Weekend Reads: The ‘no excuses’ discipline debate flares up in Boston

PHOTO: Alan Petersime
Indianapolis Public Schools students line up at CFI 27.
  • A Boston charter school that suspended students 325 times last year is a flashpoint in the debate over “no excuses” discipline. (WBUR)
  • Those suspensions took place in the context of a challenging turnaround effort, the school’s CEO wrote in a public letter. (UP Education)
  • ICYMI: Here’s basically everything you need to know about the discipline debate. (Chalkbeat)
  • San Francisco is overhauling its curriculum to make sure it serves the city’s many students with incarcerated parents. (S.F. Examiner)
  • How one white, veteran teacher improved his connection with his South Los Angeles students after they called him out for not being relatable. (Washington Post)
  • San Antonio has 15 independent school districts. More than half are participating in a shared pre-K program. (The Atlantic)
  • Thirty Newark schools shut off their water fountains after testing found high levels of lead. (Brick City Live)
  • Los Angeles is at a “point of crisis” in the way it serves students with disabilities, according to a report that was never supposed to be made public. (L.A. Times)
  • Like many places, Seattle is supposed to “fully fund” education. What that means is complicated. (Seattle Times)
  • And Chicago teachers are headed for a strike April 1 after the city asked them to take three unpaid days off. (DNAInfo)
  • Here’s what people were talking about at this year’s SXSWedu, the innovation-focused education conference. (Hechinger Report)
  • The Republicans running for president seem not to have mastered the Common Core standards. (The Upshot)
  • Lifelong Detroit fights back tears as she is named the new school superintendent. (Free-Press)
  • Emergency manager says Detroit schools won’t make payroll on April 8 without state help. (Detroit News)
  • Donald Trump’s education policy: Experts are fearful, curious and baffled. (EdWeek)
  • Testing for joy and grit? School nationwide push to measure emotional skills. (NY Times)
  • Death to Algebra II! Push for more students taking it has worsened graduation rate and produced few benefits. (Slate)
  • In America, we teach math the wrong way. (NY Times)
  • Louisville schools physically restrained 25 kids a day last year, but only reported 175 of them all year to the state. (Courier-Journal)
  • Online charter schools return cash to Ohio after admitting attendance figures were off. (Dispatch)
  • Chicago school board sues ex-superintendent for $65 million after kick-back allegations. (Tribune)

on the run

‘Sex and the City’ star and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon launches bid for N.Y. governor

Cynthia Nixon on Monday announced her long-anticipated run for New York governor.

Actress and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon announced Monday that she’s running for governor of New York, ending months of speculation and launching a campaign that will likely spotlight education.

Nixon, who starred as Miranda in the TV series “Sex and the City,” will face New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary.

Nixon has been active in New York education circles for more than a decade. She served as a  longtime spokeswoman for the Alliance for Quality Education, a union-backed advocacy organization. Though Nixon will step down from that role, according to a campaign spokeswoman, education promises to be a centerpiece of her campaign.

In a campaign kickoff video posted to Twitter, Nixon calls herself “a proud public school graduate, and a prouder public school parent.” Nixon has three children.

“I was given chances I just don’t see for most of New York’s kids today,” she says.

Nixon’s advocacy began when her oldest child started school, which was around the same time the recession wreaked havoc on education budgets. She has slammed Gov. Cuomo for his spending on education during his two terms in office, and she has campaigned for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In 2008, she stepped into an emotional fight on the Upper West Side over a plan to deal with overcrowding and segregation that would have impacted her daughter’s school. In a video of brief remarks during a public meeting where the plan was discussed, Nixon is shouted down as she claims the proposal would lead to a “de facto segregated” school building.

Nixon faces steep competition in her first run for office. She is up against an incumbent governor who has amassed a $30 million war chest, according to the New York Times. If elected, she would be the first woman and the first openly gay governor in the state.

parting ways

No fireworks in Houston as school board bids farewell to Carranza

PHOTO: Houston Independent School District
Houston school board members and elected officials discussed the departure of their superintendent Richard Carranza, who will be New York City's next schools chief.

Houston’s school board didn’t put up a fight Tuesday while ironing out the details of superintendent Richard Carranza’s departure to become New York City schools chancellor.

The Houston Independent School District board will have to negotiate the terms of Carranza’s leave since his contract runs through August 2019. But the board’s response to his move lacked the theatrics of last week’s Miami-Dade County school board emergency meeting to discuss the city’s first pick for chancellor, Alberto Carvalho.

That emergency meeting stretched on for hours with tearful pleas from students and board members who begged Carvalho to stay. In the end, Carvalho rejected the New York City job on live television.

At a press conference, Houston leaders put up no such fight for Carranza, who has only been in office there less than two years. Board trustee Sergio Lira said he expects the negotiations to end Carranza’s contract will go smoothly.

“We’re going to release him from his contract with the least harm,” Lira told Chalkbeat.  “We want to wish him the best and don’t want to impede his departure.”

On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Carranza would replace retiring Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who is expected to step down at the end of March. The mayor’s pick came as a surprise in both New York City and Houston, as Carranza’s name had not surfaced publicly during the months-long search for a successor.

At Tuesday’s press conference, the president of Houston’s board of trustees, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, said Carranza had given his two weeks notice — “give or take.” He is expected to continue working during that time, rather than take leave.

Houston appears stoic, even though Carrzanza’s abrupt departures adds to an already long list of challenges. The school system faces a $115 million budget gap, the threat of state takeover and ongoing recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

“We are aware of our challenges and we each have our own responsibility in solving our challenges,” Skillern-Jones said at the press conference.

Peppered with questions about how Carranza’s departure could add to the list of difficulties, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner interjected:

“Enough on Carranza. I wish him well,” Turner said. “But now the focus is on the 215,000 kids who are still here, depending on the rest of us to come together.”

Monica Disare contribute reporting.