Dozens of first-year teachers originally slated to lose their jobs in early December have only three more weeks to secure a permanent position or be fired, a state labor arbitrator ruled today. According to the ruling, the new teachers, most of whom were hired through the Teaching Fellows program, will go off the Department of Education's payroll on Feb. 2 if they have not been hired by a principal by then. The ruling concludes a months-long fight by new hires who entered a tighter-than-usual teacher labor market this fall. Facing a hefty bill for teachers who weren't actually filling empty positions, the DOE planned to fire unplaced new teachers on Dec. 5, in accordance with a contract the teachers had signed when they accepted their spot in the Teaching Fellows program, which places unlicensed teachers in hard-to-fill positions. But the United Federation of Teachers filed a grievance contending that the teachers were protected by the job security clause in the union's contract with the city and so should say on the DOE's payroll. When the issue went to arbitration in December, the union was hopeful that the teachers' jobs would be protected through the end of the school year, UFT spokesman Ron Davis told me.
Angelica is one of two students who are writing occasional columns for GothamSchools on their experiences attending a New York City public school. Read her previous post. Roland Fryer, a Harvard economist who is set to change schools as we know them in NYC, claims that every student could be an A-student. That is, as long the right incentive is applied. Fryer plans to pay students for every A they get. He thinks they would work more diligently if they were paid for good performance. He is presently testing the idea in some schools in New York City. Honestly, would I work harder at school if I were getting paid? Duh. That basically goes unsaid. When I asked my classmate at NYCiSchool, Kyjah Coryat, if she would put more effort into her grades if given money, she was quick to say she would. “Obviously. That would give me something more to strive for,” she said. Realistically, few teenagers would refuse the money given the chance; it’s common logic. Undoubtedly, Fryer's method could be effective. However, whether it is ethical is another issue.
A Teaching Fellows ad in the subway in March 2007. Photo via ##http://nyc2dailyphoto.blogspot.com/2007/03/what-is-your-first-grade-teachers-name.html##NYC Daily Photo##. I've reported before that the Department of Education has hundreds of teachers without permanent positions and that it took a judge to stop the department from firing dozens of new teachers last month. So I was surprised recently to see recruitment ads in the subway for the DOE's Teaching Fellows program, which places recent college graduates and career-changing professionals in high-need classrooms throughout the city. (Similarly startled by the ads, Pissed Off Teacher is, well, pissed off about them.) In fact, the DOE has scaled back advertising for the Teaching Fellows program by more than a third since last year. This year, the department spent $140,000 to advertise the program in subway cars and $75,000 to promote the program online, DOE spokeswoman Ann Forte told me. In contrast, she said, the program's advertising budget last year came out to between $300,000 and $400,000, and had spent even more in previous years when it bought advertising in print publications.
In my post this morning, I reported that some people are worrying that the administrative reshuffling announced today could spell yet another dramatic twist in the way schools are managed and supported. Not so, according to Eric Nadelstern, whose new title under the reshuffling — don't call it a reorganization! — is chief schools officer. Unlike past administrative changes, this one is happening for the sake of cost-cutting and bureaucracy-slimming, not because of any departure in ideology. Nadelstern told me in a quick telephone call that the change is actually a "validation" of the Department of Education's last reorganization, in the spring of 2007. That reorganization, the department's third major overhaul under Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, replaced traditional bureaucratic management layers like superintendents with a new nexus of "support" organizations that are supposed to be helpful rather than punitive. The support groups are also supposed to work like a marketplace, with schools being able to buy the services of any one of them, at prices the groups determine. Nadelstern's new job has him overseeing all these support groups, from the ones within the department (called LSO's) to the private ones outside of it (PSO's) to the Empowerment network he created, in a single office. Previously, the organizations had reported to different offices within the DOE.
Eric Nadelstern will take on expanded duties. (Via ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilyshu/2980136053/##Cody Castro##) A top schools official who spearheaded the Bloomberg administration’s efforts to allow private control of some public schools is leaving the Department of Education, in a reorganization that could save the department a significant amount of money — and might or might not signal a new direction for the school system. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced the change to school leaders in a conference call this morning. The official, JoEllen Lynch, oversaw the department’s transition to allowing schools to affiliate with private management groups like New Visions for Public Schools and CEI-PEA, in lieu of the traditional bureaucracy. The groups, known as PSO’s, were the closest that the Bloomberg administration came to emulating other urban school systems’ privatization efforts, like one in Philadelphia where for-profit management groups competed for control of public schools. Lynch’s office will be headed by another top schools official, Eric Nadelstern, who will maintain his current portfolio of schools affiliated with the Empowerment network. The reshuffling elevates Nadelstern’s position in the department, a promotion that could elevate his gadfly ideas, too. Officials are selling the change as a way to cut costs amid ballooning concerns about the city’s fiscal prognosis. But some people who work at PSO's are worrying the change could also be a signal that PSO's days are numbered, and that the Empowerment network Nadelstern champions as a very lean way to run public schools will overtake them.
The City Council and the head of the principals union have urged the Department of Education to save money by reducing the number of new schools it opens this fall. But the department appears not to be laying the groundwork to adopt that strategy, instead announcing today its plan to close a large Manhattan high school. Bayard Rustin High School for Humanities will not accept any new ninth-graders for this fall and will close permanently when its last students graduate in 2012, the DOE told staff there yesterday. The school, which currently has more than 1,500 students, has struggled mightily in recent years. Its graduation rate is below 50 percent, and it received an F on its 2007-2008 progress report, the tool the city uses to evaluate schools. The school's closure comes after recent turmoil that included a spike in teacher turnover and an investigation into whether the school had tampered with Regents scores.
David Paterson, via Flickr At a time when he has proposed cutting education spending by $2.5 billion, Governor David Paterson was necessarily short on education policy proposals during his State of the State address today. The annual address, which Paterson delivered today for the first time, is typically a forum for the governor to announce new initiatives. Paterson did propose a substantial new loan program to help high school graduates afford college. But in a sign of the lean times, the other two programs Paterson singled out for attention both shift at least some of the burden of paying for educational services onto private providers. One, the early college high school model, partners colleges with public schools so students earn college credits during high school. Paterson also highlighted Say Yes to Education, a national foundation that supports low-income children throughout school and college; Say Yes currently works with several schools in Harlem and upstate in Syracuse. Paterson said the state needs schools to improve without additional resources. "The road to economic competitiveness and renewal runs right through our schools," he said. "However, during this downturn, we simply cannot spend more — so we must spend more effectively." Below the jump, Paterson's full remarks on education: