A few weeks ago, I passed on some readers' questions about the Core Knowledge Reading Program to Matthew Davis, who is coordinating a pilot of the program in New York City elementary schools. He got back to me today with some answers. Ira asked whether the program addresses syntax, since he finds that his students are very weak in understanding grammar and sentence structure. Matthew Davis: In the Listening and Learning strand, the children will be hearing sentences with a lot of syntactical variety, including longer sentences than they would generally encounter in early reader type books they read on their own. We hope this oral experience of the language of books will help the students develop a sense of syntax. Also, beginning in grade 2, the Skills strand will address grammar and syntax explicitly. We expect to do some sentence-combining type of exercises to practice syntactic expansion. Details are being refined as I write. Smith wanted to know how content is selected and sequenced, and how this program differs from what elementary teachers do already.
Two weeks after the DOE first presented the Community Education Council for District 3 with two proposals for rezoning the Upper West Side, CEC 3 has concluded that both are too flawed to vote on. Maps of the DOE's two rezoning proposals In its official response, which CEC 3 released Friday along with responses from individual schools, CEC 3 asks for a new plan based on official school capacity data, a revised conception of school zones, and an expectation of class size reduction. The densely packed response also asks the DOE to consider leasing as a short-term solution to the district's space needs and emphasizes the unique identities of the district's special programs, the advantages of grandfathering in any new zones so that siblings are kept together, and the need for a new school building. An important question, the CEC argues, is whether the time is even right for rezoning, given the DOE's own self-proclaimed constraints in planning for future space needs. From the response: You have said that DOE does not plan for children until they register for seats. If the DOE is unable to anticipate how many children will be yielded by new construction, then perhaps this period of massive new construction in our district is NOT the best time to be redrawing zone lines. The council will address the issue further at its public meeting Wednesday. CEC 3's entire response is worth a read — it's a useful summary of many of the issues districts and neighborhoods face when trying to negotiate an overcrowding plan with the DOE. The response is posted in full after the jump.