john liu

New York

Mayoral hopefuls split on taking donations from StudentsFirstNY

New York

Mayoral candidates unite to target Bloomberg's school policies

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a 2013 mayoral candidate, talks about school closures at a press conference outside City Hall. A press conference about the city's school closure policy looked a lot like a campaign stop for four men eyeing 2013 mayoral runs. Four leading mayoral candidates — Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, and former comptroller and 2009 mayoral runner-up Bill Thompson — spoke at the event on the steps of City Hall. The press conference was organized by the Coalition for Educational Justice, a nonprofit that has spearheaded protests against many of the 25 closures proposed this year. Flanked by advocates and parents, the men echoed concerns outlined in a report CEJ released last week about the inclusion of students with special needs in new small schools. (That report responded to a report by an independent research firm that found the schools had increased students' chances of graduating.) The candidates all said the Bloomberg administration had been too quick to close schools without trying other interventions and had "warehoused" high-needs students in schools that are now facing closure. They also demanded that the city release details about what happened to students who had not yet graduated when their schools closed — information that is required by law to come out tomorrow. But they stopped short of explaining how they would do things differently if they became mayor and gained control of the schools. The closest anyone got was Stringer, who took aim at an Achilles' Heel for Bloomberg: the way the Department of Education engages parents and communities.
New York

City plan to shrink Wadleigh draws vocal and official opposition

Ninth-grader Geronimo Miranda joins sixth-graders Ariyelle Ceasar, Tiane Jackson, Cheyanne Young and Nia Manerville in describing Wadleigh Middle School's positive qualities at a school truncation hearing Jan. 26. A who's who of elected officials and Harlem leaders turned out Thursday to defend the Wadleigh Secondary School of Performing Arts against the Department of Education's plan to close its middle school. About 200 parents, students, activists, and staff packed the school's auditorium Thursday evening for a public hearing on the proposal. Just before, officials who included City Councilman Robert Jackson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Sen. Bill Perkins, and Comptroller John Liu all held court in the packed lobby of the Harlem campus. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and the city's NAACP chief, Hazel Dukes, also spoke at the hearing. They said the city was giving up on a neighborhood institution by moving to close Wadleigh's middle school. Jackson promised to call Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott today to air his opposition to the plan. Wadleigh's 440-student high school would remain open under the plan, as would another middle school in the building, Frederick Douglass Academy II, which narrowly escaped closure this year after earning an even lower progress report score than Wadleigh's middle school. A charter school, Harlem Success Academy I, is set to move its middle school grades into the building, according to a plan the city set last year.
New York

Liu: City hasn't gotten sufficient bang from ARIS's $83m buck

Graph of principals' self-reported satisfaction with ARIS over time, from an audit of by Comptroller John Liu. The Department of Education hasn't gotten adequate bang for its buck from more than $80 million spent on ARIS, its data warehouse, concluded an audit released by Comptroller John Liu today. Liu offered a solid clue to the audit's conclusions last week, when he lambasted the city's $10-million move to formally reassign its ARIS contract to Wireless Generation, which has managed the system for years. The audit began in March 2011, shortly after Liu held a series of town hall meetings to solicit public input about what he should investigate. The data warehouse, launched in 2008 by IBM, has attracted no shortage of critics because of its steep price tag and early glitches. Examining usage data, principals' responses to a satisfaction survey the city administers, and the results of a survey that it distributed to educators in June, Liu's office concluded principals' satisfaction with ARIS has fallen, that many schools substitute other data programs in whole or in part, and that use among school staff has leveled off since the system's first year, although use by department officials who work with schools has risen. What's more, the audit concludes, the city can't show that ARIS is leading to higher student performance — something that former chancellor Joel Klein signaled would be a result when he rolled out the system in 2008. "This costly tech program was much-touted by the DOE to help principals and teachers track progress and thereby improve student learning, even as long-time educators questioned its cost and effectiveness," Liu said in a statement today. "$83 million later, there is little discernible improvement in learning and many principals and teachers have given up on the system." DOE officials disputed the audit's methodology, conclusions, and very premise.
New York

In audit, Liu and DOE spar over pre-K funds the city doesn't use

New York

Comptroller: Most schools not meeting P.E. time requirements

New York

Auditing DOE's space planning data, comptroller finds glitches

The Department of Education's annual assessments of how much space is available in each school building are not always correct. That's according to an audit being released today by Comptroller John Liu, who is in the midst of scrutinizing DOE data in a series of reports. Liu, who is weighing a 2013 mayoral run, launched the audits this spring after holding town hall meetings in which New Yorkers suggested topics for investigation. Last week, he critiqued the DOE's handling of the Absent Teacher Reserve, and he has at least three other schools audits in the works. The newest audit examines the city's "Blue Book," which contains space estimates for each school building. The DOE and the School Construction Authority use the Blue Book to guide how many students can be placed in a school, and how many schools can fit into a building. Critics, including members of the City Council, say Blue Book numbers don't always reflect reality — for example, suggesting that an additional class could fit into an art room — and that decisions based on them can leave schools crunched for space. To evaluate the city's success at ensuring accurate Blue Book data, Liu's office analyzed entries for 23 schools and found that space assessments for 10 percent of all rooms were incorrect in a way that affected the school's overall capacity. "Proper space is essential for fostering a good learning environment, yet all too often the DOE is basing critical building decisions on its unreliable Blue Book, which bears too much resemblance to a house of cards," Liu said in a statement.
New York

Thousands march from City Hall to Wall Street to oppose layoffs