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July 16, 2014
Former top DOE official tests out experimental principal-training program
A new principal-training program designed by a former top Department of Education official replaces lectures and research papers with role playing and projects.
November 15, 2012
In a change, city is steering aspiring principals off the fast track
Realizing that its strategies for stocking the city's ever-expanding supply of schools with excellent principals have fallen short, the Department of Education is launching new programs aimed at slowing down the transition from teacher to administrator. The largest of the new initiatives is the Teacher Leadership Program, aimed at developing leadership skills in hundreds of teachers who are still working in the classroom. Other initiatives are meant to prepare leaders to handle the special challenges of running middle schools and to capitalize on the leadership skills of principals who are already in the system. And a foundation that helped the city underwrite a fast-track principal training program is now paying for educators to earn degrees in school administration at local universities. "Most of our principal training work that we've done historically is focused on that last year before you become a principal," Chief Academic Office Shael Polakow-Suransky said. "It's the last step in the process, and what we've come to understand is that there [are] a lot of steps that happen before that in someone's career. ... We want to begin to do that kind of training." The new programs represent a strong shift away from the Bloomberg administration's early approach to cultivating school leadership at a time when the city is losing about 150 principals a year, even as it has ramped up new school creation. Together with existing programs, they are set to produce 134 new principals and engage 300 teachers this year, according to the department.
December 9, 2011
The principal of a school newly slated for closure speaks out
Margaret McAuley, principal at Chappie D. James Elementary School of Science, questions the extent of support provided by the Department of Education to her struggling school. Just hours after learning that Chappie D. James Elementary School of Science would be phased out, Principal Margaret McAuley publicly registered her concerns about the process that had brought the school to the point of closure. McAuley testified Thursday evening at a meeting of the Citywide Council on Special Education, an elected parent group, which had been set aside to discuss closures well before the city announced yesterday that it would shutter 12 schools. After the Department of Education's director of engagement strategy, Meg Barboza, narrated a PowerPoint presentation about the city's closure strategy, fielding challenges from council members along the way, McAuley took the microphone. As music from a principals union event wafted into the second-floor meeting room at Brooklyn Borough Hall, McAuley described her efforts to serve students at her Brownsville school, which she started in 2008 after a previous school in the building had been closed because of poor performance. She said she had chased down resources and partnerships, sought out extra training for teachers, brought in computers and programming for parents, and put new expectations in place for students. McAuley said she wasn't surprised by the school's first progress report grade last year, a D — scores remained very low. But she said they were improving, slowly but surely and unfortunately not in a way that this year's report card grade, an F, could capture. Most of all, she said, she hadn't been informed that her school's performance wasn't up to par until October, when the city added it to the shortlist of potential closures.
June 23, 2010
Dozens of city groups applied for federal innovation funding
The city's Department of Education, Teach for America and several city charter school management companies are angling for federal money designed to encourage cutting-edge educational strategies. They're among 145 New York State-based entities that applied for grants under a new federal program known as the Investing in Innovation Fund, or "i3." Details about the 1,698 applications submitted last month went online yesterday. Here's a snapshot of some of the ways local groups are hoping to cash in: The city is asking for $40 million to open 150 new small middle and high schools in the next five years. The city also asked for $5 million to grow the School of One technology program and $4.5 million to boost the arts in special education schools. Other groups angling to open new schools include Eva Moskowitz's Harlem Success charter network, which is seeking $25 million to open 13 in the next five years, and New Visions for Public Schools, which wants $26 million to create charter schools that serve 10,000 city students.
September 23, 2009
City urged superintendents to favor Leadership Academy principals
The city Department of Education has often praised the principal-training program it helped incubate, the nonprofit Leadership Academy, despite veteran educators' grumblings. But it has never, to my knowledge, come out and flatly declared that it would rather hire principals trained at the academy's Aspiring Principal Program than principals trained elsewhere (like, for instance, a traditional university program.) That's what chief schools officer Eric Nadelstern wrote in the memo below, sent out to superintendents and school support organizations in June. "[I]f we are not actively seeking to place these Leadership Academy graduates, we are ignoring an important talent pool," Nadelstern wrote. "I expect to see the number of unplaced APPs drop rapidly over the next few weeks."
August 24, 2009
Report mostly inconclusive on Leadership Academy effects
We're on staycation, but we wanted to share what just popped into our inbox: The long-awaited evaluation of principals who graduated from the city's controversial Leadership Academy. The report concludes that graduates of the Leadership Academy took especially tough jobs, stopped their schools from getting worse, and posted reading test score gains that outpaced those made at other schools with new principals. In math, schools led by Leadership Academy graduates improved but not significantly more than other schools. And the study looked at too few high schools to conclude anything about the effect of Leadership Academy principals there. The report's authors, three professors at New York University, say more research is needed to identify what about the Leadership Academy graduates allowed their schools to make comparatively more progress in reading. They emphasize that the Leadership Academy, which fast-tracks educators into school administration, selects applicants that it believes will make successful principals, so the study could not cast light on how well the program prepares the average prospective principal. The report was paid for by foundations that helped fund the academy before it moved onto the public dollar last year, Broad and Dell. EdWeek has more detail about the report, which is posted in full after the jump:
March 13, 2009
Teachers accuse Bronx principal of a "reign of terror"
The flier advertising today's rally. Teachers at the Fordham High School of the Arts plan to rally today in protest of their principal, who they say has conducted a "reign of terror" that is partly responsible for a 70% teacher turnover rate. Teachers from across the Bronx are invited to join the Fordham protest, which is being billed as a larger statement against what teachers call Chancellor Joel Klein's "support of abusive principals." I don't know any of the context here. It seems like a case where it's impossible, without a lot more reporting, to know which side to believe — but very clear that the school environment is not a peaceful and happy one. A Department of Education official, speaking on background today, said the protest is likely linked to an incident earlier this month where a teacher was removed from the school after an investigation tied her to a threatening letter written to the principal. A poster advertising the rally declares that teachers are protesting the "unfounded removal" of a teacher. The DOE source said the letter is being investigated by the police.
October 17, 2008
UFT's budget cut wish-list: entire accountability office (almost)
Somehow this slipped between the cracks: The United Federation of Teachers is signing on to a letter urging the Department of Education to make…
August 1, 2008
City long intended to pay for principal program with CFE dollars
I noted this in a June post, but since the revised Contracts for Excellence continue to peg the Leadership Academy as a “district-wide,”…
July 31, 2008
Concerns, criticisms dominate at Contracts for Excellence public hearing
Photo by p_a_h Elected officials, teachers, and parents offered up a litany of concerns about the DOE's proposed Contracts for Excellence — regarding both their content and the process by which they were developed — last night at the final public hearing in Manhattan. The hearing, chaired by Terence Tolbert, executive director of the DOE's Department of Intergovernmental Affairs (and soon to direct Obama's Nevada campaign), was well-attended by representatives from numerous organizations, including ACORN, Class Size Matters, the Coalition for Educational Justice, the Alliance for Quality Education, the City Council, school level PTAs, the UFT, and others. Legally, Contracts for Excellence funding must "supplement, not supplant" existing spending; several speakers expressed concerns that the money will be spent to close holes in the budget rather than create or expand programs. Others worried that the new funding would be used to make up losses due to budget cuts in low-performing schools, rather than expanding services for high-needs children in those schools. Complicating these issues, several speakers noted, the plan includes little oversight of whether principals spend the Contracts for Excellence money as intended.
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