New York

Tonight: Senate Democrats hold mayoral control hearing in Brooklyn

With the 2002 law granting control of the city's schools to the mayor set to expire in less than a year, discussion about school governance in New York City is getting serious — and parents and educators are invited to share their thoughts tonight at a forum in Brooklyn. Photo by p_a_h For the last year, parents, educators, and community activists have weighed in on what the State Assembly should do when the law sunsets in July 2009. Some, including many in the current education administration, believe the law should be renewed as it is currently written. Others are advocating for a complete return to community control of schools, saying that mayoral control has shut out parent and community voices in school leadership. And still others have developed proposals for revisions to the law that would institute checks and balances on a mayor-controlled school system. But until recently, it wasn't clear how these wide-ranging proposals might gain traction. Now, members of the State Assembly have turned their attention to the mayoral control question as they gear up to tackle it in the upcoming term. Tonight, the Senate Democratic School Governance Task Force is holding its second of five hearings on mayoral control, at Brooklyn Borough Hall from 5 to 8 p.m. Hosted by Martin Connor, a state senator from District 25, which covers Lower Manhattan and much of the waterfront neighborhoods in Brooklyn from Greenpoint south to Carroll Gardens, the hearing is among the first organized by members of the governing body that is actually tasked with addressing the law. Democrats are considered likely to take control of the State Senate this fall; in a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 52 percent of likely voters said they hoped Democrats would win control, compared to just 32 percent who said they wanted Republicans to retain control.
New York

A tour of schools data around the country – California (LA), Denver, Houston

In reflecting on transparency in government, I thought I'd take a look around the country at a few other urban school districts to see how they make data available to the public. Are there school districts out there that are models for all in terms of making data accessible? Today, LA, Denver, and Houston. Tomorrow, DC, Chicago, and Baltimore. If there are other cities you think I should look at, leave a comment. Next week, we'll see what users in each of these cities have to say about the availability of data - if you're from one of the featured cities and can provide perspective, please email me. Also, what tools would be most helpful to you as someone interested in education? In exploring each site, I looked to see what information is available, in what format, how quickly I found it, and whether special tools were available to help me navigate the data and answer my own questions. Please keep in mind that since I'm not from these other cities, I'm a "naive user" of these sites, perhaps similar to a parent or community member interested in but not expert at finding what's out there. If I've missed anything on any of the sites I visited, let me know so I can update this. Screenshot of California's STAR system Starting out west, I spent a few minutes at the LA Unified School District homepage, which relatively quickly led me to the California Department of Education's Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) system, a tool that allows you to search at different levels (county, district, school), by subgroup, and view or download tables of information. Both mean scale scores and the percentage of students at each proficiency level are reported. What's problematic is that to compare subgroups or years, you have to create separate reports for each category you want to compare (e.g., first request 2006 data, then request 2007 data, then compare on your own); the tool would be immensely more powerful if it allowed you to select two or more subgroups or years for comparison. Summary tables comparing different subgroups and different years are available with the 2007 press release, but only for some kinds of data (proficiency statistics are compared but not scale scores, for example).
New York

Parents, community leaders come together around 75 Morton St. middle school plan