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Schools picked to pioneer college prep program for young men

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott speaks at And thean Expanded Success Initiative announcement.

And then there were 40.

Earlier this year the Department of Education named 81 schools that could be eligible to lead one of the most significant educational programs in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative.

Last month, 57 schools submitted proposals for the pot of funds attached to the program,  called the Expanded Success Initiative. The funds would go toward programs to improve the college readiness rates of male students.

The 40 schools that made the cut were named today. They will receive $250,000 each to pioneer new college-readiness strategies. Monitors will evaluate the progress the schools make over the course of the coming year and provide feedback for what may eventually become citywide policies.

The schools were selected because they have already made strides serving youth of color, but they are still struggling to meet the city’s new college readiness metrics, officials said. To be eligible, schools were required to have a four-year graduation rate above 65 percent, to have received an A or B on their most recent progress reports, and to have student bodies comprised of at least 35 percent are black or Latino males and 60 percent are qualified for free or reduced-price lunch.

“You have done well in your high school graduation rate, but now we’ve redefined  the message, along with the state,”  Chancellor Dennis Walcott told an audience of school leaders and students at an event today welcoming schools to the initiative. “It’s no longer just about high school graduation, it’s about college and career readiness, making sure all of our students can attain that high goal.”

To apply for the funds, schools submitted proposals for how they would improve their academics (which the DOE expects them to align to the Common Core), encourage students to think about their academic and social development, and improve their school culture, for example by offering more internships and out-of-class activities.

Holger Carrillo, principal of Brooklyn’s High School for Enterprise, Business and Technology, said his application focused on his plans to expand a 60-student college awareness class to his entire ninth-grade. He said the funds would also pay for field trips and improvements to the math curriculum to better prepare students for college-level work.

“We want to make a difference for the incoming ninth graders. We want them to see and experience the college life and the college application process,” he said. “It will provide life skills to be able to maintain certain achievement levels throughout high school and then later on take it to college.”

The goal, he said, is to make sure students are not only prepared to enter college, but stick with it until their college graduations.

“We looked at the Where are They Now Report and saw that only about 20 or 22 percent of our students [stayed] in college,” he said about a report the city generates for tracking its high school graduates. “Why is it that they are not continuing and being successful in college?”

Principal Maria Herrera also emphasized the importance of life skills lessons in the application for her school, the Renaissance High School for Musical Theater & Technology in the Bronx. She said male students who need support would be able to attend after school study hall-like counseling groups and will be paired with out-of-school mentors. In those study hall groups they will also be given assessments to identify gaps in their academic knowledge.

“A lot of the students spend so much more time with us than they do at home, so what is appropriate behavior, how do you communicate with adults differently than you do with your peers?” she said. “If we want them to feel really included, they need to develop strong relationships so they can feel part of a community so they can feel that they have an influence in the choices the school makes as part of their education.”

The 40 schools selected for ESI funding are:

  • Academy for Young Writers
  • ACORN Community High School
  • All City Leadership Secondary School
  • Bronx Academy of Letters
  • Bronx Leadership Academy II
  • Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment
  • Brooklyn High School for Law and Technology
  • Brooklyn Preparatory High School
  • Central Park East High School
  • Channel View School for Research
  • Collegiate Institute for Math & Science
  • Eagle Academy for Young Men
  • East Bronx Academy for the Future
  • East Side Community School
  • El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice
  • Essex Street Academy
  • Explorations Academy
  • Frederick Douglass Academy VII
  • George Washington Carver High School for the Sciences
  • High School for Law Enforcement
  • High School for Civil Rights & Law
  • High School for Enterprise, Business, and Technology
  • High School for Law and Public Service
  • High School for Sports Management
  • High School for Service and Learning
  • Manhattan Bridges High School
  • Mott Hall Bronx High School
  • New Design High School
  • Performing Arts and Technology High School
  • Queens Preparatory Academy
  • Queens Vocational and Technical HS
  • Renaissance School
  • School for Human Rights
  • Science, Technology and Research Early College High School at Erasmus
  • Teachers Preparatory High School
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change
  • Transit Tech Career and Technical Education High School
  • Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports
  • Urban Assembly School for Design and Construction
  • Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design


funding dance

City plans to slash funding from Young Adult Borough Centers — a last resort option for students

PHOTO: Patrick Wall
Boys and Girls High School has a Young Adult Borough Center in the building.

Evening programs that offer students who struggled in high school another chance to graduate may soon face steep funding cuts from the city’s education department.

Education officials plan to reduce funding directed to the city’s 23 Young Adult Borough Centers by an average of $254,000 each, and will shift the money to transfer schools, which also help students who have fallen behind in traditional schools.

The funding in question is used to hire counselors who help keep students engaged in school, offering career and academic support, and to pay students to complete internships. City officials are planning to shift funding so that more transfer schools — serving more students — can get those benefits.

But the move could leave schools that serve some of the city’s most vulnerable students with fewer resources to get them to graduation, some observers said, all while Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to increase the city’s graduation rate to 80 percent. Several agencies that provide those services in schools argue the funding shift will have dire consequences for YABCs.

The cuts will be “devastating [and] would fundamentally change the program,” said Michelle Yanche, director of government and external relations at Good Shepherd Services, a nonprofit organization that helps run the program in a dozen YABCs. “It shouldn’t be taken from Peter to pay Paul.”

Young Adult Borough Centers, which serve about 4,800 students citywide, are night programs rather than standalone schools. Transfer schools, meanwhile, are actual schools that run classes during the day, serving about 13,000 students. In both, students who have fallen behind in high school work toward high school diplomas.

The funding stream the city plans to shift from YABCs to transfer schools is dedicated to a program called Learning to Work. Education officials are actually increasing the amount of money on that program by $3.7 million. But because the city is planning to expand it to 18 more transfer schools, the average transfer school will see about a $7,000 bump, while YABCs each lose roughly $250,000.

City officials said the exact changes in funding will depend on student enrollment and need, and stressed that the funding changes are estimates. Overall, the changes are a positive, they said, since they provide more funding and will reach more students.

“Expanding Learning to Work to all eligible transfer schools is what’s best for students and families, and will support approximately 5,000 more high-needs students on their path to college and careers,” said education department spokesman Will Mantell.

Helene Spadaccini, principal of a transfer school in the South Bronx, said her school has used the program to place students in internships in fields like retail and construction.

“It’s been extremely powerful in working with our students, which is why I’m really glad it’s spreading,” Spadaccini said.

But the shift will mean YABCs lose about a third of their current funding, and will result in staffing reductions. The staff-to-student ratio at YABCs is expected to balloon from one staff member per 34 students to one per 55, according to a Department of Education document obtained by Chalkbeat.

The change in staffing levels could have a major effect on the program’s quality, multiple providers said. “What makes the difference for our students is if they have individual adults who are like clams holding on to them, who know if they are going to school every day, and reach out if they don’t,” Good Shepherd’s Yanche said. “That relationship is the most pivotal factor.”

Sheila Powell, who has two children who graduated with the help of YABCs, has seen that firsthand. In the YABCs, unlike in larger high schools, teachers ensured her children didn’t slip through the cracks, Powell said. They also called her multiple times each week to check in.

“They loved my daughter, they loved my son,” Powell said. “They were really concerned, genuinely concerned, about my kids and they didn’t give up on them.”

Several providers and advocates said they supported the expansion of Learning to Work into more transfer schools — just not at the expense of other programs that serve the city’s most vulnerable students.

“New York City continues to see increased graduation rates, and the range of programs [for over-age and under-credited students] are a big reason why,” said Lazar Treschan, director of youth policy at the Community Service Society. “Moving any funding out of YABCs seems very short-sighted.”

weekend update

How the education world is reacting to racist violence in Charlottesville — and to Trump’s muted response

PHOTO: Andrew Dallos/Flickr
A rally against hate in Tarrytown, New York, responds to the violence in Charlottesville.

For educators across the country, this weekend’s eruption of racism and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, offered yet another painful opportunity to communicate their values to families, colleagues, and community members.

Many decried the white supremacists who convened in the college town and clashed with protesters who had come to oppose their message. Some used social media to outline ideas about how to turn the distressing news into a teaching moment.

And others took issue with President Donald Trump’s statement criticizing violence “on many sides,” largely interpreted as an unwillingness to condemn white supremacists.

One leading education official, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, followed Trump’s approach, criticizing what happened but not placing blame on anyone in particular:

DeVos’s two most recent predecessors were unequivocal, both about what unfolded in Charlottesville and whom to blame:

Leaders of the nation’s two largest teachers unions responded directly to Trump:

The American Federation of Teachers, Weingarten’s union, is supporting vigils across the country Sunday night organized by chapters of Indivisible, a coalition that emerged to resist the Trump administration. The union also promoted resources from Share My Lesson, its lesson-plan site, that deal with civil rights and related issues.

“As educators, we will continue to fulfill our responsibility to make sure our students feel safe and protected and valued for who they are,” Weingarten said in a statement with other AFT officials.

Local education officials took stands as well, often emotionally. Here’s what the superintendent in Memphis, which is engaged in the same debate about whether Confederate memorials should continue to stand that drew white supremacists to Charlottesville, said on Twitter:

Teachers in Hopson’s district return for the second week of classes on Monday. They’ve helped students process difficult moments before, such as a spate of police killings of black men in 2016; here’s advice they shared then and advice that teachers across the country offered up.

We want to hear from educators who are tackling this tough moment in their classrooms. Share your experiences and ideas here or in the form below.