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November 14, 2018
A quietly edited report and dueling blog posts reveal a divide over the ‘portfolio model’
A report on school choice released last month offered this in a list of strategies for improving schools: “a portfolio approach.” Today, that reference is gone.
September 26, 2018
17 schools in Tennessee’s turnaround district remain priority schools 6 years after first takeovers
Four of the six original Memphis schools that were taken over by the state in 2012 are on the newest priority list released last week. And dozens of schools that were added to the district later also remain on the list.
February 11, 2015
Diane Ravitch takes aim at Ritz detractors on Indiana show
Diane Ravitch, a national critic of testing and accountability-based school reform, took aim at opponents of state Superintendent Glenda Ritz on a lndiana-based Internet radio talk show tonight.
February 3, 2015
Opt-out advocates get attention from city’s most powerful couple
Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, were among about 100 people to attend an hour-long panel discussion focused on opting out of state standardized testing Monday night.
June 25, 2014
Indiana superintendent hoping film will launch an education movement
Now that the documentary has already had premieres in Lafayette and Indianapolis, the West Lafayette team behind "Rise Above the Mark" believes they only have a small window of opportunity to make a big impact with the film. Will the film make an impact the team deems as worth their investment of close to $75,000, or will it simply cause more polarization in an already politically charged landscape?
March 1, 2014
Ravitch tangles with school reformers on Butler panel
A lively, and sometimes pointed, debate about how best to improve schools followed the premiere of a documentary developed by the West Lafayette Schools Education Foundation tonight at Butler University. Headlining the five-person panel was Diane Ravitch, the historian and one-time school reform advocate turned national spokesman against testing, school choice, test-based teacher evaluation and other proposals she says aim to privatize public schools.
December 12, 2013
Chancellor candidate Fariña praises Ravitch, but keeps distance
They might have come for Diane Ravitch, but many who ventured to Red Hook’s P.S. 15 found another education celebrity in the school’s new library on Wednesday night: Carmen Fariña. Fariña, who said she assumed she was on Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's shortlist for chancellor, demurred when asked where the selection process stood. "I don't know who the other people are on the shortlist," she said. "We'll see," she repeated to the well-wishers who sought her out. And there were many of them, given the significant ideological overlap between Fariña and Ravitch and the fact that Fariña seemed to know just about everyone at P.S. 15. That's because the retired deputy schools chancellor is a close neighbor, a Red Hook native, and the chair of Friends of P.S. 15 committee, who uses her thick Rolodex to drum up donations and support for the school. (There's even a Carmen's Corner in the library, created from donations in honor of Fariña's recent 70th birthday.)
August 26, 2013
Diane Ravitch backs Bill de Blasio
The de Blasio campaign sends out emails about the mayoral candidate’s latest endorsements several times a day. Just in: education historian and policy doyenne Diane…
May 3, 2013
At parent forum, mayoral hopefuls vow to stop grading schools
Four of the city's mayoral candidates appeared Thursday evening at a parent-focused forum at P.S. 29 in Brooklyn, which was moderated by Diane Ravitch, a critic of the Bloomberg administration's education policies. City schools' annual letter grades would become a thing of the past if any of the mayoral candidates who attended a parent-oriented forum in Brooklyn Thursday evening takes over City Hall next year. Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, and Bill Thompson each vowed to stop issuing the grades, which the Bloomberg administration has issued since 2007. The city has used the grades — which are almost entirely based on student test scores for elementary and middle schools — to pick which schools to close and which principals to reward. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and all of the non-Democratic candidates in the race skipped the forum, which was organized by a parent group that formed to oppose high-stakes testing and co-sponsored by the teachers union-aligned Alliance for Quality Education. The school grading issue was one on which the candidates had not clearly staked out positions before moderator — and outspoken critic of the Bloomberg administration — Diane Ravitch asked them about it. But their unanimity reflected the tenor of the evening, in which the four men clamored to demonstrate their alignment with the parents who organized the event and against Mayor Bloomberg's school policies.
October 15, 2012
Six months to Common Core-aligned tests, details start to flow
For multiple reasons, passages similar to "The Hare and the Pineapple," which netted the state criticism last year, will not appear on this year's state tests. Next year's state tests will be shorter, quieter, and potentially more offensive, state education officials said today. The state math and reading tests that students in elementary and middle school take this spring — just over six months from now — will be the first that are aligned to new curriculum standards known as the Common Core. City and state officials have both warned that the tests will be tougher than what students have been used to, and in dribs and drabs they have released examples of Common Core-aligned test questions. State officials outlined more nuts-and-bolts changes in a briefing with reporters today. They said that even though questions will more often test multiple skills, the overall length of the exams will not increase. For the youngest test-takers, students in third and fourth grade, the tests will actually decrease in duration, they said. Last year's tests were longer than ever before, with students in all grades sitting for around six hours of testing over six days. For third-graders, last year's tests were more than twice as long as in 2011. In another shift, the state will make it clear to schools that it's okay for students to read quietly after they turn in their tests. At some schools, students have in the past been required to stay at their seats without anything to do until the maximum testing period elapsed, an arrangement that one anti-testing activist told the New York Times left her son playing "ballgames in his head."
July 13, 2012
State test score data set to be released early next week
Students had to wait until August to hear how they did on last year's state tests after the release date got postponed by nearly two weeks. The wait won't be nearly as long this year. A spokesman for the New York State Education Department confirmed this morning that the test score announcement is scheduled to be made on Tuesday, July 17, barring there are no technical difficulties like the ones that delayed last year's release. The release is also earlier in the summer because students took the grades 3 through 8 tests two weeks earlier than normal (and immediately after students returned from spring break). The advanced timing was planned in order to put new teacher evaluation requirements in place. Twenty percent of a teacher's rating on the evaluations will be based on scores from the state tests. The annual announcement is a highly-anticipated event that education officials typically use to mark their progress. Prior to 2010, it had become easy to predict that the event would be an occasion for education officials to point to gains.
June 29, 2012
Schools without Regents exams cite success amid shifting tides
City high schools that don't require students to take Regents exams beat city averages on most metrics, even though they serve high-need students at the same rate as other schools, according to a new report. The report, released this week, was produced by a group of the schools, the New York Performance Standards Consortium. But it examines independent data about student performance and persistence in college to find that students in consortium schools graduate at higher rates and are more likely to attend and remain enrolled in college. And it comes as Department of Education officials are increasingly touting the consortium's approach to assessment. The graduation rates are especially high for students with disabilities and English language learners. Nearly 70 percent of ELLs in consortium schools graduate on time, according to the report, compared to about 40 percent across the city. And half of students with disabilities in the consortium schools graduate on time, compared with fewer than a quarter citywide. "What's in [the report] is dynamite," said Michelle Fine, a professor of urban education at City University of New York's Graduate Center. Fine was speaking at a press conference hosted by the New York Civil Liberties Union on alternatives to high-stakes testing earlier this week to announce that more than 1,100 academics had signed a letter opposing states' increasingly reliance on test scores.
June 14, 2012
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."
April 30, 2012
Facing outcry from educators, Kenneth Cole to remove billboard
The Kenneth Cole billboard is visible from the West Side Highway, near 125th Street. Hundreds of angry educators from across the country seem to have taught the clothing retailer Kenneth Cole a lesson about diction—and union politics. Late last week we broke the news about a company billboard that invoked a loaded education policy issue using a slogan many teachers viewed as an attack on their profession. This weekend teachers and advocates responded, in a flurry of posts on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, and a petition 600 signatures strong, calling for a boycott of Cole's clothing company. Even national union leader Randi Weingarten waded into the fray with Twitter posts criticizing the company, which is headed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's brother-in-law. The company has now responded. This afternoon, Kenneth Cole Productions used Twitter to send a public message to the creator of the petition, a D.C. teacher-turned-activist, Sabrina Stevens Shupe, that it plans to remove the billboard. "We misrepresented the issue - one too complex for a billboard - and are taking it down," the company posted from its Twitter account, @KennethCole. This weekend, the company posted a different Twitter message clarifying that the ad campaign's "Intent is to stimulate debate, not pit teachers against students." The message now appears to have been deleted. The company has not responded to a request for comment today.
February 1, 2012
Diane Ravitch exhorts city principals to join evaluations protest
Principals union president Ernest Logan with Diane Ravitch after Ravitch's speech to union members on Tuesday City principals should overcome their fear and join with more than a thousand of their colleagues from across the state who oppose New York's teacher evaluation rules, Diane Ravitch urged during a speech to the principals union Tuesday. A group of Long Island principals launched a petition in November arguing that the state’s evaluation regulations — which require a portion of teachers’ ratings to be based on their students’ test scores — are unsupported by research, prone to errors, and too expensive at a time of budget cuts. The petition has attracted nearly 1,300 principals from across the state, but relatively few — just over 100 — work in New York City, in a trend that has persisted since the petition's earliest days. Sean Feeney, a Nassau County principal who drafted the petition, said in November that city principals seemed to be more afraid of jeopardizing their jobs by speaking out. Ravitch, a frequent and outspoken critic of the Bloomberg administration's education policies, took aim at those concerns during the kickoff event in the union's 50th anniversary celebration. She concluded her speech by exhorting city principals to sign on to the evaluations petition. "There is strength in numbers," she said to the roughly 150 current and retired principals in the audience. "The DOE can't fire you all."
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