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March 26, 2015
Evaluation stalemate, looming changes fuel teacher frustration
Another year of uncertainty looms for teachers around their performance evaluations.
January 16, 2014
Manual High School principal departs, replacement to be named
The principal of Manual High School — the once-promising school whose struggles with low performance Chalkbeat Colorado documented last week — left the school abruptly Thursday, telling staff it was at the behest of the district.
March 12, 2013
Political divide still entrenched as PEP shutters more schools
Chancellor Walcott looks on as an I.S. 292 student reads a statement against the city's plan to move the middle grades of the UFT Charter School into her building. (Nell Gluckman) At Monday night's Panel for Educational Policy meeting, there was a single moment of consensus: All of the panel members voted to support the proposed location for Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem. But for the rest of the meeting, as expected, the panel members split along the same lines that have divided them for years, and came to the same conclusions. Mayor Bloomberg's seven appointees backed all of the 52 other proposals to close, open, and move schools, while four members appointed by borough presidents voted against them. The divide held when the panel considered a resolution to support a moratorium on school closures and co-locations. The resolution was brought by panel members appointed by the borough presidents: Patrick Sullivan from Manhattan; Kevin Diamond, representing Brooklyn; Robert Powell of the Bronx; and Dmytro Fedkowskyj of Queens, who called the agenda of proposals “excessive and out of control.”
February 27, 2013
Report: Again, very high-need students at schools up for closure
The Independent Budget Office released a compilation of statistics today about schools facing closure, including their spending distribution and share of high-need students. High schools up for closure this year actually serve fewer students with special needs than they used to, according to a new report by the city's data watchdog group. But because the nine high schools are much smaller than they once were, students with special needs still represent a far higher share of their total enrollment, according to the report released today by the city's Independent Budget Office. All together, the high schools enrolled a third fewer new students last year than in 2006, the IBO found. The report marks the fourth time that the IBO has compiled enrollment, spending, and performance data about schools that the city is trying to close. It also marked the fourth time that the office, which state law charges with scrutinizing Department of Education data, has concluded that schools up for closure have higher-than-average concentrations of high-need students.
February 14, 2013
Closure would be fourth change in 3 years for Bread & Roses HS
Teacher Laura Morel read statements by students to oppose Bread and Roses High School's proposed closure at a public hearing on Wednesday. (Joanna Seow) As the city's first night of school closing hearings began on Wednesday, supporters of Harlem’s Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School were back in a familiar situation. Just one year after trying to convince the Department of Education not to close and reopen the school with a new staff under the “turnaround” model, they were back in the same auditorium, making the same arguments. Bread and Roses – along with other schools set for “turnaround” – eventually won in labor arbitration. But this year, the department proposed that Bread and Roses be phased out. Under the plan, the school would not enroll new students and would decrease in size as students graduate until it closes in 2016. The school received an “F” on its last city report card, with only 41 percent of students graduating in four years compared to a citywide four-year graduation rate of more than 65 percent. About 100 students, teachers and parents protested the phase-out plan in a two-hour hearing Wednesday night in the school auditorium, with many arguing that Bread and Roses was never given the opportunity to follow through or finish an improvement process before starting a new one.
December 4, 2012
Students and staff say, again, that Lehman is on the upswing
As Elaine Gorman, a top official in the Department of Education's Division of Portfolio Planning, looks on, seniors Lindita Nuculli and Samantha Calero talk about Lehman High School's strengths. For the third time in a year, students and teachers at Herbert H. Lehman High School lined up Monday night to tell city officials why the school should remain open. They were there a year ago, when the city first shortlisted the school for possible closure. And they were back there this spring for a spate of meetings and protests over the city's plan to close and reopen the school according to a federally prescribed overhaul process — a process Lehman only narrowly escaped. Yesterday evening, Department of Education officials returned to Lehman to warn that closure is on the horizon again. At an emotional "early engagement" meeting—a meeting between officials, school staff, community members that is the first step in the closure process—current and former teachers and students defended the large, East Bronx school, arguing that the Department of Education's reform policies are to blame for Lehman's decline. Department officials have held early engagement meetings at Lehman twice before, but the school ultimately remained open. In a presentation at the beginning of the meeting, principal Rose Lobianco said the school is already on the slow and steady path to improvement, thanks to the creation of a small learning academy structure that splits students into several "academies," with their own assistant principal leaders, based on academic interest.
February 8, 2012
For second year in a row, a new Moskowitz school is being sued
Sabrina Tan, a lawyer for Advocates for Justice, describes the firm's suit over a new charter school. Backed by a law firm that has battled the Department of Education in court repeatedly over the past year, a group of Cobble Hill parents announced today that they are suing to stop Eva Moskowitz's Brooklyn Success Academy 3 from moving into their neighborhood. Fifteen public school parents signed onto the suit, which Advocates for Justice said it would be filing today. The suit claims the city and Moskowitz circumvented state education laws when they abruptly changed plans for the school late last year. BSA 3 was originally approved for either District 13 or District 14, but the city revised its proposal in late October and announced the school would instead share a building with two high schools and a special needs elementary school in District 15. Opposition to the plan quickly mounted and reached a climax when protesters clashed with Moskowitz at a meeting she hosted for prospective parents in November. The city's Panel for Educational Policy approved the co-location plan two weeks later. It's the second time in as many years that a Success school has been the subject of a lawsuit from the surrounding community. Last April, parents on the Upper West Side filed suit against the city's plan to site a Success school on the Brandeis campus, charging that the network was not serving the needy student population that was written into its charter. The suit was dismissed just weeks before the school was slated to open.
October 8, 2010
Union voices new concerns over city's school closure rules
After successfully suing to stop the city from closing schools last year, the city's teachers union is raising a new set of concerns that could pave the way for another legal battle. At last night's meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, a United Federation of Teachers official outlined a dozen issues the union has with the city's new rules governing the kinds of information released about the schools it wants to close. Last year, the union sued the city for writing barebones education impact statements that didn't include enough data to comply with the state law governing how schools are closed. Now, the city has a new regulation that calls for more information to be released. This school year, education impact statements should include information about how schools will share space if they're located in the same building, as well as how a school's closure or loss of building space will affect special education students and English language learners. But the teachers union wants still more information. In his letter to the Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg, UFT president Michael Mulgrew called for the reports to include data on how class sizes will change and an explanation of what the city did to save the schools before it decided to close them.
August 10, 2009
Bloomberg announces an end to social promotion in grades 4, 6
Mayor Bloomberg called for an end to social promotion for the city's fourth and sixth graders this morning, a change that would expand one of the most hotly debated education policies of his tenure. At a press conference this morning, the mayor and Chancellor Joel Klein called their efforts to end social promotion "a great success," citing rising test scores and the decreasing number of students enrolled in summer school. Ending social promotion means that students who do not meet proficiency standards on state tests are held back until they do. Some of these students attend summer school and are bumped to the next grade in the fall when they pass the exam, while others can have waivers signed that let them out of retention program. Bloomberg said that once the citywide school board is reconstituted, he would ask it to end the policy in grades four and six — the only remaining tested grades in which social promotion is still in practice. In 2004, when several board members told the mayor that they would vote against ending third grade social promotion, he had them removed and replaced overnight with people who supported his policies. The event is commonly known as the "Monday Night Massacre." Standing in the library of the Patrick Henry School (P.S. 171) in East Harlem, Bloomberg said that with the new retention policy, "kids will either learn what they need or teachers will know they haven't learned." Asked about researchers' claims that retention policies can raise the dropout rate, Bloomberg said he was "speechless," adding, "It's pretty hard to argue that it does not work." Klein said that since 2004, when the DOE ended social promotion for third graders, support for its end has been "unanimous." There is significant opposition to the administration's retention policies, said Norm Fruchter, director of the community involvement program of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform.
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