departures

New York

Top UFT official to leave for union's Washington, D.C. think tank

United Federation of Teachers Vice President Leo Casey at a public hearing about Opportunity Charter School's charter renewal in November. A top United Federation of Teachers official who has been the union's leading intellectual voice in recent years is heading south. But he won't be going as far as Florida, a common destination for union members who retire. Instead, Leo Casey, the vice president of academic high schools since 2007, said today that is taking a new position this fall as the director of the Albert Shanker Institute in Washington, D.C. The institute is a research arm of the American Federation of Teachers, the national union to which the UFT belongs. In his role at the UFT, Casey has been both an intellectual and a seasoned activist. He has represented the union on various panels, forums, and debates on education policy and blogged prolifically for the union's news and opinion site, Edwize. But he has been just as comfortable protesting at public hearings, where he was known to deliver fiery speeches against school closures, co-locations, and other policies that the union opposed. In moving to the Albert Shanker Institute, a progressive think tank focused on education and labor policies, he will focus on research. Casey, a city teacher for 27 years, said that he hoped his legacy at the UFT would be of pushing against school reform that is driven by non-educators. "I think one of the most important things that has driven my time at the UFT is to provide a voice for classroom teachers and that far too much of education policy making today is in the hands of folks who don't understand what it's like to teach," Casey said. AFT President Randi Weingarten, a close friend and former colleague who helped hire him as a board member on the Shanker Institute, called Casey "an exquisite choice."
New York

City's education data czar leaving for similar post in Baltimore

New York

Amid sweeping changes, state's testing chief resigns suddenly

The State Education Department official who has supervised the state's testing program since 2004 — through skyrocketing scores, a brutal crash, and the dawn of an overhaul — has resigned. David Abrams, the State Education Department's assistant commissioner for standards, assessment, and reporting since 2004, announced his resignation today. His resignation is effective immediately, shocking some people who had expected to participate in meetings with him this week. Abrams's departure comes at a time of robust efforts to overhaul both state tests and how their scores are used — and of robust criticism of those efforts. Most recently, principals across the state have launched a rebellion against the state's plan to use student test scores in teacher evaluations. This week, a plan to lengthen reading tests to four hours was released prematurely, then rescinded the next day amid backlash. The department has yet to find a replacement for Abrams, according to SED spokesman Dennis Tompkins. He said other department officials would fill in for Abrams for now, as would members of a privately funded group that has been advising SED on implementing Race to the Top commitments, which include redesigning student assessments and teacher evaluations. “Obviously [Abrams] will be missed, but we do have a really strong team that can fill in,” Tompkins said. He declined to comment on the reasons for Abrams's departure. Abrams supervised the state's testing program during a period of controversy and change.