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March 8, 2018
Walton gives Indianapolis Public Schools $1.7 million to increase principal power
The foundation is known for offering startup grants for charter.
October 17, 2017
Independent charter schools look to raise their profile, apart from networks and Betsy DeVos
At a symposium last week number of independent charter school leaders agreed to launch a new national organization.
September 17, 2013
Sternberg to exit education department for Walton Foundation
Marc Sternberg, the Department of Education deputy chancellor in charge of school closures, is leaving to join the Walton Family Foundation as its direction of K-12 initiatives. Marc Sternberg, the Department of Education official who has spearheaded controversial school closures and co-locations since 2010, is leaving the city to oversee education philanthropy at the Walton Family Foundation. Starting next month, senior deputy chancellor Sternberg will be Walton's executive director of K-12 strategy. Walton's education agenda focuses on promoting choice and competition, and includes creating charter schools, promoting school choice, and improving teacher quality. The foundation spent more than $158 million on education initiatives last year, and this year has made sizable gifts to Teach for America and Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst nonprofit. Sternberg's departure comes as his division of the Department of Education has set in motion a bevy of plans to take effect after Mayor Bloomberg leaves office.
September 17, 2013
Walcott responds to deputy’s departure for Walton foundation
Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg is leaving the Department of Education for the Walton Family Foundation, the foundation announced today. More soon.
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.
May 13, 2013
Kopp vows that TFA's "unstoppable force" will steer next mayor
Department of Education Senior Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg and Shipnia Bytyqi, a graduate of the high school he founded who now teaches at a charter school in the city, took the stage last week at Teach for America New York's annual gala. Teach For America used its annual New York City benefit last week to wade into the city's political debate. Praising the Bloomberg administration's education record, founder and board chair Wendy Kopp vowed that Teach For America and its supporters would fight to preserve the mayor's education legacy after he leaves office at the end of the year. "No matter who takes office," Kopp said, "we are creating an unstoppable force." The remarks reflected Teach For America's transition to playing a stronger role in public dialogue about education. Kopp suggested that the organization would not throw its support behind a single candidate. "Progress isn't a function of one leader," Kopp said. Instead, she said, the educational change Teach For America supports requires "a constellation of committed souls." The strength of that constellation was on display at the nonprofit's gala, held Wednesday at the glittering Waldorf Astoria hotel. In one night, the organization announced it raised $6.7 million, and speakers included Charlie Rose and Richard Parsons, the former CEO of Time Warner and Teach For America board member who also chairs Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Education Reform Commission.
April 12, 2013
Operations chief exits DOE, Sternberg promoted in reshuffling
Veronica Conforme testified at a City Council budget hearing in 2011 alongside Chancellor Dennis Walcott. Conforme announced her departure from the Department of Education today. The Department of Education's chief operating officer is leaving to join the nonprofit organization headed by the architect of the Common Core standards, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today. Veronica Conforme, who has been the department's top operations officer since October 2011, will become vice president of the "Access to Rigor Campaign" at the College Board, according to a department press release. The College Board, which Common Core architect David Coleman took over last year, is rapidly becoming a top destination for people leaving urban school systems. Jean Claude-Brizard, a former city Department of Education official who resigned as Chicago's top schools official shortly after the teachers union strike there last year, recently became a senior advisor at the organization. Conforme's departure comes during a period of growing uncertainty at the Department of Education.
March 21, 2013
Students turn backs on PEP members before co-location vote
PHOTO: Monica DisareTilden Campus high school students walk out of a PEP meeting, protesting plans to co-locate an elementary school. Compared to last week's marathon meeting where the Panel on Education Policy voted to close 22 schools, Wednesday night's hearing was significantly shorter (four instead of nearly eight hours). But it still featured a slew of controversial proposals to change schools. It also featured a brief dust-up over the two newest members of the panel who have ties to charter schools. After raising questions about the discipline model at Success Academy Charter Schools, panel member Patrick Sullivan said, "I know we have an attorney for the network joining us." Sullivan, who was appointed by the Manhattan borough president, frequently votes against the mayor's proposals. "I'm not on this panel to represented Success or because I've done pro-bono legal work for Success," said the attorney, David Brown. Brown recused himself from a vote about a proposal to co-locate a Success Academy middle school with four district schools in Harlem. The proposal passed. Two other co-location proposals drew most of the crowd in the ornate auditorium at Brooklyn Technical High School.
February 21, 2013
At three hearings, one idea: City's plans would undo successes
M.S. 45 eighth-graders Ciara Shack (L) and Karla Lorenzo (C) and sixth-grader Eliza Fuentes (R) do an impromptu step cheer at a hearing about the school's proposed closure. They chanted the school's motto: “M.S. 45 going down the line, we gotta get an education to survive.” (Photo: Carey Reed) A citywide sprint through dozens of public hearings about the Department of Education's plans to close, open, and move schools this year continued on Wednesday with spirited meetings at multiple schools. At M.S. 45 in East Harlem, which the city wants to close at the end of the year, supporters said the school was on the verge of turning around after years of poor leadership. Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn, on the chopping block for the second time in a year, got praise for serving its many immigrant students. And at the Tilden Campus, also in Brooklyn, students and teachers argued that three schools' success could be undone if a new charter school moves into the building. The hearings are a required part of the city’s process to close or open schools. The Panel for Educational Policy, which has never rejected a city proposal, is set to vote on the plans March 11. M.S. 45 Frustrations ran high at M.S. 45 S.T.A.R.S. Prep Academy as community members pleaded with city officials to allow the school's current principal more time to continue making improvements.
February 20, 2013
At Bronx closure hearing, an apology and pleas for more space
Students from Bronx Academy of Letters line up to speak at a public hearing last week about changes that are proposed to their school's building. (Photo: Elana Eisen-Markowitz) At a public hearing where accusations flew about who is responsible for a South Bronx school’s challenges, only one person stood up to take blame. “I apologize publicly for not doing what was expected by the community of me,” said William Hewlett, the founding principal of M.S. 203, at a hearing last week about the school’s proposed closure. The Department of Education announced in January that it would seek to shutter M.S. 203, open since 2001, because of low performance. The middle school’s test scores put it among the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state, and it earned a C grade or lower on its last three city progress reports, which focus on student growth. As M.S. 203 phases out, the department announced, a charter elementary school, Bronx Success Academy 1, that had shared its building for a year would be able to expand to serve middle school grades. Two other schools in the building — the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters and P168, which serves students with severe disabilities — would stay on, but with new neighbors.
February 13, 2013
As schools' closure hearings begin, their students get a way out
Students who attend schools the city is shuttering for poor performance will be allowed to leave, under a new policy that the Department of Education is rolling out at school closure hearings that begin tonight. For the last decade, the Department of Education has closed schools — more than 150 in all — through a phase-out process in which no new students enter but existing students stay on until they graduate, up to three years after the closure decision. By the time the schools finally close their doors, only barebones staff and program offerings remain for the final students. "The past policy was sort of like saying, 'We’re going to get divorced in two years but we have to live together until then.' It was not tenable," said Clara Hemphill, who has reported about the impact of closures on schools and students as the editor of Insideschools. "It seems only fair that children should not be trapped in a school that the DOE has deemed to be failing." Now, the department will give each student in phaseout schools a list of higher-performing schools to which they can apply as part of the regular transfer process. When the department decides which transfer requests to approve, students from phaseout schools will be assigned first, starting with the neediest students who are looking for a new school.
February 13, 2013
Let us handle co-locations, city students tell education officials
The Brooklyn Youth Advisory Council, with leaders from the Coro New York Leadership Center, recommended co-location policies to Department of Education officials on Monday. Sharing space doesn't have to hurt schools, high school students told Department of Education officials Monday night. Done right, students said, co-location can give schools strength in numbers. In a hallmark policy, the Bloomberg administration has closed many large high schools and opened multiple smaller schools in the same buildings. Now, hundreds of schools coexist in shared spaces, an arrangement that can be uneasy at times. After carrying out surveys and focus groups with nearly 400 students on four co-located campuses in Brooklyn, members of the youth council this week made recommendations for how to reduce tension and make the most of the space-sharing to top department officials, including Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. At the top of their list: youth councils on all co-located campuses to plan joint academic and extracurricular activities, and youth courts to deal with infractions of co-location rules.
July 27, 2012
With "turnaround" dead in the water, city releases plan details
Even as city officials swore that they had not set any quota for rehiring at schools it was trying to shake up, they were assuring the state that the schools would replace at least 50 percent of teachers. The assurances were made in nearly 800 pages of documents submitted to the state in March as part of the city's application for federal School Improvement Grants. The city released the original application Thursday, four months after submitting it and two days after a State Supreme Court effectively torpedoed the city's bid for the funds. The documents include a letter addressed to State Education Commissioner John King from the deputy chancellor overseeing turnaround, an outline of the plans, and a 770-page tome on changes the city proposed for each of the 24 schools, along with the city's justification for planning to close each of them. The release did not reflect changes that state and city officials said were made throughout the spring. The city also released a shortlist of programs on Thursday that it says are now at risk after an arbitrator ruled that the city's plans for staffing the schools violated its contracts with the teachers and principals unions. Much of the application's content for each schools mirrors the proposals the city released when it began preparing the schools for closure. But a separate section outlines just how changes at each school would meet federal requirements for "turnaround," the overhaul process that the city was proposing.
July 26, 2012
City-state schism over challenge of needy students grows wider
New York City's process for assigning students to schools still sets some of the schools up to fail, State Education Commission John King charged today. "I continue to have concerns about enrollment," King said. "I worry about the over-concentration of high-needs students in particular buildings without adequate supports to ensure success." King made the comments to reporters during a break in a meeting of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state education reform commission, which met this morning in the Bronx. City officials have acknowledged King's concerns when petitioning the state for aid, but they have never conceded that high concentrations of needy students could hurt schools. Today, the Department of Education official in charge of enrollment said recent changes to the way some students are assigned to schools, made quietly last summer, were meant to increase choices for families, not respond to King's concerns or help struggling schools. King's concerns reflect longstanding criticism about the Bloomberg administration's school choice policies. For years, critics have charged that the department overloads some schools with needy students, making it hard for them to show progress or even sustain their past performance. An internal department report completed in 2008 and obtained by GothamSchools last year concluded that a high school's size and concentration of low-achieving and overage students strongly predicts its graduation rate.
July 6, 2012
Arbitrator: City used "circular reasoning" to justify turnarounds
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's testimony before an arbitrator drove one nail into the coffin of the city's plans to replace or rehire teachers at 24 "turnaround" schools. Last week an arbitrator determined that the city violated the city's contracts with the teachers and principals unions when it moved to replace staff members at the schools. This afternoon the arbitrator, Scott Buchheit, released a detailed explanation of why he ruled the way he did. The city was trying to use hiring procedures set for closing schools and their replacements. But the unions argued that the turnaround plans were "sham closures" that would not result in new schools. Instead, they argued, the city was unfairly using contractual provisions about "excessing" to remove teachers and administrators it deemed unsatisfactory. In upholding the unions' grievance, Buchheit at times turns Bloomberg's and other city officials' words against them. He quotes a 2011 memorandum written by the Department of Education's chief financial officer, which said, "excessing is not a permissible way to deal with unsatisfactory teachers." Yet city officials said they intended to do just that from the start of the turnaround process, Buchheit determined.
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