state of the city

State of the City

State of the City

Vision quest

State of the City (schools)

State of the City

Trouble with transcripts

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.
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