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August 27, 2013
Tenure crunch continues, but just 41 teachers denied on first try
Percentage of New York City teachers who had tenure denied or extended, 2006-2013 For the third year in a row, nearly half of teachers up for tenure last year did not receive it. But the number of teachers outright denied the job protection remained small. Just under 4,000 teachers were up for tenure in the 2012-2013 school year, with 2,551 of them facing the decision for the first time — fewer than usual because hiring restrictions had been in place three years earlier. Of the total, 53 percent received tenure and 3 percent were denied it, effectively barring them from working in city schools. The remaining portion — 44 percent — had their probationary periods extended for another year. Only 41 of the 2,551 teachers up for tenure for the first time this year were told they could not continue to work in city schools, according to city data. That means the denial rate for teachers in the tenure pool was about 1.6 percent, lower than in each of the past two years. The extension rate for teachers up for tenure for the first time was 44 percent, up slightly since last year. The high extension rate is a hallmark of the Bloomberg administration's efforts to make tenure tougher to achieve. Bloomberg vowed in 2010 to move toward "ending tenure as we know it," a change he favored because teachers who do not yet have tenure can more easily be fired. The previous year, 11 percent of teachers up for tenure had been denied or extended. At the start of the mayor's tenure, that figure had been about 1 percent.
August 22, 2013
Amid political pressure, GOP lawmaker endorses Common Core
John Flanagan and Michael Mulgrew chat before the City & State forum got underway. John Flanagan, an influential Republican lawmaker, will soon shine a spotlight on criticism of New York's implementation of the Common Core learning standards. But he doesn't want to abandon the reforms altogether, the State Senate education chair suggested this morning at City & State's annual "On Education" forum. Speaking as a panelist at the forum, Flanagan said he has sensed growing opposition locally to the shared learning standards, which New York adopted in 2010 and implemented last year. He said he has received unannounced visitors complaining about the standards at his district office on Long Island and a flood of emails lately from people "who are lamenting Common Core." But Flanagan said he continues to support the standards, despite a rocky rollout that teachers, students, and parents in the state have criticized. "I feel like almost all the educational leaders that I interact with have been, fundamentally, very strongly supportive of the Common Core," Flanagan said this morning. "And I think that's a good thing."
August 22, 2013
Mulgrew faces off with Campbell Brown on sex abuse issue
The conversation between education heavyweights at a forum hosted by City & State this morning was pretty tame, except for one heated exchange between United…
July 26, 2013
With evaluation standoff past, city wins new round of grants
New York City is getting nearly $75 million in federal grants to help 16 struggling schools improve and support another six school buildings where schools are shuttering, the state announced today. The grants are the second round of New York State's disbursements from its share of the U.S. Department of Education's $3.5 billion grant program known as School Improvement Grants, or SIG. The grants are designed to improve outcomes in schools with large numbers of students in poverty. Two years ago, the city forfeited a large chunk of the first round of grants after failing to reach a deal with the teachers union on teacher evaluations, which was required to qualify for the majority of the funding. Officials said today that of $58 million awarded to the city, just $15 million was spent that year. The rest was returned back to the state. Those funds may be reallocated to future grant winners, a state spokesman said. Now that evaluations are in place for the 2013-2014 school year, teachers union leaders endorsed this year's grant applications. Union officials cited other reasons this year's applications were an improvement over the previous round, too. They said that this year, individual schools had a more prominent role in determining how the grant money will be spent. In previous years, the city Department of Education applied centrally. "It's more targeted to the needs of the students versus the needs of the administration," United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said of the new grants. Mulgrew said he was "very happy" with this year's version.
June 27, 2013
Grady seniors, principal leave together after stormy reform effort
Principal Geraldine Maione addresses seniors at Grady's 2013 commencement ceremony. In an emotional goodbye to teachers and graduating seniors at William Grady Career & Technical High School on Tuesday, Principal Geraldine Maione disclosed — for the first time, she said — how she landed on her feet at the school three years ago. "The only reason I'm here at Grady is because of your president, my president, and my friend: Michael Mulgrew," Maione said, referring to the head of the United Federation of Teachers union. She was speaking under a tent set up on Grady's football field, which overflowed with family members of the more than 150 students who walked in the graduation ceremony. The event marked the end of school not only for seniors at Grady, but for Maione, too. After 20 years as a history teacher and principal, Maione is retiring, having spent three years as Grady's leader. The event also capped a tumultuous period for the Brighton Beach school, which was caught in the middle of a lengthy labor fight that ended with student enrollment down significantly. "Please know that you gave so much back to me," Maione told the students while giving out awards she created more than a decade ago in memory of her two sons, who died in 1999. "I would have never been able to live these last 14 years if it wasn't for all the thousands of children that I have."
June 21, 2013
UFT protests Regents grading issues; UFT downplays concerns
UFT President Mulgrew and Council of Supervisors and Administrators, a principals union, outside Stuyvesant High School this morning. A top Department of Education official said Friday that effects from delays caused by city's new electronic grading system were "overblown" and estimated that only a small percentage of students would participate in graduation ceremonies without knowing their final grades. "Every kid will have their diploma before the end of [the school year], no one's being kept from walking," Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said at International High School at Lafayette in Brooklyn, shortly before taking stage to speak at the school's graduation ceremony. "I know that it's stressful and I feel bad for the kids that it's stressful," he said, then added, "I do feel like it's a little bit overblown." Polakow-Suransky's comments came following days of complaints from teachers about the grading process of four of the most-taken Regents tests — Living Environment, Global Studies, U.S. History, and English. The exams are being scored electronically this year through a "distributed scoring system" to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the process used in previous years, which involved teachers grading their own students' exams.
June 20, 2013
With Regents delays stretching on, city recruits overtime scorers
A teacher took these pictures of a computer screen at a Regents exam scoring site today. One message shows that all of the items that had been scanned had already been scored. The other shows that many answers remain to be graded. The Department of Education originally said scoring would be complete today, but the timeline has been extended. The Department of Education is desperately recruiting teachers to make up for Regents exam scoring time that CTB/McGraw-Hill lost. The department needs thousands of graders to work through tens of thousands of test questions that were supposed to be scored already. The scoring hit snags because of breakdowns in the electronic process that the testing company set up, leaving students without scores as high school graduations begin. "As you know, there have been problems in processing and scanning exam materials for the June Global and US History exams which have resulted in delays grading these exams," reads an email that history teachers received late Wednesday. Later, it notes, "Participation is voluntary, and we encourage you to consider taking part in this activity and help to complete the scoring of these exams in as timely a manner as possible." Several teachers said they and their colleagues were torn about whether to take the overtime offer, which would net them just under $42 an hour on Friday night and over the weekend.
June 20, 2013
In education speech, Lhota challenges UFT to work with him
In a major speech on education this morning, Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota said he would "continually measure and quantify our schools." Lhota also said he would push to double the number of charter schools operating in the city, a move that would require legislative approval, and to offer merit pay for teachers rated highly effective, which would require the UFT's. "I challenge the UFT to help me implement a merit pay system," he said. The union has said it will never support merit pay for individual teachers, which research so far has found does not improve student achievement. Lhota's speech, delivered to business and civic leaders at the Association for a Better New York, marks the first comprehensive education address by a non-Democratic candidate. It comes a day after Bill Thompson received the UFT endorsement, marking a turning point in the education election. Until now, with the Democratic candidates each competing for the union's support, there has been little incentive to propose wildly different education policies on the campaign trail.
June 19, 2013
United Federation of Teachers backs Bill Thompson for mayor
After a back-to-back series of meetings, the United Federation of Teachers is throwing its weight behind Bill Thompson, the former school board…
June 17, 2013
Bloomberg says lower grad rate reflects improved performance
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky announce the city's graduation rates. For Mayor Bloomberg, putting a positive spin on the city's latest high school graduation numbers required him to get creative with his number-crunching. The city's four-year graduation rate fell by half a point, to 60.4 percent, making Bloomberg's final press conference about the data the first to contend with a sharp decline. During a press conference at City Hall this afternoon, Bloomberg said the fact that the city's graduation rate did not fall more because of the state's tougher graduation requirements was reason for celebration. Last year was the first time that students had to pass five Regents exams with a grade or 65 or higher, as opposed to 55. "Everybody predicted that our graduation rates would fall precipitously and that did not happen," Bloomberg said. "This is showing improvement, not decline." In a PowerPoint presentation, Bloomberg highlighted how far the city's graduation rate would have climbed had the standards in place last year also been in place earlier in his term. City officials pointed out that if the state had not raised its graduation standards, the city's rate would have climbed by 1.4 points instead of falling. And Bloomberg said he could have raised graduation rates even more had his policy proposals never been stymied by the United Federation of Teachers, spurring a fresh round of mutual criticism.
June 13, 2013
UFT, allies propose ways to reduce city's emphasis on testing
UFT President Michael Mulgrew and NYGPS spokeswoman Zakiyah Ansari proposed new testing and accountability measures. A common criticism during campaign season has been that standardized testing plays too large a role in city schools. Today, some who have made the claim most loudly backed up their rhetoric with policy proposals. In a press conference on the steps of City Hall, the teachers union and New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a coalition that formed to oppose the Bloomberg administration's school policies, outlined steps that the next mayor should take to end high-stakes testing and improve the Department of Education's school accountability system.
June 5, 2013
UFT chief says he’s investigating mayoral candidates fully
Mulgrew was discussing his relationships with mayoral candidates, including City Council Speaker Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, and current Comptroller…
June 3, 2013
Candidates who'd have to execute evaluations walk a fine line
Mayoral candidates face political considerations when commenting on the city's state-imposed teacher evaluation system. Several have reflected concerns that the UFT raised. For mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, sleeping on the city's new teacher and principal evaluation plans was an illuminating experience. Thompson was the first candidate to issue an official response to the educator evaluation plans that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on the city late Saturday. Speaking less than two hours after King released an overview of the plan, Thompson said the plan represented a victory for the teachers union's approach to evaluating teachers. "Let’s remember where this process started: The mayor wanted to be able to fire teachers at will, because he believes you can somehow fire your way to student success. That approach is now off the table for good," he said. “Instead, teachers are going to get the support and professional development they need." But a day later, Thompson's outlook was less sanguine. He issued a second press release on Sunday afternoon highlighting the many pitfalls that the plan faces in getting implemented.
June 1, 2013
King unveils long-awaited evaluation systems for city educators
The evaluation system that State Education Commissioner John King imposed on New York City today fulfills requests made by both the Bloomberg administration and the United Federation of Teachers. In a unique move, it also delegates crucial decisions about how teachers will be rated to the city's roughly 1,600 non-charter public schools and, in some cases, to teachers themselves. Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked lawmakers to allow King to impose an evaluation system after city and union officials failed to agree on one by a January deadline. Starting from broad parameters set out in state law, each side made its case in position papers and in-person presentations last month, and King issued his final determination tonight. "Following years of delay, today we can finally say that every school district in the state of New York has a teacher evaluation system in place based on some of the most stringent and comprehensive standards in the nation," Cuomo said in a statement. "The mayor didn't win and the union didn't win. Today, the students won. Finally."
June 1, 2013
Union chiefs offer first takes on state-imposed evaluation plans
UFT President Michael Mulgrew offered what appeared to be a tepid endorsement of the teacher evaluation system that State Education Commissioner John King imposed today, while Mulgrew's counterpart at the principals union was more favorable about the new plan for rating his members. Ernest Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Superintendents, said in a statement that his union had actually reached a deal on evaluations with the city Department of Education late Friday, "with the strong intervention of Commissioner King." He said the deal resembled what had almost been finalized back in January, when the city's negotiations with the teachers union fell apart just before a state deadline. Logan praised the new evaluation system, saying that it "preserves many of the same tools our principals are accustomed to while at the same time substantially improving our due process protections and safeguards." It also provides for helping principals improve, which the old system did not do, he said. Mulgrew's reaction was more circumspect.
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