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annals of transparency
annals of transparency
June 17, 2015
De Blasio signs law requiring new school diversity reports
The School Diversity Accountability Act will require the city to account for any steps it takes to advance diversity in schools and programs citywide.
annals of transparency
October 22, 2014
City Council members to push city to release more special-ed stats
City Council members want the Department of Education to offer more information about what students are receiving the special-education services they require.
July 2, 2010
New database puts education spending at your fingertips
Source: ##http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/mymoneynyc/checkbooknyc/##Checkbook NYC## The Department of Education has spent more money this calendar year than any other city agency, racking up enough expenses to account for about a quarter of total city dollars. That's one nugget from of a host of financial information now available through a database Comptroller John Liu's office launched yesterday that gives real-time updates to city expenses. The database, called "Checkbook NYC," currently reports around $40 billion in spending across city agencies since January 1. During that time, the Department of Education spent more than $10 billion. The site lists each city agency's total spending, then breaks down that total into categories of spending. For the DOE, those categories include central administration spending, general and special education instruction and school leadership, school food and student transportation. From there, users can click through and see each how much the department spent on individual transactions with vendors.
January 20, 2010
New York won't publish its Race to the Top application
New Yorkers who want to see details of the state's Race to the Top plan that officials hope will win them a $700 million grant will have to wait for three more months. Half of the states that submitted applications yesterday have posted their applications online, but New York State isn't among them. That's because the state plans to keep the application's contents under wraps until the federal government announces the competition's first round of winners and losers in April. "If New York does not win a Phase 1 award, we will in all likelihood apply in Phase 2. Therefore, the release of New York's application at this time could compromise the State's ability to compete in the next round," said Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the State Education Department. But a U.S. Department of Education spokesman, Justin Hamilton, said the department plans to post all of the first-round applications in April, whether or not they're successful. That's two months before the competition's second-round deadline in June.
January 23, 2009
Against rules, some schools plan to lay low and screen students
Here's another set of folks not being swept along by the rising tide of transparency: Schools that want to admit children according to their own preferences, not the Department of Education's rules. DOE policy prohibits elementary schools from giving preference in kindergarten admissions to children attending the schools' own pre-K programs. But some schools are hoping to escape having to follow the rules simply by not being forthcoming about how they admit their students, according to a report posted today on the Times' City Room blog. Elissa Gootman writes: But one official at a popular elementary school that picks students by lottery said the school intended to give priority to this year’s prekindergartners anyway, insisting that the school not be named so it might “fly under the radar” and avoid City Hall’s attention. I'm also hearing that some non-lottery schools are considering quietly exploiting a loophole in new DOE rules about kindergarten admissions as they register next fall's kindergarten classes.
January 6, 2009
New database reveals that DOE employs the city's top earner
It's now possible to find out in just a couple of clicks how much any city Department of Education employee is paid, from the chancellor ($250,000 a year) to hourly school aides ($7.15 an hour, the minimum wage). The Empire Center for New York State Policy, a project of the Manhattan Institute, today added New York City workers to its searchable database of state employees on SeeThroughNY.net, a site that aims to expose how state tax dollars are spent. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is the highest-paid city employee, taking home a quarter of a million dollars every year. Other top earners, with salaries of $196,575, include Jim Liebman, who heads the DOE's accountability office; Eric Nadelstern, who runs the empowerment schools network; and Christopher Cerf, the chancellor's deputy in charge of organization. Marcia Lyles, the top-ranking educator in the department, takes home $203,000. According to a summary provided by the Empire Center, more than 11 percent of full-time teachers draw salaries over $100,000. The database can't be used to find some information advocates have sought about DOE spending, such as how much each department of the central administration is allocated or how many people work in each department.
January 6, 2009
Last year, fewer reports about wrongdoing by DOE employees
The city office that investigates the Department of Education today released a statistical summary of its last year's work, showing that it completed more investigations in 2008 than in any other recent year. According to the report (pdf), the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation substantiated 327 cases out of 725 started, reflecting a slight uptick in both the number of cases opened and the number of complaints substantiated. But the office issued only 17 press releases about its investigations.
December 8, 2008
An open government gap that is deeper than the Cerf report
The report that surfaced on Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf last week, coming to public light months after it was written, is one of hundreds that investigators who study the Department of Education did not publicly release in 2007. The office that generates the reports — overseen by Richard Condon, an attorney who serves as the special commissioner of investigations for the city schools — last year investigated hundreds of alleged violations of law and department regulations, from accusations of sexual misconduct to concerns about fraud and embezzlement to allegations of cheating on tests. More than 300 of these cases were substantiated, according to SCI's year-end statistical report (PDF). But the office only put out 26 press releases highlighting its investigations, a ratio of about 8%. The pattern was similar in 2006 and 2005:
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