The former chair of the City Council education committee, Eva Moskowitz, talked to the current chair, Robert Jackson, before today's hearing on charter schools. Moskowitz runs a charter school network, while Jackson said he is skeptical of charter schools. (<em>GothamSchools</em>, Flickr) City Council members today moved to regulate the process of placing charter schools in public school buildings, introducing a resolution that they said would avoid conflicts between families at neighborhood schools and new charter schools placed inside of them. Right now, Department of Education officials offer some charter schools space in public school buildings on their own, but the space-sharing arrangements are sometimes contentious. (Charter schools receive public funding, but operate outside of the DOE watch and are not guaranteed space in public school buildings.) The Council resolution would force the department to follow some kind of a regular procedure — probably involving a requirement to work with members of a neighborhood — before it could place a charter school in a public building. "Make community stakeholders part of that process," City Council Member Maria del Carmen Arroyo, of the Bronx, said. "You fail miserably at including the people that have to deal with the fallout of the decisions that you make." Council Member Jessica Lappin of Manhattan, who chairs the council's work on public land use issues, said that charter schools should be placed in the same way that new traditional public schools are placed. "I have worked very hard to bring community members, principals, and the Department of Education together so that we can resolve the issues that inevitably arise," Lappin said. Why, she asked, shouldn't charter schools be placed in the same way? Testifying before the council, Department of Education officials said they agree that they need to improve the way that they bring in new schools, but they declined to support the resolution that would force them to follow a new procedure when doing it.
The New York Post's relentless shilling for the renewal of Mayor Bloomberg's control of the New York City schools continued today with the claim that Mayor Mike doesn't get adequate credit for his accomplishments in involving parents in the schools. Carl Campanile's article identifies a number of accomplishments, including the institution of parent coordinators at each school; the creation of the Office of Family Engagement and Advocacy; making parent involvement part of the system of accountability for principals and schools; and increasing the quantity and quality of information about schools available to parents. Ironically, on the same day, Meredith Kolodner filed a story in the Daily News on the problems that parents and other stakeholders are having obtaining information on the performance of various programs and on decisions regarding future plans. My colleague Joyce Levy Epstein, Director of the Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University, has developed a typology of six different types of parent involvement. The framework includes:
On day two of the convention he is jointly throwing with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, the Rev. Al Sharpton ceded his time on a panel to a City Council member who promptly called on Mayor Bloomberg to fire Klein. The panel's members were a collection of allies of Klein's, including two mayors who support mayoral control of schools, but Council Member Charles Barron called the system "dictatorial" and "autocratic" and said that in New York City it has actually made the public schools worse. Barron also criticized Klein, who stood about 50 feet away from him waiting to join the panel, saying that the chancellor lacks any pedagogical expertise. "He definitely should go," Barron told me after his remarks. "He shouldn't ever have been hired." Sharpton said he asked Barron to speak because he wanted the event, which was sponsored by his National Action Network along with the Education Equality Project he started with Klein, to offer views from both sides of the debate on mayoral control. "If EEP is going to be anything, we're going to hear all views," Sharpton said. "The main thing is to change the conversation." Sharpton yesterday told the New York Times that he supports revising mayoral control.
In honor of the Educational Equality Project conference this week—you remember the Educational Equality Project, don't you? The unholy alliance between Rev. Al Sharpton and Chancellor Joel Klein, funded by a $500,000 tax-deductible gift from former Chancellor Harold Levy's Connecticut-based hedge fund to Sharpton's National Action Network that was laundered through Education Reform Now, a non-profit linked to Education Reform Now Advocacy Inc. (a lobbying group), and Democrats for Education Reform (a political action committee)? Throw in how the gift helped to offset Sharpton's personal and organizational IRS tax woes—a $1 million settlement last July—and Levy's lobbying City Hall on a range of horseracing initiatives worth hundreds of millions to his company and its partners, and you have the making of a John Grisham novel. All that's missing is a few hookers. The Educational Equality Project, which has garnered signatories from a large number of prominent politicians and education leaders, recently launched its website. At the top of the page is a rotating list of "facts," backed by a list of "all the facts," with links to references that presumably document or support the facts. skoolboy decided to fact-check some of the facts. Are they fact or fiction? Barely half of African-American and Latino students graduate from high school, while nearly 80% of white students do. Toss-Up: These figures are accurate if we limit consideration to on-time graduation rates. Chris Swanson of Editorial Projects in Education reports a Cumulative Promotion Index, an estimate of the four-year graduation rate, of 58% for Hispanics and 55% for African-Americans in the class of 2005. These rates would likely increase if we extended the possible time to completion to five or six years.
A group of parents is sharply criticizing the Department of Education for backing away from its decision to shut down struggling neighborhood elementary schools, saying Mayor Bloomberg should "take a hard line" and turn over the buildings to be used as charter schools. The parents, who are zoned to have their children attend two of the schools that would have been closed and replaced with charter schools, said that they want the mayor to shut the schools down because the schools are dirty, dangerous, and filled with teachers who are "just there for a paycheck." "I live across the street from 194," one mother, Melissia Daley, wrote of P.S. 194, a Harlem elementary school that would have been closed under the city's original plan. "Although it's a zoned school and very convenient for me and my child, I wouldn't even try to put my child in there because the children are well behind in grade." "If they are closing 241 to put a better school in its place, then they should do that," one parent, Martinique Owens, said, of another Harlem school, P.S. 241, in a similar situation. Their statements came in a press release issued this afternoon by a spokeswoman for the Harlem Success Academy network of charter schools, Jenny Sedlis. Two Harlem Success schools were planning to become the sole occupants of the P.S. 194 and P.S. 241 buildings after those schools closed. Those schools will have to continue sharing space with district elementary schools next year.
At an event with Chancellor Joel Klein and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today, the Rev. Al Sharpton turned his attention instead to another education activist in the room. "Nobody's supported us more financially than Randi Weingarten," he declared, speaking at a convention of the education group he runs with Klein. Sharpton then eyed Weingarten, the union president who was sitting in the audience, and ushered her onto the stage he was sharing with Duncan, Klein, and the local radio personality James Mtume. Weingarten stepped away from her spot in the audience and joined the men on the panel. Weingarten has had a warm relationship with Duncan so far, but she has vocally opposed the Sharpton and Klein's Education Equality Project, signing onto a rival effort instead. UPDATE: Weingarten told the Times reports that the union has given about $10,000 a year to Sharpton over the last eight years. The remarks came one day after the Daily News reported that he accepted a $50,000 $500,000 donation before working with Klein on the project that won them the title of "odd couple." Sharpton had kicked off the day, the first in a two-day convention his and Klein's group is throwing, with a warning. "I want some substantive discussion," he said before introducing Duncan and Klein to the stage. "But if you think this is your night for Star Time at the Apollo, the Apollo is on 125th Street." The rest of the event contained only the barest allusion to the Daily News column, by Juan Gonzalez.