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where credit is (and isn't) due
August 5, 2015
Behind city’s latest credit-recovery controversy is a complicated history
Low-performing high schools, now under threat of being taken over by outside groups, are still under pressure to increase their four-year graduation rates.
March 6, 2012
Small funding losses point to big obstacles for new evaluations
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last month that the state's progress on teacher evaluations met his requirements to keep Race to the Top funds flowing. But city officials' handling of smaller pools of the federal funds suggests that they don't think the city is anywhere close to meeting the same standard. Last week, the Department of Education returned $7.5 million in federal funds that the state doled out for the city to design schools that make students college ready, the New York Post reported today. The city's explanation: That it has not yet adopted new teacher evaluations, a string attached to the funding. It's a situation that our reporting predicted last fall, when the state began opening up mission-specific pools of Race to the Top funds to districts. Nearly all of the funding pools came with a requirement that the districts adopt teacher evaluations that comply with the state's 2010 evaluation law. At the time, the state was requiring districts to commit to having new evaluations in place for this school year, so the city applied for funding only for 33 schools where it had reached a partial evaluations agreement with the teachers union. Now, even though the city and union have publicly announced a deal on the issue that derailed that agreement, the city is sitting out of funding streams that don't require new evaluations until next year.
July 27, 2011
When the story is education, Rupert Murdoch gets involved
Rupert Murdoch takes a strong interest in his newspapers' education coverage. (Photo by WorldEconomicForum on Flickr) How involved is Rupert Murdoch at the newspapers he owns? When the subject is education, Murdoch's views directly influence the coverage in the New York Post and, at the least, the sorts of meetings taken at the Wall Street Journal. Azi Paybarah at the Observer reports today that at the New York Post, education stories are ordered up according to Murdoch's visits: One former reporter said his own editor requested a week’s worth of stories about the New York City public schools because “Rupert was going to be in town.” It was coveted real estate in the paper, and the reporter reluctantly obliged. We have previously chronicled the Post's open campaigning on behalf of the Bloomberg administration's education policies and its effort to renew mayoral control. The coverage prompted Education Secretary Arne Duncan to praise the newspaper for its "leadership" in covering mayoral control. There are some exceptions — New York City education beat reporter Yoav Gonen is even-handed and columnist Michael Goodwin takes no prisoners. But on and off the editorial page, the newspaper often matches Murdoch's education views: aggressively dismissive of the teachers union and ridiculing of critics of the mayor. At the Wall Street Journal, the line between news and opinion and newspaper boss seems to be thicker. But it has some holes. Last week, the New York Times reported on a meeting arranged between Joel Klein, then still the schools chancellor, and reporters: When Mr. Klein visited The Journal last year to discuss education issues with news and opinion writers, Mr. Murdoch interrupted to lavish praise on the chancellor, much to the surprise of the writers. “Just listen to everything that Joel is saying,” Mr. Murdoch insisted, according to one person who attended the meeting.
November 12, 2010
Bloomberg defends his private search and choice for chancellor
Mayor Michael Bloomberg fought against growing opposition to his selection of magazine publisher Cathie Black this morning, saying that he and Chancellor Joel Klein had "spent a lot of time finding the right person." Bloomberg said he had been discussing Klein's departure with him "for months" and only began to search for a successor in earnest once he "slowly...became convinced" that Klein truly intended to leave. His remarks, on the John Gambling radio show this morning, described the search process: Anybody that comes in wants to have a chance to really get up to speed and make a difference and stick with that difference and implement it and show that it works earlier rather than later. And we'd been talking about it for months, and I've been looking — at the beginning I wasn't sure he [Klein] was serious, but slowly as I became convinced he was, I started looking — and he and I together spent a lot of time finding the right person. The description follows a report in the New York Times that Klein himself only learned who his successor would be on Monday. Black told the New York Post this week that the mayor offered her the job after approaching her a "couple of weeks ago on a Monday." Black's account, as reported in the Post, suggested that the mayor offered her the job at their first meeting: "Monday the mayor called," she told me. "We know each other a long time. I didn't know what he wanted. He only told me this was a personal call and he wanted to meet. I couldn't exactly say, 'Sorry, Mr. Mayor, but I'm busy,' but the fact is I had back-to-back meetings at Hearst, so I said I couldn't today but could tomorrow.' "He said, 'How's 7 a.m. tomorrow?' I said, 'Fine.' We met in his foundation offices. The offer came out of left field, and my stomach did a flip-flop. The opportunity made me feel fantastic." In her Post interview, Black described meeting with Klein for an hour and a half.
October 27, 2010
Parent says NY Post fabricated his opinion of teacher ratings
The parent of a Queens public school student is accusing the New York Post of fabricating his support for publicly releasing teachers' effectiveness scores. Queens Community Education Council member Brian Rafferty said that an op/ed published in the New York Post last week bore his byline, but not his views. Rafferty, who is also the executive editor of the Queens Tribune, made the accusation at a council meeting in Ridgewood, Queens last night. The piece, titled "Dad: Union putting my child last," criticized the city's teachers union for going to court to block the city from releasing teachers' ratings. Last night, Rafferty told a room packed with parents and teachers that he does not support releasing 12,000 teachers' ratings with their names included. "I might be skeptical of the union sometimes, no offense guys, but there is absolutely no way that these opinions are mine," he said.
August 7, 2009
The fruitful alliance of Arne Duncan and Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch and Arne Duncan. (Images via Creative Commons) The New York Post patted its own back today, hard, for helping the state renew the mayor's control of the public schools. The surprising thing is that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined in, thanking the newspaper, owned by the ambitious Rupert Murdoch, for its "leadership" and "thoughtfulness." New York City newspapers have a proud tradition of waging campaigns both on and off the editorial page, and then congratulating themselves when they hit their marks. But having a cabinet member for a sitting president join the cheering is more unusual. "I think that must be out of context, that Arne Duncan is giving the Post credit for mayoral control," the president of the principals' union, Ernest Logan, said when I called to ask his impression. The news series the Post ran extolling mayoral control Richard Colvin, who directs the Hechinger Institute for education journalism at Columbia University, said he found the whole news story baffling. "It reads like nothing I've ever seen. It reads like the worst kind of back-patting, self-congratulatory press release that has no perspective whatsoever," he said. Duncan's quote does illustrate a strange alliance that fought hard for mayoral control's renewal, Murdoch and the secretary of education among them.
July 6, 2009
Mayoral control deal elusive for Senate Dems, contrary to report
Reports that a deal has been reached on mayoral control have been exaggerated, according to sources in Albany. The New York Post reported today that Senate Democrats had reached an agreement on mayoral control and would abandon their demands for fixed terms for members of the citywide school board. But sources in Albany said that no deal had been made and that senators were still haggling over the details. Though most sources said the deal outlined by the Post is likely to happen eventually, they said that until senators found a way to end the gridlock, no agreement could be considered final. According to the Post, the compromise amounts to the Senators agreeing to vote for the Assembly's bill, in exchange for an amendment that would be passed later and would provide for more parental involvement in the system. The article notes that Senator John Sampson, the Democratic conference leader who has led the opposition to reviving mayoral control without substantial changes, has "signed on to the deal." "There is no deal yet," said a source involved with the negotiations. "I think that this won't get settled until they have a path back into the chamber."
June 16, 2009
Weingarten urges teachers to be their own check and balance
Others have said that she's caved on mayoral control, or suggested that she never actually intended to challenge the mayor's power as she promised. I just stumbled on teachers union president Randi Weingarten's own interpretation, buried in her latest column for the teachers union newspaper. She declares that she has not changed her position on mayoral control, saying contrary characterizations fail to see the nuance of her position. Weingarten also unveils a new opportunity for teachers to act as "your own check and balance": A new membership poll the union is conducting to evaluate the Department of Education and Chancellor Joel Klein. (A poll last year found widespread disapproval of Klein, and Weingarten purchased a New York Times advertisement to publish the results.) The details on the new poll:
June 4, 2009
Randi Weingarten under fire for mayoral control position
Randi Weingarten testifying at a mayoral control hearing in February. (<em>GothamSchools</em>) A group of parent activists and union members is expressing anger with teachers union leader Randi Weingarten, telling her that she has dropped the ball in fighting for checks to the mayor's power over schools. The frustration began with a May 21 New York Post column, in which Weingarten indicated that she is open to allowing the mayor to continue appointing a majority of members to the citywide school board. A union task force recommended in February that the state legislature reverse that majority as a way to strengthen the board, known as the Panel for Education Policy or PEP. Weingarten's Post op/ed dismayed some members of her own union. "I was quite disappointed and angry, actually," said Lisa North, a teacher who sat on the union's task force to consider revisions to mayoral control. North said the task force never seriously considered recommending that the mayor keep his majority of appointments, and so when union delegates ratified the committee's final recommendations, she expected Weingarten to promote them. "The delegate assembly is supposed to be the highest authority of the union, and it voted for it," she said. In an interview today, Weingarten acknowledged that people have reached out to her with concerns about her position, including her own union members. "I did get a couple of e-mails from members saying, 'Why are you doing what you're doing?'" she said. She said that she empathizes with those concerns. "I totally and completely understand and concur with the frustrations that many have that this mayor and this chancellor have not listened to and respected enough the voices of those who go to our schools, their parents, and those who teach them," she said. But she also said that she has to weigh concerns about checking the mayor's power against the reasons she supported giving the mayor control in 2002. "It's always been a balance of stability, cohesion, and responsibility, which is what mayoral control brought us, and modifying it to create sufficient checks and balances and transparency," Weingarten said.
April 8, 2009
As the tabloids go wild over our story, looking for the take-away
Today's New York Post includes two stories about the story GothamSchools first broke on the UFT's lobbying of City Council members. The story I broke yesterday morning about the United Federation of Teachers sending City Council members pre-scripted questions on charter schools is now filling the pages of the New York Post and the Daily News. As Philissa pointed out in the morning roundup today, each paper (A) covered the story and (B) editorialized about the shameless things it says about the teachers union. They both also (C) did not give credit to GothamSchools for breaking the story, despite happily quoting the card text that only I obtained. C'est la vie. The important thing, of course, is to keep our eyes on the ball. One take-away here is pretty obvious. The teachers union peddles its influence in pretty clever ways! Equally important, I think, is another point that shouldn't get lost in this tangle. That's the fact that, on the question of charter schools, the union is walking an astoundingly precarious tightrope.
March 30, 2009
One KIPP Academy employee did ask for the union's help
One confusing point in the ongoing saga between the KIPP charter schools and the city teachers union is exactly how many KIPP teachers actually want to belong to the union. While 16 teachers at the KIPP AMP school in Brooklyn submitted cards to the state labor board saying they want to join the United Federation of Teachers, at least one of those teachers changed her mind after submitting the card, and teachers at two other KIPP schools the union has tried to represent are resisting the push. Yoav Gonen described the union's effort at those schools as "meddling" in today's New York Post. But add at least one more person to the ranks of KIPP teachers who are actively seeking union help: A staff member on the payroll of KIPP Academy, one of the original KIPP schools, who turned to the union after the charter school network allegedly decided to move him to a new school and dock his pay. The teacher detailed his complaint in a January letter asking KIPP Academy's principal, Blanca Ruiz, for a meeting where he would be represented by a UFT official. The union sent me the letter but whited out the name of the teacher who filed the grievance, and the union did not make him available for an interview.
March 5, 2009
3 things we know about Thompson's schools view; more we don't
Comptroller Bill Thompson. (Via ##http://flickr.com/photos/azipaybarah/2376506857/##Azi's Flickr##.) My former colleague Jacob Gershman is very good at raising subjects everyone is talking about but nobody says in print. He did so with today's piece on Comptroller William Thompson Jr., who is making school issues a big part of his mayoral campaign — without clarifying his positions on some of the main school issues of the day. Gershman argues Thompson possesses a "carefully cultivated irrelevance." But there is stuff we do know about where Thompson stands on education issues, though much of the facts raise more questions than they answer. First, we know that he's said he favors retaining control of the school system if he becomes mayor. It's unclear exactly how much control he'd like to give himself (a big empty space, as we pointed out), but he's said repeatedly that he supports the mayor having primary authority. "I may be in a shrinking group of those who support it," he told a committee in testimony that was supposed to be off the record but which I obtained when I was at the New York Sun. We also know the two main points of attack Thompson has selected for criticizing Bloomberg's school efforts: He criticizes the mayor on transparency, which he says is so poor that even his office struggles to understand the school system's finances, and parental involvement. Both of these are safe issues; they're exactly the points conceded by one of the most prominent mayoral allies on schools, Geoffrey Canada, and they avoid the nastier battlegrounds of school closings, accountability, and charter schools.
March 3, 2009
DOE says city will save from contract that went to a high bidder
The company that won the contract. Here’s a story from yesterday’s New York Post that escaped our attention: Yoav Gonen reports that the Department…
January 26, 2009
The New York Post test and other takeaways from Learning 2.0
People at Educon in Philadelphia (via ##http://flickr.com/photos/bknittle/3225807294/##Flickr##) Last week, I chronicled an academic discussion on the subject of where school reform should go under…
January 12, 2009
What's important about Shelly Silver's Joel Klein-phobia
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (via Flickr) The New York Post's headline today — "SILVER IS DISIN-KLEIN-ED" — is a fun, gossipy way of getting at a really important story. The thing is, it's not just Sheldon Silver, speaker of the Assembly, who doesn't like Joel Klein. Many of Silver's colleagues in the legislature are in the same boat. I first cataloged the grievances of a list of state senators and Assembly members in August. That was more than a year after an assemblyman from the Bronx, Ruben Diaz Sr., became the first public official to call on Bloomberg to fire Klein. Since then, I haven't found any lawmakers who don't complain about Klein. In fact, I've actually met one state senator, Kevin Parker of Brooklyn, who ideologically is in line with the administration, but opposes its reforms. The best explanation for this bad blood that the Post provides is this one, from "an official who knows both men": "You have two guys who both think they're the smartest guy in the room. Those two guys aren't going to like each other." But my understanding is that there's more than personalities at play here. There's a substantive difference in policy.
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