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draining the atr pool
July 10, 2017
New York City plans more aggressive steps to move hundreds of unassigned teachers out of Absent Teacher Reserve
The city's latest attempt to shrink the ATR pool may require principals to hire teachers.
An education U-turn
June 20, 2017
Mayor Bill de Blasio has made many education promises. Here’s what he’s delivered so far — and what he hasn’t
With the mayoral election approaching, we've taken stock of de Blasio's progress on education.
An education U-turn
June 20, 2017
From power to paperwork: New York City principals adjust to a reined-in role under Carmen Fariña
This story is the first in a Chalkbeat series about Mayor Bill de Blasio's vision for education.
Movers and shakers
May 24, 2017
Memphis Raleigh-Egypt principal will return to Bolton High School
James "Bo" Griffin led the school to some of the highest gains in Shelby County Schools, sparing it from state takeover.
April 3, 2017
Principals matter — and Tennessee wants to do a better job of equipping them
The State Department of Education launches an initiative to cultivate aspiring leaders who want to become principals, as well as to support existing principals.
November 15, 2016
Here are 25 assistant principals who Gov. Haslam wants to see at the helm of schools
The 2017 Governor’s Academy for School Leadership will cultivate and nurture 25 assistant principals from across the state.
August 16, 2016
Tennessee teachers are still happier in their jobs. But here’s how they aren’t seeing eye-to-eye with their principals
Tennessee’s annual educator survey is out, and it shows that teachers and administrators don't see eye-to-eye on discipline policies.
April 5, 2016
How New York City principals are thinking about the opt-out movement
For principals like Stacy Goldstein, who runs the School of the Future in Manhattan, the prospect of a big jump in opt-outs creates new logistical hurdles.
'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.
February 29, 2016
Indianapolis school leaders visit Memphis iZone with eye on increased autonomy for principals
Four years into their school turnaround initiative known as the Innovation Zone, education leaders in Memphis are seeking to move schools from triage to…
June 10, 2015
After judge says school leadership meetings are public, city tells principals they are not
The city told principals that leadership team meetings are not open to the public while it appeals a judge's April decision that they are subject to open meetings rules.
April 16, 2015
Celebrated North High School principal to leave at end of year
Nicole Veltzé, the principal of Denver's North High School, will leave the school after four years.
March 3, 2015
Memphis principal and turnaround leader to leave Shelby County Schools
Memphis principal Antonio Burt, who has received national attention as a turnaround specialist, is leaving his school and his job.
February 10, 2015
IPS won’t say if Arsenal Tech’s principal is on his way out
Several Arsenal Tech teachers and staff members came to a school board meeting Tuesday to protest what they said was an administrative decision to remove Yarrell and several administrators because of academic underperformance. IPS officials and Yarrell himself won't comment on the situation.
February 9, 2015
DPS announces new principal for Manual High School
Nick Dawkins will be principal of Manual High School.
Call for change
January 7, 2015
Educators remain cautious as city prepares to lift cell phone ban
At the news that the city would soon be ending its ban on cell phones in schools, many students and parents reacted with excitement. No longer would students have to pay a bodega to store their phone, concoct schemes to hide or sneak phones into school buildings, or worry about being able to reach their child.
Lead the way
December 23, 2014
Denver pins high hopes on new leadership programs, incentives
Denver plans to offer incentives and a slew of new training and professional opportunities to its school leaders.
December 9, 2014
Principals will be able to swap schools for a year under new contract
Principals could earn a bonus by swapping schools for a year under an unusual — and under-the-radar — provision of the city's contract agreement with the school-administrators union.
November 14, 2014
Principals union, city enter mediation as contract dispute drags on
The city and the principals union have entered a mediation process after failing to agree on the terms of a new contract, union officials said Friday.
October 16, 2014
Candidates say IPS needs more Hispanic principals
More than 20 percent of Indianapolis Public Schools students are Hispanic. Yet the district has no Hispanic principals. Challengers for IPS school board, and…
July 24, 2014
To build a principal pipeline, city tries an 'all-of-the-above' approach
Hoping to develop a steady supply of new principals, the city has designed training programs of its own and partnered more closely than ever with outside groups. Meanwhile, it's anyone's guess how the new chancellor's views will influence principal preparation.
July 23, 2014
City and principals union at odds over back pay for former teachers, union says
Hundreds of teachers-turned-administrators could lose out on tens of thousands of dollars in retroactive pay due to teachers if the city has its way in…
July 16, 2014
Former top DOE official tests out experimental principal-training program
A new principal-training program designed by a former top Department of Education official replaces lectures and research papers with role playing and projects.
June 6, 2014
Principals can now hire new teachers in most subjects, ending five-year freeze
Principals can now hire new teachers in almost every subject area and grade, officials said this week, ending a half-decade hiring freeze that cut costs but also frustrated would-be teachers.
June 5, 2014
At Coney Island transfer school, award-winning principal pushes students beyond graduation
When they come home from college, Liberation Diploma Plus High alumnae Ashley Brown and Nijah Preacher make a point of seeing their high school principal. This visit was a special one, however: Principal April Leong was receiving a 2014 Sloan Public Service Award.
May 17, 2014
In talk to principals, Fariña describes an educator-driven agenda for next year
In her remarks at the annual principals conference, Fariña described a series of initiatives for the coming year meant to strengthen the school system, rather than overhaul it, reflecting her vision of an educator-driven district where collaboration and professional growth lead to changes “on the ground level.”
April 21, 2014
New Leaders present visions for Memphis schools
As LaSandra M. Young described it, the challenges facing the fictional Isaac Hayes Middle School were stark: Declining enrollment, a 10 percent decrease in…
March 22, 2014
Fariña shares advice with new principals, but avoids touchy topics
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña spoke to school leaders who have been in that role for three years or fewer at a conference for new principals at Stuyvesant High School on Saturday. She offered big-picture inspiration and "very granular" advice, attendees said.
March 20, 2014
Memphis principal highlighted in new school leadership resource
Two national leadership development groups held up a Memphis principal’s work on teacher mentoring as a model in a series of videos on school…
March 14, 2014
Rise & Shine: Common Core delay approved in Tennessee House
February 21, 2014
After floating the idea, city formally proposes experience requirement for principals and APs
Would-be principals will soon need seven years of school-based experience and aspiring assistant principals will need five years, according to a proposed…
January 29, 2014
Fariña and de Blasio to bring their message to city principals tonight
City principals will get their first chance to hear in person from their new boss tonight when Chancellor Carmen Fariña convenes them for a…
September 18, 2013
Thomas Edison HS student-turned-principal aims for relevance
When Moses Ojeda graduated from Thomas Edison Career and Technical Education High School three decades ago, he quickly learned he was not prepared for the real world. Now, as the school's principal, his driving motivation is to prevent students from experiencing the same thing. Ojeda has spent nearly 25 years at Thomas Edison, as a student, teacher, assistant principal and now as its principal, making him an anomaly in a system where administrators often take over schools with which they have no connection. Today, Ojeda has used his unique perspective to bring the school up to speed by updating its technical programs and academic standards.
May 17, 2013
City principals say they won't use test scores to screen students
Distressed by state tests that they say did not reflect the way they want students to learn, several city principals are pledging not to use the scores to help them pick their students. Selective middle schools consider students' fourth-grade reading and math scores, and selective high schools look at students' seventh-grade scores. But after the first round of state tests tied to new standards known as the Common Core, about a dozen principals have announced — in an open letter to parents, students, educators, and others with an interest in education — that they are abandoning the use of test scores in admission, at least for now. "We welcome rigor, high standards and accountability, but demand that these three crucial words and concepts not be thrown around loosely; and, even more importantly, we demand that they be implemented in a proper, respectful and effective way," write the principals, who come from a range of selective schools in three boroughs. "Therefore, we cannot grant these recent tests the value others claim they have until [our] concerns are addressed."
May 17, 2013
On Saturday, Chancellor Walcott to give a “major speech”
Per the Department of Education’s advisory, Walcott talk at this year’s citywide principals conference will amount to a “major speech.” Two years ago at…
April 4, 2013
ACTvF aims to avoid common post-founding principal struggle
On his first day as principal of the Academy for Careers in Television and Film in January, Edgar Rodriguez had his hands full. The…
March 22, 2013
City schools budget still in flux, but rainy-day funds are restored
Principals who were in the final stages of a school-supplies spending spree might want to put their wallets away. Back in January, Chancellor Dennis Walcott told principals that they would not be able to save any of their school's funds from this year to use next year, a practice that allows schools to plan ahead in an uncertain budget climate. That gave the principals an incentive to spend down their last dollars this spring. But hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a state budget deal earlier this week, bringing the Department of Education's financial situation into clearer relief, Walcott announced that he had retracted the decree.
January 18, 2013
Walcott to principals: We rejected evaluation deal to protect you
Chancellor Dennis Walcott told principals today that he was thinking about them when he rejected a teacher evaluation deal. Then he warned them that their schools could see budget cuts as a result. In his first communication with school leaders since months-long negotiations with the teachers union fell apart on Thursday, Walcott said the union had asked to be able to file more grievances over teacher ratings than a previous agreement had allowed. If the city had acceded to the union's request, Walcott said, principals would face union attacks over the data they collect from students, the way they communicate with teachers, and what they ask teachers to work on. "In the end, I could not agree to the UFT’s demands because they would have stripped principals of much of your existing authority," he said.
September 28, 2012
Survey finds shift in principals' favored city education initiatives
The city's presentation on the results of last year's Principal Satisfaction Survey show that some initiatives have fallen out of favor with school leaders as new ones have emerged. The Department of Education's tools to assess schools are falling out of favor with New York City principals, according to results of the city's most recent survey of school leaders. Instead, principals are getting behind new reforms that are aimed to strengthen individual students and teachers. Released this week, the findings are based on principals' responses to the ninth round of the survey, known as the Principal Satisfaction Survey. Since 2007, the education department has administered the surveys to principals to get feedback about the support they are receiving. Overall, about three out of four principals said they were generally happy with how the city helps them do their jobs, slightly more than last year but lower than in 2009, when an all-time high of more than 80 percent of principals said they were satisfied. But the department initiatives that won the strongest approval have shifted, and principals reported being much less happy with the support they receive for students with disabilities. In the past, the survey has also polled principals on their satisfaction with the chancellor and the Panel for Educational Policy, the school board that has never rejected a city proposal. But those questions were not on the survey when it was administered at the end of 2011-2012 school year.
July 31, 2012
City hands long to-do list to principals of ex-turnaround schools
For principals, August is usually a time for putting the final touches on staffing and curriculum decisions for the year — and for sneaking in a long-awaited vacation. The principals of 24 schools that the city tried to "turn around" will spend the month putting their schools back together. The turnaround process would have meant new names, shaken-up staffs, and new programs for the schools. But those changes were undone when an arbitrator ruled earlier this month that staffing plans for the schools violated the city's contract with the teachers and principals unions. Now, on the last day of July, the schools' principals are finding out which teachers intend to return in September, according to a letter they received from the Department of Education this evening. The letter, which the city released to reporters, offered the most detailed guidance the principals have gotten yet about how to proceed after months of uncertainty and disorder. In the email, the department official in charge of turnaround offers instructions ranging from what to call their schools in formal communications (by their original names) to what to do with all of the files generated by the hiring committees that were reviewing teaching candidates for the overhauled schools (lock them in a filing cabinet).
April 25, 2012
For skeptical parents, 'turnaround' principal change brings hope
Vivian Selenikas, right, sits with Long Island City High School principal Maria Mamo-Vacacela, left, at the school's closure hearing. Last week, hundreds of parents, teachers, and students crowded Long Island City High School's auditorium for a hearing about the school's planned "turnaround." On Tuesday evening, just a dozen parents attended a meeting to hear directly from the Department of Education's latest pick to run the revamped school. Gathered in the school's band room, they learned that Vivian Selenikas, the proposed school leader, speaks four languages (English, Spanish, Greek and Italian. They found that she started her career in the 1980s as a Spanish teacher at Richmond Hill High School, another school on the turnaround list. And they learned that she believes careful curriculum planning will lift Long Island City out of a slump of low attendance (the rate last year was 80 percent) and poor city progress report grades. They also learned that Selenikas is not afraid to stand up and cha-cha. When the school's cheerleading coach led parents through impromptu dance exercises at the end of the Parent Association meeting, Selenikas joined in. As a Queens network leader, Selenikas is no stranger to the large high school on Broadway, which required help from her and other Department of Education officials last year to resolve massive scheduling problems. "It's important that someone who knew the community and knew the needs of this neighborhood helped to move the school forward, should the decision be made that Long Island City will no longer be Long Island City," she said. But many parents say they are worried that the city is not planning adequately for turnaround. Some say they are wary of the abrupt leadership change, which would be the third in less than four years. The current principal, Maria Mamo-Vacacela, came under fire last year for overhauling most students' schedules two months into the academic year.
April 20, 2012
Shuang Wen School inquiry reveals deep "dishonest behavior"
A parent stands in front of the Cherry Street entrance to the Lower East Side's Shuang Wen elementary school. A sprawling investigation into the leadership of a controversial dual-language school in Chinatown concluded that the school's principal had falsified attendance data and accepted money from a non-profit hired to administer after school language lessons. The Department of Education will move to fire Ling Ling Chou, who was removed from the school in September while as many as 16 different investigations were underway. According to the report, she frequently faked numbers when reporting information about the school to the city and the United States Department of Education, including student attendance records and the length of the school day. The report does not conflict with a different report released last year by the special commissioner of investigations, which found that Chou and other staffers committed multiple improprieties, but did not outright steal public money. "For years, Principal Chou engaged in dishonest behavior, unbeknownst to her students and school community," said Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a statement. "Principal Chou’s conduct has failed to meet the standard we set for our principals, and I am filing charges to terminate her employment.” Shuang Wen consistently boasts some of the strongest test scores in the city, but divisions between the staff and parents at the Lower East Side school have led to numerous allegations of and investigations into misconduct.
April 5, 2012
Details emerging about turnaround schools' leadership, hiring
More details are emerging about how "turnaround" is proceeding at 26 schools still slated to undergo the controversial overhaul process. For a month, the department has been informing principals of some of the schools that they would be removed at the end of the school year or even sooner. Now their replacements are making their first appearances at the schools, and teachers are starting to learn about the schedule for the rehiring process that could cost up to half of them their positions. Teachers at Newtown High School found out this week that their longtime principal, John Ficalora, would be replaced by Marisol Bradbury. Bradbury has been working in school support at the Department of Education for the last several years but led a small high school in Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant Preparatory High School, before that. A proposed principal for the school that would replace Long Island City High School toured the building yesterday with the superintendent, according to teachers there. The city's choice to take over is Vivian Selenikas, Long Island City's current network leader. Selenikas led the High School for Arts and Business in Queens from 2003 to 2007 and will replace Maria Mamo-Vacacela, who does not actually have to be removed under turnaround rules. And at Flushing High School, teachers and families have been invited to a "meet and greet" with Magdalen Radovich on April 25, the day before the Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote on the turnaround plans. Radovich is currently an assistant principal at Queens Vocational Career and Technical High School. The city decided not use turnaround at Queens Vocational, where a residency program has been training teachers to work in turnaround schools.
March 20, 2012
Exodus of principals at turnaround schools continues in Bronx
Turnover is continuing in the principals' offices of schools facing "turnaround," the federally prescribed reform process that the city has proposed for 33 struggling schools. Enrique Lizardi, the founding principal of the Bronx High School of Business, has resigned, according to a Department of Education spokeswoman. The spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, said Lizardi took another job within the department and would be replaced in the short term by an assistant principal. Teachers at the school were told that a new administrator would arrive next week. Turnaround requires principals who have been in place for more than a few years to be replaced, and the city has started informing principals at some of the schools that they would be removed at the end of the year. But at least some are leaving mid-semester, just as the city is fleshing out details of the turnaround plans, which require half of teachers at the schools to be replaced this summer. Lizardi is at least the second principal to move on in recent days. Barry Fried, the longtime principal of Brooklyn's John Dewey High School, was removed abruptly on Friday and replaced by the founding principal of a successful small school who had trained teachers helping to overhaul some of the 33 schools.
March 16, 2012
John Dewey HS principal removed as city preps for turnaround
Barry Fried, the longtime principal of John Dewey High School, was removed from the Brooklyn school suddenly this morning, according to several teachers at the school. It was not immediately clear whether Fried's removal was related to "turnaround," the federally prescribed reform process that the city has proposed for Dewey and 32 other struggling schools. Turnaround requires principals who have been in place for more than a few years to be replaced, and the city has started informing principals at some of the schools that they would be removed at the end of the year. But Fried's departure happened abruptly, suggesting that the city might have had more immediate concerns. Department of Education officials did not respond to requests for details about Fried's departure today. At a faculty meeting this afternoon, Kathleen Elvin was introduced as the school's interim acting principal. Elvin was the founding principal of a successful small high school, Williamsburg Prep, and most recently trained teachers assigned to schools undergoing less agressive overhaul strategies. She is likely to help engineer staffing and programming changes at the school through the turnaround process. The change, according to people familiar with the school, was sorely needed — but comes after too long with subpar leadership. “Principal Fried sits in his office all day and can’t control the students,” City Councilman Dominic Recchia, a 1977 Dewey graduate, said at a public meeting earlier this year, according to the Brooklyn Daily. “This principal should have been gone years ago. The school could prosper but it needs new leadership.”
March 15, 2012
Principals say evaluation legislation won't derail their protest
Southside High School Principal Carol Burris and Harbor School Principal Nate Dudley at Burris's school on Monday. The pair oppose the state's new teacher evaluation requirements. The Long Island principals who galvanized opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's teacher evaluation proposals say they won't let the fact that the proposals won legislative approval stop their protest. Together, Sean Feeney and Carol Burris in October launched a petition critiquing the evaluation system that has garnered more than 8,000 signatures, nearly 1,500 of them from principals. The petition argued that the state’s evaluation regulations — which require a portion of teachers’ and principals' ratings to be based on their students’ test scores — are unsupported by research, prone to errors, and too expensive at a time of budget cuts. Those issues haven't disappeared just because the legislature agreed late last night to turn Cuomo's proposals into law, Feeney and Burris said today. They said they would still run an ad featuring about 70 principals in next week's Legislative Gazette, and they would still ask lawmakers to shield teachers' ratings from transparency laws that could land the ratings in newspapers, as happened last month in New York City. More than that, they said, they would still speak out about problems they have identified in the evaluation system's requirements. "One way or another we have to stand up for what we believe in, and no matter what happens, we've stated and articulated our position," Feeney told me this morning. "We'll see what happens after that."
March 12, 2012
Principals ramp up evaluations protest with a lobbying effort
Signing on to a petition wasn't enough for some principals across the state who oppose the state's impending teacher evaluation requirements. The Long Island principals who launched a policy paper and signature drive against the teacher evaluation system last fall are ramping up their resistance with a lobbying effort. Bringing together colleagues from across the region, including from New York City, the principals plan to take out an ad in the Legislative Gazette, a small Albany publication, asking lawmakers to revise the framework that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed for new teacher and principal evaluations. The framework that Cuomo proposed was set with the support of the state's main teachers union, NYSUT, but it doesn't become law until legislators sign off on it when they set the new budget. That must happen by the end of this month, and until then, legislators could conceivably make revisions. The principals have broad concerns about the educational value of the evaluation requirements, but they are limiting their ask to three main changes. They want lawmakers to shield teachers' evaluations from being subject to transparency laws; revise the scoring ranges so teachers whose students do not make academic progress are not automatically rated ineffective; and institute a pilot period before the new system goes statewide.
March 8, 2012
Revamped principal evals could reshape superintendents' role
Attention has focused squarely on teacher evaluations in recent months. But the state’s evaluation law applies to principals, too, meaning that major changes could be on the way for the way city principals are assessed. In some ways, principals in New York City have been preparing for the state’s evaluation system for years. Since 2008, the city has rated principals according to a tiered system based “multiple measures” that include student test scores — exactly as the state’s evaluation law requires. The city’s current teacher evaluation system is “an old, antiquated process that has to take leaps and bounds to move forward,” said David Weiner, a top Department of Education deputy, during a discussion for about 50 principals affiliated with Teachers College’s Cahn Fellows program in January. “Our principals process is in a much better place.” But that doesn’t mean a new system for principal evaluations is likely to come easily. The law’s requirements mean the city and principals union will have to settle on some major adjustments — adjustments that some question whether the city has the capacity to make. The biggest adjustment will have to be to the role of the superintendent, who must formally observe principals under the state’s new evaluations framework. The city will have to restore authority and support to the offices of the city’s 38 superintendents, which have seen both of those things disappear during the Bloomberg administration.
March 2, 2012
At some turnaround schools, city is telling principals they're out
The city has begun telling principals at some of the schools slated for a controversial overhaul process that they won't be part of the changes. The city is moving forward with plans to overhaul 33 struggling schools according to a federally prescribed school improvement strategy known as "turnaround." Turnaround requires that schools replace at least 50 percent of their teachers, revise their curriculums, and get new principals. The federal regulations make an exception for principals who have been in place less than two years or who arrived three years ago as part of a deliberate effort to overhaul their schools. Those principals are allowed to stay on. That means that about half of the principals at the schools slated for turnaround are likely to keep their jobs — and half will have to go. Some have already started getting the bad news. "Most principals found out that they would be leaving as of June 30 and they’re concerned to keep up the progress that the school has made," said one of the principals who is being removed. "It’s a very upsetting thing because we’ve worked very hard to make progress in our schools."
February 21, 2012
As new evaluations firm up, more city principals oppose them
During the month that Gov. Andrew Cuomo was engineering revisions to the state's teacher evaluation law, more city principals signed onto a petition critiquing it. A pair of Long Island principals launched the petition against the state's 2010 evaluation law in November, arguing that its requirement that a portion of teachers’ ratings be based on students’ test scores is unsupported by research, prone to errors, and too expensive at a time of budget cuts. Two weeks after the petition started circulating, hundreds of principals across the state had signed on, but only a handful were from New York City. By early January, only about 100 city principals had signed on, up from 30 in early December. Now, there are more than 175 principals on board as of the version of the petition distributed Monday night. City principals still make up less than 15 percent of the 1,359 state principals who have signed on while comprising more than a third of principals statewide. But they have made up ground in recent weeks. They were less than 10 percent of signatories a month ago.
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