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April 24, 2014
How Lucy Calkins, literacy guru and Fariña ally, is fighting to define Common Core teaching
Lucy Calkins, an influential Teachers College professor, has criticized some of the authors of the Common Core for influencing how the standards play out in classrooms. Now Calkins' own influence could expand as her longtime friend, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, oversees the way New York City teachers put the standards into practice.
March 5, 2014
SAT is getting Common Core-ified under Coleman
The architect of the Common Core standards is reengineering another mainstay of American education — the SAT exam — to reflect the same emphasis on…
January 31, 2014
Calkins, Fariña mentor, warns of Common Core “interpretations”
Calkins, a pioneer of the “balanced literacy” approach to reading and writing instruction, made the comment during a talk Thursday evening at Teachers College, where…
October 28, 2013
College Board ends school-support program amid shifting goals
The College Board's website still features the College Board Schools program, which ended after the last school year amid the group's evolving priorities. About a dozen city schools lost support and funding due to the shift. At the Preparatory Academy for Writers in Queens, being a College Board School meant tablet computers for students and weekend visits to Boston’s elite universities. For Palisade Preparatory School in Yonkers, just north of New York City, a partnership with the maker of the SATs and the Advanced Placement program meant top-notch teacher training and a chance to collaborate with educators from the city — not to mention the iPads and college visits. And at South Bronx Preparatory, the fact that a national organization had helped found their small school sparked pride in their alma mater. “When kids say, ‘a College Board School,’ they feel something,” said South Bronx Prep Principal Ellen Flanagan. Then, in June, the nearly decade-old College Board Schools program was quietly canceled. The schools lost the support and funding that they had been getting, in some cases since 2004. “I feel like we’ve been thrown away and abandoned,” said Cynthia Schneider, principal of a former College Board School in Queens, World Journalism Preparatory.
July 15, 2013
Reading Closely For Connection In The Common Core
The Common Core’s reverence for the text as “the master class,” as chief creator David Coleman said in a 2011 speech, means that students’ personal interpretations are deemphasized — and even denounced. That particular pendulum swing has me concerned because, in my experience, students must also bring their own perspectives and experiences to the text if they are to read critically.
May 10, 2013
Alone among policy heavyweights, Vallas conveys reform fears
On a night when education leaders offered a spirited defense of the policies they are trying to implement, an unusual voice emerged as the dissenter: Paul Vallas. The Bridgeport, Conn. superintendent — who has served stints in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans and earned a reputation as a turnaround consultant for struggling districts with big budget gaps — said reforms he backed were at risk of collapsing “under the weight of how complicated we’re making it.” “We’re working on the evaluation system right now," Vallas said of Bridgeport. "And I’ll tell you, it is a nightmare.” The peripatetic schools chief's self-proclaimed "Nixon goes to China" moment came during the high-profile panel at the launch of the CUNY Institute for Education Policy, a think tank that former New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner is directing.
January 25, 2012
Event unites charter, district teachers under instructional focus
Courtesy: KIPP A few months ago, teachers from KIPP charter schools approached the network's co-founder Dave Levin to say that they were restless with the training they were getting. Despite weekly observations and extensive support, the teachers wanted to talk to educators from outside the KIPP organization to find out what they considered best practices for classroom teaching. Levin took that idea and developed it into the "What's Works in Urban Schools," a conference that took place Saturday at New York University. The purpose of the event, Levin said, was to forge better working relationships between district and charter school teachers. "Too often the broader structural debate has nothing to do with the great things that are happening in classrooms across New York City," Levin said. "Whether you teach in a charter school or a district school, good teachers have the same goals." On Saturday, hundreds of teachers braved inclement weather, an early morning wake-up, and a $35 entry fee to attend the event, which was sponsored by KIPP, Google, TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project), Teaching Matters, and Scholastic.
October 25, 2011
Underneath the shouting, a hum about curriculum standards
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott wasn't completely wrong when he said tonight's Panel for Educational Policy meeting had met its goal of promoting conversation about curriculum standards. The meeting was pushed off course within minutes when protesters aligned with the Occupy movement shouted down Walcott and the standards' architect, David Coleman. Walcott sped the dissolution into small-group sessions rather than try to talk over the nearly 200 protesters. Most protesters stayed in the auditorium, but about three dozen parents and teachers followed Walcott and Coleman upstairs for workshops about the new standards, known as the Common Core. Speaking to close to 20 attendees in a third-floor classroom, Coleman explained that the Common Core, which has been adopted by 25 states since 2009, is meant to "make our kids competitive within this country and outside of it, and to close the gap between high school and college." The development of the standards, he said, "was a vast process where thousands of teachers and parents were involved around a shared question of what is the evidence for college and career readiness, and based on that, what are the standards that most determine that." Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, whose two children attend Manhattan's P.S. 199, said she came to the event because she wanted to learn more about how the Common Core would affect her children and was blindsided by the protest.
October 25, 2011
Protest derails DOE meeting on curriculum after just minutes
The possibility of a public comment session evaporated just moments into tonight's Panel for Educational Policy meeting, after nearly 200 protesters drowned out Department of Education officials. The panel had convened for a special meeting about the city's new curriculum standards. But as Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and the standards' architect, David Coleman, took the stage at Seward Park High School, protesters aligned with the Occupy movement launched a chorus of complaints via "the people's mic."
October 25, 2011
Discussion of Common Core to compete with human mic tonight
"The people's mic" could drown out discussion of curriculum standards at tonight's unusual Panel for Educational Policy meeting. The Department of Education has convened an off-schedule and highly irregular PEP meeting just to discuss new curriculum standards that are being rolled out this year. At most PEP meetings, panel members listen patiently, but mostly silently, to members of the public before signing off on the city's education policy proposals. Tonight, the panel won't be voting on anything. Instead, they'll listen to presentations by the architect of the Common Core standards, David Coleman, and his chief champion at the DOE, Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky. They'll also sit in on workshops where meeting attendees will practice the same skills city students are being asked to bolster this year. And they will answer questions from the public for 25 minutes. The city is requiring attendees to submit questions on index cards, and officials say the questions that get read aloud will likely be limited to ones that relate to curriculum. That won't stop some attendees who have been planning since last week to apply the tools of the Occupy Wall Street movement at the PEP meeting. Activists in the "Occupy Public Education" outgrowth plan to bring "the people's mic" to the meeting, which obviates an actual microphone because humans, rather than electronics, amplify what is said.
June 15, 2011
Momentum growing for new 'core' standards and their architect
David Coleman presenting to principals. View his talk here. A couple of weekends ago, with temperatures climbing toward 90 degrees, 1,400 school administrators stuffed into a non-air conditioned high school auditorium and listened to education officials talk policy. "Energetic" isn’t the first thing that springs to mind from that scene, but that’s just how Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and other attending principals characterized it yesterday. “The energy in that room was off the chart. Truly off the chart,” Walcott said on NY1 last night. He and principals had described the event in similar terms at a press conference earlier in the day. So what exactly went on inside Brooklyn Technical High School during the June 4 conference for principals? Besides a virtuoso performance by an all-freshman string quartet to welcome the audience, much of the excitement surrounded a presentation by David Coleman, a charismatic and self-effacing speaker who helped write the new academic standards being rolled out by the Department of Education.
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