Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine: Teachers crowdfund nearly $200 million nationally for school supplies, other basics

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s teachers union unveiled a new three-year contract on Thursday, months earlier than many school observers had expected. Christina and Reema outline the agreement’s nuts-and-bolts, including annual pay bumps up to $8,000 for teachers who take jobs at hard-to-staff schools. This provision is part of a broader strategy to address the needs of challenged schools, especially in the Bronx.

Alex describes a pilot program outlined in the contract that will enable students at 15 Bronx high schools to take certain advanced courses, such as AP classes, from remote teachers via videoconference — an idea Betsy DeVos recently touted for rural schools in Mississippi.

Philissa reports on how the deal represents a big win for critics of the current teacher evaluation system. The number of observations teachers are subjected to will fall in most cases to two short classroom visits per school year. (Many teachers are currently observed four times.)

But prospective teachers, Reema writes, will have to undergo a ‘suitability’ screening before they are hired so the district might weed out those who are unlikely to succeed in the classroom.

Philissa also reports that within hours of the deal's announcement, many educators were expressing serious reservations about the contract, arguing that the proposed salary increases wouldn’t keep pace with inflation and that the rushed timing of the vote was designed to obscure its underwhelming terms.

Look today, as we continue to track developments and your reactions, for our report on the contract's plan for “collaborative schools”--what they are and their likelihood of success. One question we've heard from readers: Will the contract require the city’s educators to give up any benefits? If there are other concerns you have or things you wish we'd look into, drop us a line at ny.tips@chalkbeat.org.

In other news of the day: Alex writes about a report from the Independent Budget Office that shows black students receive far harsher suspensions on average than other racial groups in the city. The Chalkbeat national desk reports on important new findings that holding back students one grade in middle school can lead not to better academic outcomes but to students becoming significantly more likely to drop out of high school. And Chalkbeat’s Colorado bureau has a fascinating story about start-up ventures trying to be the Uber and Lyft of home-based childcare.

New York magazine reports on one Connecticut town that fought to drive the Summit Learning Program, the personalized learning platform developed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, from its schools. The New York Times describes how the head of the city’s department of investigations was himself cited for misconduct and overstepping his authority when he tried to claim oversight of the city’s schools. And since 2017,  teachers nationwide have raised nearly $200 million through crowdsourcing websites such as DonorsChoose or GoFundMe to pay for school supplies and other classroom amenities. Happy Friday, everyone!

--Sara, New York bureau chief

LET’S MAKE A DEAL New York City and its teachers union reached a new three year labor contract, which boosts salaries, reduces how often most teachers are observed, and creates a new plan for addressing the needs of hard-to-staff schools, especially in the Bronx. Chalkbeat, WNYC, The New York Daily News

LET’S NOT Hours after the contract was announced, many teachers were taking to social media to question the deal’s terms, including salary bumps that don’t appear to keep pace with inflation, cuts to members’ healthcare benefits, and a rushed timeframe for voting on the agreement. Chalkbeat

REMOTE SUBJECTS The contract includes a provision recently touted by Betsy DeVos for schools in Mississippi: letting teachers offer advanced coursework, such as AP classes, via videoconferencing. Fifteen schools in the Bronx will pilot a program enabling teachers elsewhere in the city to offer lessons remotely to students in classrooms with a teacher’s assistant. Chalkbeat

SCREEN TIME Those hoping to teach in the city’s schools will, under the agreement, have to pass a ‘suitability’ screening before they can be hired. Chalkbeat

OBSERVING LIMITS Teachers already on the job would be subject to fewer observations by their principals under the contract’s new evaluation system for teachers. Chalkbeat

DISPARATE IMPACT New York City’s black students, compared to those from other racial groups, receive harsher suspensions for the same infractions, according to a report by the city’s Independent Budget Office. Chalkbeat

HOLD ON Holding back students doesn’t help keep them on track academically but is more likely to lead to their dropping out of high school, new research shows. Chalkbeat National

GIG CHILDCARE Several new start-up ventures are vying to become the Uber and Lyft of home-based childcare providers. Chalkbeat Colorado

$200 MILLION That’s how much — almost — teachers have raised in the aggregate nationwide via crowdfunding sites such as DonorsChoose and GoFundMe since 2017 to pay for schools supplies and other basics. U.S. News & World Report

NO THANKS Parents in a Connecticut town fought to reverse their school district’s decision to adopt the Summit Learning Program, part of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s push for “personalized learning,” complaining that the program was buggy and ineffective and exposed students’ data to outsiders. New York Magazine

EVALUATE ME MaryEllen Elia, the state’s education commissioner, met with teachers in an upstate New York school district to discuss how to improve the state’s teacher evaluation system. The Niagara Gazette

WHISTLE STOP The head of the city’s department of investigations, who recently took control of the agency that polices misconduct in the city’s schools, was himself cited for exceeding his authority with this takeover and for allegedly violating the city’s whistleblower law, which his department is charged with helping to uphold. The New York Times

NEW DUO New York state’s Bard College is teaming up with the KIPP network of charter schools to offer a dual enrollment program to KIPP students in New Orleans. Those who participate will have the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree while still in high school. Education Week

TAKE FIVE Looking for a high-quality pre-K environment? Here are five elements, from room design to how teachers handle toddlers’ strong emotions, that indicate a strong program. The Hechinger Report

OPINION Charter schools were supposed to usher in an era of innovation. Instead, too many charters conform to cookie-cutter models and offer parents little in the way of choice. Bloomberg