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March 14, 2017
Report: Students and educators say school climate has worsened under de Blasio after sweeping discipline reforms
"What this evidence suggests is that we need to do more than just reduce suspensions."
December 21, 2016
Education candidate Josh Thompson challenging de Blasio with long-shot bid for mayor
Thompson supports school vouchers, charter schools and merit pay for educators -- all contentious issues in New York City, where the teachers union is famously strong.
'aspirational ice cream'
March 18, 2016
Principals and AP’s earned $6.9M last year in bonuses tied to evaluations
More than 330 principals and nearly 660 AP's received bonuses, which were based on principal evaluations instead of school ratings.
November 19, 2015
Bloomberg’s early school closures benefitted future students, new study finds
A new study found that former Mayor Bloomberg’s policy of closing bottom-ranked high schools didn't hurt their own students and benefitted those who came after.
who rules the schools
November 4, 2014
Election sets the stage for fresh debate over mayoral control
Last November, Chalkbeat noted that a drag-out fight over mayoral control didn’t appear likely, given that most of its past opponents are now allies of City Hall.
a second look
October 23, 2014
Two years after escaping closure, a Bronx high school works to improve
Two years after a proposal to close Alfred E. Smith CTE High School was nixed, the school's principal has worked to increase attendance rates and morale, while still facing a number of big challenges common to low-performing schools.
October 16, 2014
Small high schools send larger shares of students to college, new study says
The research nonprofit MDRC found that 49 percent of students who entered a small high school between 2004 and 2007 enrolled in a four-year college, community college, or technical school, compared to 40 percent of similar students who attended other schools.
September 30, 2014
To raise graduation rates, the de Blasio administration needs a comprehensive strategy
Former deputy chancellor Eric Nadelstern: So far, Chancellor Fariña's initiatives have not globally addressed the entire school system, and they have not made student performance their central ambition.
August 14, 2014
A frequent critic of testing, de Blasio takes the good test news in stride
The mayor celebrated students' state test-score gains, but not too much, since he has criticized others for focusing too narrowly on test scores.
February 11, 2014
Six weeks into de Blasio's term, unanswered school questions abound
Bill de Blasio filled his campaign with critiques of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s handling of the school system, including his administration’s emphasis on standardized test scores, its shuttering of low-performing schools, and its enthusiastic backing of charter schools. But since taking office, he and his schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, have offered few clues about exactly how they will address some of the biggest issues facing students and educators.
December 12, 2013
For Bloomberg's education panel, a quiet ending in the Bronx
The Panel for Educational Policy, which has overseen some of the most raucous debates over New York City schools over the past 12 years, ended its legacy under Mayor Bloomberg quietly and unemotionally Wednesday night. The Panel for Educational Policy met on Wednesday night at the Taft Educational Campus in the Bronx. Just a handful of audience members showed up for the Bronx meeting, where there were no public comments and little debate among members as they passed two revised building-use plans and three co-location proposals — including the once-controversial plan to put a new district high school in the struggling Boys and Girls High School. "You can kind of tell they're just limping over the finish line," said panel member and Manhattan representative Patrick Sullivan, who has served since 2007 and has been one of the panel's few voices of dissent. The PEP, the 13-member group of appointees that approves the city's decisions on changes like school openings, closings, and co-locations, has been the mayor's mechanism for pushing through his education policies.
December 4, 2013
IBO: Changes to teacher residency rules could net city millions
Fewer parent coordinators and keeping teachers inside city zip codes are two ways a budget watchdog says the city can save costs and raise revenue. (Via Flickr Creative Commons.) The Independent Budget Office released an unusually early set of cost-cutting ideas today, including a plan for co-located schools to share staff members and changes to where new teachers would be allowed to live. The report, which the agency typically releases in the spring to influence budget debates, is a list of ways for the city to potentially cut costs or raise cash. Most of the report's education ideas have been proposed before, including eliminating principal performance bonuses (to save $6 million) and eliminating parent coordinators altogether (to save $91 million). New this year is the proposal for schools in the same building to share a single parent coordinator and a secretary, which the IBO estimates would save the Department of Education $50 million next year. Another new proposal could inspire even more controversy: stricter residency requirements for new DOE employees. Currently, most city employees must live in the city for two years and then can move to six surrounding New York counties and are taxed an additional amount equivalent to city taxes. DOE employees have been exempt from both requirements, but changing that for new hires would bring in $3 million next year and increase over time as older teachers retire, according to the IBO.
December 3, 2013
Over Bloomberg era, big increases in students taking SAT, APs
Bedford Academy High School principal Adofo Muhammed, left, with Bloomberg and Walcott at Tuesday's SAT and AP scores announcement. More than twice as many students took Advanced Placement exams, and more than 15,000 more high school seniors took the SAT this year than took the exams in 2002, Mayor Bloomberg announced today. New College Board data show that the average SAT score of New York City students increased eight points over last year. But Bloomberg took the long view as he presented the data for the final time, emphasizing the growth over his time in office over the year-to-year numbers that typically get the spotlight. The city did post small, across-the-board gains over last year in every SAT subject, with the biggest gains among Hispanic students, who saw a six-point average gain in writing and a five-point average gain in reading. The city's scores are still far below the national average, and big gaps remain among students. While the average total score for white students was a 1541 out of 2400, the average score for Hispanic students was 1235, and the average score for black students was 1225. But the data also show the number of high school seniors taking the SAT has increased 53 percent from 12 years ago, and the number of students taking AP exams increased to more than 35,000, from about 17,000 12 years ago.
November 15, 2013
In award speech, Bloomberg calls principals "unsung heroes"
Though they haven't always seen eye to eye on education issues, Mayor Bloomberg's relationship with Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernie Logan is still in good shape as his third term comes to a close. Bloomberg's affection for principals and their union boss was on display this week during a speech at a gala event hosted by New Visions for New Public Schools. The education organization, which partnered with the Department of Education to create 100 small high schools and charter schools during Bloomberg's tenure, awarded him with its "Visionary Award." "He's going to be embarrassed when I tell you this," Bloomberg said. "But Ernie Logan, who is the president of the principals union, and his members have made an enormous difference." The remarks start about 2 minutes and 40 seconds into the video.
November 2, 2013
Issue committee attracts national money to Denver board race
DPS board candidates who support the district's accountability-based reform efforts have been out-fundraising their opponents at a rate of three to one -- but they're also getting a boost from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Denver businessman and billionaire Philip Anschutz through an expenditure committee.
October 30, 2013
A66 campaigns accelerate into final days
You may have more than trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell this week as Amendment 66 campaigners hit the streets for one last push. There’s also plenty of campaign chatter online, including a Halloween-themed video.
October 28, 2013
Pro-66 campaign surpasses $10 million in contributions
Bill and Melinda Gates, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a charity founded by Steve Jobs’ widow are among major new donors to the campaign that’s pushing to pass Amendment 66.
October 25, 2013
Bloomberg cites Obama's shared support for closing schools
Correction appended With President Obama in New York City and on his way to visit Pathways in Technology Early College High school, Mayor Bloomberg today praised the president for backing one of the policies that has been most controversial during Bloomberg's own tenure. He also suggested an alternate reading of history, in which one of the most hyped new schools in the city's recent past could actually be credited to federal policies. “It’s also important to note that P-TECH would not even exist here were it not for the strong reform policy that the Obama Administration has supported, and that’s replacing failing schools with new ones," Bloomberg said. P-TECH operates inside the Paul Robeson Educational Complex, which currently also houses the final class of Paul Robeson High School. The Bloomberg administration began phasing that school out because of poor performance in 2011, the same year that P-TECH opened. "This was once a large failing high school that had been failing its students," Bloomberg said. "We began phasing it down and opened P-TECH, while also co-locating other career-oriented schools."
October 8, 2013
Bloomberg stumps for his schools legacy at “Education Nation”
Speaking this morning at NBC’s “Education Nation,” Mayor Bloomberg recapped three terms of his efforts to improve New York City’s schools. He also signaled that even as “no excuses”-style education advocates have softened on acknowledging the serious challenges that poverty poses for schools, his own thinking has not changed much: “They said: ‘We will never improve schools serving low-income students until we end poverty.’ And I think they could not have been more wrong. “The truth of the matter is we will never end poverty until we improve the schools – and that’s what we set out to do 12 years ago. And today, I am glad to report that high school graduation rates have risen 39 percent. Read Bloomberg’s full comments at “Education Nation,” as distributed by the city, below.
September 16, 2013
Touting city's top test scores, officials visit its most elite schools
Mayor Bloomberg and city officials fanned out across the city today to spread one message: New York City has an outsize share of the state's top-performing elementary and middle schools. Twenty-two of the state's top 25 schools, as defined by the highest average proficiency rates on state recent reading and math exams, are located in the city. That's up from zero city schools among the top 25 in 2001. The Daily News reported the tidbit last month, and city officials have been repeating it frequently. "It is as good a verification of what done in the last 12 years as you could possibly hope for," Bloomberg said of the statistic. Speaking at TAG Young Scholars, an elementary and middle school in East Harlem that serves gifted students and came in 20th statewide, Bloomberg said the school "is representative of an incredible turnaround in our city's public schools over the last 12 years." This year, the city's proficiency rates did come closer to the state averages, which are buoyed by high-performing suburban districts, than other cities' in New York. Many schools, such as P.S. 107 in Brooklyn, did better than would be expected given their student populations. But the 22 schools the city chose to highlight today have student populations nearly as exceptional as their average proficiency rates, an outgrowth of the Bloomberg administration's policies that emphasize school choice.
September 3, 2013
New center aims to reduce number of students skipping school
Leslie Cornfeld, Mayor Bloomberg's chief policy advisor on truancy, shows the mayor, Commissioner Ray Kelly, Chancellor Dennis Walcott and others the room that will be used as the Truancy Center at West Harlem's Police Athletic League. Mayor Bloomberg's latest effort to reduce the number of students skipping school is a truancy center housed in West Harlem's Police Athletic League, one of the city's 20 nonprofit youth development centers. The center — which will include staff from the Department of Education, the Manhattan district attorney's office, and the Police Athletic League — will offer Manhattan students services such as academic tutoring, mental health counseling, and school-based mentors. The center reflects a more coordinated borough-wide approach than the city has used so far to help students stay in school. Since launching the anti-truancy initiative in 2010 amid reports that 20 percent of city students were "chronically absent," or missed school more than 20 percent of the time, the city has sent letters home to parents, used celebrity wake-up calls, and paired students with in-school mentors to cut down on absenteeism. This year, 22,000 fewer students met the threshold for chronic absenteeism, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said today. But those initiatives fell short of representing a comprehensive strategy for helping individual students, city officials said today.
June 27, 2013
In city graduation ceremonies, students reflect on their journeys
Sunset Park High School Principal Corinne Vinal poses with a graduate after she receives her diploma. Mayor Bloomberg and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz each took the stage at a city high school's first graduation ceremony — nearly five decades after plans for the school were first laid. But at Sunset Park High School, as at many high schools across the city, some of the most poignant words came not from the keynote speakers but from graduating seniors themselves.
June 21, 2013
Toward A Broader Definition Of Teacher Excellence
A few days after a new teacher evaluation system made headlines in New York, I was honored as one of 50 finalists for the Department of Education's Big Apple Awards, designed to “recognize the city’s best teachers and support a system-wide conversation about excellence in the classroom." ... But couldn’t the Department of Education do more to honor not just 50 of “the city’s best” but the great majority of city teachers who work hard for their schools and students every single day?
June 17, 2013
Bloomberg says lower grad rate reflects improved performance
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky announce the city's graduation rates. For Mayor Bloomberg, putting a positive spin on the city's latest high school graduation numbers required him to get creative with his number-crunching. The city's four-year graduation rate fell by half a point, to 60.4 percent, making Bloomberg's final press conference about the data the first to contend with a sharp decline. During a press conference at City Hall this afternoon, Bloomberg said the fact that the city's graduation rate did not fall more because of the state's tougher graduation requirements was reason for celebration. Last year was the first time that students had to pass five Regents exams with a grade or 65 or higher, as opposed to 55. "Everybody predicted that our graduation rates would fall precipitously and that did not happen," Bloomberg said. "This is showing improvement, not decline." In a PowerPoint presentation, Bloomberg highlighted how far the city's graduation rate would have climbed had the standards in place last year also been in place earlier in his term. City officials pointed out that if the state had not raised its graduation standards, the city's rate would have climbed by 1.4 points instead of falling. And Bloomberg said he could have raised graduation rates even more had his policy proposals never been stymied by the United Federation of Teachers, spurring a fresh round of mutual criticism.
June 11, 2013
A la Bloomberg, entrepreneur Jack Hidary exploring mayoral bid
A screenshot from Jack Hidary’s blog shows him with then-Chancellor Joel Klein at East Side Community High School in 2010 during the kickoff of…
June 2, 2013
Bloomberg: Eval plan 'a huge rebuff to the UFT's obstructionism'
The teacher evaluation system that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on New York City on Saturday was a bargain for the city, Mayor Bloomberg said today. Late Saturday, Bloomberg issued a glowing statement about the evaluation plan, which he said had delivered almost everything the city had requested. Today, speaking to reporters at the Celebrate Israel Parade, he repeated the praise and pointed out that the city had not conceded anything to the United Federation of Teachers to get the evaluation system. “New York City now has the strongest teacher evaluation system in the state, bar none, and we didn’t have to give up anything in contract negotiations to get it," he said. "That is almost unprecedented. ... If I said we were going to have this when I came into office 11 and a half years ago, you probably would have started thinking about laughing." The system could end up being revised next year when a new mayor takes office and must negotiate a new contract with the UFT. Union president Michael Mulgrew said on Saturday that he would ask to have the system changed if the rollout over the next several months is not satisfactory. The complete text of Bloomberg's comments, as conveyed by City Hall, is below.
May 29, 2013
Mayoral candidate Sal Albanese is his own education advisor
GothamSchools is profiling the education policy advisors to each mayoral candidate. When asked who advises Sal Albanese's mayoral campaign on education policy matters, communications director Todd Brogan pointed to the candidate himself. An Italian immigrant who moved to Brooklyn at the age of eight, Albanese has been a student, teacher, and policy maker in the city's schools, giving him a perspective that is unique among the crowded field of Democratic mayoral candidates.
May 15, 2013
Promising "an education city," Thompson sets schools agenda
Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson presented his education policy platform in a speech Wednesday at NYU. When former comptroller Bill Thompson took the stage at the United Federation of Teachers conference on Saturday, he joined fellow mayoral candidates in criticizing Mayor Bloomberg's education record. But Thompson, the former president of the city's Board of Education who ran against Bloomberg is 2009, took a more measured approach when putting together his formal education platform. He outlined the platform today in a policy speech at New York University, becoming the first candidate to set out a complete education agenda. Thompson's platform — which skimmed over some important issues — reflects ample criticism of Bloomberg administration education policies. He reiterated a commitment to avoid school closures, promised to "lead with teachers" rather than threaten them, vowed to involve parents in policy making, and pledged to reduce schools' emphasis on testing. But it also signals that Thompson would expand, not end, many of Bloomberg's school policies.
May 13, 2013
Candidates vie for UFT support, with varying degrees of success
Six mayoral candidates attended the United Federation of Teachers mayoral debate Saturday during the union's spring conference. Left to right: Bill Thompson, Adolfo Carrión, Jr., Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio, Sal Albanese and John Liu. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn fought hard to distance herself from the Bloomberg administration during a mayoral debate hosted by the teachers union on Saturday, but she could not escape being the only candidate to be booed by union members angry at the mayor's education policies. When UFT officials asked the mayoral candidates at the teachers union's spring conference whether they believed the next chancellor needs to be an educator, Quinn's answer stood out from the chorus of "yes" responses. "Not necessarily," she said. It was not a new stance for Quinn, who has said for months that she believes a qualified non-educator could successfully lead the school system. But when she cited as someone who fit the bill U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, whose agenda overlaps with Bloomberg's, she drew loud boos from the crowd. It was a major misstep for Quinn, the Democratic frontrunner, as she worked to hit the right notes during the United Federation of Teachers' mayoral debate, which came a month before the union — one of the city's most powerful political forces — plans to endorse a mayoral candidate for the first time since 2001.
May 2, 2013
Bloomberg pitches gloomy forecast for retroactive teacher pay
Bloomberg presents his final spending plan. Mayor Bloomberg said today that a deal to give teachers retroactive raises to make up for five years without a new contract would cost billions and cripple the city's financial stability. "It's just something the city can't possible afford," said Bloomberg, who made the remarks while presenting a $69.8 billion spending plan, the final proposal of his administration. Retroactive raises for the more than 100 municipal labor unions and organizations with expired contracts is a looming issue for the city's fiscal future and in the mayoral campaign to replace Bloomberg. Bloomberg has refused to negotiate new deals if it means the inclusion of the raises, which would total 8 percent for the city's 80,000 teachers. He estimated today that costs from retroactive teacher raises would be $3.8 billion in 2014 and $1 billion every year after. Raises for all city workers would cost a combined $7.8 billion in 2014 and $3 billion in subsequent years, he said.
May 2, 2013
In Bloomberg's final budget proposal, a perpetual fight returns
Mayor Bloomberg's final budget, which he is unveiling today, is likely to include new details on how changes to the city's state school aid will affect the Department of Education. In January, when Bloomberg made his preliminary budget proposal, the city faced losing $250 million because it had not agreed on a teacher evaluation system with its union. Bloomberg said the bulk of the cuts would come from individual schools. But wrangling in Albany resulted in the city's state school funding being revised upward, even though the teacher evaluation penalty was not technically rescinded. That means the Department of Education's budget might be in the best shape it has been since the start of a series of recession-induced budget cuts in 2008. But the funding picture for other programs and departments that affect children is likely to be less sunny. Bloomberg's initial budget proposal included steep cuts to after-school and child care programs, just as he originally proposed last year.
April 18, 2013
Walcott's 'Poem in Your Pocket' pick echoes boss's 2010 verse
Unlike his boss three years ago, Chancellor Dennis Walcott stuck to Emily Dickinson's original script today while reading to a crowd on national Poem in Your Pocket Day. Mayor Michael Bloomberg brought the springtime literary event to New York City in 2002 in conjunction with National Poetry Month. He has made a tradition out of plastering his own verses all over the city in celebration of the event — at awards ceremonies (2011), on Times Square billboards (2012), and, this year, in the pages of Metro New York. In 2010, Bloomberg again read a poem of his own creation, but drew inspiration from Dickinson's "'Hope' is The Thing With Feathers." Reading to a crowd of students and other poetry fans in Bryant Park, Walcott picked the same poem — but stuck to the words as Dickinson intended.
April 2, 2013
With future murky, Bloomberg celebrates his last new schools
As some of the biggest news in New York City politics unfolded this morning, Mayor Bloomberg was focused on a story that hasn't changed in more than a decade He called a press conference to tout this year's crop of new schools — 78 in all — at the same time as several elected officials were being arrested for trying to sell a slot on the mayoral ballot. The 78 new schools, 26 of which are charters, represent the largest single-year total for an administration that has opened more than 650 schools since 2002. As the last new schools to open under Bloomberg, they also represent the uncertain future of the administration's signature policies: closing low-performing schools and replacing them with new ones.
March 13, 2013
Missing from story of courts' constraint of Bloomberg: schools
UFT lawyers after a legal victory over Mayor Bloomberg in 2012. The New York Times has realized the biggest lesson that we took away from 2012: Mayor Bloomberg can't always get what he wants. But it neglected to look toward Bloomberg's Department of Education for proof. Days after a legal ruling that blocks Bloomberg from carrying out his sugary-drinks ban, the Times tallied other recent instances when Bloomberg's grand plans have been stymied. From the story: Adverse rulings have become a recurring impediment for a mayor accustomed to getting his way. Courts or administrative regulators have blocked the Bloomberg administration from mandating fuel emissions standards in New York City’s taxicabs, expanding street-hail car service beyond Manhattan, and changing eligibility requirements for homeless people seeking shelter. Add "closing struggling schools" to that list. It was just three months into Bloomberg's third term when a judge ruled that the way the Department of Education proposed school closures had broken the law.
February 15, 2013
Bloomberg rep lone vote to keep guns in teacher pension fund
The city’s $46.6 billion teacher pension system sold its shares in the firearms industry yesterday, becoming the country's largest retirement fund to divest from publicly-traded gun manufacturers since December's elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Comptroller John Liu announced today. But the vote to do so wasn't unanimous — and the single dissenting ballot came from a member appointed by the city's most powerful gun control advocate: Mayor Bloomberg. Ray Sarola, acting as a fill-in for Bloomberg appointee Carolyn Wolpert, voted against divestment during an executive session meeting last week, a spokesman for the Teacher Retirement System said. Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, of the Department of Education, missed the vote but said yesterday at the board's monthly public meeting that she opposed divestment as well.
February 14, 2013
Bloomberg shifts tone on school reforms in last annual address
Listening to Mayor Bloomberg's final State of the City address, delivered today, one would not know the mayor has spent the last decade closing schools, fighting with the teachers union, and touting high test scores. Although Bloomberg opened the shorter-than-usual education portion of the speech by noting that the city's high school graduation rate has risen faster than the state's, he did not utter the words "failing schools," "the United Federation of Teachers," or "test scores." He also did not bring any new education ideas to the Barclay's Center, the Brooklyn stadium where he delivered the speech. Instead, he focused on the new schools he plans to create during his last year in office — including eight designed expressly to boost college readiness among low-income black and Latino students — and tougher standards that the state has already adopted. Bloomberg worked to manage expectations about this year's state test scores, the first based on exams aligned to the new standards, known as the Common Core. State officials have warned that proficiency rates are likely to fall, but Bloomberg had not until today acknowledged that his final test scores are likely to drop in his final year in office.
January 29, 2013
Bloomberg lists central budget cuts to accompany schools' hit
Following up on his promise to detail school budget cuts required by the collapse of a teacher evaluation deal earlier this month, Mayor Bloomberg today described how he plans to reduce costs in the Department of Education's central administration. The rest of the $250 million funding will cut come from schools, Bloomberg said during a press conference in which he announced the first city budget revision to reflect costs incurred from Hurricane Sandy. In addition to the cuts that Chancellor Dennis Walcott outlined in an email to principals on Monday, Bloomberg said he would restrict hiring centrally and eliminate vacancies in areas such as administration, human resources, budget, and help desk staff. He said the city would also cut non-personnel costs--the costs of running an office that don't include staff salaries--in administrative and field-based offices by 90 percent, and reduce spending on contracts for services such as youth development, professional development, and anti-bullying programs.
January 29, 2013
As education hearings get underway, City-UFT eval talks resume
State Education Commissioner John King was the first official to testify on the 2013-2014 budget this morning. Albany — A day after Mayor Bloomberg declared the chances of a teacher evaluation deal with the city's teachers union "impossible," both sides confirmed this morning that they are returning to the table. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew first announced that talks were set to resume at the union's legislative breakfast this morning, the Daily News reported. The announcement comes hours before Mulgrew is set to testify before the state Assembly and Senate education committees about the 2013-2014 budget. He is among dozens of education officials and advocates who will make their case to the legislature about what they like and what they don't like about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal.
January 28, 2013
State aid cuts would cost city 2,500 teachers, Bloomberg says
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mark Page, his budget director, testified in Albany today about Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget, which would penalize the city again for not adopting new teacher evaluations. ALBANY — New York City would have to cut 2,500 teaching positions over the next two years under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget plans, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told lawmakers this morning. Appearing at a hearing about Cuomo's budget proposal, Bloomberg focused on the school aid that would be withheld because the city and teachers union have not agreed on new teacher evaluations. The city already lost out on $240 million in state aid this year as a consequence of missing a Jan. 17 deadline that was written into law and could lose another $224 million next year if Cuomo goes through with his plan to tie school aid to evaluations again. The cost of that penalty would be severe, Bloomberg told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, forcing cuts to city schools' spending on personnel and programming. Bloomberg blamed the UFT, again, for the city's shortfall and also criticized the State Education Department, which is threatening to penalize the city further by withholding some resources for high-need students. But during a fierce exchange with Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who chairs the education committee, the blame also landed briefly on Bloomberg himself. Nolan pointed out that Bloomberg had supported the law that paved the way for the union and the city to reach a deal on evaluations last February. She recited Bloomberg's comments at the time the law was passed (“This is a win-win-win for the kids and for the adults”). "Don't you feel some responsibility for this disaster?" she asked. "And it is a disaster."
January 23, 2013
Walcott: Teacher layoffs not on table after eval deal collapse
The collapse of teacher evaluation talks comes with many costs, but teacher layoffs won't be among them, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today. The Department of Education is set to forgo $240 million in increased state school aid after it failed to agree on a new evaluation system with the teachers union by a state deadline last week. State officials have since said the city will have to go without far more funding until it adopts a new evaluation system. Last week, Mayor Bloomberg said it was "much too early to tell” whether the losses would require teacher layoffs, which he has threatened but never carried out in the past. But during a radio appearance today, Walcott said teacher layoffs are not on the table. "We're not looking at layoffs," he told host John Gambling, whose show has been a forum for city, union, and state officials to stake their positions in the conflict.
January 7, 2013
As NRA analogy draws ire, teacher evaluations take backseat
Union officials, elected officials, and parent advocates gathered on the steps of City Hall to decry Mayor Bloomberg's comments comparing the union to the NRA. Elected officials, parent advocates, and three of the four Democratic candidates for mayor lined up today to call on Mayor Bloomberg to apologize for suggesting that the teachers union is like the National Rifle Association. On his radio show last Friday, Bloomberg characterized both the United Federation of Teachers and the NRA as groups "where the membership, if you do the polling, doesn’t agree with the leadership." Bloomberg had made the indirect comparison before. But coming weeks after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and with tensions already running high with the UFT over teacher evaluations, the analogy has drawn a swift backlash from union supporters. At a press conference on the steps of City Hall this afternoon, several City Council members and other union supporters called on the mayor to "man up" and apologize. Among the speakers were Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, and former comptroller Bill Thompson — mayoral candidates who are courting the union's endorsement.
January 4, 2013
UFT takes to the tube to tackle evals and Bloomberg's legacy
The United Federation of Teachers ratcheted up pressure on Mayor Bloomberg over teacher evaluations with a new television ad campaign that will run daily between now and Jan. 17. The 30-second spot — and an accompanying statement from Michael Mulgrew — take aim at Bloomberg's education legacy during the 11 years he's been in office. The ad begins with a still shot of a young student who has grown up through the city school system during the Bloomberg's tenure, entering first grade during the mayor's first year in office. "And while she's changed a lot, he hasn't," the narrator says, as negative tabloid and op-ed headlines fill the screen. "It's still his way or the highway, at whatever cost." The ad also implores Bloomberg to "put politics aside" and "agree to a fair evaluation system that gives teachers the support they need to help children succeed." The $1.2 million campaign, which will run on local broadcast stations and cable television networks in the New York area, comes amid stalled negotiations between the city and the UFT over how to evaluate teachers. The city has until Jan. 17 to come to a deal on an evaluation system or else it will lose an estimated $250 million in state aid funding.
November 12, 2012
City plans to fast-track school repairs with emergency funds
Chancellor Walcott talks to parents at P.S. 207, which will remain closed until at least 2013 and could be much longer. Red trailers parked outside the school contain 35,000 gallons of water and oil that leaked into the school during Sandy, Walcott said. Six city schools that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy won't reopen until 2013, according to the Department of Education's latest update on its recovery from the storm. But the rest of the schools displaced by the storm, which on Tuesday will number 37, will likely be able to move back to their buildings by the end of November. To keep pace with the timeline, Mayor Bloomberg today announced an emergency plan to add $500 million in capital funds, $200 million of which will go directly toward paying for repairs at the remaining schools. The other $300 million will help repair damages sustained to hospital buildings. Bloomberg made the announcement at P.S. 207, a school in Queens that was damaged so severely that officials aren't able to pinpoint a reopening date. "To our knowledge, New York City government has never before made such an emergency provision for additional capital spending because of a natural disaster and certainly not one of this size," he said.
November 5, 2012
Schools reopen with low attendance, but officials are optimistic
Flanked by city officials, Mayor Bloomberg updated reporters on the hurricane relief effort from P.S. 195 Manhattan Beach, a South Brooklyn school that was damaged in the hurricane. Today marked the first day back to school for most city students, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg championed their attendance rate. But the figure he cited — 85 percent — didn't count the 75,000 students who weren't in attendance because their schools were temporarily closed, or hundreds of schools that did not report their attendance in time for his press conference. Despite lingering complications from Hurricane Sandy, including power and transit woes, the majority of students and teachers invited to return to school today for the first time in a week made it. And several buildings reopened this morning despite sustaining massive damages a week ago. For the site of his daily update on the city's hurricane relief effort, Bloomberg picked one of those schools — P.S. 195 Manhattan Beach, a southern Brooklyn school that flooded and originally seemed unlikely to reopen to students today. Flanked by other city officials, Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the number of closed schools is shrinking as more schools that were damaged or lost power slowly receive the repairs they need. On Sunday, buildings too damaged to reopen contained 57 schools; Bloomberg said that number is 48 today. And just 19 schools remain without power, he said, down from more than 100 over the weekend. One of the schools to which teachers will return on Tuesday is John Dewey High School, which Walcott cited last week as one of the most severely damaged in the city after an electrical fire during the storm. Department officials said the School Construction Authority had been able to install a generator and get Dewey's boiler to work, obviating a planned three-building co-location.
November 5, 2012
City anticipating turmoil as most students resume classes today
The auditorium at P.S. 195 in Manhattan Beach was flooded last Wednesday. Today, the school opened its doors to students and Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott plan to visit and welcome them back. As more than 90 percent of city schoolchildren head to school today for their first day back after Hurricane Sandy, some with extra sweaters to ward off cold, Department of Education officials will have their sights set on the 102 schools that still cannot reopen. The number of school buildings unable to accommodate students fluctuated over the weekend, but by Sunday night, department officials determined that 57 schools were so damaged that they must be relocated and 29 schools still lacked power, down from nearly 200 at the beginning of the weekend. Another 16 schools are housed in eight buildings that have for the last week been used as shelters for New Yorkers displaced from homes and hospitals by the storm. The roughly 73,000 students who attend the schools are expected to return to classes on Wednesday, after the entire city takes another break for Election Day on Tuesday, when many schools will function as polling centers. In the next two days, officials aim for power to be restored to schools that lack it, shelters closed and cleaned, and damaged schools shoehorned into other locations. But Mayor Bloomberg said the transition back to school — coming after students and teachers alike have had their homes and neighborhoods disruption — would likely be rocky. "We just can’t predict who’s going to show up where ... and we’re obviously going to have problems," Bloomberg said during a news conference on Sunday. "We’ll just have to bear it, but we’ll have a day between the first day and the second day of school – namely Tuesday – and we’re going to use that day to straighten things out to the best of our ability."
October 11, 2012
City slowly backs up shifted rhetoric on parents, needy students
Like the Bloomberg administration's schools reform efforts, our series tracking the city's progress toward fulfilling its recent education policy promises started last month with teachers and schools. Now we are turning toward the students and families they serve. It's a shift that city officials also made in the last year. For nearly a decade, the Department of Education's approach to helping needy students focused largely on creating excellent new schools and closing ones that don't work. But its policies drew fierce criticism that families were shut out of decisions and that some student groups had not benefited from years of initiatives. Last year, the first that Chancellor Dennis Walcott led in full, city officials announced some changes to its approach, introducing policies aimed at helping students and parents. Concrete actions have been slow to come, but we found that the department is slowly plugging away at creating programs to back up last year's rhetoric shifts. (Each promise is in bold, followed by an explanation of how far the city has come toward meeting it.) On students: The city will study high schools that graduate black and Latino students at high rates to find out what they are doing right. (Mayor Bloomberg's Young Men's Initiative speech, August 2011) The study is the intended outcome of the Expanded Success Initiative, the flagship education program of Mayor Bloomberg's recent effort to help black and Latino young men. The three-year, $24 million program got underway in June, when the city named 40 schools to monitor as they pioneer new college-readiness strategies funded with grants of $250,000 each. The city will decrease the concentration of high-need students in some schools. (Communication with the state, June 2012) Responding to pressure from State Education Commissioner John King, the city quietly embarked on a pilot program to distribute students who enroll during the school year and summer over a wider swath of schools, despite steadfastly maintaining that high concentrations of needy students do not make it harder for schools to succeed. The city gets about 20,000 new high school students, called "over-the-counters," each year, and they have traditionally wound up in a small number of struggling schools. Last year, about 800 of them went to 54 high schools that have not usually accepted midyear arrivals. But many schools still receive few or no over-the-counter students, while others complain they receive more than they can handle. All city high schools, even those with selective admissions processes, will accept students with disabilities. (Directive to schools, June 2012)
September 17, 2012
On teacher quality, city has so far fulfilled few of last year's vows
Chancellor Dennis Walcott made several policy promises during a May 2012 speech to ABNY. In the 2011-2012 school year, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott vowed to push forward an array of policy changes — from the way teachers are hired and fired to the ways schools prepare boys of color for graduation and college. So how did they do? We've rounded up all of last year's policy promises and checked up on the city's progress on each. Today, we’re looking at proposals to bolster teacher quality, a longtime pet issue for the Bloomberg administration. We found that the city has fulfilled one promise completely, to create a new Teaching Fellows program just for middle schools, but several others fell off the radar or were pushed to the margins by ongoing negotiations over new teacher evaluations. Each promise is in bold, followed by an explanation of how far the city has come toward meeting it. In future posts, we'll tally the city's progress on creating new schools, engaging parents, helping high-needs students, and improving middle schools. The city will adopt new teacher evaluations that adhere to the state’s new evaluation law. (When: Many times) Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock should know the answer: not yet, despite one close call and a helping hand from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. City and union officials are meeting regularly to negotiate an evaluation deal, this time in hopes of meeting the state's January deadline. They say they are "optimistic" and "hopeful" they'll reach an agreement in time to qualify for state funds. Teachers with top ratings on teacher evaluations will get a $20,000 pay raise. (Bloomberg's State of the City speech, January 2012) The city still has not adopted new teacher evaluations, so the proposal is moot. But the teachers union, a longtime opponent of individual merit pay, quickly passed a resolution opposing it, so its future prospects are not bright. The city will repay up to $25,000 in student loans of teachers who are in the top of their college classes. (State of the City)
September 6, 2012
City, union stress "optimism" over future of teacher evaluations
Deputy Chancellor David Weiner talks to two first grade students at Young Scholars Academy in Brooklyn. With another school year underway without a deal on new teacher evaluations, officials in charge of hammering out the evaluation system seemed only to agree on one thing: be optimistic. That was the mantra for Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Mayor Michael Bloomberg as they toured the halls of the New Settlement Campus in the South Bronx this morning. "I'm always optimistic," Bloomberg told reporters in the spotless new library. "If we don't get a deal by January we will forfeit a lot of state funds." Teachers Union President Michael Mulgrew told a similar story when he spoke this morning in Brooklyn. "We are definitely having conversations, pretty good conversations," he said, "and we're hoping to get it done." The city and union have been negotiating over evaluations for more than a year with the as-yet-unfulfilled hope of securing federal funds that are not available to districts without evaluations. Now they are under the gun from the state, too. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he will withhold state aid increases from districts that do not adopt new evaluations by January 2013.
August 23, 2012
Bloomberg hails salad bar gift in push for healthier school lunch
On the heels of an announcement that the city was discontinuing one initiative to create healthier school lunches, Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised another…
August 14, 2012
Want to boost students' tech skills? There's an app class for that
Adam Israfil pitches his book reviewing app to peers at NYC Generation Tech. "Have you ever worried about lost papers?" Steffany Ceron read from a notecard to three fellow students powwowing in a semicircle of desks. "Well don't worry, this app can help." Ceron and her peers were among a half-dozen groups of high school students feverishly preparing to present their ideas for mobile phone applications designed to help students stay organized, prepare for exams, or make clothing and food choices. Together, the 29 students are enrolled in New York City's Generation Technology, a fledgling summer program that teaches city high school students how to design and market apps that solve common educational problems. Over two weeks this August, the students — who range from native New Yorkers with experience building digital tools to recent immigrants — are receiving a crash course in digital entrepreneurship, funded by the city's Economic Development Corporation. The program represents one prong of the Bloomberg administration's recent push to remake New York City into a technology hub to rival California's Silicon Valley. Like the computer engineering-themed school that's set to open next month, Generation Tech aims to seed technology talent locally by investing in city students. During the day-long classes, the students review a manual on entrepreneurship, calculate the costs and benefits of various business models, and listen to lectures from the founders of local technology start-ups such as Kickstarter. The class is fast-paced and packed with group presentations and discussion questions designed to get students thinking creatively about business: What is the lifetime value of a New York Times subscriber to the company? How would you help a rapper promote a show in Queens? To be eligible, students must come from a low-income family or attend a school where at least half of students come from low-income families. Only a few of the participants had experience creating mobile apps before this summer, and many said the program also marked their first time practicing public speaking.
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