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books vs. food
February 9, 2017
Skipping meals to afford books: College students’ financial woes go beyond tuition payments, survey shows
More than forty percent of surveyed students missed meals so they could pay for books or other school expenses. About one-quarter of students are supporting families.
March 7, 2016
‘No excuses’ no more? Charter schools rethink discipline after focus on tough consequences
As the charter sector grows, some school leaders say they're tweaking behavioral codes slightly as they search for the right balance.
clashes in the space wars
September 21, 2015
Charter leaders continue to battle de Blasio over space in public school buildings
At the heart of their criticism is the battle for limited space in city-owned buildings, which the de Blasio administration has been reluctant to offer to charters.
August 12, 2015
Meaningless? Cause for celebration? Interpretations of New York’s 2015 test scores run the gamut
New York state’s latest test scores are completely meaningless — or the key to understanding whether any students are learning. It all depends who you talk to.
January 25, 2012
Event unites charter, district teachers under instructional focus
Courtesy: KIPP A few months ago, teachers from KIPP charter schools approached the network's co-founder Dave Levin to say that they were restless with the training they were getting. Despite weekly observations and extensive support, the teachers wanted to talk to educators from outside the KIPP organization to find out what they considered best practices for classroom teaching. Levin took that idea and developed it into the "What's Works in Urban Schools," a conference that took place Saturday at New York University. The purpose of the event, Levin said, was to forge better working relationships between district and charter school teachers. "Too often the broader structural debate has nothing to do with the great things that are happening in classrooms across New York City," Levin said. "Whether you teach in a charter school or a district school, good teachers have the same goals." On Saturday, hundreds of teachers braved inclement weather, an early morning wake-up, and a $35 entry fee to attend the event, which was sponsored by KIPP, Google, TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project), Teaching Matters, and Scholastic.
February 14, 2011
A new graduate school of education, Relay, to open next fall
The logo of Teacher U, whose founders will create a stand-alone graduate school of education called Relay. The founders of Teacher U, the nonprofit organization that developed a novel way of preparing teachers for low-income schools, will create their own graduate school of education, following a vote by the Board of Regents last week. The new Relay School of Education will be the first stand-alone graduate school of education to open in New York since 1916, when Bank Street College of Education was founded, and the first in memory to prepare teachers while they are serving full-time in classrooms. The new institution will open its doors next fall; current Teacher U students will remain enrolled at their partner school of education, the City University of New York's Hunter College. The Regents' decision inserts a new model for preparing K-12 teachers into New York's education landscape. Unlike alternative certification programs such as Teach for America and the New York City Teaching Fellows, Relay will not rely on existing colleges to provide its teachers with coursework required for certification; the new graduate school of education will design and deliver all of those courses itself. And Relay will likely take teachers who come into the school system through alternative programs like TFA. Meanwhile, unlike most traditional schools of education, Relay will make training teachers its sole priority and will make proven student learning gains a requirement of receiving a Master's degree. The new school has already generated opposition from several existing schools of education, including from a top official at CUNY. In formal responses to the Teacher U group's proposal, leaders of existing schools cited concerns about quality and the fact that, as officials at Fordham University put it, a new graduate school of education would be "duplicative in a market with sufficient program offerings," according to a summary of concerns(PDF) made public by the Regents. The Board of Regents approved the proposal with a unanimous vote and one abstention last week nevertheless, said Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the state education department. He added that State Education Commissioner David Steiner, who helped form Teacher U in his last job as dean of the school of education at Hunter College, recused himself from discussions about the application. During recent visits to Teacher U's current program, instruction topics ranged from how to tailor reading discussions to the racial and class backgrounds of students to how to write on a white board without covering your face with your writing arm. Much of Teacher U's curriculum is devoted to passing on lessons learned by teachers at the charter schools that founded Teacher U, such as those collected by Uncommon Schools managing director Doug Lemov in his book Teach Like a Champion.
March 19, 2009
Mayoral control, Obama: unseen stars at Harlem Charter Night
The crowd at Harlem Charter Night. Mayor Bloomberg and Lil Mama cheered charter schools, school choice, and mayoral control of the public schools before a crowd of thousands of parents and students last night. The mayor and the rapper even shared some tactics. “Do we want more parent choice?” Mayor Bloomberg yelled. “I can’t hear you! Do we want more competition? Do we want better test scores and higher graduation rates?” Lil Mama was more successful with the call-and-response style. She called “Parent” while the crowd screamed back, “Choice!” “You don’t have to send your child to a regular public school,” the Harlem native said before performing two of her hits, “G-Slide” and “Lip Gloss.” “You can send them to a public charter school.” While many of the kids seemed most excited to watch Lil Mama perform, a team of volunteers and interns at the pro-mayoral control group Learn NY were on hand to encourage parents to sign a petition supporting mayoral control, and a parade of education officials used the unprecedented crowd size to push their causes. (The legislature will vote on whether to renew the mayor's control of the public schools in June.)
February 23, 2009
Union launches "BE NICE" campaign against KIPP founders
Part of the flier the union sent out today. In its campaign to unionize a KIPP charter school in Brooklyn, the national American Federation of Teachers union has a new target: other teachers in the wide KIPP network. The AFT today reached out to KIPP teachers from San Jose to D.C. to Boston, asking them to join an e-mail campaign to urge the charter network's co-founders to recognize the union. The saga began earlier this year, when 15 teachers at the Brooklyn school, called KIPP AMP, told school officials that they want to form a union with the help of the local United Federation of Teachers. They said a union would help them feel more secure in their jobs and have a stronger say in building their school. KIPP leaders, who have traditionally touted their freedom from teachers unions as a strength, because it allows them to hire and fire as they please, could have recognized the union and worked with it. Instead, they have hedged — and even indicated they might fight back against the teachers or drop their affiliation with the Brooklyn school. A state labor board is now considering the teachers' petitions. (And the group of teachers, meanwhile, has swelled to 16 from 15.) The fliers sent today ask KIPP teachers to send e-mail messages to KIPP's co-founders, Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg, asking them to recognize the union — and offer teachers tips on how they could form a union themselves. Titled "BE NICE," a riff on the KIPP motto, "Work Hard. Be Nice," the fliers narrate the story of how Levin and Feinberg founded KIPP 14 years ago. "They put good ideas together with hard work and a relentless drive," the flier says. "They also worked for supportive administrators who gave Dave and Mike the power they wanted to start a new program." The flier goes on: Today in Brooklyn, a dedicated group of KIPP teachers and parents want the same thing and they're forming a union and PTA to have a stronger voice. They're asking for the power to add their own knowledge to the program and to sustain the school's success. Full flier is below the jump.
February 17, 2009
KIPP charter school funders are major Republican Party donors
Via Flickr. Here's a fact of interest in the KIPP vs. teachers union fracas, which looks increasingly like a war: The people who have been the charter school network's major benefactors are also among the Republican Party's most generous contributors. Donald and Doris Fisher, the aging founders of the Gap clothing chain, each donated to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004; maxed out at the $2,300 limit to Rudy Giuliani in 2007; made regular donations to Norm Coleman, the Minnesota senator Al Franken eventually (presumably) unseated, and poured money into the Republican Party war chest, recent campaign contribution filings show. The Fishers did send some money to Democrats, too, including $5,000 to a group tied to Rep. George Miller, the chair of the House education committee and a supporter of No Child Left Behind and charter schools. But the overwhelming majority of their giving (especially their federal giving) went to Republicans. Dave Levin, a KIPP co-founder who got flak when he and students appeared on stage at the 2000 Republican National Convention, said the donations have no bearing on KIPP. "The Fisher’s political activities and their philanthropic involvement in education and KIPP are independent of each other," he wrote in an e-mail message.
February 13, 2009
Undeterred by road bumps, 16 KIPP teachers say they'll unionize
Teachers at a KIPP charter school in Brooklyn are moving forward with their campaign to form a union, undeterred by what they describe as managers’…
February 12, 2009
Union: KIPP charter leaders are waging an intimidation campaign
The city teachers union is accusing the elite KIPP charter school network of waging an intimidation campaign against teachers who are trying to unionize. The dispute began in January, when teachers at a Brooklyn KIPP school shocked the charter school world by petitioning to join the powerful United Federation of Teachers. At the time, Dave Levin, KIPP’s cofounder and the superintendent of its New York City schools, indicated that he was open to working with the union — even though many KIPP supporters oppose working with unions, which they argue block schools’ ability to teach at-risk urban students by imposing strict work rules on schools. (KIPP stands for the Knowledge is Power Program.) Now, the union is accusing Levin of urging teachers not to unionize and painting a bleak picture of what will happen if they do. The accusations are cataloged in two complaints the UFT sent to the state labor board in the last nine days arguing that KIPP is improperly blocking teachers’ ability to unionize. The latest complaint, filed Wednesday, adds to complaints first aired in a Sunday New York Times story reporting that KIPP is resisting the teachers' organizing drive. The complaints accuse a KIPP human resources official of telling teachers that he is concerned that the Brooklyn school will lose its affiliation with the KIPP network if they organize; they accuse the school's founding principal, Ky Adderley, of sitting in the hallway every day to monitor teachers, and they accuse Levin of making a rare attendance at a staff meeting to encourage teachers to reverse their decision to unionize. Levin and a KIPP spokesman did not return telephone messages requesting comment today.
February 4, 2009
KIPP management so far hasn't recognized teachers' campaign
A page from a manual helping charter school leaders resist unionization. Labor-management relations may be off to a rocky start so far at KIPP AMP, the Brooklyn charter school where teachers shocked the charter school community last month by petitioning to join the powerful United Federation of Teachers. The trouble is that KIPP management has so far declined to recognize the teachers' petition, something the leaders have 30 days to do — or else defer to a more contentious process, the state labor board. Allowing the labor board to decide whether to recognize the petitions opens the door for KIPP to make a legal case against unionization. The 30-day period ends next Thursday. It is not clear why KIPP is not recognizing the petitions, or whether the charter school network will do so by Thursday. Union officials said they recently sent the charter school network a reminder letter, restating the 30-day deadline, but KIPP has still not recognized. Dave Levin, the KIPP co-founder and superintendent of New York City KIPP schools who will have to make the final decision, has not returned my requests for comment. Briscoe Smith, the senior vice president and counsel at a Manhattan-based foundation that helps charter schools fight unions (and is loathed by the UFT), said he has not consulted with KIPP. But he said it is possible for managers to challenge workers' efforts to unionize.
January 14, 2009
Did KIPP Infinity teachers ask for a contract? Levin says no
From the KIPP Infinity ##http://www.kippinfinity.org/home/##web site##. Yesterday, I wondered what sparked the move by the teachers union to push a second KIPP charter school,…
January 14, 2009
Could KIPP unionization pave a new path for teacher tenure?
There are a lot of questions floating around about the KIPP schools' unionization, which, according to two major players, was a surprise even to Dave Levin, KIPP's cofounder and the superintendent of New York City KIPP schools. People are guessing at exactly how high is turnover at KIPP AMP. (Levin told me this morning that he doesn't know the exact data but promised to get back to me.) They're wondering whether more elite charter schools will unionize next. (Open question, though charter teachers across the city were contacted about joining up with the union last year.) The most important thing to follow, I think, is what kind of labor contract the KIPP teachers end up negotiating. How will the contract handle job protection? Will it go the extreme route of a virtual job for life, or will it allow for discrimination between effective and ineffective teachers? If it does the latter, what will be the definition of an "effective" teacher? I got some hints of what's to come — or at least what the union wants — in a conversation with Randi Weingarten, the union president, yesterday. Weingarten said she is not in favor of offering "tenure" that means a "job for life." Instead, she said that a contract should force administrators to prove that they have "just cause" before they let an employee go. "Just cause" can mean the extreme case of, say, having sex with a student. Weingarten said that it can also mean the trickier matter of incompetence. Here's how Weingarten explained "just cause" to me: Tenure has been interpreted very, very differently. But it shouldn’t be. Tenure was never intended to be a job for life. Tenure is supposed to be a process, due process, so that you promote excellence and you guide against arbitrariness. What this sounds a lot like is the contract that Green Dot charter school teachers have in Los Angeles, finding a sweet spot between the extreme of so much job protection that bad teachers stay in the profession and so little that teachers feel constantly threatened.
November 17, 2008
Next-generation education "warriors" want work-life balance
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein called on more than 1,000 Teach for America alumni at a conference Saturday to "wield cudgels" and see themselves as "warriors in the fight for educational equity." But some alumni questioned the feasibility of the warrior lifestyle that Klein said is embodied by TFA grads such as D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and KIPP charter school founder Dave Levin. "We want to be like you," a TFA alum told who now works for the DOE stood up to tell his current boss, District 79 Superintendent Cami Anderson. But he asked how it's possible for a regular person to make a difference and still have a personal life. Anderson, a former TFA regional director for New York City, has a reputation for putting in long hours and having almost limitless energy. Confessing to her own struggles with burnout, Anderson acknowledged that closing the achievement gap isn't going to happen in just a few years, so the work must be sustainable. Before taking her current DOE position, she said, she set personal goals for herself, such as leaving work twice a week at 6 p.m. and sometimes reading frivolous books.
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