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pros and cons of con con
November 6, 2017
What does your ‘Con Con’ vote mean for education? Here’s what you need to know.
Here’s what you need to know about how a constitutional convention could affect New York state education.
Funding the ATR
July 26, 2017
Absent Teacher Reserve cost New York City $151.6 million this past school year, far more than previously estimated
Using the IBO’s estimate, on average each ATR teacher received a total of $116,258 in salary and fringe benefits for the past school year.
July 18, 2016
How to desegregate New York City’s schools. Now.
This racialized concentration of school poverty creates a persistent achievement gap, and it must stop. Now.
July 31, 2014
As the city re-thinks school support, partnerships deserve more scrutiny
Education Leadership Professor David Bloomfield calls for more public accountability for the Partnership Support Organizations that help manage schools.
the new space wars
June 6, 2014
As charter sector continues to swell, a space dilemma grows for de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio is in an increasingly difficult position, given the continued growth of charter schools—which city officials do not control—and new charter school legislation that will make co-locations financially advantageous.
August 29, 2013
Charter school advocates look for an opening on City Council
As charter schools proliferated during the Bloomberg years, local elected City Council officials remained a reliable foe at rallies and protests against the sector's growth. But with at least 20 of the council’s 51 seats sure to turn over at the end of the year, many of the press conference standbys are retiring. The vacancies open the door to a new crop of candidates who have matured politically at a time when charter schools enroll increasing swaths of children — including some of their own. The possibility of a shift on the council has charter advocates opening their checkbooks and making bold predictions. "A largely new City Council won’t be hampered by past fighting and fears over charter schools being experimental," said David Golovner, vice president of policy and advocacy at the New York City Charter School Center.
April 30, 2012
Cuomo names appointees to state education reform commission
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in January that he would convene a commission to set a course for reforming New York's schools, insiders said many members would likely come from out of state. That wasn't true when Cuomo revealed the composition of the commission in Albany today. All but a handful of the 20 commission members are based in New York, and about half are based in New York CIty. But the commission is still a far cry from the last panel Cuomo convened, a "think tank" of educators and advocates who advised the state in its bid to escape some federal accountability measures. Few of its members work in organizations that interact directly with children, even fewer are advocates, and there are no district representatives. There is also no parent advocate on the commission, even it is being asked to devise strategies to increase parent engagement. Instead, commission members are drawn from the highest levels of state government, the state and city university systems, and nonprofit organizations. They include State Education Commissioner John King, Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan, and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. "It's very blue-ribbon," said CUNY education professor David Bloomfield about the panel's composition. "The establishment nature of the commission makes it less likely that they will come up with anti-establishment recommendations." Working under the leadership of chair Richard Parsons, a former head of CitiGroup and Time Warner; and top Cuomo deputies, they will have seven months to make recommendations about how to boost student achievement and make education spending more efficient. Cuomo said today that he wanted the recommendations to form "an action plan" for his administration.
February 10, 2012
Muted response to Regents' call for credit recovery comments
New York State education officials kicked off a statewide information-gathering tour in Brooklyn on Wednesday about a controversial practice: credit recovery. Credit recovery involves a variety of alternative academic programs used in schools to offer students a way to make up credits for incomplete or failed courses. It has been lauded by city officials and principals, who have used it as a way to help both failing students and advanced students earn credits that were otherwise unavailable at schools to them. But critics in New York City have accused Mayor Bloomberg and Department of Education principals of abusing the policy to juke citywide graduation rates, a hallmark accomplishment of his administration. Last year, the city audited about 60 city high schools' data, including how many credits they issued through credit recovery practices, but has not yet released the results. The State Education Department formalized the policy in 2010 with a regulation that allows students to gain credits without meeting "seat time" or attendance requirements in limited circumstances. But Associate Commissioner Ken Slentz said on Wednesday that state officials had grown "concerned" that the policy was "not meeting its original intent." Testimony from two former teachers, and education expert, and anonymous letters from educators read by parent activist Leonie Haimson appeared to confirm Slentz's concerns.
August 3, 2011
Probe underway after staff blows whistle on illicit credit recovery
A Philip Randolph High School is under investigation for credit accumulation fraud. (Credit: NYC DOE school web site) A high school that posted suspicious swings in graduation rates in recent years is under investigation for giving students credits they didn’t earn. Teachers and other staff members at A. Philip Randolph High School said they blew the whistle after seeing administrators abuse a practice that allows students to quickly make up credits in classes that they previously failed. Department of Education officials said the Office of Special Investigations began probing A. Philip Randolph last month after Chancellor Dennis Walcott received several emails earlier this summer alleging illicit use of the practice, known as "credit recovery," to artificially improve the school's graduation numbers. After years of mediocre performance, the school’s graduation rate increased nearly 30 points two years ago and was one of the city’s highest. This year, with less than a week before graduation day, school administrators ordered guidance counselors to enroll all failing seniors into online credit recovery courses so that they could graduate on time, one of the counselors said. She said the courses were crammed into one or two days and often went unsupervised. When she and the school’s programming coordinators protested to administrators, they were rebuffed, the guidance counselor said. “I said to them, ‘That is not right,’” she said. “You’re asking us to do something unethical.”
June 17, 2010
A late-1970s snapshot: The familiar face of a young union activist
L-R: Al Shanker, Paul Bradford, David Bloomfield. Three decades before he became a GothamSchools contributor, education lawyer David Bloomfield was a young…
July 7, 2009
State is asking teachers, principals for credit recovery feedback
New rules for how students who don't complete classes can earn make-up credit are open for public comment. I wrote about the push to regulate so-called "credit recovery" programs, which critics say are less rigorous than regular high school classes, in April: The proposed policy appears for the most part to codify practices that are already taking place in many city schools, said Stephen Phillips, a professor in Brooklyn College’s school of education who worked as a principal and superintendent in the city. The policy shows that [the State Education Department] is “trying to catch up some standards to what was going on” inside schools, he said. SED is now asking teachers, administrators, parents, students and others to fill out a four-question "Make-up Course Credit Survey." Interim Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Santiago Taveras told the City Council's education committee last month that the city does not track schools' use of credit recovery programs.
June 29, 2009
Either a flood of lawsuits is on the way, or none at all
The mayor and chancellor say a post-mayoral control world would be fraught with litigation. But it's not clear who would be filing the lawsuits. Some of the most obvious potential litigants said today that as long as Mayor Bloomberg follows the new law, they want to stay out of court. They say they will trust that Mayor Bloomberg plans to respect the current law's expiration if a new city school board is convened on Wednesday. That board would have only two mayoral appointees. "If the mayor acts in good faith on that measure, at least changing the structure on top, then I think its wrong to foresee any potential litigation," said Udi Ofer, the policy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has been agnostic on the principle of mayoral control. But a DOE official said the city is worried most about litigation coming not from good-government groups but from individual teachers, principals, and vendors with gripes against the system. "Every decision has a winner and a loser, and a loser would argue that the person who made the decision didn't have the authority to do it," the official said. For example, a teacher who was fired could argue that the principal who initiated his termination was not legally appointed, the official suggested.
June 10, 2009
Credit Recovery – Joel Klein’s Race to the Bottom
By failing to set standards or even track the use of credit recovery in New York City schools, Chancellor Joel Klein has provided a convenient back door for students to pass courses and graduate without subject mastery. The State Education Department has now capitulated to this agenda by promulgating a draft policy based on unpublicized negotiations with the city Department of Education. If implemented, the policy would do nothing to stem this tide of empty credits but, rather, encourage credit recovery by officially recognizing and regularizing it but with inadequate controls and monitoring. What is credit recovery? The term is sometimes used technically to denote a formal program, such as summer school, with specified content, attendance, and assessment requirements. But the term is widely applied to any effort to help students pass courses that they would otherwise fail because of incomplete or below-standard work. These students substitute the extra work for regular assessments by writing a paper, taking a test, or providing some other evidence of proficiency in a narrow course topic. Under the new state policy, schools would need only create a committee (which would not include the student's teacher) to approve a student's customized credit recovery plan for a course. The same committee would then review evidence of student proficiency once the plan was completed. The State does not require minimum class attendance or proof that the plan addresses all subject matter deficiencies. If a teacher says a book report suffices to show proficiency, the committee would not need to inquire beyond the teacher's word. No record of how many courses a student passed using CR would be maintained. There would be no monitoring of assignments’ rigor or the frequency of CR’s use by teachers, schools, or the system as a whole. What is the problem, though, with giving students a second chance at passing or completing a course by filling in the gaps?
May 19, 2009
Lawsuit seeks to reverse multiple school zoning decisions
Elected parent leaders in Manhattan are asking the city to reverse multiple school decisions, including ones that the city has used to manage severe overcrowding in many neighborhood schools, because they say they should have been involved in making the decisions. The demand comes in a lawsuit filed yesterday, the second in three months against the Department of Education over its adherence to state law that requires parent groups to be consulted before some decisions are made. Members of the Community Education Council for District 2, which includes the Upper East Side and most of Manhattan below Central Park, say the city violated the law by not consulting them when it made decisions about opening and closing schools and how students were assigned to district schools. With the city teachers union, they filed a lawsuit yesterday over about a dozen cases in recent years where the DOE failed to consult the CEC about major zoning changes (one case dates back to 2001). The suit details the ways council members say the DOE brusquely informed them of its "unilateral" decisions after they had been made. Among them: The parent council learned about the closing of Bayard Rustin High School in Chelsea by looking at the DOE's Web site, parents allege. It learned of the opening of another school via an e-mail from DOE official John White: "Good morning. Please see new addition of Quest to Learn School."
March 23, 2009
Hearings leave lawmakers more turned off to mayoral control
Technology constraints prohibited me from live-blogging Friday's Assembly hearing on mayoral control of the city schools, which (for those not following along) is the policy that in 2002 handed near-total education authority over to the mayor — and which is up for renewal this June. The strong thrust of Friday's hearing, the last of five that have taken Assembly members on a tour through the boroughs, was that lawmakers are not happy with the system they created. Some have become even less happy during the hearings in every borough over the last few months. A few flubbed exchanges with lawmakers have not helped the Bloomberg administration's case. One such embarrassing moment happened one Friday, when officials failed to produce the graduation rate for black males. Here are some of the highlights from Friday: Thirteen Assembly members attended the hearing, one of the largest showings so far, and I didn't hear any of them speak positively about mayoral control. Two members made their dissatisfaction most clear. "I can assure you that my opinion has changed a lot in these hearings," Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell of Manhattan declared, after angrily chastising Department of Education officials during a question-and-answer session. "Talking to my legislative colleagues over the last three months, the question in my mind is no longer if we're going to make any changes to the law. It's going to be what changes are we going to make," declared Mark Weprin of Queens.
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