Future of Schools

In a first, New York’s state ed commissioner will attend charter rally

Reps. Bob Rankin and Millie Hamner had to defend their school finance bill against complaints that it was rushed.

In a first, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will attend a rally held by charter-school advocates next week, officials confirmed Friday.

The annual rally is smaller than the massive events that another pro-charter group, Families for Excellent Schools, has held in years past. The event, hosted in part by the New York City Charter Center, typically attracts politicians who support charter schools, but not state education commissioners — which could turn Elia’s appearance into a political football.

“We invited her and she’s coming and we’re delighted,” said Charter Center CEO James Merriman, who said he expects next Tuesday’s event to draw about 1,000 parents, teachers and students. He noted that even the former state education commissioner John King, a steadfast charter school supporter, did not attend the event.

The choice drew quick criticism from the state teachers union.

“This signals misplaced priorities on the commissioner’s part,” said Carl Korn, the spokesperson for the state’s teachers union.

The focus of the rally will be to demonstrate public support for lifting the freeze on New York City’s charter-school funding. The city teachers union, a longtime foe of the charter sector, has already signaled that one of its own priorities is to push legislation that would sanction charter schools that do not serve enough high-needs students. Mayor Bill de Blasio, a close ally of the union, asked lawmakers Tuesday not to lift the freeze.

The education department did not clarify Elia’s position on the freeze on Friday.

Elia supported the development of magnet schools when she worked in Florida and was president of Magnet Schools of America. Charter advocates supported her appointment last year, calling it the start of a strong working relationship.

But Elia, who is in her first year as state education commissioner, has also been treading carefully. Facing a large and growing movement pushing families to opt out of state tests, she has promised to reduce their length and supported the temporary removal of the state tests from teacher evaluations, though she has long been a strong proponent of maintaining high academic standards.

Future of Schools

These 29 Indianapolis administrators could lose their jobs

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy

Indianapolis Public Schools has identified dozens of principals, deans and other administrators who could lose their jobs at the end of the year, many because of the decision to close high schools.

As the district pursues plans to close three of its seven high schools, the superintendent recommended that the board cancel the contracts of 29 administrators effective July 1.

The list of administrators includes two high school principals and several assistant principals and deans whose contracts could be canceled because of the high school closing plan. Several high school athletic directors could also have their contracts canceled because the district is changing the job description and requirements for those positions, according to IPS spokesperson Carrie Cline Black.

They were all invited to apply to other open positions in the district, but the district is canceling their contracts because state law requires districts to notify certain administrators by March 1 if their contracts will not be renewed, according to Black.

The recommendation, which is included in the district’s monthly personnel report, is not entirely surprising, since the district anticipated having fewer administrators once it consolidates campuses. But the district had not previously revealed which staff members could lose their positions.

This is just the latest sign of the upheaval caused by the high school closings. Hundreds of high school teachers were required to reapply for their jobs, and students were required to select new high school programs for next year.

Here is the full list of staffers the superintendent recommended canceling contracts for:

Arlington High School

  • Debra Barlowe, dean
  • Arthur Dumas, dean
  • David Tuttle, assistant principal
  • Debra Ward, assistant principal
  • Danny Wilson, athletic director

Arsenal Technical High School

  • Anne Deckard, dean
  • Sheldon Floyd, assistant principal
  • Steven Glenn, dean
  • Thomas Starnes, athletic director
  • Roslyn Stradford, assistant principal
  • Lisa Williams, dean

Broad Ripple High School

  • John Edge, assistant principal
  • Robert Moses, interim assistant principal
  • Rachel Norwood, magnet coordinator
  • Vickie Winslow, dean

Crispus Attucks High School

  • Kenneth Roseman, athletic director
  • Joshua Varno, athletic director

George Washington High School

  • Emily Butler, principal
  • Zachary Ervin, dean
  • Patrick Kennison, assistant principal
  • Charonda Woods, assistant principal

Northwest Community High School

  • Moshfilay Anderson, athletic director
  • Eileen Bell, assistant principal
  • Michelle Brittain-Watts, principal
  • Martha Lince, dean
  • Alan Smith, assistant principal
  • Albert Young, dean

Positive Supports Academy

  • Kevin Brown, dean

Shortridge High School

  • Kathy Langdon, athletic director

What do you think?

Detroiters react with praise — and fury — as district changes how it will decide who gets into Cass Tech and Renaissance

PHOTO: DPSCD
A student wearing a Renaissance High School t-shirt competes in a robotics competition.

Reaction was swift and strong last week when Chalkbeat reported that Detroit’s main school district is changing the way students are admitted to Cass Technical High School, Renaissance High School and two other selective schools.

Some parents, teachers, students and members of the schools’ devoted alumni associations praised the district’s decision to reduce the role of testing in admissions decisions. But others expressed anger and concern about how the changes will affect the schools and how decisions about the changes were made.

Instead of basing admissions decisions primarily on the results of a single exam, the district will this year turn the process over to an admissions team comprised of teachers and staff from the schools, as well as administrators in the district’s central office. They will use a score card to decide admissions with just 40 percent of a student’s score coming from the high school placement exam. The rest of the points will come from grades, essays and letters of recommendations. Students currently enrolled in the district will get 10 bonus points that will give them an edge over students applying from charter and suburban schools.

The news turned into one of the most talked about stories on our site this year — and readers’ reactions ran the gamut. Read some of what our readers had to say below.

Some thought the change was problematic:


Others applauded the changes:




A current Cass Tech teacher said she agreed the admissions process needed to change, but was concerned that the district did not ask for her input on the new system:

How do you feel about the new admissions process? Tell us below in the comments or weigh on on Facebook or Twitter.