no wiggle room

On evals due date, Cuomo breaks silence to repeat ultimatum

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stayed mostly quiet during the lead-up to the deadline he set for districts to adopt new teacher evaluations or lose funding. But now that the due date has arrived, he has released a stern statement repeating the ultimatum he laid out a year ago today:

Today is the final deadline for the handful of school districts, including New York City, that have failed to get their teacher evaluation systems in place. Please hear me — there will be no extensions or exceptions. Since we established one of the strongest teacher evaluation models in the nation last year, 98% of school districts have successfully implemented them. The remaining districts and their unions have until midnight tonight to do the same or they will forfeit the increase in education aid they have been counting on and both parties will have failed the children they serve.

New York City is one of six districts that had not submitted even a first draft of its evaluation plan by last week. But as of last night, city and union negotiators were still locked in a room trying to work out the remaining details, some of which seem to be significant.

“They’re definitely discussing serious stuff in there,” a union spokesman told GothamSchools late Wednesday.

A meeting of the union’s Delegate Assembly, which must approve a deal if one is made, is set for five hours from now. If there is no deal by then, UFT President Michael Mulgrew told members last week, the meeting will be used to plan an offensive against Mayor Bloomberg.

home sweet home

‘Finally! Something useful’ or a dangerous mistake? Detroiters respond to city’s housing deal for teachers

PHOTO: Detroit Land Bank Authority
This home on Harvard Road was up for auction the week after Detroit announced a half-off-on-city-owned housing deal for teachers.

Friday’s announcement that all Detroit school employees — whether they work for district, charter, or parochial schools — will get a 50 percent discount on houses auctioned through the Detroit Land Bank Authority stirred a lot of discussion.

Some of our commenters on Facebook had high hopes for the deal:

But one commenter wondered if it’s the city of Detroit that’s actually getting the best deal, not the employees — or other people seeking to buy homes in the city:

And others argued that people who already live in Detroit won’t benefit from this deal:

Still, some readers appear to be ready to move — and have even picked homes to bid on (though not necessarily from the Land Bank Authority)!

race in the classroom

‘Do you see me?’ Success Academy theater teacher gives fourth-graders a voice on police violence

Success Academy student Gregory Hannah, one of the performers

In the days and weeks after last July’s police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, teachers across New York grappled with how to talk about race and police violence. But for Sentell Harper, a theater teacher at Success Academy Bronx 2, those conversations had started long before.

CNN recently interviewed Harper about a spoken-word piece he created for his fourth-grade students to perform about what it means to be black and male in America. Harper, who just finished his fourth year teaching at Success, said that after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed, he wanted to check in with his students.

“I got my group of boys together, and I said, ‘Today, we’re going to talk about race,'” Harper told CNN. “And they had so much to say. They started telling me stories about their fathers and their brothers, and about dealing with racism — things that I never knew that these young boys went through.”

Inspired by their stories, he created a performance called “Alternative Names for Black Boys,” drawing on poems by Danez Smith, Tupac Shakur and Langston Hughes.

Wearing gray hoodies in honor of Trayvon Martin, who was killed while wearing one, the boys take turns naming black men and boys who have been killed: Freddie, Michael, Philando, Tamir. The list goes on.

Despite the sensitive nature of the subject matter, Harper says honesty is essential for him as a teacher. “Our kids are aware of race and want to talk about it,” he wrote in a post on Success Academy’s website. “As a black male myself, I knew I wanted to foster conversation between my students and within the school community.”

Click below to watch the performance.