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Math for America
How I Teach
July 5, 2018
Having once found science dull as a student, this New York City teacher now strives for a more engaging approach
“I remember making myself a promise to show my former teachers what they could be doing to captivate their students one day."
How I Teach
December 20, 2016
Why a teacher at Midwood High traded Lord & Taylor for algebra and geometry
"You go into a school that’s a school of high achievement versus a school where everyone is struggling and it feels very different."
October 6, 2016
Teachers explain how Common Core changes could impact their classrooms
How would the Common Core revisions affect classrooms across New York state? To find out, we turned to the experts: teachers.
September 23, 2016
Mayor Bill de Blasio announces computer science initiative fundraising is ‘ahead of schedule’
The city has raised $20 million for "Computer Science for All" initiative, a program designed to offer computer science education in every school across New York City.
July 19, 2016
The state is tinkering with Regents exam scores, but advocates say that means prior test-takers lose out
Advocates say changes to Regents Algebra scale scores could put students who took the test in 2014 or 2015 at a disadvantage.
May 20, 2013
Cuomo announces first phase of $11 million teacher stipends
Hundreds of top-rated upstate science and math teachers will be eligible for $15,000 in annual stipends under a new mentorship program announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon. New York City teachers aren't eligible for the stipends, in part because they still lack an evaluation system to identify them according to a four-tiered ratings scale. But the state is relying heavily on a highly-regarded city-based mentoring organization to implement the program in selected higher education institutions. Under Cuomo's "Master Teacher Program," 250 teachers from schools located in four upstate regions — North Country, Mid-Hudson, Central New York and Western New York — will be selected to receive a total of $60,000 in extra pay over four years. In exchange, the teachers will be trained at State University of New York education colleges and tasked with mentoring new teachers in the science and math subjects. Recruiting and rewarding top teachers to work in high-demand subject areas was one of the recommendations put forth by Cuomo's Education Reform Commission last year. Cuomo also secured $11 million in the 2013-2014 state budget to develop the program, which is scheduled to expand to more districts. “As part of the state's work to transform our education system and put students first, we are committed to investing in great teachers to educate our students and create a highly-trained workforce to drive our future economy," Cuomo said in a statement. "This program will reward those teachers who work harder to make the difference and whose students perform better as a result.”
April 8, 2013
Despite city's reassurance, Common Core exams cause concern
In the three years since New York officially adopted the Common Core learning standards, students have tackled tougher assignments, teachers have remade assignments, and schools have rethought when topics should be taught — all in an effort to prepare students to show they have mastered the new standards. Now, the first test of whether the teachers have been successful is here. Next week, students in grades three through eight will take their first set of Common Core-aligned state exams, in English. The following week, they’ll sit for three days of Common Core aligned math tests. The scores will help decide everything from whether the students will be promoted to where they will attend middle or high school. “They’ve been talking about the Common Core for a couple of years now,” said David Baiz, who teaches math at Global Technology Preparatory Middle School. “This year is really the year when we’re staring down the barrel of the gun.”
February 4, 2013
Teachers model off their real-world approaches to teaching math
Math teachers Amy Hogan, of Brooklyn Technical High School, and Ellie Terry, of the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, present an election modeling project their students worked on last fall. How much voting power does a New Yorker really wield? How can statistics presented by the media manipulate readers? How do you raise sweatshop wages without sacrificing profit? These are a few of the questions that math teachers in New York City are asking their students as they try to bring complex and abstract concepts to life. To answer them, students must supplement the equations and formulas found in textbooks by grappling with real-world applications. The lessons cover a mathematical practice known as modeling that has been around for decades but is now getting a closer look in schools around the city as teachers try to align their math lessons to Common Core standards that require real-world applicability. Using modeling to present lessons is one of two instructional focuses that the Department of Education has laid out this year for math teachers. “It’s the practice of solving real-world problems,” said Brooklyn Technical High School’s Patrick Honner, a teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School who in December won a $10,000 award for an innovative math lesson he developed.
January 9, 2013
Cuomo floats competitive grants to urge more learning time
The state will underwrite costs for schools that keep students in class an extra 300 hours per year, according to a top proposal floated today in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's third "State of the State" address. Extended learning time was one of several proposals Cuomo mentioned during the education section of his speech, which lasted more than an hour and covered a variety of non-education issues, including a strict ban on assault weapons, decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, raising the minimum wage and a new plan to build casinos in upstate New York (the revenue of which will mostly go toward state school aid). The proposals were part of a "more and better" approach to education reform that Cuomo is crafting for 2013, a year after he targeted education "lobbyists" and school bureaucratic inefficiencies. Cuomo said he also wants to invest in expanding early education programs and creating schools that provide health and social services for poor communities. Cuomo is making the funds available in the form of competitive grants, which he has used in the past in an attempt to fast-track education reforms. The grants would only be eligible to districts and schools that craft plans that adhere to best practices prescribed by Cuomo. The previous grants have encountered resistance, both from union officials, the Board of Regents and State Education Commissioner John King. They all agreed that a $250 million mini-Race to the Top grant would be be better used if it were redistributed into the state's general school aid formula.
January 31, 2012
At P.D. day, teachers discuss challenges of their profession
Across the city yesterday, high school teachers hunkered down for a day of extra training. Some sat in on sessions at their schools, while others scattered across the city for sessions held in the offices of educational consultants. I stopped by the Midtown offices of Math for America, a fellowship program for math and science teachers, and saw teachers working on student work to better understand why they thought the way they did. Here's what some said about some of the topics dominating the policy agenda these days (interviews edited for clarity and brevity): Bill Lamonte, Millennium High School Subject: Science Years: 10 (eight in New York City) How long will you be a teacher for? I may be a different case because I know I'll be teaching until I die. But it is hard to see colleagues that start out putting in that time and then get frustrated and end up leaving. I am challenged professionally, but some people don't want to deal with the bureaucracy of the system. The DOE is a tough place. It's very top-down. It's hard. But if you have a supportive administration and you're in a school that has ideals that you believe in, it's easier to stay because you feel you can work with people and that you can actually make a difference. Would you ever consider a school leadership position? I know I'll be teaching, but I steer clear of the administration path just because I see what happens to teachers when they become administrators. They take on another personality, in a way. Again, it's very top-down, so they have to meet certain requirements themselves. In order to do that you have to put a lot of pressure on your teachers. When you have to have a checklist – are they doing this, this, and this? – I can see how it can become a struggle to balance. Although I do find that a lot of schools struggle with having good administrators. There are a lot of weak principals out there. I've seen it first hand, especially at my old school in the Bronx. Luckily now I do feel that the administration is batter and that does make a huge difference. To feel supported in a school is really what's going to keep a teacher there.
April 27, 2010
New teacher pipelines narrow as hiring freeze continues
For years, the number of new teachers entering the city's job market by way of alternative certification programs has been in the thousands. But this year the flood has slowed to a trickle. When Chancellor Joel Klein announced a teacher hiring freeze last year, organizations that recruit and train new teachers, such as Teach for America and New York City's Teaching Fellows, began planning to admit fewer teacher-hopefuls. Together, those two programs are planning to take fewer than 700 applicants this year, down from over 2,000 two years ago. "We anticipate at this point that our needs will be more limited than they have been in past years, except for perhaps this year," the Department of Education's Executive Director of Recruitment and Teacher quality, Vicki Bernstein, told me in October. At the time, Bernstein, who oversees recruitment for the Teaching Fellows program, guessed that about 700 fellows would be admitted. The real number of Teaching Fellows will be closer to 450, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Ann Forte. In 2009, the Teaching Fellows' cohort numbered 700, which was already a significant drop from previous years when nearly 2,000 fellows entered the city's schools annually.
September 10, 2009
ATR pool shrinks rapidly as school starts and principals hire
The latest ATR numbers are out, and they suggest a mass exodus has occurred in the last few days. In the last two weeks, the…
May 8, 2009
A father in higher education chastises Joel Klein on the freeze
A father of one of the frozen-out teachers-to-be who works in higher education sent us a letter today that he requested we forward to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. The letter chastises Klein for essentially revoking hiring decisions so late in the school year, long after many teachers-to-be have already found apartments and stopped looking for other jobs. The father writes that in higher education, "we take care not to waver from the commitments that we have made to our people and new hires," despite serious budget pressures. He asks why the New York City public schools would not do the same. The father gave me permission to publish the letter in partially edited form to keep his and his child's identity anonymous. UPDATE: Klein just wrote to me in an e-mail that he hopes to find fall jobs for teachers in the program this man's child is in, Math For America. "We will work with them to find them jobs," Klein wrote. "We said at the outset there would be exceptions — e.g. new schools — and this is a group that we want to place given their training and support and our challenges in finding math teachers." Math For America places recent college graduates and career-changers who are talented at math in inner-city schools. Fellows in the program have to make a five-year commitment to teaching in public schools, in exchange for close mentoring and support from master teachers in the program. Here's the father's letter to Klein:
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