PHOTO: Alan PetersimeA Queens charter school encouraged parents and students to call Governor David Paterson and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith after it learned charter schools could see their funding frozen. Paterson and Smith are now sending the schools $30 million. (##http://picasaweb.google.com/teach11372/RenaissanceCharterRallyAndMarchAgainstCharterCuts#5319497282636828866##Nicholas##) Governor David Paterson and Malcolm Smith, the state Senate majority leader, are back in good favor with their long-lost charter school friends. Smith has just announced a plan to counteract a budget freeze that took the schools by surprise earlier this year, by sending the schools a one-time $30 million grant. The grant is less than the $51 million that charter schools were slated to lose after legislators axed planned funding increases in their recent budget deal. And it will expire at the end of next year, leaving supporters to wage a new fight over funds then. But a source familiar with the plan who is a supporter of charter schools said that $30 million will be enough to help schools that had been imagining slashing after-school programs and turning down extra staff they'd already hired for next year. Smith announced the planned injection just now at a charter school lottery in Harlem, which Philissa is covering. The lottery is the annual event for the former City Council member Eva Moskowitz, who runs the Success Charter Network in Harlem. Harlem Success is expecting more than 5,000 parents at the lottery, which will determine which children are selected to attend the schools.
More city public school graduates are enrolling at City University of New York Colleges, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and CUNY President Matt Goldstein boasted at a press conference last month. But whether the students are prepared for the college experience, both in and outside the classroom, is much less clear. Only 7.5% of students take all of the high school courses that CUNY recommends, and more than 70% of the first-year students in CUNY's junior colleges must take remedial courses to catch up on basic skills, according to John Garvey, who was until recently the dean in charge of CUNY's College Now program, which allows high school students to take college-level courses. Garvey presented the information at an event Tuesday held by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, which is developing a set of recommendations for how to boost student achievement. One major problem is that the most advanced high school courses, called Regents courses to match the exit exams students must pass, do not approximate the style or difficulty of college classes, Garvey said. CUNY freshmen are exempted from remedial courses if they score a 75 on the math and English Regents exams. But the tests focus on material that should be learned in middle school and the first years of high school, Garvey said. "They don't align with the real needs of college courses," he said.
A KIPP charter school in the Bronx. (By ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlleleela/##Leila Haddouche##, via ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlleleela/2711133829/##Flickr Creative Commons##) The next front in the tug of war between teachers unions and charter schools is about to commence, and this development will occur at the bargaining table. The game: UFT vs. KIPP. There's been no official word yet, but everyone involved in the saga between the politically powerful teachers union and the prominent charter school network is expecting that 16 KIPP teachers in Brooklyn will become official members of the city teachers union today. UPDATE: It's now official, confirmed by both the union and KIPP. Press releases from both parties are below. And here is the PERB decision. David Levin, KIPP's co-founder and the superintendent of New York City KIPP schools, told me this afternoon that he hopes negotiations will begin as soon as next week. Teachers at the charter school, KIPP AMP, petitioned to form a union in January, but their pitch has to be accepted by the Public Employee Relations Board before the union becomes official. Reports had said a final decision would come yesterday, but both the union and KIPP officials were still waiting for word this morning. Now, all signs point to PERB sending the green light to the union today.
Some high schools allow students who fail a class to get credit for it anyway by completing a short course or special project in a controversial practice known as "credit recovery." But despite the practice's widespread use, credit recovery has actually never been permitted under state regulations, which require a certain amount of "seat time" for students to earn course credit. Now, the practice could soon get a green light from the State Education Department, which last year said it would review whether credit recovery met its standards for course completion. At its meeting this week, the Board of Regents reviewed a proposal from SED for a formal policy on what the department called "'making-up' course credit." The proposed policy, which SED developed in collaboration with the city Department of Education, does away with seat time as a basic standard for whether students earn high school course credit. The proposal would require schools to establish committees of teachers and administrators to determine whether a student's make-up work should receive credit. It would not require that students spend a specific amount of time making up the credit, but it would mandate that replacement instruction be given by a teacher certified in the subject. (The full proposal is at the end of this post.) SED Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier told the committee that a policy is needed because credit recovery programs are becoming more prevalent.
Part of the million pennies raised by schools through Penny Harvest. Photo from ##http://insideschools.blogspot.com/search?q=%22penny+harvest%22##Insideschools##. City principals will have to submit plans in October explaining how they’ll meet the Mayor Bloomberg's new service requirement for schools, but it shouldn't be an onerous task for most of them. Most schools, particularly at the high school level, already engage in some service, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Kerri Lyon. At Manhattan Bridges High School in Midtown, for example, students have always been required to log 40 hours of service before they graduate, Principal Mirza Sanchez Medina told me yesterday. Other schools announced service initiatives this week that were planned before Bloomberg's announcement: Students from the Academy of Urban Planning and the Bushwick School for Social Justice planted 16 trees in between their campuses in honor of Earth Day, and kids at Harlem’s PS 57 pitched ideas for community-improvement grants to Scholastic’s Be Big Fund. For the many schools that already engage in service, the mayor's initiative should expand the number of volunteer options available to students, Lyon said. And schools that have never participated in service before can start slowly, such as by joining Penny Harvest, the popular program where kids donate pennies to charities of their choice, she said.
Stephen Colbert appeared at Manhattan Bridges High School this morning to announce a $4 million grant that will help teachers buy supplies. The comedian Stephen Colbert took time out from his regular ranting to conduct a polite, earnest interview at a Manhattan high school this morning, in an appearance meant to announce a new "citizen philanthropy" project by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation is giving $4.1 million to a Web site that connects private donors with classroom teachers who need extra supplies, DonorsChoose.org, . Colbert, who sits on the site's board, made the announcement in the style of his televised interviews, before an audience of students at Manhattan Bridges High School, but without any of his usual mean comments. (He did draw laughs with an awkward attempt to use Spanish, the native language of many Bridges students, to explain that he was a "perdedor gigante," or giant loser, when he was in high school.) The panel he interviewed included Vicki Phillips, the head of Gates' education division; DonorsChoose founder Charles Best; and a Manhattan Bridges English teacher. The Gates money will be disbursed to teachers who apply for small grants through DonorsChoose's existing "Double Your Impact" program, which allows foundations and companies to earmark donations for specific kinds of projects. When a DonorsChoose user views projects that fall into that category, they appear as already being 50 percent funded. The Gates Foundation money will go to support as many as 17,000 projects that are identified by DonorsChoose as boosting students' readiness for college, one of the new goals the foundation adopted after it re-considered its mission last year.