Outside the registration center at Brooklyn Tech Most of the kids who started school today spent last week enjoying the waning days of summer vacation. But those who moved to the city this summer or hoped to transfer from one city school to another spent at least some time at a DOE registration center figuring out where to report for classes today. The 13 temporary centers, located in schools in every borough, range in size and tone, with some centers struggling to assist a huge volume of families each day since opening Aug. 25 and others with such sparse attendance that DOE officials are able to offer each family in-depth personal attention. On Friday afternoon, about a dozen families sat scattered throughout the auditorium at the South Bronx Educational Campus, waiting to be called to register or apply for transfers for their children. Norma Nonis, director of borough enrollment for districts 7, 9, and 10, said the registration process was working quickly and painlessly at the site, which opened last year, in part because it serves comparatively few families. Before last year, the 75 families that the South Bronx site registers each day would have had to travel to Manhattan to register their children for school. At other sites throughout the city, the process was not moving so fast when we visited last week.
Maurice Jordan with his children on the first day of school. "If you know where your kids are, step up to your responsibilities and be a man," Maurice Jordan, father of Shakim, 13, and Muneerah, 5, said this morning, as he accompanied his children to school. Fatherhood, he said, is "an easy job, it's a fun job." Jordan, who says he got custody of his children last year, believes his involvement in their education has led to academic success. "Between these two, I think it's like thirty awards and certificates last year." To promote this kind of involvement, organizers from churches, community organizations, and the Office of Children and Family Services encouraged fathers — and other male relatives — to walk their children to school today as part of New York City's Million Father March. The march, sponsored nationally by The Black Star Project, the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and other organizations, aimed to highlight the importance of fathers in their children's education. At C.S. 133 in Harlem, parents arriving with their children were greeted warmly by school administrators and teachers, event organizer Melvin Aston of the Office of Children and Family Services, and City Council Member Inez Dickens. Dickens said that fathers must be encouraged to step out from their traditional behind-the-scenes roles and play a more public role in their children's lives. "We need to show them, it's all right for you to bring your child to school instead of the mother, it's all right for you to bring them to a doctor's appointment." Both boys and girls benefit from having an involved father, she added. The movement focused on one school in each borough this year, although fathers throughout the city were encouraged to walk their children to school, according to Deb Jenkins, Senior Pastor of the Faith @ Work Church, who organized the Bronx event. "When a father is present, we see that the academic outcomes are greater," Jenkins said.
Joe Biden may bed down with a teacher every night, but Sarah Palin, the woman John McCain has picked to be his vice presidential running mate, was born to two of them — her father taught middle school science and her mother worked as an education support provider in Alaska's public schools for many years. Though we know her pedigree, we don't know much else about Palin and education, especially her views on national policy issues. There's virtually nothing about schools on her official homepage as the governor of Alaska, and the policies she has supported do not seem to fall neatly into either of this year's school improvement camps: the "Broader, Bolder Approach" and the "no excuses" philosophy espoused by backers of the Education Equality Project. In fact, because Alaska's schools are so different from those in the rest of the nation — for practical reasons, there are thriving distance education and homeschooling movements, for example — Palin has had little opportunity as governor to participate in national-scale education policy discussions. Here's what little we do know:
Chicago school buses by ##http://flickr.com/photos/good_day##Today is a Good Day## With only the long weekend separating them from the first day of school, religious, political, and education leaders in Chicago are gearing up for a major protest in which more than 100 busloads of Chicago students will roll into a middle-class suburb and try to enroll in schools there to highlight unequal school funding between the two districts. Although organizers briefly offered to drop the boycott plan if the state's top Democrats agreed to back a $120 million reform initiative to benefit Illinois' lowest-performing schools, yesterday they announced that "the window has expired" and the boycott would go on. The Committee for Concerned Clergy, led by state senator Rev. James Meeks, has been developing plans all summer to bus Chicago students to Winnetka, an upper-middle-class suburb 20 miles north of the city that's home to New Trier Township High School, one of the nation's top-rated high schools. Once there, the students will try to enroll in Winnetka schools, although the district's residency requirements and state laws prohibit them from being admitted. For their part, Winnetka officials are cooperating with protest leaders and are planning to make it easy for the busloads of students to fill out registration forms. Back in Chicago, school officials are nervous about a funding formula that will cost schools $110 a day for each student who is absent during the first week of school.
Painting McDonough HS by ##http://flickr.com/people/jodyanderic/##Beurremanie## Three years ago today, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans. Since then, the city has struggled — valiantly at times, less so at others — to rebuild. As Paul Tough's New York Times Magazine cover story from two weeks ago reminds us, nowhere has the rebuilding meant such a "radical experiment in reform" as in the city's school system, where currently half of students attend charter schools, many of which are being run in the KIPP model, and many teachers come straight from college with far more energy than teaching experience.
Links to state standards, the city's scope and sequence, professional development opportunities help with DOE email, and HR information all in one place, plus news and a calendar: the city's new Teacher Page looks like a useful resource for teachers. You can use it to subscribe to newsletters from the DOE, although it looks like everyone in the system will be automatically subscribed to the Teachers' Weekly through their department email. The teaching resources section, divided by subject area, could use a little work; at the moment, it's just long lists of links, without much indication of what you might find there or how it might fit in to the city's programs. Special education includes no links to anything about Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT), Gifted and Talented doesn't include anything about the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, and in Science, the FOSS, Harcourt, and Glencoe sites, which relate directly to the city's curriculum, are mixed in with resources like Bill Nye the Science Guy. Increased communication of this kind will help teachers solve HR problems and connect to resources for themselves and their students, but it's just a small step.
PHOTO: Tajuana Cheshier/Chalkbeat TNFrancesca Martinez, left, and Alexis Noa While many teens spent their summer vacations relaxing, Francesca Martinez and Alexis Noa manned the phones and filed purchase orders at the employment office of the Henry Street Settlement, a comprehensive service provider on the Lower East Side. Noa, a senior at Manhattan's High School for Leadership and Public Service, and Martinez, a junior at Millennium High School in Tribeca, were among the 43,000 young people who this spring won an annual lottery: a job through the city's Department of Youth and Community Development's Summer Youth Employment Program. Nearly three decades old, SYEP is more popular than ever — this year receiving more than 100,000 applications for 43,000 positions — and a model for summer employment programs in cities around the country, even as DYCD officials refine the program’s structure here in New York.
The Gothamschools Time Machine The city announced today that it will open 18 "new" school buildings next week with the start of the school year. A few are brand new construction. Others are adapted from use as government offices or Catholic schools; the two high schools moving into a renovated building on Adams Street in Downtown Brooklyn, for example, occupy an old family court building. And still others are annexes to existing schools: the buildings may be new, but the schools themselves are not. Despite their different provenances, however, all of the new schools are likely to provide suitable physical conditions for teaching and learning. But what about the days when schools were disgusting? Not trash-in-the-halls gross, but diphtheria-inducing, reeking-of-dead-animals gross? Back in the late 1800s, that's how Charles Wehrum, a member of the Board of Education, characterized the city's 140 schools after surveying their conditions:
Four-Year Outcomes for the Class of 2007 When the state released graduation figures earlier this month, I wondered what the city's old formula for determining graduation rates would have said about the class of 2007. Yesterday, Edwize pointed us to a 276-page report available on the DOE's website that includes the answer to that question and much, much more. Although the state's graduation figure of 52 percent is the official one thanks to an agreement between the city and state last year, the DOE still calculated the graduation rate for the class of 2007 using its old formula, which gave credit for students graduating in August and for students completing a GED or IEP diploma rather than a local or Regents diploma. According to this formula, 62 percent of students entering the city's high schools in the fall of 2003 graduated on time, an improvement of 2.3 percentage points over the class of 2006.