Ernest Logan, principals union president The principals' union is joining the groups raising concerns about the city's plan to make cuts to 21 day care centers for struggling families run by the city's Administration for Children's Services. ACS officials have said that no children currently being served by the city-financed day care will lose their spots. But the plan would phase out some day care services next year, by forcing children who are eligible for Department of Education kindergarten programs (because they are at least 5 years old) to attend that kindergarten, rather than ACS preschool. The union argues that forcing families to switch the place where their children are cared for would have bad consequences, especially for parents with more than one child who find it easier to have all of their children at one location. Among possible consequences, the union named "the likelihood that [families] would move onto the unemployment and public assistance rolls." Rather than closing the ACS-run centers to these children, the union suggests a plan that would preserve them but would force the Department of Education to share some of its costs. In other pre-K news: Councilman Bill de Blasio is also protesting the proposed cuts tomorrow at City Hall, and Sara Mead has an excellent round-up of how early childhood programs across the country are faring in the bad economy, and why the fact that they are struggling is bad news.
PHOTO: Oliver MorrisonRandi Weingarten (via Flickr) Liz Benjamin reports that teachers union president Randi Weingarten has talked with Governor Paterson about possibly taking over Hillary Clinton's senate seat: Two sources confirm that "talks" have been had by the Paterson administration and Weingarten about whether she might be interested in joining the nation's most exclusive political club. O.M.G.!! This would allow a whole new who's-the-next-Weingarten search. But Liz deflates with this statement from Weingarten: UPDATE: Weingarten forwarded over a statement saying she is "very flattered and honored" to hear her name mentioned "given how many qualified candidates are under consideration to replace our great junior senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton," and adding: "However, I have a great new job that I am very engaged in - fighting for schools, kids and working people in the middle of the worst economic downturn of our lifetime." I'm very skeptical. I just got off the phone with a union insider who would almost definitely know if this was going to happen — and hadn't heard a thing. UPDATE. Weingarten's full statement is below the jump. Suddenly I get the feeling Weingarten does not want the story to die completely.
City Hall (via Flickr) Data specialists, new small schools, and empty seats in gifted programs could all go the way of cash bonuses to top-scoring schools if the City Council gets the budget cuts it wants. The Council is proposing $170 million in additional budget cuts, on top of the millions Mayor Bloomberg already suggested, in an attempt to preserve a $400 rebate to homeowners that the mayor says the city can't afford. Almost $80 million of the proposed cuts would come from the Department of Education, the largest amount from any single city agency. Nearly $40 million of that would be programs associated with the department's flagship Children First initiative, such as the school-based "inquiry teams" that analyze data about individual students. Other cuts would come in the form of delays, such as opening fewer schools each year and tabling plans to buy new data systems to manage enrollment and hiring information. And the proposal would require teachers to do jury duty on their own time, during the summer, so that schools won't have to pay for substitutes.
Congressman George Miller As the Education Secretary fight nears an end, everyone is trying to figure out how to describe the two sides of the battle for Barack Obama's affection. But I don't think any of the recent descriptions — from the Associated Press ("reform advocates") to Newsweek's Jonathan Alter ("bomb throwers") to The New Republic ("Reform School") — live up to the standards of my New York Sun editor, Ira Stoll, who declared that the word "reform" is hopelessly imprecise and banned it from my writing. All the more reason to turn our name-those-reformers contest into its final bend. The newest entry is from George Miller, the chairman of the House's education committee. Jonathan Alter reports: Rep. George Miller, the leading voice on education in Congress, told me recently that "the debate is between incrementalists and disrupters, and I'm with the disrupters." So is Bill Gates. The father of disruptive software is ready for another revolution. The disrupters may not be a real word (or at least a word entered in my computer's dictionary), but it is a neat proposal. It's the same distinction Randi Weingarten makes between herself and Joel Klein. As she told the Times, her vision is "sustainable and incremental change." Klein wants "radical reform." But I still have some concerns.
The report that surfaced on Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf last week, coming to public light months after it was written, is one of hundreds that investigators who study the Department of Education did not publicly release in 2007. The office that generates the reports — overseen by Richard Condon, an attorney who serves as the special commissioner of investigations for the city schools — last year investigated hundreds of alleged violations of law and department regulations, from accusations of sexual misconduct to concerns about fraud and embezzlement to allegations of cheating on tests. More than 300 of these cases were substantiated, according to SCI's year-end statistical report (PDF). But the office only put out 26 press releases highlighting its investigations, a ratio of about 8%. The pattern was similar in 2006 and 2005:
The same parents who earlier this fall battled a plan to move two Upper West Side schools are now planning to protest one of the city's latest school closures. The Department of Education announced today that MS 44, one of two middle schools currently located in a building on West 70th Street, will not accept any sixth graders for next year because of the school's poor performance. Instead, a new middle school will open in the building, and current students will continue to attend MS 44 until they finish eighth grade. Calling themselves the Coalition for Equity and Educational Diversity in our Schools, the parents told me today that they are planning to rally around MS 44, whose students are almost all black or Hispanic. They say the effect of MS 44's closure could be similar to that of the district's plan to reduce overcrowding, which they say will make some school buildings in the neighborhood less diverse. The overcrowding plan, which DOE this week said it would implement, requires two schools to relocate. One of them, a citywide gifted school, the Anderson School, will move next fall into the MS 44 building.
Raquel Fitzgerald is one of two students from the NYCiSchool who will be writing occasional columns at GothamSchools on life as a New York City public school student. Angelica, my classmate at the NYCiSchool, already explained how she adjusted to learning online, but you might still be wondering what it's like to attend a school like ours on a day-to-day basis. A day in the life of an online school involves more computer time and less teacher time. The “commons” is the student lounge where we go to study, eat lunch or just relax. This room, filled with modern-style furniture and six plasma screen TVs, is where we first stop to catch our breath and exchange a few words with friends after traveling up five flights of stairs. At 9:00 a.m. our principals come out of their cubicles to remind us that class is starting.
Khalil Gibran International Academy supporters outside the school on its first day. Via Flickr. From February 2007, when the Department of Education announced it would open a dual-language Arabic-English school, until the end of the school's first year last June, Khalil Gibran International Academy was wracked by bad news. Now, partway into the school's second year, Colorlines, which bills itself as "the national newsmagazine about race and politics," has taken a look at KGIA's progress. Sadly, the problems don't sound like they've abated. From the article: This past September, many of the original sixth-grade students had not returned as seventh graders. The school has cut back on Arabic language instruction, is no longer set to become a high school and has moved twice in its first year of operation. The founding principal, Debbie Almontaser, was forced to resign following a media storm over the meaning of the word “intifada,” and the school is being led by its third principal. None of the original teachers remain at the school, and those who have left claim they were fired or forced to leave because of the stress.