Unleashing anger from Upper East Side parents, Department of Education officials last night backed off a plan to move a high school there to East Harlem in order to make space for an elementary school. Neighborhood parents had praised the plan because it would create a new elementary school with its own space immediately in a baby-boom neighborhood, but teachers and parents at the high school that would have to move called it racist, saying their students — who are mainly black and Hispanic — should not be pushed to a building across from a housing project in order to make room for white families. The department's new proposal is to keep the high school where it is and open a new elementary school in temporary quarters, while looking for a permanent space. The plan would add a new elementary school to a section of the Upper East Side that has not had a local, zoned school for nearly a decade. The unusual situation arose when officials deemed PS 151 unsafe and closed it in 2000. Neighborhood parents and elected officials have been pushing the city to open a replacement for 151, but until recently school officials hedged, saying that nearby schools could accommodate the neighborhood's children.
A new report says raising class sizes by two students per class would save the city $187 million a year. (Via Flickr Creative Commons.) Raising class sizes by two students per room and making a slew of paid parent coordinators part-time employees are among a slate of options the Independent Budget Office is recommending to City Hall for how to plug the city's projected $4 billion budget gap. The IBO list, which went out in a report released this morning, includes 70 ways to cut costs or raise revenue and puts a dollar tag on each option. The city would save $187 million annually by reducing class sizes by two students on average, a change that would require the city to eliminate 2,100 teacher positions, according to the report. Moving parent coordinators who work at schools with fewer than 500 students to part-time status would save $14.9 million, the report says. The report does not recommend following the options one way or another, instead laying out arguments for and against each one. Those in favor of increasing class sizes, the report says, would argue that research on the costs of marginally larger classes is inconclusive, while opponents would cite research on the benefits of lower class sizes in early grades and the potential risk of driving qualified teachers out of the system.
Okay, not 24 hours. But check out the mayor's public schedule. Not one moment without teachers union president Randi Weingarten: PUBLIC SCHEDULE FOR MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2009 *11:00 AM Joins American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten at Meeting of the New York State Democratic Congressional Delegation to Discuss Economic Stimulus Conference Report H-137 U.S. Capitol Building WASHINGTON, DC *FYI Only. This meeting is closed to press. *12:15 PM Joins American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten to Discuss Economic Stimulus Conference Report with Senator Susan Collins (R - ME) 401 Dirksen Senate Office Building WASHINGTON, DC *FYI Only. This meeting is closed to press. *1:00 PM Joins American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten to Discuss Economic Stimulus Conference Report and Hold Media Availability with House Education Chairman George Miller (D - CA) and House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D - NY)
As he gears up to run for a third term, Mayor Bloomberg announced today that he has made good on a 2005 campaign promise to double the number of charter schools in the city. Bloomberg said in October 2005 that he would bring the number of charter schools in the city to 100 by the end of his second term this year. At the time, there were fewer than 50 charters open in the city, and state law allowed only 100 charters altogether. The law changed in 2007 and since then, the state, city Department of Education, and SUNY system have granted charters at breakneck speed. This fall, 100 charter schools will be open in the city. Bloomberg's vigorous lobbying influenced the legislature's decision two years ago to permit more charters, and today, his support for the movement won him a "Champion for Charters" award from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, an organization that promotes the schools. The award ceremony took place at Brooklyn Charter School, a Bedford-Stuyvesant elementary school that was the first DOE-authorized charter school. The number of charter schools operating in the city grew from 17 when Bloomberg first took office in 2002 to 78 this school year. This fall, there will be anywhere from 99 to 104 charters open, depending on the results of Bloomberg's attempt to convert some shrinking Catholic schools to charters and on whether the State Education Department approves the first charter school for Staten Island. (That school would serve children with special needs.) A couple of low-performing charter schools have also closed. On average, charter schools outperform other city public schools on state tests and on the city's progress reports. The city's full press release about Bloomberg's award, and the rise in the number of charter schools, is after the jump. Also in the press release: a list of 25 charter schools that will open either in the fall or in 2010.
PHOTO: Alan PetersimeMembers of Class 4/3. Image from Sony Pictures Classics Yesterday I took a break from blogging to check out "The Class," the French movie about a year in the life of an urban classroom that took the top prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival. Among the movie's many fans: Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, apparently. Michael Barker, the Sony Pictures Classics executive who brought the movie to the United States, showed Klein the movie before it hit the theaters. (Klein's wife, Nicole Seligman, is a Sony executive.) From the L.A. Times: One of the first things Barker did when he brought the film to America was to screen it for Joel Klein, an old friend who is the New York City schools chancellor. "He adored it," Barker says. "He recognized right away that 'The Class' was about the challenges every school system in America has in trying to deal with multiculturalism." For all of the hype about the movie, I expected its main character, Mr. Marin, to be a better teacher.