performing schools would be closed and reopened after having half of their teachers replaced.
At Lehman, Looser and her colleagues have been trying recruit families, local politicians, and journalists to attend tonight’s “early engagement” hearing. The goal, she said, is to convince the city not to upend progress that the school had been making with the help of federal funds.
Under “restart,” Lehman had used the funds to offer credit recovery programs, peer mentoring, and extra training for teachers, Looser said. She said the extra help came at an important juncture, just as a new principal arrived after years of turmoil that included a grade-changing scandal. Purging the school’s teachers would set those efforts back, Looser said. (more…)