Posts tagged "StudentsFirstNY"
July 12, 2013
Students and teachers are off for the summer, but the city Department of Education’s legal office was kept on high alert this week.
First, lawyers received word that discrimination charges against the city’s high school admissions process would be dismissed by a federal civil rights office. Then, StudentsFirstNY, an advocacy group with close ties to the Bloomberg administration, announced it would slap the city with a new complaint, alleging inequity in the way teachers are distributed teacher quality in the city.
So far, that complaint has yet to be filed, three days after the group organized dozens of people to protest the issue on the department’s steps at Tweed Courthouse. A StudentsFirst NY spokeswoman said the group’s lawyers were still reviewing the complaint, but she would not say if there are still plans to file it at all.
If so, it would be at least the fourth discrimination charge filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in the last year. A complaint against the policies for admission into top-tier high schools and for closing schools were also submitted. (more…)
July 9, 2013
An advocacy group that fought for changes to teacher evaluations plans to cite data from the old rating system in a civil rights suit against the city.
In a complaint that hasn’t yet been filed, StudentsFirstNY will ask the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate the distribution of teacher quality in city schools. The group issued a report in January finding that the 3 percent of teachers rated “unsatisfactory” last year worked disproportionately often in schools with many poor students of color. Its complaint will allege that the distribution was the result of discriminatory city policies.
Filing a complaint against the Bloomberg administration is an unusual move for StudentsFirstNY, which was formed to defend the mayor’s education policies and criticize opponents during the mayoral election. Some of those opponents have a civil rights complaint of their own pending with the federal government, about the Bloomberg administration’s school closures. (more…)
June 25, 2013
Democrats for Education Reform is reuniting with an old Albany friend as it prepares to resume a larger presence in the state.
The political action committee’s New York chapter named former state Senator Craig Johnson as board chair, Executive Director Joe Williams said. Johnson’s role on the board, which is unpaid, will primarily be to fundraise, an area that has lagged in recent years as the state’s education advocacy field has grown more crowded, Williams said.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to get the donor base engaged again,” said Williams.
Johnson, who won his seat in 2007 in a Long Island district long dominated by Republicans, aligned with DFER on successful legislative efforts required to qualify for federal Race to the Top funding.
The most notable was a revision to the Charter Schools Act that more than doubled the number of charter schools allowed to operate in the state. Snubbing pressure from his Democratic colleagues, Johnson “single-handedly“ blocked an early version of the bill that would have banned school building co-locations and slowed down the authorizing process.
Johnson was ousted from his seat just months later, but has stayed active in state politics. He raised nearly $500,000 in 2012 for Jeff Klein’s Independent Democratic Committee, which formed a tenuous power-sharing coalition with Republicans after last fall’s elections. Earlier this month, Johnson was hired by the law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP to oversee national governmental affairs with a focus on education policy. (more…)
April 18, 2013
A confrontation between Bedford-Stuyvesant educators and StudentsFirstNY organizers on Wednesday highlighted the group’s struggle to organize parents in low-performing schools. (more…)
March 27, 2013
Lobbying and political spending records offer a different, behind-the-scenes view into the group’s activities under Lasher, a seasoned legislative director who abruptly announced this week that he is leaving to become state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s chief of staff.
The records show that the group spent more than $100,000 in Albany, largely to bolster Republican legislators who frequently oppose policies that teachers unions support and who are seen as a bulwark against the erosion of mayoral control in New York City. (more…)
March 25, 2013
In a surprise move, Micah Lasher announced today that he’s leaving StudentsFirstNY, an education advocacy organization he helped launch less than a year ago to sway mayoral candidates on education policies.
The news broke first early this morning in the Daily News, and it apparently was such a surprise that even Lasher’s staff at StudentsFirstNY didn’t know about it, sources told GothamSchools. Staff put out a press release shortly after that, naming a temporary replacement and praising Lasher for his.achievements. But questions remain about the group’s future.
Lasher, a “wunderkind lobbyist” with expertise in education policy, spent four years advancing the Bloomberg administration’s agenda before leaving city government last year. He’s returning to public service as chief of staff for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after a year in charge of New York’s state branch of Michelle Rhee’s national StudentsFirst organization. (more…)
January 10, 2013
The poorer a school’s students are, the more likely they are to be taught by low-rated teachers.
That’s the conclusion of a new report by the education advocacy group StudentsFirstNY. The group, which is critical of the city’s current teacher evaluation system, looked at ratings given to 65,527 teachers during the 2011-2012 school year and found that the low-rated teachers disproportionately worked in schools with high concentrations of poor students.
At schools with relatively few poor students, 1.14 percent of teachers received low ratings last year, according to the report. But at schools where more than 85 percent of students are considered poor, 3.9 percent did.
The inequities were even more pronounced when comparing schools with different demographics. At schools where fewer than a quarter of students are black or Hispanic, just 1.06 percent of teachers got low ratings. At schools where almost all students are black or Hispanic, that figure was 4.13 percent.
The report says the findings support StudentsFirstNY’s position that new teacher evaluations are needed in New York State. (more…)
November 19, 2012
The scene was familiar, but the rallying cries and signs were a departure.
More than 100 parents and organizers from StudentsFirstNY filled the steps of City Hall on Saturday to demand that the teachers union cooperate with the city on an evaluation deal before a deadline that could cost the city $300 million in state aid.
“What do we want?” shouted Darlene Boston, who has been working to organize parents in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn to support StudentsFirstNY’s policy agenda. “Great teachers!” they replied.
“When do we want them?” Boston shouted back. “Now!” they said.
When education advocates protest outside City Hall, it is usually with an ensemble of union leaders, City Council members, and other elected officials. And more often than not, they are criticizing policies favored by Mayor Bloomberg, the man who governs the city from the building behind them.
But no elected officials showed up at Saturday’s rally — and organizers said none was invited. Parents came mostly from neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn and Harlem, areas where StudentsFirstNY is trying to build a base. And while the mayor’s name was not uttered, it was clear that he was not the target of their protest.
The target was the continuing lack of new teacher evaluations in New York City, which StudentsFirstNY and Bloomberg have blamed on the United Federation of Teachers. (more…)
November 14, 2012
In a packed room at the Marcy Library in Bedford-Stuyvesant on a Saturday morning last month, the message to a group of public school parents was abundantly clear: The way to improve their students’ education begins with a better teacher evaluation system.
Standing in the way, organizers said, was drawn out negotiations between the the city and its teachers union, which has been battling over terms of the evaluations for nearly two years.
“We need to be telling teachers we’re watching. UFT, we’re watching,” said Darlene Boston, a parent organizer for Families Taking Action, which hosted the event.
Families Taking Action is the parent-organizing arm of StudentsFirstNY, a well-funded education advocacy organization that launched in April to act as a counterweight to the influential teachers union during the upcoming mayoral campaign.
One area where the union’s influence has been particularly strong is in rallying communities to oppose budget cuts, school closures and charter school co-locations. It has funded citywide and local organizations to educate parents about the issues and turn them into activists.
But the union has not rallied parents around teacher evaluations, a thorny issue that some teachers view skeptically because of its prescribed model and reliance on test scores.
No one else has either, and that’s where StudentsFirstNY is stepping in. (more…)
August 24, 2012
It didn’t take long for the complexities of New York State politics to make strange bedfellows out of two rival education advocacy groups.
This week, New York State United Teachers endorsed Jeff Klein, a Democratic state Senator from the Bronx with a reputation for rebuffing teachers union interests. Earlier this summer, Klein also took in money from StudentsFirstNY, a group that a union-backed coalition is attacking for its board members’ Republican ties.
Over the past week, accepting money from StudentsFirstNY has received a lot of scrutiny from the coalition, called New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, which is made up of labor unions and community-based organizations. At protests, it has tacitly warned elected officials to reject StudentsFirstNY because some of its funding comes from people working in the private sector with ideologically different positions on education policy. And while most of their energy will be focused on the 2013 mayoral candidates, the coalition punctuated its point this week when it gleefully released a list of state and city politicians who agreed to reject contributions from StudentsFirstNY.
“Taking StudentsFirst money is bad for New York,” Billy Easton, executive director of Alliance for Quality Education, one of the groups that gets funding from the state teachers union, said last week. (more…)