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November 13, 2018
Like most superintendents, I cared a lot about test scores. Too much, it turns out.
If life outcomes are what we are about, and test prep keeps us from helping students, we should welcome state test scores going down, argues Paymon Rouhanifard.
November 13, 2018
In a shift, more education reformers say they’re worried about schools’ focus on testing
The pervasiveness of the complaints about testing was striking.
September 20, 2013
NYC sitting out national move to tie charter, district admissions
Superintendent Seth Andrew at a 2012 Democracy Prep admissions lottery event. When the city announced last week that a kindergarten admissions website would link to the charter school application, it took a small first step toward unifying charter and district school applications. But there appears to be little local enthusiasm for a fully unified enrollment process—something that many of the nation's other large school districts are working toward with urgency. In Denver, parents can apply to every charter and district school through one form and a single process. In New Orleans, the same is possible, with the exception of some of the city's highest-performing charter schools. Newark is well on its way, as is Chicago, and similar discussions are taking place in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. But while there hasn't been any significant movement on that front yet in New York, city officials have indicated it's a long term goal. "Eventually, we plan to streamline the application process to allow parents to apply to many types of public school programs in one place – be they district, charter, gifted and talented, or otherwise," department spokesman Devon Puglia said. Pushing for an integrated enrollment system could help cement charter schools' place in the city's school system at a time of political uncertainty for the charter sector. But city charter school advocates have indicated that they are focused on other issues.
August 21, 2013
Rouhanifard, former NYC official, to head Camden, N.J., schools
Department of Education officials Marc Sternberg and Paymon Rouhanifard spoke to the City Council in 2012. Rouhanifard, who has worked in Newark since last year, was named superintendent of Camden, N.J., schools today. A former top New York City schools official is New Jersey’s pick to run the Camden school district, which the state took over this year because of poor performance and mismanagement. Paymon Rouhanifard, who has been a top deputy in Newark since last November, will take over the struggling district as its first state superintendent. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie announced Rouhanifard’s appointment this morning during a press conference at H.B. Wilson Elementary School in Camden. The choice signals the direction that Christie and N.J. schools chief Christopher Cerf are planning for the 14,000-student, 30-school district near Philadelphia that Christie has called "a human catastrophe." Since announcing in March that they planned to make Camden the fourth urban district under their authority, officials have overhauled staff, curriculum, and other resources in the district and flooded it with people with experience in education and management. “Paymon has a proven track record of improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of students in Newark and New York City, and brings innovative leadership that Camden needs moving forward," Christie said in a statement. "Under his leadership, I know Camden’s schools will improve on the progress of these last few months.”
August 21, 2013
Video: Rouhanifard introduces himself in Camden
Here’s a video of N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and Paymon Rouhanifard, the former New York City Department of Education official, during a press conference to…
June 6, 2012
DOE collapses charter schools office as charter landscape shifts
Outgoing Charter Schools Office Executive Director Recy Dunn responds to a parent who was challenging the city's decision to close Peninsula Preparatory Academy in January. While one tightly organized contingent of the city's charter school sector prepared to stage a rally outside City Hall today, the Department of Education was shaking up its charter schools bureaucracy. The Charter Schools Office's executive director, Recy Dunn, is leaving the department, and the office is being subsumed into a broader division responsible for managing the opening, closing, and siting of schools, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg announced in an email to his staff today. Eliminating the Charter Schools Office is in some ways a remarkable move for the department, which has made charter schools a central prong of its reform strategy. But in other ways it is unsurprising, because the office lost momentum and authority in 2010, when legislators stripped the city of the right to award new charters. Now, all new schools are authorized by either the State Education Department or SUNY's Charter Schools Institute. The city's role has been to assess existing schools, supporting them when they fall short of their promises and closing schools that do not improve. This year, the department moved to close two schools that had faced academic and management problems and backed off of a threat to close a third struggling charter school. Both closures are currently on hold because of parent lawsuits challenging the validity of the department's closure decision. A charter schools insider who worked with Dunn at the department said Dunn was well liked but that the ongoing court battles had reflected poorly on his office.
May 29, 2012
Law keeping mid-year arrivals out of charters could have a fix
Brooklyn Prospect Charter School students listen to a sports writer speak during February's Career Day. The phone calls are bad, but the visitors are the toughest to reject. That's how Daniel Rubenstein feels about the admission requests that his charter school, Brooklyn Prospect, gets each summer from families who moved to the neighborhood after the school’s April lottery. “This is a population that needs to be in a good school,” Rubenstein said. “Our school — which is a small, relationship-driven, intimate environment — would be better for someone that needs a community.” But by law, Rubenstein must turn the families away. The state's charter school law does not make provisions for schools to reserve seats for students who arrive to the city from far-flung locales after their April admissions lotteries. That means that charter schools, which are charged with serving the city's neediest students, must exclude some of the students with the greatest need. But after lobbying by Rubenstein and other charter operators, as well as by officials at the city Department of Education, one of the state's charter authorizers is working on an option that would allow charter schools to open their doors in the middle of the year.
April 16, 2010
With 'turnarounds' coming, new school creation proceeds apace
Principal hopefuls line up outside Wagner Middle School to enter the city's new school creation fair. Bronx assistant principal Michelle Vargas wants to open a school where teachers will have ample time to work together and students will benefit from her years of experience in the classroom. But before she can get started, Vargas must persevere through the city's new school creation process. She took the first step Thursday night by joining more than 400 other school leader hopefuls at a fair to learn about what the city wants to see in new schools. Every year, the Department of Education opens new schools — more than 400 since 2002. Director of Portfolio Planning Debra Kurshan told fair attendees that the city intends to keep up the pace in 2011. What's different this year is that the city is telling wannabe principals exactly what kind of schools it wants to open, and where it expects to site them. The request for proposals released today lists schools identified as having extra space and schools that could be reopened with new leadership under new federal rules.
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