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New York

Debate continues about how to offer services to needy students

New York

What Pedro Noguera told Joel Klein — and what Joel Klein heard

Pedro Noguera and Joel Klein appeared at a panel together last month about the achievement gap, sponsored by Channel 13. (GothamSchools) Pedro Noguera, the NYU professor and all-around authority on urban schools, had lunch with Chancellor Joel Klein the other day. The two aren't natural candidates for a lunch date: Noguera is a co-founder of the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, a national effort to rival Klein's Education Equality Project. But they had recently spoken on a panel together and found that they agreed about a lot. So they decided to have lunch. There, Noguera urged Klein to visit an elementary school in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, PS 28, which Noguera said epitomized his thoughts on what makes a strong urban school. Noguera said that its extended school day (some children stay until 5:45 p.m.), social services, professional development for teachers, and focus on emotional as well as academic growth have helped it become an impressive school, despite being challenged by serving a large number of homeless students. Klein visited the school "the very next day," Noguera told me in a telephone interview. It made an impression on him, too, and soon he wrote a memo to all principals in the city urging them to visit PS 28 (The memo was included in the April 7 Principals' Weekly newsletter, and is reproduced below.) But Noguera told me on the telephone that he was struck by what Klein's memo emphasized about the school — and what it did not say. Namely, Klein talked about the importance of a strong principal and of analyzing students' test scores, but not about addressing children's non-academic needs, the focus of the other programs Noguera admired.
New York

Chicago's Arne Duncan: Education's one-man team of rivals?

New York

New coalition lobbies for schools as community centers

When Randi Weingarten was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country's largest teachers union, back in July, she proposed creating "school-based community centers" to serve needy students and their families. Now, she's behind a coalition to promote her vision. The Community Agenda for America's Public Schools calls for strong partnerships between schools and communities as a strategy to "close the opportunity gap" by increasing the quality and diversity of services that schools offer. Backers say their goal is to outline an agenda that is politically and practically feasible, rather than purely ideologically driven, in contrast with two other coalitions currently dominating debate in education circles: the "no excuses," accountability-based Education Equality Project and the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, which holds that schools alone cannot close the achievement gap. The group seeks a broad range of outcomes for children, from academic success to physical and emotional health, arguing: Every institution that influences positive outcomes for children and youth must be part of the agenda — schools, families, government, youth development organizations, health, mental health and family support agencies, higher education and faith-based institutions, community organizing and community development groups, unions, and business. Weingarten joined a handful of other education leaders in Washington, D.C., this morning for the campaign's inaugural press conference. The Community Agenda has already been endorsed by dozens of national education and community organizations, as well as by a number of local school districts, including those in Baltimore, Chicago, and Portland, Ore. The New York City Schools are not on the list of endorsers. The Community Agenda for America's Public Schools is administered by the Coalition for Community Schools. A full list of the agenda's policy recommendations is after the jump.