Headlines

Rise & Shine: Opposition mounts to Cathie Black's appointment

Changes at the top, week 2:

  • Thirteen of 51 City Council members oppose Cathie Black’s appointment as chancellor. (WSJ)
  • They include Robert Jackson, chair of the council’s education committee. (TimesNY1)
  • Dozens of advocates demonstrated yesterday against Black’s appointment. (NY1WNYCPost)
  • Mayor Bloomberg won’t be able to make the same arguments for Black as he did for Joel Klein. (Times)
  • Little evidence has emerged that Bloomberg spoke to anyone else about the job. (Post)
  • Bloomberg didn’t even tell Education Commissioner David Steiner about his pick. (Daily News)
  • UFT President Michael Mulgrew says Bloomberg’s secrecy was an abuse of authority. (Daily News)
  • Most districts do public superintendent searches; experts say secrecy isn’t needed. (Times)
  • Non-educators lead only 5 percent of the country’s 200 largest school systems. (Crain’s NY)
  • After some hesitation, Black says she will quit corporate boards if appointed. (Times)
  • Friends of Black say she isn’t afraid to do what she thinks is right. (Daily News)
  • Black’s school experience is limited to a Catholic, a boarding, and a charter school. (Times)
  • Eva Moskowitz says Black should focus first on school choice and middle-class families. (Daily News)
  • Klein will likely work on developing online education efforts at News Corp. (NY Mag)
  • Joe Nocera muses on Joel Klein’s relationship with the business world. (Times)
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he is confident Klein’s legacy will live on. (Daily News)
  • Is losing Joel Klein part of Bloomberg’s strategy for running for president in 2012? (Post)

In other news:

  • The athletic director at Erasmus Hall HS had a heart attack — on the school’s PA system. (AP)
  • Stuyvesant HS is cracking down on off-campus pot-smoking. (Post)
  • The city is trying to fire a Harlem principal and assistant principal who had an on-the-job affair. (Post)
  • More than 100 teachers and 135 safety agents were added to the city payroll since Sept. 21. (Post)
  • The Daily News says the worse-than-known achievement gap merits big changes. (Daily News)
  • Some are saying that Newark is already squandering its $100 million Facebook gift. (AP)
  • A new plan for reviving Haiti’s schools is based on post-Katrina New Orleans. (Times)

money matters

Report: Trump education budget would create a Race to the Top for school choice

PHOTO: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos participate in a tour of Saint Andrews Catholic in Orlando, Florida.

The Trump administration appears to be going ahead with a $1 billion effort to push districts to allow school choice, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The newspaper obtained what appears to be an advance version of the administration’s education budget, set for release May 23. The budget documents reflect more than $10 billion in cuts, many of which were included in the budget proposal that came out in March, according to the Post’s report. They include cuts to after-school programs for poor students, teacher training, and more:

… a $15 million program that provides child care for low-income parents in college; a $27 million arts education program; two programs targeting Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students, totaling $65 million; two international education and foreign language programs, $72 million; a $12 million program for gifted students; and $12 million for Special Olympics education programs.

Other programs would not be eliminated entirely, but would be cut significantly. Those include grants to states for career and technical education, which would lose $168 million, down 15 percent compared to current funding; adult basic literacy instruction, which would lose $96 million (down 16 percent); and Promise Neighborhoods, an Obama-era initiative meant to build networks of support for children in needy communities, which would lose $13 million (down 18 percent).

The documents also shed some light on how the administration plans to encourage school choice. The March proposal said the administration would spend $1 billion to encourage districts to switch to “student-based budgeting,” or letting funds flow to students rather than schools.

The approach is considered essential for school choice to thrive. Yet the mechanics of the Trump administration making it happen are far from obvious, as we reported in March:

There’s a hitch in the budget proposal: Federal law spells out exactly how Title I funds must be distributed, through funding formulas that sends money to schools with many poor students.

“I do not see a legal way to spend a billion dollars on an incentive for weighted student funding through Title I,” said Nora Gordon, an associate professor of public policy at Georgetown University. “I think that would have to be a new competitive program.”

There are good reasons for the Trump administration not to rush into creating a program in which states compete for new federal funds, though. … Creating a new program would open the administration to criticism of overreach — which the Obama administration faced when it used the Race to the Top competition to get states to adopt its priorities.

It’s unclear from the Post’s report how the Trump administration is handling Gordon’s concerns. But the Post reports that the administration wants to use a competitive grant program — which it’s calling Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success, or FOCUS — to redistribute $1 billion in Title I funds for poor students. That means the administration decided that an Obama-style incentive program is worth the potential risks.

The administration’s budget request would have to be fulfilled by Congress, so whether any of the cuts or new programs come to pass is anyone’s guess. Things are not proceeding normally in Washington, D.C., right now.

By the numbers

After reshaping itself to combat declining interest, Teach For America reports a rise in applications

PHOTO: Kayleigh Skinner
Memphis corps members of Teach For America participate in a leadership summit in last August.

Teach for America says its application numbers jumped by a significant number this year, reversing a three-year trend of declining interest in the program.

The organization’s CEO said in a blog post this week that nearly 49,000 people applied for the 2017 program, which places college graduates in low-income schools across the country after summer training — up from just 37,000 applicants last year.

“After three years of declining recruitment, our application numbers spiked this year, and we’re in a good position to meet our goals for corps size, maintaining the same high bar for admission that we always have,” Elisa Villanueva Beard wrote. The post was reported by Politico on Wednesday.

The news comes after significant shake-ups at the organization. One of TFA’s leaders left in late 2015, and the organization slashed its national staff by 15 percent last year. As applications fell over the last several years, it downsized in places like New York City and Memphis, decentralized its operations, and shifted its focus to attracting a more diverse corps with deeper ties to the locations where the program places new teachers. 

This year’s application numbers are still down from 2013, when 57,000 people applied for a position. But Villanueva Beard said the changes were working, and that “slightly more than half of 2017 applicants identify as a person of color.”