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January 17, 2018
What you should know about seven people who could be the next New York City schools chancellor
We’ve sorted through the rumors and political jockeying to handicap several contenders.
September 22, 2014
Classes have started, but some struggling schools still await clear guidance from the city
More than two weeks into the school year, principals of some of the city’s most troubled schools say they still don’t know how exactly the city plans to intervene — and that the delays will make it harder for them to turn around their schools this year.
July 3, 2014
Summer school enrollment falls sharply after city reduces role of state tests
The steep decline comes less than three months after officials announced they were changing grade promotion standards put in place by the Bloomberg administration during a decade-long push to ban “social promotion.”
April 29, 2013
City to give longer school day, literacy help to middle schoolers
Chancellor Dennis Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a new phase in the Middle School Quality Initiative at the Urban Institute of Mathematics in the Bronx. For thousands of sixth-graders at 20 city middle schools, the school day is about to get a lot longer. The schools will offer an hour of intensive literacy tutoring and 90 additional minutes of community-inspired programming such as yoga and gardening, as part of the city's latest effort to spur improvements in the lowest-performing middle schools. Chancellor Dennis Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced today that they are adding 40 schools to the city's two-year-old Middle School Quality Initiative. Twenty of those schools will be randomly chosen for the three-year extended day pilot program. Walcott made middle schools his priority when he took office, rebranding an initiative that Quinn had spearheaded as MSQI and expanding it to include focuses on literacy, teacher collaboration, and using data to drive instruction. Since then, MSQI has grown from 18 to 49 schools, and in the fall, it will include 89 schools.
April 17, 2012
In report, advocates paint grim picture of city school inequities
Critics of school closures were not the only ones taking aim at the Bloomberg administration's education policies today. A Massachusetts-based education foundation declared that the city's schools systematically shortchange poor students and students of color. Those students, who make up the vast majority of city enrollment, are less likely to attend top-performing schools as a result of educational "redlining," according to a report released today by the Schott Foundation. The foundation gives grants to education advocacy groups across the country, including New York's Alliance for Quality Education, a lobbying group formed to help win extra funds for city schools through the successful Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. The term "redlining," coined in the 1960s, refers to the practice of discriminating against people in certain neighborhoods or of certain races when deciding who should receive loans or other services. Writes New York University professor Pedro Noguera in a foreword, While the term “redlining” might seem strong given that it implies a deliberate attempt to deny certain communities access to educational opportunities, this report will show that evidence of blatant disparities amount to Apartheid-like separations that have been accepted in New York for far too long. Rather than being angered by the language used, my hope is that readers of this report will be outraged by the fact that education in New York City is more likely to reproduce and reinforce existing patterns of inequality than to serve as a pathway to opportunity. Using a methodology it has applied to other cities and research questions, the foundation assigned each of the city's 32 school districts an "Opportunity to Learn Index" based on how likely it is that middle school students in the district attend schools in the top quarter citywide. It found that students in districts with many black and Hispanic students had a lower chance of attending top-performing schools.
April 3, 2012
A year in office, Walcott trumpets his middle schools initiative
Efforts to improve the city's middle schools have come a long way since they were announced six months ago, Chancellor Dennis Walcott said today in a policy speech delivered days before his one-year anniversary of his sudden appointment. Walcott returned to the same venue where he first announced the middle school reforms — New York University’s Kimmel Center – to deliver the keynote speech at a middle school colloquium hosted by NYU Steinhardt’s Research Alliance for New York City Schools. In his speech, Walcott said the city was in the process of rolling out a host of initiatives that the the Department of Education had either created or expanded since September, all in the interest of improving middle schools, which he said had become his main priority during his tenure. “If we truly care about preparing our students for success in college and careers, middle school needs to be a central focus of our policies,” Walcott said. Walcott announced that the DOE had allocated about $500,000 to develop new training programs for 150 teachers and 10 principals who he hoped would work specifically in middle schools. And he said the city would exceed his goal of creating 50 new middle schools in the next two years. Twenty-six new middle schools, including 14 charter schools, will open next fall and 28 more schools — including another 14 charters — are set to open in 2013.
March 30, 2012
Debate continues about how to offer services to needy students
Poor students and their families should get the health care, counseling, and other services they need. That idea sparked little dissent at a panel discussion Tuesday about students' non-academic needs. But exactly how to deliver those services was up for debate. Advocates of the "Broader, Bolder Approach" — a coalition that formed in 2008 to counter the "no excuses" message of former chancellor Joel Klein's Education Equality Project — said responsibility for providing and paying for the services should fall to the city. But a top city official said it should be up to individual schools to assess their students' needs and find ways to meet them. The panel discussion took place at the Salomé Ureña de Henríquez Campus, a Washington Heights campus that works with the Children's Aid Society, the social services provider that is launching its own school this fall to model a setting with "wraparound" services, and it was moderated by the CAS president, Rich Buery. It was hosted by the Campaign for Educational Equity, a think tank aimed at influencing policy, whose director, Michael Rebell, was one of four panelists. Rebell stuck to an argument he has outlined before in policy papers and court documents as part of the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity case that resulted in new funds for city schools. Students have a constitutional right to receive access to more resources in schools, and it is the state and city's responsibilities to provide them, he said.
September 28, 2011
Panelist's charter school link is criticized at 'Miseducation' event
Pedro Noguera and Karen Sprowal talk after the "Miseducation Nation" panel ended. Panel members at an event critiquing current school reform policies last night criticized testing, large classes, and charter schools — and also a university professor sharing the stage with them. More than 100 people filled a school auditorium in Manhattan to attend the four-member "Miseducation Nation" panel, which was convened in response to – and got its mocking namesake from – NBC's "Education Nation" summit, a two-day event that wrapped up earlier that day at Rockefeller Center. Pedro Noguera, an NYU professor who studies urban education, was invited to speak on the panel and for most of the evening, he was on the same page as his fellow panelists, historian Diane Ravitch, Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, and teacher Brian Jones of the Grassroots Education Movement. They all criticized policymakers for adopting reform ideas that they said were not working – and ignoring alternative ones, such as smaller class sizes and culturally-relevant curriculum, that they said would improve schools. The panel also criticized the media coverage, which they characterized as biased toward current reform policies. The event was hosted by Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, a national media advocacy group. "We feel beleaguered and we feel there is only one story told repeatedly in the mainstream media," Haimson said. More than 100 people, many of which were teachers and parents, packed into the auditorium at P.S. 66 School of the Future. When moderator Laura Flanders opened up questioning to the audience, criticism quickly turned on Noguera, a board member of the SUNY Charter School Institute, which oversees many of New York City's most prominent charter schools. Veteran teacher Michael Fiorillo first brought up the subject when he asked Noguera to explain how he could support opening charter schools, while at the same time being such a vocal opponent of closing the ones that they replace.
September 20, 2011
Walcott's middle school plan puts new spin on old approaches
In his first major policy speech, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott called for major changes to the ctiy's worst middle schools. To shake middle schools from mediocrity, the city is turning to school reform strategies it considers tried and true. In the next two years, the Department of Education will close low-performing middle schools, open brand-new ones, add more charter schools, and push more teachers and principals through in-house leadership programs, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today in a 30-minute policy speech, the first of his six-month tenure. For 10 schools, the city will ask for $30 million in federal funds to try a new reform strategy set out by the federal government, “turnaround,” in which at least half of staff members are replaced, Walcott said. The efforts — which the city plans to pay for with a mixture of state and federal funds — are meant to boost middle school scores that are low and, in the case of reading, actually falling. "People have tried and struggled with the complicated nature of middle schools for decades," he said. "But the plan I've laid out is bolder and more focused than anything we've tried here in New York City before." Experts and advocates who helped engineer the last major effort to overhaul middle schools, a City Council task force that produced recommendations but short-lived changes at the DOE in 2007, disputed Walcott's characterization. They said Walcott's announcement reflects a change in style but not substance. "Much of what he said is not new," said Carol Boyd, a parent leader with the Coalition for Educational Justice, which has long urged more attention for middle schools. "There is a definite party line, except Joel [Klein] wasn’t able to deliver it with the same believability that Chancellor Walcott does," she said. Boyd sat on the task force. “There’s nothing new [or] interesting about this plan," said Pedro Noguera, the New York University professor who chaired the council's task force and has spoken out against school closures. "It sounds like more of what they’ve been doing, shutting down failing schools."
September 19, 2011
In first policy speech, Walcott to focus on moving "the middle"
Since becoming chancellor in April, Dennis Walcott has made many public appearances but few policy pronouncements. That's set to change tomorrow morning, when Walcott is set to deliver the first policy address of his tenure, a speech at New York University titled "Why We Can't Rest: How To Move the Middle." The city is mum on what exactly the speech will be about, but it's clear that Walcott has spent some time talking about middle schools in the last week. On Thursday, he met with roughly a dozen principals of high-scoring middle schools — both district-run and charter — to ask them a question that has long bedeviled educators and policymakers: How to curb the performance drop-off that takes place after students leave elementary school. The 2011 state test scores released last month told a familiar story: Middle school students scored proficient at a far lower rate than students in the elementary grades. “We still need to increase our focus on those years,” Walcott said at the time. It wouldn't be the first time that the city has made improving middle schools a priority.
May 23, 2011
In Washington Heights, a basic education on charter schools
Last December, Community Board 12’s executive committee was discussing charter schools when committee members realized something: There were almost as many different perceptions of charter schools as there were people in the room. This epiphany, recalled board chair Pamela Palanque-North, was the inspiration for a forum the board held Saturday to give Washington Heights residents the basic facts about charter schools. “This is an opportunity for us to have something called an educational intervention,” Palanque-North said in her opening remarks at the forum, titled “Our Children, Our Choices: An Informative Discussion on Public and Charter School Options." About 35 neighborhood residents attended the event, which was organized by the board's youth and education committee and translated live into Spanish. The panel included charter school advocates and also critics, such as sociologist Pedro Noguera and the public school teacher who directed a new movie that takes aim at the idea that charter schools can fix all educational ills. But perhaps as notable as who sat on the panel was who did not: a representative from the city Department of Education. Community Board 12 had advertised that Chancellor Dennis Walcott would speak on the morning's first panel, although DOE officials said Walcott had never agreed to appear.
March 3, 2010
Testing, charters get boos at Teach for America eduation panel
When singer John Legend agreed to talk on a Teach for America panel about his views on education, he probably thought he'd get a warm reception. After all, he supports charter schools, a longer school day, and vigorous standardized testing, all policies championed by the education reform movement Teach for America helped fuel. But things didn't go his way last night. One of six panelists at the event, "Men of Color and Education: A Discussion on the Pursuit of Excellence," Legend met with more criticism and more boos than he'd bargained for. At first, the audience of mostly black and Latino teachers — most of them TFA members — praised Legend's support for putting good teachers in front of high-need students, but the cheers soon turned to boos when he advocated for testing.
June 17, 2009
Report: City's small schools push damaged large high schools
The city's drive to open new small high schools has taken a serious toll on older, larger schools, and there are signs that the new schools' success could be short-lived, according to a report being released today. The report, an analysis of the small schools bonanza by the Center for New York City Affairs, concludes that the city must do more to support large high schools, which continue to enroll the vast majority of city high school students despite the proliferation of small schools, and which are straining under the burden of enrolling the system's neediest students. At the core of the report is the finding that as small schools opened, large schools nearby suffered huge jumps in enrollment, especially among low-performing students and students with special needs. Those schools have seen attendance decline, disorder increase, and graduation rates drop, according to the report. In some places, these shifts have caused the city to restructure the newly troubled large schools, displacing at-risk students once again, the report concludes. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein told researchers that he understands that his strategy of closing low-performing schools and replacing them with new options could inflict some collateral damage on large high schools. "This is about improving the system, not necessarily about improving every single school," he said about the strategy at the center of his reforms since he took office in 2003. The report backs up the city's claim that the small schools graduate their students in higher numbers, but it raises questions about how long the schools can sustain their success.
May 15, 2009
Noguera: David Brooks drew the wrong conclusion in Harlem
We’ve said in the past that our long-term plan is to expand our Community section to include more voices. Today we’re taking a step…
April 30, 2009
Pedro Noguera clarifies his concern: Don't replace kids' culture
Elizabeth reported yesterday about a conversation she had with NYU professor Pedro Noguera about PS 28, a Brooklyn school that he said is succeeding…
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