Posts tagged "turnarounds"
July 6, 2012
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s testimony before an arbitrator drove one nail into the coffin of the city’s plans to replace or rehire teachers at 24 “turnaround” schools.
Last week an arbitrator determined that the city violated the city’s contracts with the teachers and principals unions when it moved to replace staff members at the schools. This afternoon the arbitrator, Scott Buchheit, released a detailed explanation of why he ruled the way he did.
The city was trying to use hiring procedures set for closing schools and their replacements. But the unions argued that the turnaround plans were “sham closures” that would not result in new schools. Instead, they argued, the city was unfairly using contractual provisions about “excessing” to remove teachers and administrators it deemed unsatisfactory.
In upholding the unions’ grievance, Buchheit at times turns Bloomberg’s and other city officials’ words against them.
He quotes a 2011 memorandum written by the Department of Education’s chief financial officer, which said, “excessing is not a permissible way to deal with unsatisfactory teachers.”
Yet city officials said they intended to do just that from the start of the turnaround process, Buchheit determined. (more…)
June 12, 2012
With the 24 turnaround schools deep into the hiring process, a small handful of teachers gathered in front of Tweed this afternoon to show their opposition despite the rain.
Protesters from John Dewey High School Lehman High School grimly described their uncertain futures. But they did not renew any pleas to Department of Education officials to stop the turnaround. They were joined by several teachers from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, which the city placed on its original list of turnaround schools but later removed.
Marian Swerdlow, the FDR union chapter leader-elect, said she and several colleagues turned out this afternoon to show their support and register opposition to all school closures. She stood stone-faced in front of the DOE headquarters in a United Federation of Teachers rain poncho, holding a crumpled sign that read, “the turnaround model is all wet.”
The city cannot make any final hiring decisions at the 24 schools, which are closing this summer and immediately re-opening under the reform model known as ‘turnaround.’ But hiring committees made up of city and teachers union officials, school administrators and parents in each of the schools have been busily conducting back-to-back interviews with teachers hoping to keep their jobs. (more…)
May 9, 2012
City officials are fretting that even a temporary halt to hiring at 24 turnaround schools will weaken their ability to carry out a key piece of the improvement strategy for those schools: recruiting top-quality teachers.
On Tuesday, when the Department of Education agreed to halt hiring in the schools for at least a week during the first round of a union lawsuit, officials said no hiring would be happening yet anyway. But they are worried about what would happen if Judge Joan Lobis grants a temporary restraining order extending the freeze, as she did two years ago when a union lawsuit over school closures came before her.
If that freeze extends into June, officials say it could hurt the schools’ chances of attracting and retaining the most qualified teachers in the applicant pool.
When the judge decides whether to grant a temporary restraining order, she will weigh the likelihood that the unions’ case has merits — but not the merits themselves — and also the likelihood that a delay would harm the schools. Department officials seem likely to argue that the schools would not be able to recover from a slowdown because teachers may not be able to hold out until June if they receive other job offers before then.
But the request for a restraining order is not unexpected: The UFT vowed to sue almost as soon as Mayor Bloomberg announced the turnaround plans in January, and seeking a temporary restraining order is the first step in many legal fights over school policy. (more…)
March 6, 2012
The city filled out its slate of “turnaround” proposals just minutes before the legal deadline to propose school closures for next year.
After posting documents detailing 15 of the rapid overhaul plans last week, the city published the remaining 18 at about 11:20 p.m. Monday night. Monday was the six-month mark before the likely start of the 2012-2013 school year, so it was the legal deadline for the city to release “Education Impact Statements” for any schools it wants to close.
Under turnaround, the city will close and immediately reopen the schools after replacing half of their teachers and, in many cases, their principals. The city devised the plan in January to allow federal funds for struggling schools to continue flowing even without a city-union agreement on new teacher evaluations.
The statements detail exactly what the city is planning to do with the curriculum, career programs, and extracurricular options — sort of. In many cases, the city says only that it “may” close a program or introduce another one. For example, the impact statement for W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School says the city “is considering” cutting the apparel design and communication media programs. The new school, the statement says, “will explore” adding a sports medicine program. (The statement also strains to identify shortcomings with Maxwell, which received an A on its most recent city progress report.)
The statements are just the first step in a series of legal procedures that lay the groundwork for closure — and they don’t count for anything with the state, which must approve the plans if they are to receive federal funding. The city still has not submitted formal turnaround applications for State Education Commissioner John King to consider. (more…)
January 23, 2012
State Education Commissioner John King spent most of his time before legislators today going to bat for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed schools budget.
But on one key point, he said the Board of Regents would prefer a change. The Regents would rather not hinge so much of the state’s funds on a competition among districts, King said.
Cuomo proposed using $250 million of a proposed $800 million school aid increase to reward districts for strong academic performance and management efficiency. King said the Regents, whose agenda is similar but not identical to Cuomo’s, would slash that number by 80 percent. They would still hand out $50 million through a competition but think the remaining $200 million would be better used helping high-needs districts cover their expenses, he said.
The proposal is similar to what was proposed by the Alliance for Quality Education, a group that Cuomo’s office has named as a nemesis, and augurs a possible battle over the budget in the two months before it must be approved. (more…)
August 12, 2011
The radical “restart” plans for 14 struggling schools seem likely to get off to a slow start.
In exchange for millions of dollars in federal School Improvement Grants, the city announced this week that it would turn over the reins of 14 schools to nonprofit Education Partnership Organizations. But with the start of the school year just weeks away, those groups say that much of their first year will be spent assessing needs and adding support, not making drastic changes.
“Whenever you’re in a position of partnering, you’re always balancing the need of that sense of urgency with the idea that there is a certain risk or downside to, say, overhauling the master schedule two weeks before school starts,” said Doug Elmer, the director of Diplomas Now, which will manage Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn and Newtown High School in Queens.
The nonprofits put in their bids to take over schools — where they’ll control everything from curriculum to hiring to budgeting — in May. But after a delay while the city and teachers union hammered out a deal over teacher evaluations in the struggling schools, the groups learned only in the last two weeks that the city wanted them to become EPOs. And they found only just this week which schools they would take over. The city had asked the schools and organizations to rank each other, then paired them off.
“It was a little bit of a flurry,” said Sheepshead Bay Principal Reesa Levy of the matching process. But she said she was excited to work with Diplomas Now. ”We’re actually thrilled. I think maybe this will give us that extra push.”
The federal government has promised up to $2 million a year for three years for the restart schools. (more…)
May 26, 2011
Students at a South Bronx high school staged a march today to demand that the city seek more federal support to improve their school.
The students, who attend Samuel Gompers High School, have a specific improvement model in mind: the “re-start” option that is one of four models districts can follow in order to receive federal school turnaround funding.
Gompers is one of nine poorly performing high schools that are eligible for the federal help, but are not part of the city’s application for federal turnaround grants. Twenty-two other schools are receiving the grants, and 11 schools are already working with federal grants under the “transformation” improvement model.
“Why hasn’t the DOE given the grants to all the schools?” Gompers sophomore Sony Cabral asked at the rally. “They’re setting us up for failure.”
The students ended their march, which attracted about two dozen students, at the nearby Banana Kelly High School, one of the schools slated to receive the restart funding.
The city chose schools for the restart plan that it felt showed signs of improvement and enough leadership capacity to work with outside organizations to make serious adjustments, said Department of Education spokesperson Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld.
“The schools we didn’t choose for restart just did not have the type of leadership and staff in place that we felt could effectively team up with an educational partnership organization,” said Zarin-Rosenfeld.
School officials said that the nine schools that are not part of the city’s turnaround application will still get some support. The city Department of Education is adding an extra $300,000 to their budgets and offering help from teams in the Children’s First networks, which support schools with a range of needs from professional development to budgeting. (more…)
May 26, 2011
The Obama administration’s $3.5 billion effort to turn around the country’s lowest-performing schools has had a bumpy start in New York City.
The first schools to participate in the program here used one of the less dramatic of the four models laid out by the Obama administration for how schools can be overhauled. To comply with a requirement that the principal of the school be removed, one set of schools played a game of musical principals. And officials’ efforts to reach an agreement with the teachers union on how to use a more drastic model — one that requires removing teachers as well as the school principal — faltered. Late in the school year, officials to turned to the “re-start” model instead.
A new package on Education Week’s web site suggests that New York’s rocky experience is not entirely unique. The package showcases reporting on other cities’ turnaround efforts, including reporting from GothamSchools. It also shows that a wide majority of schools receiving the turnaround funds opted for the less dramatic “transformation” model that was the first city school officials turned to.
In Denver, a turnaround plan for a group of schools became so contentious that it was a top issue in a recent school board election, according to coverage from Education News Colorado.
In Philadelphia, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has embraced the restart model, welcoming charter school networks to take over 15 schools. She’s invested additional resources in another group of 18 schools called “promise academies.” But her efforts have faced resistance, too, including a lawsuit by the teachers union protesting the removal of a teacher who challenged the turnaround plan, the Philadelphia Public School Notebook reports.
And in Kentucky, a principal has removed half of the original teaching staff and changed the name of his school altogether. It’s now called the “Academy @ Shawnee,” Education Week reports.
Read the full package here.
March 25, 2011
When Gideon Stein first picked up the 2009 New Yorker profile of California charter school leader Steve Barr, he put the article down without finishing it. The story was all about Barr’s decision to work with the teachers union rather than fight it.
“I was like, eh, how great can his schools be?” Stein, an entrepreneur and real estate developer based in Manhattan, recalled in an interview this week.
A board member of at one of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Charter Network schools, where teachers are determinedly not unionized, Stein didn’t believe that anyone working with a teachers union had a shot at turning a school around.
But at the urging of his family, he finished the piece and was so impressed that he asked Moskowitz to broker an introduction. Soon he flew to Los Angeles to visit Locke High School, the school that Barr’s group, Green Dot, took over in 2008. The trip was “transformative,” Stein said.
In Barr, he saw the solution to the problem that troubles many education philanthropists: Successful transformations urban and rural schools are too rare. They have not achieved “scale.”
“While I love my work with Eva, and I think Eva is just an unbelievable educator and advocate for children,” Stein said, “if you really want scale, I think you’re going to have to make some compromises.”
He asked Barr how he could help Green Dot’s mission of re-making schools in partnership with labor.
Now Stein is the president of Barr’s national organization, which changed its name today from Green Dot America to Future Is Now Schools. And he’s rejiggered his social calendar. “I’ve now had dinner and drinks with Randi 10 times in the last eight months,” he said, referring to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Winning the Future (more…)
September 23, 2010
The federal government is giving the city $36 million to expand a performance pay program that gives large bonuses to high-performing teachers in struggling schools.
The money is a percentage of the $442 million Teacher Incentive Fund doled out today to more than 60 groups, including states, school districts, charter school operators and non-profits. Federal officials are handing out the grants the same week as a major study of merit pay in Nashville found that offering teachers up to $15,000 bonuses had little effect on student academic achievement.
The award aims to let the city hire “master” and “turnaround” teachers for 75 low-performing schools. The two groups of teachers have full or nearly-full course loads and devote extra time to training or mentoring other teachers at their schools.
Turnaround teachers, who will work an estimated 30 hours more per year, get bonuses of 15 percent of their salaries. Master teachers work an extra 100 hours and receive 30 percent bonuses. Both categories of teacher are also required to maintain a “highly effective” rating under the state’s new teacher evaluation system, based partly on their students’ test scores. (more…)