The city principals' union just passed along these details for the funeral of Mitchell Weiner, the assistant principal at IS 238 who died yesterday from complications of the H1N1 or swine flu. Wednesday, May 20th at 2 p.m. Sinai Chapels 162-05 Horace Harding Expressway Fresh Meadows, NY 11365 Phone: 1-800-446-0406 • 718-445-0300 Fax: 718-321-0896 MAP & DIRECTIONS Here's an excerpt from a Daily News story on Wiener that ran a few days before he died: When a teenage neighbor in need of math tutoring knocked on the door of his Queens apartment 28 years ago, Mitchell Wiener immediately dropped everything he was doing. The young math teacher spent hours coaching Melissa Lipsky that day in 1981. Over the next several weeks, Wiener met with Melissa numerous times, guiding her through her eighth-grade arithmetic lessons. ...
In the debate over the future of mayoral control, one sticking point has been the proper role of the city school board, currently known as the Panel for Educational Policy. Today, a coalition pushing for significant changes to mayoral control is taking its PEP recommendations to the panel's front steps, at the same that state lawmakers are powwowing in Albany about the panel's future. Advocates for checks on the mayor's power say that the system needs an independent school board whose members can freely vote against mayoral proposals when appropriate. But Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have said that changing the composition of the PEP would introduce policy gridlock and undermine the mayor's accountability on education matters. The Campaign for Better Schools, a coalition of community groups, is calling on state legislators to change the panel's composition so that the mayor no longer controls a majority of seats. Campaign members are planning to rally in support of that position at 5:30 p.m. today outside Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan, where the PEP is holding its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. "We want to highlight the fact that the PEP is simply just a rubber stamp for the policies of the mayor," said Shomwa Shamapande, a campaign spokesman. About 200 campaign members are expected to protest before the meeting, then enter Stuyvesant's auditorium for the meeting itself, he said. By tonight, it's possible that a deal will have been struck about the future of the PEP.
Using the same data set discussed here and here, I calculated the total expenses per pupil at 58 New York City charter schools for the 2007-08 school year. Here is the workbook with my calculations. The total expenses for the 58 schools was $236,230,149. The total enrollment was 17,680. This comes out to a per pupil calculation of $13,361. The average school expenses per pupil was $13,520. The median school was $12,948. For the 2007-08 school year, the “base funding” per pupil, i.e. the fixed amount per pupil received from the DOE, was $11,023. So spending on the average student was $2,338 above the base amount.
UPDATE: Here's a video of Saturday's street-painting event: Art classes might be getting squeezed in some city schools, but they are still happening in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn — at least on Saturdays. Fort Greene kids are set to paint the street in front of their school tomorrow as part of a city initiative to beautify local roads. The art teacher from one of the schools, Community Roots Charter School, has been working with a local artist and her second graders to develop a plan for drawing a street mural that looks like a neighborhood map. The event, taking place in front of the building shared by PS 67 and Community Roots, is being sponsored by Livable Streets Education, which like GothamSchools is part of The Open Planning Project.
The head of the city's special education division has announced that she is stepping down at the end of the school year, a surprise move that comes at a time when a top-to-bottom review of special education is underway. Linda Wernikoff said her decision to retire is not related to the review or the changes its conclusion could bring to her department. "I think I've had a wonderful 35-year career here and I'm very proud of the work that we've done," she told me. "Now I think it's time that I need to try new things." Under Wernikoff's leadership, the Department of Education has focused on reducing the proportion of children who are in special education-only classes, and the graduation rate for students with special needs has inched up, although it still remains quite low. Wernikoff, who began her career in 1974 as a speech teacher, told me she had no specific plans yet for her future, but she said, "Whatever I do will continue to be advocating for students with special needs." People that I spoke to today said Wernikoff's departure will be a blow for the special education community.
The highly anticipated teachers' contract for the Green Dot charter school in the South Bronx, which has been heralded as an innovative collaboration between a Los Angeles-based charter school operator and the union president Randi Weingarten, is expected to be finalized as soon as today. The contract is being closely watched for signs of just how flexibly Weingarten is willing to negotiate a teachers' contract — eagerly by supporters of looser protections for teachers, and with gritted teeth by veterans who believe strong job security is crucial. The original Green Dot charter schools in Los Angeles raised many veterans' eyebrows here because the schools' contracts do not include the concept of "tenure" for more senior teachers. The contracts do guarantee teachers protections against unfair dismissal. Steve Barr, the charismatic leader who founded Green Dot, told me Wednesday that he expects a contract by the end of the week. "It should be finalized this week; I would be very surprised if it's not," Barr said. Barr has said in the past that he expects the New York contract to be similar to the one negotiated in Los Angeles.
Anyone who stayed until the bitter end of a three-hour meeting last night about kindergarten waitlists in Manhattan got a surprise: an uncharacteristic apology from a top DOE official. Hundreds of parents turned out for a meeting of the parent council for District 2 to vent about having been shut out, at least for now, of their neighborhood schools. Last week, Manhattan parents protested at City Hall after 273 children were put on waiting lists at many elementary schools. Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm arrived late to the meeting after spending her afternoon dealing with the swine flu outbreak in Queens. She sat quietly in the audience and listened to a tense back and forth between school officials and angry parents. The auditorium had mostly emptied and council members were preparing to adjourn when Grimm approached the microphone to make a surprise statement, which I captured on video above. Here's a key part of what she said: I also want to say something that I thought I heard people from the DOE say tonight, but just in case you didn't, I want to say, I'm sorry. We're sorry. We have stumbled on some of this planning. The two officials leading the meeting told parents during the meeting that most schools should be able to eliminate their wait lists by the middle of June, after families find out where they've been offered seats in gifted and talented programs. John White, who heads the Department of Education's efforts to manage school space, said that more children in each area qualified for gifted admissions than there are children on the waiting list.