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Fariña launches abbreviated version of her collaboration initiative

Chancellor Carmen Fariña kicked off another program on Thursday aimed at increasing collaboration among schools.

The city’s new “Showcase Schools” program is starting with 17 schools, each of which will be expected to host three tours for about 30 outside educators, the Department of Education announced Thursday. It’s a streamlined version of Fariña’s larger Learning Partners program, which now includes more than 70 schools that are required to both host and tour other schools.

The Showcase Schools will also be responsible for sharing ideas with the department, and will get $11,000 to cover materials, overtime, and substitutes during school visits. (Last spring, the city said schools in the Learning Partners program would receive $15,000 for the school year.)

The participating schools include a number of Fariña’s favorites. The chancellor has praised or visited New Dorp High School and M.S. 247 many times since taking over the school system, and Central Park East II, East Side Community School, and the Highbridge Green School are all also participating in PROSE, the experimentation program included in the new teachers union contract.

Here’s the list of schools, and what the city is calling the “learning focus area” for each:

BRONX

P.S. 71 Rose E. Scala, Learning Focus Area: Middle School Social Studies

P.S. 170, Learning Focus Area: Early Childhood Education

The Highbridge Green School, Learning Focus Area: Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI)

BROOKLYN

Academy of Arts and Letters, Learning Focus Area: Fostering Student Voice, Ownership and Independence

M.S. 442 Carroll Gardens School for Innovation, Learning Focus Area: Supporting All Students through Innovative Instruction

M.S. 340 North Star Academy, Learning Focus Area: Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI)

P.S. 69 Vincent D. Grippo School, Learning Focus Area: Robust Arts Program

P.S. 231, Learning Focus Area: Innovative Scheduling to Support All Students 

MANHATTAN

P.S. 188 The Island School, Learning Focus Area: Community School Program

East Side Community School, Learning Focus Area: Teacher Development through School Culture

Food and Finance HS, Learning Focus Area: Career and Technical Education

M.S. 247 Dual Language Middle School, Learning Focus Area: English Language Learners

Central Park East II, Learning Focus Area: Early Childhood Education

QUEENS

P.S. 65 The Raymond York Elementary School, Learning Focus Area: Family and Community Engagement

Academy of American Studies, Learning Focus Area: High School Social Studies

STATEN ISLAND

P.S. 048 William C. Wilcox, Learning Focus Area: Elementary Social Studies

New Dorp High School, Learning Focus Area: Structural and Instructional Reform

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. 

Betsy DeVos

‘Underperformer,’ ‘bully,’ and a ‘mermaid with legs’: NYMag story slams Betsy DeVos

PHOTO: New York Magazine
A drawing of DeVos commissioned by an 8-year-old starts the New York Magazine article.

A new article detailing Betsy DeVos’s first six months as U.S. education secretary concludes that she’s “a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”

That’s just one of several brutal critiques of DeVos’s leadership and effectiveness in the New York Magazine story, by Lisa Miller, who has previously covered efforts to overhaul high schools, New York City’s pre-kindergarten push, and the apocalypse. Here are some highlights:

  • Bipartisan befuddlement: The story summarizes the left’s well known opposition to DeVos’s school choice agenda. But her political allies also say she’s making unnecessary mistakes: “Most mystifying to those invested in her success is why DeVos hasn’t found herself some better help.”
  • A friend’s defense: DeVos is “muzzled” by the Trump administration, said her friend and frequent defender Kevin Chavous, a school choice activist.
  • The department reacts: “More often than not press statements are being written by career staff,” a spokesperson told Miller, rejecting claims that politics are trumping policy concerns.
  • D.C. colleagues speak: “When you talk to her, it’s a blank stare,” said Charles Doolittle, who quit the Department of Education in June. A current education department employee says: “It’s not clear that the secretary is making decisions or really capable of understanding the elements of a good decision.”
  • Kids critique: The magazine commissioned six portraits of DeVos drawn by grade-schoolers.
  • Special Olympics flip-flop: DeVos started out saying she was proud to partner with the athletics competition for people with disabilities — and quickly turned to defending a budget that cuts the program’s funding.
  • In conclusion: DeVos is an underperformer,” a “bully” and “ineffective,” Miller found based on her reporting.

Updated (July 31, 2017): A U.S. Education Department spokesperson responded to our request for comment, calling the New York Magazine story “nothing more than a hit piece.” Said Liz Hill: “The magazine clearly displayed its agenda by writing a story based on largely disputed claims and then leaving out of the article the many voices of those who are excited by the Secretary’s leadership and determination to improve education in America.”