coalition for educational justice

Weighing in

integration push

Quality Control

Hoping for Hubs

New York

For a deal on teacher conferences, usual adversaries team up

New York

Four Years To Reverse A Bad Decision?

New York

CEJ: Hiring costs at turnaround schools could top $60 million

Parents and students rallied at City Hall this afternoon to protest the city's closure plans Replacing teachers at the remaining 26 turnaround schools could cost the city as much as $60 million, according to a new analysis released today by one of the city's most vociferous opponents. The report, released by the Coalition for Educational Justice in advance of an organized student and parent protest at City Hall, also took aim at the process the Department of Education used to assessed many of the schools that remain on the turnaround list. A dozen schools are doing well enough on their annual progress reports that they cleared the city's own closure benchmark. The CEJ cost analysis found that up to 849 teachers in the 26 schools could be replaced in order to qualify for federal school improvement grants, which require that no more than 50 percent of teachers can be retained under the turnaround model. The analysis omitted teachers who were hired in the last two years because they are likely to be exempted from the total pool of teachers that must reapply to their positions. The final figures will almost certainly be less than CEJ's projections because DOE officials have begun telling principals they won't be on the hook any specific number of teachers. The report details the salary and tenure profile at each of the 26 schools. For instance, teachers at John Dewey High School, where college-readiness rates exceed the city average, earned the highest average salary, $82,641, and just 7 percent of its staff was hired in the last two years. At Banana Kelly, where more than half of its teaching staff joined the school in recent years, just one teacher would need to be removed at the school to qualify for the funds.
New York

For opponents of mayoral control, fight starts with co-locations

District 3 CEC member Noah Gotbaum and Sonya Hampton, a parent from P.S./M.S. 149 and vocal charter school critic, lead chants against co-locations at rally. When the Bloomberg Administration threatened to shut down a school in Assemblyman Keith Wright’s district this year, Wright vowed to create legislation to repeal mayoral control of the schools. The city didn't go through with the closure, but Wright is making good on his word — at least to a degree — by introducing a bill that would chip away at one of the mayor's most controversial powers: the ability to install schools inside other schools' buildings. The bill would require elected parent councils known as Community Education Councils to approve any co-location proposal before it may go into effect. Co-location proposals often generate heated debate within districts, particularly when the city is proposing to move a charter school into a district building. The CECs regularly play a vocal role in opposing charter school co-locations within their district schools, but they have no power to stop them or any other co-location. Instead, the Panel for Educational Policy, which has never rejected a city proposal, must approve co-locations. Parents, politicians, advocacy groups and representatives of at least three CECs rallied infront of Department of Education headquarters this morning to show their support for Wright's bill, saying they hope it will pass because the CECs already must vote on zone lines within their districts. Co-locations were the only subject of today's rally; but according to Noah Gotbaum, a member of CEC for District 3, the CECs are hoping the co-location bill will be the first step toward legislation restricting the city's ability to close schools, and eventually leading to the outright end of mayoral control.
New York

Students say new high school policies will require extra support

Student activists call for a greater focus on college readiness in city schools during a rally today. For some city teachers and students, the big news this week wasn't the release of teachers' ratings but a slew of new policies meant to crack down on graduation rate inflation. The new policies, which follow an audit that found errors and evidence of possible cheating at dozens of schools, change the way high school exams will be graded and limit the number of failed courses students can make up without repeating the class. Today, high school students said tougher expectations are a good thing — as long as they are coupled with more support for schools. The students were holding a rally and panel discussion at New York University Friday afternoon to draw attention to a campaign, spearheaded by City Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Robert Jackson, and several advocacy groups including the Urban Youth Collaborative and the Coalition for Educational Justice. For years, students affiliated with those groups have been urging the city to fund "success centers" inside schools where teens could get help preparing for college. And in 2009, CEJ began calling attention to a potential "looming crisis" posed by the state's increasingly tough graduation standards  — something a top Department of Education official told GothamSchools this week threatens to roll back graduation rates far more than the policy changes. The students I spoke to had not heard yet about new policies, which the department announced Thursday, and did not know how their schools might be affected. But one said some of the city's new policies could hurt school graduation rates in the short run by making it more difficult for students to make up credits for courses they failed.
New York

City says three separate closure protests won't derail PEP's vote

A snapshot from one of two Panel for Educational Policy meetings about school closures in 2011. Boisterous protests against school closures have long been accused of lending a circus-like atmosphere to the annual meetings where the Panel for Educational Policy votes on closures. This year, though, the opposition will actually have three rings. Three separate groups are planning protest actions during tonight's PEP meeting, where the citywide school board is set to vote on — and presumably approve — 23 school closures and truncations. (Changes to two schools were taken off the table yesterday.) City officials have vowed not to let the protests disrupt the panel's proceedings, suggesting that panel members and protesters alike could be in for a long and potentially combative night. Last year, the panel approved 22 closures in two separate meetings that each lasted well past 1 a.m. In 2010, the panel's vote on 20 school closures took place just before 4 a.m., after more than 10 hours of protests and public comment. Tonight, the United Federation of Teachers, which has orchestrated the most substantial protests in the past, is planning to start its protest outside Brooklyn Technical High School but then constitute an alternate event, a "People's PEP," at P.S. 20, an elementary school with a 600-seat auditorium six blocks away that the union has rented for the evening. Union officials said teachers from the schools up for closure would be invited to give presentations about their schools at the P.S. 20 meeting. Another group that has been active in opposing the closure proposals, the Coalition for Educational Justice, is taking a different approach: Instead of walking out from the meeting, CEJ members and those active in affiliated groups, including the Alliance for Quality Education and the Urban Youth Collaborative, are marching in protest to it. After a 5 p.m. rally, they'll walk five blocks east on Dekalb Street to Brooklyn Tech, where they will continue to protest against the city's proposed closures. A press advisory for the CEJ event warns that protesters will use the "people's mic" to amplify their voices during the panel meeting. And they won't be alone using that strategy. A third protest set for tonight is by "Occupy the DOE," which grew out of the Occupy Wall Street movement that popularized the human microphone tactic.
New York

Mayor's address comes against evaluations impasse backdrop

When Mayor Bloomberg takes the podium to deliver his annual State of the City address this afternoon, education insiders will be on the edge of their seats to hear his latest take on the fight over new teacher evaluations. Insiders say the mayor is likely to address the impasse between the city and teachers union on evaluations. That impasse has dominated the news in recent weeks, especially after state officials said cut off some federal funding to schools that were supposed to use the new evaluations this year. In the last week, blame for the standstill has flown from Gov. Cuomo and the state teachers union, but Bloomberg has been relatively quiet. The speech in which he outlines his annual policy agenda would be an opportune time to assert his position and try to move the situation forward. Whether Bloomberg will tackle the sticky topic during his address today is not assured, and what exactly he could propose to resolve the tension is unclear. Department of Education and City Hall insiders haven't tipped their hands about the content of today's speech, and the only news that has leaked out has been about other topics. In some ways, it's hard to imagine Bloomberg making a major education policy announcement right now. Several substantial Department of Education initiatives, including ones to reform middle schools and revamp instruction and assessments, are already underway, and the mayor has scant time or money to execute much more. But an immediate solution to the teacher evaluations impasse is seen as crucial. That Bloomberg is delivering the speech from inside the city's oldest coeducational high school, Morris in the South Bronx, has heightened speculation about the speech's education content.