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April 8, 2019
Here’s your first chance to tell New York senators how you feel about the city’s segregated specialized high schools
In what is sure to be a heated debate, parents, students, educators, and activists can weigh in on the specialized high schools at the first of a series of public forums.
hear me out
March 21, 2019
As controversy over the SHSAT heats up, lawmakers call for forums to ‘hear every single voice’
The statistics showed that yet again, a little more than 10 percent of offers to specialized high schools went to black and Hispanic students, with just seven black students receiving offers to the coveted Stuyvesant High School.
March 7, 2019
In New York legislature, little apparent momentum behind bills to eliminate the SHSAT
There appears to be little momentum to ensure the passage of a bill that would get rid of the specialized high school admissions test, or SHSAT, which is the sole criteria for entry into these schools.
December 17, 2018
We talked to longtime city politician John Liu about his priorities for the Senate’s subcommittee for NYC education
Education was already poised to be an area of high interest in Albany this year, with several hot button issues…
July 24, 2013
Bloomberg critics release education roadmap for next mayor
A coalition of education advocates who have opposed Mayor Bloomberg's education policies have released their suggestions for the next mayor. The report, from the A+NYC coalition, offers a preview of priorities that might reign should one of Bloomberg's education critics take his place at City Hall: more arts and physical education, investing in community schools, shifting discipline authority from the New York Police Department officers in schools to the principals, and an overhaul of the city's accountability system for schools to place less emphasis on test scores. But while leading Democratic mayoral candidates, including Christine Quinn, John Liu, Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson, helped launch the week-long bus tour in March that led to the report, this morning, the recommendations received a more tepid response. When this post went to press, Quinn and de Blasio had yet to release statements. Even Thompson, the candidate who has received the endorsement of Bloomberg's largest education critic, the teachers union, didn't send a statement until this afternoon. (The statement did, however, vow to "implement these ideas.") The relatively slow responses might stem from the fact that, with the United Federation of Teachers' endorsement already made, to Thompson, the candidates are focusing less attention on education.
July 22, 2013
Liu eschews own audit to focus on Medicaid reimbursements
Liu at a press conference outside Tweed Courthouse, where he discussed Medicaid reimbursement for special education students. New York City Comptroller John Liu’s audit into the city’s embattled special education data system, released today, hammered home well-established issues, but found few new problems with the three-year-old initiative. Liu, who is running for mayor, instead used the occasion to highlight a challenge not mentioned in the audit — the city's ongoing struggle to get reimbursed for low income students with disabilities who are entitled to federal Medicaid dollars. Over the last two years, the city has collected just 25 percent, or $74 million, of the $284 million amount that the city had hoped to be reimbursed for, Liu said today at a press conference. Liu took the finding from a city budget report published this spring. But he said that responsibility for the losses lies with the city's data system, which his audit criticized. The data system, built to track 190,000 special education students with Individualized Education Plans, makes it "practically impossible" to file for reimbursements, Liu said, a claim that a city spokesman later disputed. Schools began using the Special Education Student Information System (SESIS) in 2011 to keep better track of students with disabilities. School staff working with special education students are required to log information about all stages of their IEPs, including details about initial assessments, meetings with parents, services provided, and changes made to the plan.
July 16, 2013
Liu extends call for discipline changes, starting in middle school
A chart from Comptroller John Liu's new report shows that suspension rates rise sharply in the middle school years. Liu proposes adding guidance counselors and changing the city's discipline code to reduce suspensions. New York City's school discipline practices have given rise to an early-onset "stop-and-frisk atmosphere" that must be changed, according to Comptroller John Liu. In a new report, Liu — who is running for mayor — cites Department of Education suspension and arrest data to argue that the city should add more guidance counselors, eliminate long-term suspensions, and turn over control of school safety from the New York Police Department to principals. He pegs the annual cost of adding 50 percent more middle school guidance counselors at $55 million.
June 25, 2013
John Liu proposes offering preschool to all 3-year-olds in city
This chart in Comptroller John Liu's latest report shows what he says is a $4.6 billion gap between what the city spends on early childhood programs and what it should be spending. Comptroller John Liu's latest plan to prime children to contribute as adults to the city's economy would require the city to double its spending on early childhood education. Liu — who is also running for mayor — argues in a new report that the city should spend $1 billion to create a city preschool program for three-year-olds; $433 million to open more pre-kindergarten seats; and $75 million to expand a program that sends nurses to the homes of low-income new mothers. The $1.5 billion in new early childhood expenditures would match what the city already spends, using city, state, and federal dollars. But it represents only a third of the new funding that Liu estimates would be needed to provide city services to all city children from the time they are born until they enter school.
June 20, 2013
With Regents delays stretching on, city recruits overtime scorers
A teacher took these pictures of a computer screen at a Regents exam scoring site today. One message shows that all of the items that had been scanned had already been scored. The other shows that many answers remain to be graded. The Department of Education originally said scoring would be complete today, but the timeline has been extended. The Department of Education is desperately recruiting teachers to make up for Regents exam scoring time that CTB/McGraw-Hill lost. The department needs thousands of graders to work through tens of thousands of test questions that were supposed to be scored already. The scoring hit snags because of breakdowns in the electronic process that the testing company set up, leaving students without scores as high school graduations begin. "As you know, there have been problems in processing and scanning exam materials for the June Global and US History exams which have resulted in delays grading these exams," reads an email that history teachers received late Wednesday. Later, it notes, "Participation is voluntary, and we encourage you to consider taking part in this activity and help to complete the scoring of these exams in as timely a manner as possible." Several teachers said they and their colleagues were torn about whether to take the overtime offer, which would net them just under $42 an hour on Friday night and over the weekend.
June 13, 2013
City to monitor selective schools' student choices after Liu audit
A chart in the audit released by Comptroller John Liu released today into selective schools' high admissions practices shows that some admit students who do not meet their selection criteria. The Department of Education will increase monitoring of city high schools' admissions practices after an audit by Comptroller John Liu found opportunities for abuse, and possible evidence of it. Every year, eighth-graders in New York City rank up to 12 high schools that they would like to attend. And the city's more than 500 high schools rank the students who apply, in accordance with criteria that the schools themselves set. Then the city runs an algorithm and students are matched with a school. The architect of that algorithm won a Nobel Prize last year for his work. But Liu's office concluded that the department's lack of oversight meant that selective schools are able to accept students who do not meet their admissions criteria while turning away others who do.
June 12, 2013
Liu stands his ground, Weiner impresses in charter-led forum
Former congressman and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner poses with a parent and student from Girls Prep Bronx at a forum led by charter school parents Tuesday night. Many parents gave Weiner a favorable review. Some mayoral candidates who have been critical of charter schools avoided uncomfortable questions by skipping a forum hosted by charter school advocates Tuesday night. But Comptroller John Liu not only showed up but said he would issue a potentially crippling blow to the charter sector if he becomes mayor. Liu said he would charge rent to charter schools that occupy space in city buildings, reversing a Bloomberg administration policy of awarding unused space in school buildings to charter schools that want to operate there. The policy has allowed the city's charter sector to flourish. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former congressman Anthony Weiner — who emerged as the audience's clear favorites — both said they would not consider charging rent, something that some critics of charter schools want the next mayor to do. "The model of charter schools is in part based on not paying rent," Quinn said. "So if you say you're going to pay rent, then you're not going to have charters."
June 3, 2013
Candidates who'd have to execute evaluations walk a fine line
Mayoral candidates face political considerations when commenting on the city's state-imposed teacher evaluation system. Several have reflected concerns that the UFT raised. For mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, sleeping on the city's new teacher and principal evaluation plans was an illuminating experience. Thompson was the first candidate to issue an official response to the educator evaluation plans that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on the city late Saturday. Speaking less than two hours after King released an overview of the plan, Thompson said the plan represented a victory for the teachers union's approach to evaluating teachers. "Let’s remember where this process started: The mayor wanted to be able to fire teachers at will, because he believes you can somehow fire your way to student success. That approach is now off the table for good," he said. “Instead, teachers are going to get the support and professional development they need." But a day later, Thompson's outlook was less sanguine. He issued a second press release on Sunday afternoon highlighting the many pitfalls that the plan faces in getting implemented.
May 16, 2013
Student moderators grill mayoral candidates at Harlem forum
Perhaps the candidates who showed up to Wednesday's mayoral forum in a Harlem school auditorium thought they'd get a break when they saw who was asking the questions: a couple of high school kids. But Michael Cummings and Alize-Jazel Smith, seniors at Democracy Prep Charter High School, turned out to be tough moderators. They shushed Bill Thompson when he spoke out of turn, politely interrupted Comptroller John Liu when his time was up, and pushed candidates to answer the questions they were asked if they had strayed off topic — as one candidate did often. "So, Mr. McMillan, just to be specific," said Cummings, referring to Jimmy McMillan, the perennial also-ran candidate of the Rent Is Too Damn High party. "Do you support or do you not support co-location inside school buildings for public schools and charter schools?"
May 13, 2013
Candidates vie for UFT support, with varying degrees of success
Six mayoral candidates attended the United Federation of Teachers mayoral debate Saturday during the union's spring conference. Left to right: Bill Thompson, Adolfo Carrión, Jr., Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio, Sal Albanese and John Liu. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn fought hard to distance herself from the Bloomberg administration during a mayoral debate hosted by the teachers union on Saturday, but she could not escape being the only candidate to be booed by union members angry at the mayor's education policies. When UFT officials asked the mayoral candidates at the teachers union's spring conference whether they believed the next chancellor needs to be an educator, Quinn's answer stood out from the chorus of "yes" responses. "Not necessarily," she said. It was not a new stance for Quinn, who has said for months that she believes a qualified non-educator could successfully lead the school system. But when she cited as someone who fit the bill U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, whose agenda overlaps with Bloomberg's, she drew loud boos from the crowd. It was a major misstep for Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner, as she worked to hit the right notes during the United Federation of Teachers' mayoral debate, which came a month before the union — one of the city's most powerful political forces — plans to endorse a mayoral candidate for the first time since 2001.
May 8, 2013
Asked to critique the union, mayoral candidates look to the past
PHOTO: Provided by Matt WhooleyMayoral candidates gather in the auditorium of Eagle Academy for Young Men. Mayoral candidates had to dig deep into history to unearth an unpleasant memory about the United Federation of Teachers at a schools forum in the Bronx on Tuesday night. Asked to recall a time when they disagreed with the UFT, Bill Thompson and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn cited the union’s initial opposition to district centralization nearly 20 years ago. Thompson at first praised the UFT's role in the re-centralization, which shifted some hiring responsibilities to the chancellor and required changes to state law. Pressed to name a time that he disagreed with the UFT, Thompson said it was when the union obstructed the same shift. “The resistance, before that, of the UFT to change the system that existed, to changing from decentralization, was a mistake,” he said.
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