draining the atr pool

An education U-turn

An education U-turn

Movers and shakers

school leadership

principal pipeline

survey says

Field test

'aspirational ice cream'

legal wrangling


Call for change

Lead the way

Trading Places

Principal Production

Pilot Principals

Deep Thaw

principal praise

agenda setting


leadership change

New York

Survey finds shift in principals' favored city education initiatives

New York

For skeptical parents, 'turnaround' principal change brings hope

Vivian Selenikas, right, sits with Long Island City High School principal Maria Mamo-Vacacela, left, at the school's closure hearing. Last week, hundreds of parents, teachers, and students crowded Long Island City High School's auditorium for a hearing about the school's planned "turnaround." On Tuesday evening, just a dozen parents attended a meeting to hear directly from the Department of Education's latest pick to run the revamped school. Gathered in the school's band room, they learned that Vivian Selenikas, the proposed school leader, speaks four languages (English, Spanish, Greek and Italian. They found that she started her career in the 1980s as a Spanish teacher at Richmond Hill High School, another school on the turnaround list. And they learned that she believes careful curriculum planning will lift Long Island City out of a slump of low attendance (the rate last year was 80 percent) and poor city progress report grades. They also learned that Selenikas is not afraid to stand up and cha-cha. When the school's cheerleading coach led parents through impromptu dance exercises at the end of the Parent Association meeting, Selenikas joined in. As a Queens network leader, Selenikas is no stranger to the large high school on Broadway, which required help from her and other Department of Education officials last year to resolve massive scheduling problems. "It's important that someone who knew the community and knew the needs of this neighborhood helped to move the school forward, should the decision be made that Long Island City will no longer be Long Island City," she said. But many parents say they are worried that the city is not planning adequately for turnaround. Some say they are wary of the abrupt leadership change, which would be the third in less than four years. The current principal, Maria Mamo-Vacacela, came under fire last year for overhauling most students' schedules two months into the academic year.
New York

Shuang Wen School inquiry reveals deep "dishonest behavior"

A parent stands in front of the Cherry Street entrance to the Lower East Side's Shuang Wen elementary school. A sprawling investigation into the leadership of a controversial dual-language school in Chinatown concluded that the school's principal had falsified attendance data and accepted money from a non-profit hired to administer after school language lessons. The Department of Education will move to fire Ling Ling Chou, who was removed from the school in September while as many as 16 different investigations were underway. According to the report, she frequently faked numbers when reporting information about the school to the city and the United States Department of Education, including student attendance records and the length of the school day. The report does not conflict with a different report released last year by the special commissioner of investigations, which found that Chou and other staffers committed multiple improprieties, but did not outright steal public money. "For years, Principal Chou engaged in dishonest behavior, unbeknownst to her students and school community," said Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a statement. "Principal Chou’s conduct has failed to meet the standard we set for our principals, and I am filing charges to terminate her employment.” Shuang Wen consistently boasts some of the strongest test scores in the city, but divisions between the staff and parents at the Lower East Side school have led to numerous allegations of and investigations into misconduct.
New York

Details emerging about turnaround schools' leadership, hiring

More details are emerging about how "turnaround" is proceeding at 26 schools still slated to undergo the controversial overhaul process. For a month, the department has been informing principals of some of the schools that they would be removed at the end of the school year or even sooner. Now their replacements are making their first appearances at the schools, and teachers are starting to learn about the schedule for the rehiring process that could cost up to half of them their positions. Teachers at Newtown High School found out this week that their longtime principal, John Ficalora, would be replaced by Marisol Bradbury. Bradbury has been working in school support at the Department of Education for the last several years but led a small high school in Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant Preparatory High School, before that. A proposed principal for the school that would replace Long Island City High School toured the building yesterday with the superintendent, according to teachers there. The city's choice to take over is Vivian Selenikas, Long Island City's current network leader. Selenikas led the High School for Arts and Business in Queens from 2003 to 2007 and will replace Maria Mamo-Vacacela, who does not actually have to be removed under turnaround rules. And at Flushing High School, teachers and families have been invited to a "meet and greet" with Magdalen Radovich on April 25, the day before the Panel for Educational Policy is set to vote on the turnaround plans. Radovich is currently an assistant principal at Queens Vocational Career and Technical High School. The city decided not use turnaround at Queens Vocational, where a residency program has been training teachers to work in turnaround schools.
New York

John Dewey HS principal removed as city preps for turnaround

Barry Fried, the longtime principal of John Dewey High School, was removed from the Brooklyn school suddenly this morning, according to several teachers at the school. It was not immediately clear whether Fried's removal was related to "turnaround," the federally prescribed reform process that the city has proposed for Dewey and 32 other struggling schools. Turnaround requires principals who have been in place for more than a few years to be replaced, and the city has started informing principals at some of the schools that they would be removed at the end of the year. But Fried's departure happened abruptly, suggesting that the city might have had more immediate concerns. Department of Education officials did not respond to requests for details about Fried's departure today. At a faculty meeting this afternoon, Kathleen Elvin was introduced as the school's interim acting principal. Elvin was the founding principal of a successful small high school, Williamsburg Prep, and most recently trained teachers assigned to schools undergoing less agressive overhaul strategies. She is likely to help engineer staffing and programming changes at the school through the turnaround process. The change, according to people familiar with the school, was sorely needed — but comes after too long with subpar leadership. “Principal Fried sits in his office all day and can’t control the students,” City Councilman Dominic Recchia, a 1977 Dewey graduate, said at a public meeting earlier this year, according to the Brooklyn Daily. “This principal should have been gone years ago. The school could prosper but it needs new leadership.”
New York

Principals say evaluation legislation won't derail their protest

Southside High School Principal Carol Burris and Harbor School Principal Nate Dudley at Burris's school on Monday. The pair oppose the state's new teacher evaluation requirements. The Long Island principals who galvanized opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's teacher evaluation proposals say they won't let the fact that the proposals won legislative approval stop their protest. Together, Sean Feeney and Carol Burris in October launched a petition critiquing the evaluation system that has garnered more than 8,000 signatures, nearly 1,500 of them from principals. The petition argued that the state’s evaluation regulations — which require a portion of teachers’ and principals' ratings to be based on their students’ test scores —  are unsupported by research, prone to errors, and too expensive at a time of budget cuts. Those issues haven't disappeared just because the legislature agreed late last night to turn Cuomo's proposals into law, Feeney and Burris said today. They said they would still run an ad featuring about 70 principals in next week's Legislative Gazette, and they would still ask lawmakers to shield teachers' ratings from transparency laws that could land the ratings in newspapers, as happened last month in New York City. More than that, they said, they would still speak out about problems they have identified in the evaluation system's requirements. "One way or another we have to stand up for what we believe in, and no matter what happens, we've stated and articulated our position," Feeney told me this morning. "We'll see what happens after that."
New York

Revamped principal evals could reshape superintendents' role

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