state of the city

State of the City

status report

Rethinking Discipline

State of the City

New York

City officials tout newest education initiatives at a Bronx school

Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott speak with students at the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science today. Mayor Bloomberg took his updated education reform agenda on a promotional tour this morning, stopping by a high-performing Bronx school with a principal who has gone to bat for him in the past. Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott traveled to the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science  to tout the education initiatives that the mayor proposed during his State of the City address last week. Those plans include closing and reopening 33 struggling schools to clear the way for $60 million in federal funding, offering pay raises for teachers who receive high ratings, and repaying student loans for new teachers who excelled in college. The eight-year-old school opened as part of Bloomberg's small schools initiative, and the mayor cited it today as a resounding success. “The students and teachers we had the opportunity to meet with today are part of a broader story of achievement in our city, but there is so much more to do," Bloomberg said in City Hall's press release about the visit. (Geoff joined the caravan of reporters who tagged along and will report more from the visit later today.) Principal Kenneth Baum is also a longstanding supporter of the mayor's policy initiatives. Last year, he advocated for Bloomberg's (ultimately unsuccessful) push to do away with "last in, first out" seniority layoff rules. Walcott also name-checked Baum in his speech about reforming middle schools, saying that the principal's practice of sending teachers to students' homes before the school year starts exemplifies the community bonds that successful schools develop.
New York

Bloomberg's turnaround switch would cause 33 school closures

Under a proposal laid out by Mayor Bloomberg today that took education insiders by surprise, the city would retain access to threatened federal dollars for struggling schools by riffing on a familiar strategy: school closure. The announcement in today's State of the City address sets the stage for a showdown with the United Federation of Teachers — and maybe also with the State Education Department. UFT President Michael Mulgrew had already dismissed the idea that schools could receive the funds without union support by this afternoon. But State Education Commissioner John King has yet to weigh in on the strategy. Under Bloomberg's plan, the city would swap dozens of schools from one federally mandated overhaul strategy to another in a bid to escape a requirement that the city and union come to terms on a new teacher evaluation system. An impasse over negotiations caused King last week to cut off federal funds to 33 city schools that were undergoing the “transformation” and “restart” strategies, which require new evaluations. Under the mayor’s plan, the schools would undergo “turnaround” instead. Turnaround is more aggressive than the other strategies, requiring at least half of a school’s teachers to be replaced. But it also does not require that new teacher evaluations be in place, according to the Obama administration’s guidelines for the funds, known as School Improvement Grants. Mulgrew immediately dismissed the plan, arguing that the union would have to sign off on turnaround. That would be true — but only if Bloomberg had been talking about the type of turnaround that the Obama administration envisioned. What the city is actually proposing is using a second, lesser-known turnaround that state regulations allow. Essentially, the city would close 33 schools and reopen them immediately, with new names and identification numbers. Then a team of educators selected for the “new” school would hire a new staff with the union’s input, pulling half of the new teachers from the original school’s roster.
New York

In education-packed speech, Bloomberg vows to bypass UFT

Mayor Bloomberg is attempting to breathe new life into his enervated education agenda today with an ambitious and startling list of proposals that include paying top teachers $20,000 bonuses and bypassing the union to overhaul struggling schools. Perhaps most interesting is the way that he is outlining, in his 11th State of the City address right now in the Bronx, to resuscitate stalled efforts to transform 33 struggling schools — and still receive the $58 million in federal funds that were supposed to support them. The state cut off the city's access to those funds last month, arguing that Bloomberg's failure to reach a deal with the teachers union on evaluations of teachers made the city ineligible for them. But today Bloomberg argued that the city could still get the federal support without a deal. His plan is to change the city's approach to overhauling those schools, using the "turnaround" model. That model requires that at least 50 percent of a school's teachers be removed. "We believe that when we take this action, we will have fulfilled the state's requirements and the schools will be eligible for the $58 million in funding," he is set to say. The city had originally wanted to use the turnaround model, one of four federally mandated options, to overhaul the 33 schools. But it turned to backup models, "transformation" and "restart," because the union would not agree. Today, Bloomberg says he believes the union's current contract permits turnaround, according to his prepared remarks. In a telephone call before the address, a union official said immediately that that was not the case, auguring a fight that could drag on or even wind up in court.
New York

Mayor's address comes against evaluations impasse backdrop

When Mayor Bloomberg takes the podium to deliver his annual State of the City address this afternoon, education insiders will be on the edge of their seats to hear his latest take on the fight over new teacher evaluations. Insiders say the mayor is likely to address the impasse between the city and teachers union on evaluations. That impasse has dominated the news in recent weeks, especially after state officials said cut off some federal funding to schools that were supposed to use the new evaluations this year. In the last week, blame for the standstill has flown from Gov. Cuomo and the state teachers union, but Bloomberg has been relatively quiet. The speech in which he outlines his annual policy agenda would be an opportune time to assert his position and try to move the situation forward. Whether Bloomberg will tackle the sticky topic during his address today is not assured, and what exactly he could propose to resolve the tension is unclear. Department of Education and City Hall insiders haven't tipped their hands about the content of today's speech, and the only news that has leaked out has been about other topics. In some ways, it's hard to imagine Bloomberg making a major education policy announcement right now. Several substantial Department of Education initiatives, including ones to reform middle schools and revamp instruction and assessments, are already underway, and the mayor has scant time or money to execute much more. But an immediate solution to the teacher evaluations impasse is seen as crucial. That Bloomberg is delivering the speech from inside the city's oldest coeducational high school, Morris in the South Bronx, has heightened speculation about the speech's education content.
New York

In State of the City, mayor calls for an end to seniority layoffs