Weighing in

As advocates seek to influence New York City’s chancellor search, Angélica Infante-Green gets another nod

The petition calling for Infante-Green to become New York City's next schools chief.

Massachusetts education leaders and New York City parents are waging a tug-of-war over a New York state education official.

Angélica Infante-Green, currently a deputy commissioner in New York’s state education department, is having a big week. On Monday, she presented a proposal to increase culturally responsive education to New York policy makers. On Thursday, she’ll be in Boston to interview to become Massachusetts’ state education chief. And at the same time, New York City advocates are mounting an online campaign to make her their city schools chief.

A Change.org petition launched over the weekend calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to consider Infante-Green as he seeks to replace Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

“Ms. Infante-Green is a visionary in the field of education and has proven to be a leader capable of generating change and results for the most vulnerable population,” says the petition, which is bilingual in English and Spanish and so far has more than 200 signatures, out of a goal of 500.

Whether Infante-Green is actually getting a close look from the de Blasio administration is unclear. City Hall has been tight-lipped about the process, other than vowing to limit the search to educators — which would rule Infante-Green in.

But Politico reported last week that insiders – people who have spent substantial time working within the local education bureaucracy — are not the administration’s top priority. “That means … no Angelica Infante-Green,” Politico’s Eliza Shapiro reported.

What is clear is that local advocates are seeking to seeking to gain influence in an opaque hiring process.

Matt Gonzales of New York Appleseed, a group that is pushing New York City to diversify its schools, told Chalkbeat in December that advocates want to have a voice in the chancellor search. On Tuesday, groups representing school PTAs and elected parent leaders will hold a press conference outside education department headquarters calling for parent input in the search.

For now, supporters of Infante-Green are busily making their case. Here’s one comment from the petition:

“Best candidate for the job. Personal Knowledge of entire NYC Public School Student population, which includes Special Education students and English Language Learners,” someone identified as Wladimir Pierre wrote about Infante-Green. “Angelica is a Devoted Public Servant of NYC Public School Students and their families. Let us not lose her to Massachusetts.”

who is in charge

School turnaround leader promoted to oversee all academics in Memphis schools

PHOTO: Caroline Bauman
Antonio Burt became assistant superintendent in 2017 over the Innovation Zone and other struggling schools within Shelby County Schools. He is now the district's academic chief.

After nearly two years without an academic chief, Shelby County Schools has promoted a longtime expert in improving low-performing schools to the position.

Antonio Burt returned to Memphis last summer to oversee some of the lowest performing schools in the state as an assistant superintendent. In his new position as chief academic officer, Burt is responsible for creating goals for schools, training and recruiting teachers and principals, and overseeing academic strategy to meet state academic requirements. The chief academic officer reports directly to the superintendent.

During his first stint in Memphis, he was principal at Ford Road Elementary School under the district’s Innovation Zone, which has boosted test scores in underachieving schools.

“Throughout his tenure as a transformational school leader, Dr. Burt has shown tenacity in removing educational barriers for all children and a deep understanding of teaching and learning,” Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said in a statement Tuesday.

His hire completes a long search to replace Heidi Ramirez, who resigned in February 2017. Since then, the position’s responsibilities have been shared between Burt, Angela Whitelaw, interim chief of schools, and Joris Ray, assistant superintendent for academic operations.


Read our Q&A with Antonio Burt from when he first returned to Shelby County Schools


Since returning to Memphis last summer, Burt reorganized school leadership teams to coach teachers in subjects such as reading, math, science. He has also overseen the addition of two schools to the district’s Innovation Zone.

Burt previously worked for the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit organization that helps to recruit, train, and place effective teachers in high-need districts, and was briefly employed by the state-run Achievement School District, according to his LinkedIn page. He later was the director of school transformation at Florida’s Pinellas County Schools.

Chalkbeat reached out to Burt for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.

apology

Criticism mounts for Adams 14 school board for asking police to escort critic out of meeting

File photo of the Adams 14 school board, including Connie Quintana, right, the board's current president. (Photo by Nicholas Garcia, Chalkbeat)

Two organizations are demanding the Adams 14 school board apologize for removing a vocal critic from a public meeting, after he insisted on calling out school officials by name in criticism officials characterized as “not constructive.”

Jorge Garcia, the head of the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education, has been a frequent critic of the district and Superintendent Javier Abrego ever since the district stopped the expansion of biliteracy programming. At the last meeting, top district officials interrupted Garcia and ordered police to escort him out.

Tuesday the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado sent the school board a letter, signed by their attorney, asking for an apology to Garcia, “for violating his First Amendment rights,” and attacking the board’s unwritten policy against criticizing district officials and staff by name. It asked for a response by Oct. 1.

“The board’s silencing of Mr. Garcia represents viewpoint discrimination that the First Amendment forbids,” the ACLU’s letter states. “Mr. Garcia has every right to mention Superintendent Abrego by name when providing public criticism of a public official who is the highest-ranking executive officer of the Adams 14 School District.”

Tuesday afternoon, officials from the school district did not return a request for comment.

Earlier, the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education, where Garcia is executive director, also issued a statement, asking for an apology from the school board. In its statement, the association wrote that Garcia offered to resign “in order to spare the organization any possible retaliatory litigation targeting him,” but the association’s board unanimously rejected the offer and instead supported Garcia’s attempts to speak to the board.

“CABE is the foremost advocate for educational equity for emergent bilinguals in the state​,” the association wrote. “Jorge’s initial actions at the Adams 14 board meeting were perfectly consistent with this role.”

The board has its next regular meeting Tuesday evening.

Read the full letters below: