Board of Education

budget season

Student & School Performance

Leadership & Management

New York

Fernandez: More city grads lacked basic skills under Bloomberg

Dolores Fernandez, the Bronx's appointee to the re-formed Board of Education, appearing on BronxTalk. Graduates of the city's public high schools are falling so behind in reading and math that a community college remediation program doubled in size between 1998 and 2008, the college's former president said this week. Dolores Fernandez, who resigned from Hostos Community College last year is now serving as the Bronx borough president's appointee to the re-formed Board of Education, made the remarks in an interview on a Bronx television news program, BronxTalk. "I would have loved for the New York City public schools to put my remediation programs out of business, because that would mean that every kid graduating out of the schools could read, write, and do math," Fernandez said. Fernandez said that a hiking up of standards at CUNY's four-year colleges played some part in the growth of Hostos's remediation program. "But then you still have the regular group of kids who just are coming to us in need of a GED diploma, because they haven't graduated from the public schools, and when we get them, we're basically teaching them reading, writing, and math — I mean, basic levels," she said. The gloomy picture challenges Bloomberg's own claims about the public schools, which state figures show now graduate far more students since 2002. But Fernandez said she does not trust these figures as a fair picture of what is really happening, especially for the poor Latino community she served at Hostos Community College. You can watch the interview in the full two parts below. UPDATE: Department of Education spokesman Andrew Jacob points out in the comments section that a growing remediation program does not mean that more city students are struggling. His argument: the size of the program doesn’t tell you anything about the percentage of graduates who required remediation, because the number of public school graduates enrolling at CUNY community colleges has risen dramatically in recent years–70% between 2002 and 2008. Among Hispanic public school graduates, enrollment doubled over that same time period. With this many more students enrolling, of course the remediation program would expand, even if the percentage of graduates needing remediation fell. And, in fact, that percentage has fallen across all CUNY community colleges, from 82 percent in 2002 to 74 percent in 2008. Among all CUNY colleges, the remediation rate for public school graduates has fallen from 58% to 51%.
New York

To serve on new Board of Ed, deputy mayors needed waivers

The mayor's signature from one of the waivers he signed. The newly reconstituted Board of Education is stacked with three deputy mayors — but before the officials could serve on the board, they had to get waivers from Mayor Bloomberg. That's because of a statute in the city charter that prevents people from holding two city jobs without receiving a waiver from the mayor. Bloomberg wrote letters (read them here) authorizing Patricia Harris, his first deputy mayor; Dennis Walcott, his deputy mayor for education; and Ed Skyler, his deputy for operations to serve on the Board of Education on the same day that it met for the first time in seven years. A deputy mayor sat on the school board as recently as the Giuliani administration, when Giuliani appointed a board member, Ninfa Segarra, as his deputy mayor. But it's not clear to me whether three deputy mayors have ever served on the board simultaneously. (Knowledgeable readers?) In each letter, Bloomberg explains he is waiving the prohibition because the deputy mayors won't be compensated for their service on the board. (State law outlines $15,000 salaries for board members and $20,000 salaries for the board president, but all board members right now are waiving the salaries.) Bloomberg appointed two of the deputies to the board, Harris and Skyler. The Queens borough president, Helen Marshall, appointed Walcott, who is now president of the board. In other new-world-order developments, Chancellor Joel Klein is declining to transform a second parent council into a community school board.
New York

Charles Barron: Chancellor Klein is illegally occupying Tweed

everything old is new again

New York

Board of Education meeting today for first time in 7 years

It's all happening: The newly recreated Board of Education is meeting today at noon, inside Tweed Courthouse, the headquarters of the city schools administration. As we reported last night, convening the board is the first step to getting the new, post-mayoral control governance system up and running. The media advisory I received underscores the confusion that is sure to rule today: The event is billed as an emergency meeting of the Board of Education, but the logo in the e-mail is the multi-colored one used by the Department of Education. We know three of the seven people who will be sitting on the board when it meets: We reported yesterday that Dolores Fernandez, a former college president and critic of the mayor's policies, is Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr's pick. Scott Stringer of Manhattan is appointing his counsel, Jimmy Yan, on an interim basis and Brooklyn's Marty Markowitz picked his chief of staff, Carlo Scissura, according to the New York Times. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall is announcing her pick right now and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro will name his nominee at noon. Mayor Bloomberg hasn't yet said who he'll choose to fill the two seats he controls. Update: The DOE just sent out the full line up and there are some interesting choices. First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris (Mayoral appointee) Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler (Mayoral appointee) Dr. Dolores Fernandez (Bronx appointee) Carlo Scissura (Brooklyn appointee) Jimmy Yan (Manhattan appointee) Deputy Borough President Edward Burke (Staten Island appointee) Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott (Queens appointee) Here's the announcement that just came from the communications office at "NYC DOE":
New York

Theoretical Board of Ed that may exist tomorrow gets 1st member

<em>Courtesy of the Bronx borough president's office</em> No one can accuse Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. of being unprepared for the possibility that mayoral control will expire tonight. Diaz just named his potential appointee to the theoretical Board of Education. That person is Dr. Dolores Fernandez, a professor of urban education at CUNY's Graduate Center who retired as president of Hostos Community College in 2008. Fernandez's appointment will become effective at midnight tonight if the 2002 mayoral control law expires and the Senate does not pass a law to replace it. Diaz said in a statement today that he is "a supporter of some form of mayoral control." Asked if Diaz would recommend that his appointee to the board vote to retain Joel Klein as chancellor, John DeSio, a spokesman for the borough president, would not comment yesterday. "He has mixed opinions on the chancellor," DeSio said. Fernandez could not immediately be reached for comment. In a release put out by Diaz's office, she said: "For me, it is an honor to be thought of by Borough President Diaz to represent The Bronx on the Board of Education. I look forward to serving our borough, and its children, in an admirable and professional way." Between 1988 and 1990, Fernandez was deputy chancellor for instruction and development for the Board of Education. She served under chancellor Richard Green, the system's first black chancellor, who died suddenly a year into his tenure of an asthma attack, leaving the school system in disarray. Fernandez has a Master's in Education and a professional diploma in Educational Administration. The full press release follows.
New York

To challenge mayor on schools, Thompson cites Diane Ravitch

Comptroller and mayoral candidate William Thompson Jr. (Via Azi's Flickr.) Comptroller Bill Thompson, who is also a candidate for mayor, ended his appearance on NY1's "Road to City Hall" last night with the clearest preview yet of how he will challenge Mayor Bloomberg on the schools front. He will quote Diane Ravitch. Thompson cited Ravitch, the NYU education historian who has emerged as a prime critic of the mayor's education efforts, after host Dominic Carter painted a picture of how Bloomberg is likely to portray the comptroller in campaign ads. Carter imagined ads that would single out the comptroller's tenure as president of the Board of Education, in a pitch to associate Thompson with the days before mayoral control of the schools, which the mayor has characterized as dismal. Thompson replied by challenging Bloomberg's portrait of the city schools' progress since 2002. He said that the "eminent" Ravitch has shown that test scores went up just as much before Bloomberg took office as they did when Thompson served as Board of Education president. (He served in that role from 1996 to 2001.) A spokesman for Thompson today sent me to this Ravitch quotation as evidence. The key sentence: The gains under Crew and Levy from 1999-2002 were larger on the state tests in both reading and math than under Klein from 2003-2007. I reached Ravitch by telephone today. She told me that she was surprised to hear herself cited by Thompson. (Like me, she happened to be watching NY1 at just the right moment last night — though probably unlike me, in her case the timing of "Gossip Girl" had little to do with that.) "I’m not involved in his campaign or anyone else’s campaign," Ravitch told me. "I don’t do politics. I haven’t been politically active since the Hubert Humphrey campaign in 1968."
New York

3 things we know about Thompson's schools view; more we don't

Comptroller Bill Thompson. (Via ##'s Flickr##.) My former colleague Jacob Gershman is very good at raising subjects everyone is talking about but nobody says in print. He did so with today's piece on Comptroller William Thompson Jr., who is making school issues a big part of his mayoral campaign — without clarifying his positions on some of the main school issues of the day. Gershman argues Thompson possesses a "carefully cultivated irrelevance." But there is stuff we do know about where Thompson stands on education issues, though much of the facts raise more questions than they answer. First, we know that he's said he favors retaining control of the school system if he becomes mayor. It's unclear exactly how much control he'd like to give himself (a big empty space, as we pointed out), but he's said repeatedly that he supports the mayor having primary authority. "I may be in a shrinking group of those who support it," he told a committee in testimony that was supposed to be off the record but which I obtained when I was at the New York Sun. We also know the two main points of attack Thompson has selected for criticizing Bloomberg's school efforts: He criticizes the mayor on transparency, which he says is so poor that even his office struggles to understand the school system's finances, and parental involvement. Both of these are safe issues; they're exactly the points conceded by one of the most prominent mayoral allies on schools, Geoffrey Canada, and they avoid the nastier battlegrounds of school closings, accountability, and charter schools.
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