If a small group of consultants gets its way, Chancellor Klein could make a move from Tweed to City Hall next year when term limits push Mayor Bloomberg out of office. Joel Klein A group of eight political consultants is exploring the prospects for a Klein mayoral bid, reports Elizabeth Green in today's Sun. Although DOE spokesman David Cantor says the chancellor isn't planning to run for mayor, Klein himself hasn't told the group to count him out, Green reports, and the group members have concluded that he would have a good chance of winning should he enter the race, which so far has attracted only candidates that many consider uninspiring. With Mayor Bloomberg's interest in changing the law to allow himself a third term roundly criticized by even his own staffers, a Klein mayoralty could ensure the continuity of the last seven years of Children First school reforms as well as bring the DOE's emphasis on accountability to other city agencies.
A week after Sol Stern argued in City Journal that New York City should create an office of reading improvement and provide low class sizes and scientifically-based reading instruction in high-poverty, low-scoring schools, the DOE announced a new reading initiative: teachers at 10 pilot schools will implement the new Core Knowledge Reading Program (CKRP) in grades K-2. Education historian Diane Ravitch wrote in favor of the program in the Post on Monday, saying it's a smarter choice than the "unproven" Balanced Literacy curriculum that Klein introduced in 2003. "Balanced Literacy doesn't stress content knowledge, vocabulary or phonics. And we now know that it didn't work," she says, citing flat reading scores on the 4th and 8th grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). What will the new reading program look like?
The GothamSchools Time Machine With Chicago schoolchildren in the midst of a three-day school boycott, I thought the GothamSchools time machine might take a jaunt through school boycotts in New York City's history. The biggest boycotts took place in 1964 to protest racial segregation in the city's schools. After school officials produced an integration plan that rejected busing as an option and lacked a timeline for implementation, civil rights leaders called for a one-day school boycott. To organize the protest, black leaders tapped Bayard Rustin, fresh off organizing the March on Washington at which Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" address. On Feb. 3, 1964, 464,362 of the city's 1 million schoolchildren stayed home, making the boycott "the largest civil rights demonstration in U.S. history," Time Magazine reported at the time, noting that black leaders initially considered the protest "a whoopee success" while at the same time the president of the city's Board of Education disparaged it as "a fizzle." A smaller boycott in March, which only some of the first boycott's organizers supported, drew about a quarter of all students in favor of integration. About the same number of students also boycotted the start of school that fall — but they were spearheaded by Parents and Taxpayers, a group that opposed busing and the dissolution of neighborhood schools. Over the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court had released its landmark Brown v. Board of Education opinion, but because New York's schools were segregated because of residential segregation, not an official city policy, the ruling barely registered in the ongoing boycott saga. Ultimately, not even the city's limited integration plan ever went into effect. The 1964 school boycotts were certainly the largest, but they weren't the first, the last, or the most effective.
If you live in the city, you know how it is: the numbers on your paycheck sound reasonable enough, but then there's the sky-high rent, expensive food, and subway, bus, or parking fees to pay. It always seemed to me as a teacher that some of my students' families ought to have been solidly middle class based on the parents' job descriptions, yet in New York City, they were struggling. Now, according to the Christian Science Monitor, the city's department of health and human services is responding to the high cost-of-living with a new way of measuring poverty: New York's new poverty measurement takes into account rent, utility fees, food costs, clothing costs, and also includes other benefits for low-income families and individuals like Section 8 housing vouchers and food stamps. The change is expected to boost the city's poverty rate from 19 percent to 23 percent. That would mean 30,000 more people would qualify for assistance programs. In addition to increasing the overall poverty rate, the change increases the percentage of households at or near the poverty threshold, as seen in this graph. Under the city's measure, about 44% of households are below 150% of the poverty threshold, as compared to about 28% using the official federal measure. More households are below or near the poverty threshold under the city's new measure compared to the federal measure. The effect of the change on poverty statistics varies by group.
The award for most sensational start-of-school headline goes to the Associated Press, which asks, "Back-to-school, but how? Parents fear walking, bus." Photo courtesy of ##http://www.livablestreets.com/streetswiki##Streetswiki## Compared with all of the stresses of returning to school — making friends, encountering a new teacher, getting more homework — walking doesn't seem like too serious of a problem. Still, decisions about how to get to school are major ones in many families, and they can be fraught with fear. The AP article describes how parents across the country eschew walking or biking for their children because they fear abduction and unsafe streets. Even here in New York, where kids learn how to navigate public transportation from an early age, many parents are apprehensive about putting their kids on a city bus alone each morning. Last year, New York Sun columnist Lenore Skenazy made waves when she let her then-9-year-old son find his way home alone from Midtown Manhattan, with only a Metrocard and subway map for guidance; some critics even accused her of child abuse. Skenazy appears at the end of the AP article, explaining that her son usually walks home from school on his own both out of necessity — his parents are at work when school lets out — and because she wants to take a stand against the culture of fear that has permeated parenting.
Outside the registration center at Brooklyn Tech Most of the kids who started school today spent last week enjoying the waning days of summer vacation. But those who moved to the city this summer or hoped to transfer from one city school to another spent at least some time at a DOE registration center figuring out where to report for classes today. The 13 temporary centers, located in schools in every borough, range in size and tone, with some centers struggling to assist a huge volume of families each day since opening Aug. 25 and others with such sparse attendance that DOE officials are able to offer each family in-depth personal attention. On Friday afternoon, about a dozen families sat scattered throughout the auditorium at the South Bronx Educational Campus, waiting to be called to register or apply for transfers for their children. Norma Nonis, director of borough enrollment for districts 7, 9, and 10, said the registration process was working quickly and painlessly at the site, which opened last year, in part because it serves comparatively few families. Before last year, the 75 families that the South Bronx site registers each day would have had to travel to Manhattan to register their children for school. At other sites throughout the city, the process was not moving so fast when we visited last week.
Maurice Jordan with his children on the first day of school. "If you know where your kids are, step up to your responsibilities and be a man," Maurice Jordan, father of Shakim, 13, and Muneerah, 5, said this morning, as he accompanied his children to school. Fatherhood, he said, is "an easy job, it's a fun job." Jordan, who says he got custody of his children last year, believes his involvement in their education has led to academic success. "Between these two, I think it's like thirty awards and certificates last year." To promote this kind of involvement, organizers from churches, community organizations, and the Office of Children and Family Services encouraged fathers — and other male relatives — to walk their children to school today as part of New York City's Million Father March. The march, sponsored nationally by The Black Star Project, the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and other organizations, aimed to highlight the importance of fathers in their children's education. At C.S. 133 in Harlem, parents arriving with their children were greeted warmly by school administrators and teachers, event organizer Melvin Aston of the Office of Children and Family Services, and City Council Member Inez Dickens. Dickens said that fathers must be encouraged to step out from their traditional behind-the-scenes roles and play a more public role in their children's lives. "We need to show them, it's all right for you to bring your child to school instead of the mother, it's all right for you to bring them to a doctor's appointment." Both boys and girls benefit from having an involved father, she added. The movement focused on one school in each borough this year, although fathers throughout the city were encouraged to walk their children to school, according to Deb Jenkins, Senior Pastor of the Faith @ Work Church, who organized the Bronx event. "When a father is present, we see that the academic outcomes are greater," Jenkins said.
Joe Biden may bed down with a teacher every night, but Sarah Palin, the woman John McCain has picked to be his vice presidential running mate, was born to two of them — her father taught middle school science and her mother worked as an education support provider in Alaska's public schools for many years. Though we know her pedigree, we don't know much else about Palin and education, especially her views on national policy issues. There's virtually nothing about schools on her official homepage as the governor of Alaska, and the policies she has supported do not seem to fall neatly into either of this year's school improvement camps: the "Broader, Bolder Approach" and the "no excuses" philosophy espoused by backers of the Education Equality Project. In fact, because Alaska's schools are so different from those in the rest of the nation — for practical reasons, there are thriving distance education and homeschooling movements, for example — Palin has had little opportunity as governor to participate in national-scale education policy discussions. Here's what little we do know:
Chicago school buses by ##http://flickr.com/photos/good_day##Today is a Good Day## With only the long weekend separating them from the first day of school, religious, political, and education leaders in Chicago are gearing up for a major protest in which more than 100 busloads of Chicago students will roll into a middle-class suburb and try to enroll in schools there to highlight unequal school funding between the two districts. Although organizers briefly offered to drop the boycott plan if the state's top Democrats agreed to back a $120 million reform initiative to benefit Illinois' lowest-performing schools, yesterday they announced that "the window has expired" and the boycott would go on. The Committee for Concerned Clergy, led by state senator Rev. James Meeks, has been developing plans all summer to bus Chicago students to Winnetka, an upper-middle-class suburb 20 miles north of the city that's home to New Trier Township High School, one of the nation's top-rated high schools. Once there, the students will try to enroll in Winnetka schools, although the district's residency requirements and state laws prohibit them from being admitted. For their part, Winnetka officials are cooperating with protest leaders and are planning to make it easy for the busloads of students to fill out registration forms. Back in Chicago, school officials are nervous about a funding formula that will cost schools $110 a day for each student who is absent during the first week of school.