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school for global studies
April 6, 2012
Funding for no-longer-turnaround schools still an open question
Rejoice is turning to concern about funding at schools newly spared from an aggressive overhaul process. The seven schools — all with top grades on the city’s performance metrics — pulled from the Department of Education’s “turnaround” roster on Monday were positioned to receive about $15 million in federal School Improvement Grants next year. Being taken off the turnaround list means the schools won't have to replace half of their teachers, lose their names, or get new principals. But it also means that they might not receive the funds: A letter distributed by the Department of Education to students at the schools on Tuesday states, "We regret that this [change] may result in the loss of federal resources for your school." The funds could make the difference between continued improvement and backsliding for the schools. Five of the seven schools had received SIG funds in 2010 and 2011, enabling them to pay for enhancements that their principals said led to quick improvements. At Brooklyn's School of Global Studies, nearly $1 million received under "transformation" allowed the school to buy new technology and hire expert teachers. William E. Grady Career and Technical High School paid for tutoring, college trips, an extended program, and Saturday school for students who had fallen behind. Both schools scored B's on their most recent city progress reports after years of low grades. "If we don’t get the money we wont be able to finish what we started," Geraldine Maione, Grady's principal, said this week. "We started out on the premise that we were getting this money for three years because that is what we were told."
April 3, 2012
At two schools not saved from turnaround, the hearings go on
Grover Cleveland High School students march around the Ridgewood, Queens school's perimeter before the closure hearing. When public hearings about the city's plans to "turn around" two large high schools began last night, few of their supporters had heard that other schools had been spared the aggressive reform process. Herbert H. Lehman High School and Grover Cleveland High School were not among seven top-rated schools that the city announced yesterday would not undergo turnaround after all. The controversial process requires schools to close and reopen with new names and many new teachers. A third school slated for a public hearing Monday night, Brooklyn's School for Global Studies, had its turnaround plans withdrawn. But at Lehman and Cleveland, the hearings went on without interruption — with students, teachers, and graduates at each offering more than three hours of testimony about their schools. Cleveland Diana Rodriguez, the senior class president at Cleveland, saw the surprising news about changes to the turnaround list on her phone during a pre-hearing rally organized by students. “Obviously Cleveland is not on the list. This is very disappointing for us but we will not give up,” she said. “Tonight we will show that we have a voice and will not give in.” That voice grew strained over the course of the afternoon and evening from loud chants and cheers. Before the closure hearing, Rodriguez led a band of students — including one dressed in a tiger costume — on a march around the neighborhood. As they passed the Q54 bus on Metropolitan Avenue, the driver honked repeatedly at the procession and other cars joined the chorus. More students joined when the group returned to the school's entrance on Himrod Street, until the rally swelled to nearly 50.
March 13, 2012
City officials are short on answers at Brooklyn turnaround forum
Wearing red shirts that read "We Believe in John Dewey," a row of teachers from the South Brooklyn high school give a student's testimony a standing ovation. Teachers and students from Brooklyn schools proposed for turnaround brought protest signs and pointed questions to a Monday night meeting with city officials — and left with few concrete answers. As representatives of most Brooklyn schools proposed for turnaround pled their cases in front of city officials tasked with closing an extra 33 schools this year, members of the overflow audience interrupted with shout-outs, standing ovations, and, at one point, sustained chanting of "Free the 33!" School communities have argued against the turnaround plans in tandem before, at an event in Queens and a meeting of the citywide high schools parent group. But this is the first time schools have been invited to testify in front of city officials masterminding the changes. Officials also heard for the first time from schools that have been almost completely silent about the reform plans. Elaine Gorman, the Department of Education official overseeing turnaround, opened the meeting, organized by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, with an overview of the proposals, which would call for each school to replace at least half its staff and to be closed and re-opened with a new name. Then representatives from the 11 Brooklyn turnaround schools were invited to give testimonies about their schools. John Dewey High School teachers, parents, and students reprised their frequent protests by turning out in full-force; at least 100 of them sat in the audience sporting their cheerleading outfits or T-shirts in the school's signature red, and lept into standing ovations each time a Dewey student or teacher spoke. And a half-dozen William Maxwell High School teachers, unhappy that their A grade on the city's annual progress report would not be enough to protect their school from closure, waved poster-sized versions of the report card and the letter A when it was their turn to speak. They were joined by a slightly more subdued group of parents and teachers from Sheepshead Bay High School, the Cobble Hill School for American Studies, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, and a lone middle school student from the School for Global Studies, who spoke about the school's co-location with a charter school.
January 26, 2012
At turnaround schools, wide range in college readiness rates
Click on the chart for an expanded view. A handful of the high schools the city wants to "turn around" are already doing a better-than-average job at preparing students for college.
November 30, 2011
Brooklyn parents bring concerns to heated co-location hearing
Judy O'Brien, the librarian at two schools in the building the city has proposed for a new charter school, speaks against the co-location plan. (Video below.) Tensions ran high at the city's first charter school co-location hearing of the year Tuesday night as advocates and opponents of the city's plan to open a new Success Academy school in Brownstone Brooklyn packed the proposed site. Officials from the Department of Education and SUNY's Charter School Institute defended plans to add Brooklyn's third Success Charter Network school to a four-story Cobble Hill building that already houses three other schools, saying that the building has space for all four schools. The charter school would admit 80 to 90 kindergarten and first-grade students in 2012 and grow by one grade per year until becoming a kindergarten through 5th-grade school. According to the DOE official in charge of new schools, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg, enrollment at the charter school would ultimately increase to somewhere between 500 and 640 students, and the total number of students in the building would climb to 1,400 or more. "That would bring the school to 108 percent occupancy," he said. In response, a member of the sometimes-rowdy audience who said he was a teacher and was later ejected by police after he shouted inappropriate words called out, "Where do you want the kids to learn, the bathrooms? Where do the other 8 percent go to class?"
November 29, 2011
Showdown set for year's first charter school co-location hearing
Many of the attendees who lined up outside Brooklyn Tech for last February's Panel for Educational Policy meeting came to protest the creation of a Success Academy Charter School on the Upper West Side. Back-to-back rallies set for this afternoon augur a contentious co-location hearing for the newest outpost in the Success Charter Network. The creation of Cobble Hill Success Academy, which won approval earlier this year to open next fall in Brooklyn's District 13, has sparked conflict in District 15, the location of the school's proposed site. Advocates and critics of the city's plan to co-locate the charter school with two secondary schools and a special education program will lay out their cases during tonight's public hearing — and beforehand, in rallies set for outside the Baltic Street building. The public hearing is the first of the year and ushers in a season of rancorous co-location hearings. Some families have lamented crowding in high-performing local elementary schools and said they would appreciate new options. But others say they are worried that the new school would strain resources at the proposed site without effectively serving the high-needs populations it was originally intended to serve. Cobble Hill Success's promise to serve low-income, immigrant families in District 13 was a boon to its application, according to Pedro Noguera, an education professor who green-lighted the school's original application as a member of the State University of New York's Charter Schools Institute. "We have tried to take the position recently that we can put charter schools where there is clearly a need for better schools for kids, so targeting the more disadvantaged communities. We have also seen the areas that are a saturation of charter schools, so we want to encourage them to open in areas that have a high need and aren't being served," said Noguera, who will be participating in an education debate this evening in the West Village. "A school in Cobble Hill clearly does not meet that criteria."
system of schools
November 10, 2011
In portfolio of schools, a struggle to be neighborhood’s choice
For Principal Fred Walsh, every student counts. That's because his school enrolls fewer students than the Department of Education says it should. With this in mind, Walsh tries to begin each school day by shaking hands with each student who walks through the doors of the Brooklyn School for International Studies, and, ideally, end them shaking hands with prospective parents from Cobble Hill's elementary schools. In addition to handshakes, Walsh shares with local parents promises of the school's growing elective programs in journalism and culinary arts and, for the first time this fall, polished brochures touting those programs. Walsh says his dogged efforts to sell International Studies to Brooklyn families are necessary but also distracting from the task of running a school for fewer than 500 students. They highlight an unintended side effect of the Bloomberg administration’s “system of schools” in which high school and many middle school students select their schools: Few schools are many students’ first choice. And when too few students enroll, schools end up being saddled with students who made no choice at all. That’s the situation that Walsh is trying to head off. At a time when most local parents are choosing to send their children elsewhere, Walsh is working hard to bring attention to his mid-performing neighborhood school. His attempts have ranged from the ambitious (building a state-of-the-art kitchen) to the bluntly pragmatic (hiring a public relations consultant). But competition over students and Walsh’s old under-the-radar approach has caused the school’s enrollment to yo-yo and, over time, decline by nearly 10 percent since it opened with 512 students in 2004. The decline signalled trouble to the DOE, and opened the doors to increasing numbers of high-needs students. And the small boost in enrollment the school saw last year—from a low of 445 to 481—might be too little too late: Next year the school is likely to be joined by a new Success Academy charter school in the squat, four-story building on Baltic Street it already shares with two other schools. Last month the Department of Education identified the Brownstone Brooklyn building as the prime site for the charter school because both International Studies and the School for Global Studies, the school upstairs, have many more open seats than students in grades 6 through 12 to fill them. That means, the DOE says, that there is room in the building to spare. Before the announcement, Walsh said he worried that both schools would have to increase class sizes and cut programs once they start sharing space with the charter school, which would open with 190 kindergarteners and first-graders next fall and slowly grow into a full-sized elementary school after that. And even though International did not make the city's list of potential closures this year, community members say they are worried that the DOE could close or move it in the future. The only way to escape the pressure, Walsh said, is to raise International Studies’ profile.
October 28, 2011
Amid criticism, Moskowitz will introduce new Brooklyn charter
Success Charter Network head Eva Moskowitz is making her first public appearance in Brownstone Brooklyn—and as usual, she will be joined by protesters. Moskowitz is holding an informational session tomorrow to detail her plans for a new charter school that is likely to open in the affluent Cobble Hill neighborhood next year. Most of tomorrow's protesters are parents from the neighborhood, who say they are planning to attend the meeting to tell Moskowitz that the Success Charter Network is not wanted there. Opposition is also starting to rise from another group: School leaders in the Baltic Street building where the city has proposed to house the new school. The principals say they are nervous that the charter school's presence could derail their attempts to improve their schools. "We have had monumental success this year, and I'm concerned about how we can sustain that with another school added to the building, with the division of space," Joseph O'Brien, principal of the School for Global Studies, one of the three schools currently housed in the building, told GothamSchools last week, before the co-location plan was announced.
October 24, 2011
Amid mostly stable scores, a few outsized gains and losses
In the past, Department of Education officials have cheered when schools posted dramatic progress report gains. Today, they touted the scores' stability. Last month, DOE officials attributed new stability in elementary and middle school progress report grades to a refined formula that offered the most accurate portrayal yet of each school's performance. They gave the same explanation today for why 90 percent of high schools kept the same grade from last year or changed by just one level. Another 9 percent of schools varied by two grades, going, for example, from a D to a B. Just five schools' grades changed by more than that. Satellite Academy High School posted the most spectacular climb, jumping all the way from an F to an A. But DOE officials attributed the size of the gain to a technical change: Low-scoring Satellite Academy had been broken into multiple small schools, with one retaining the name and identification number. That small school received the A this year. Four schools shot up or down by three letter grades. Brooklyn's School for Global Studies, which began federally-funded "transformation" last year, saw its grade rise from an F to a B. When GothamSchools spoke with Principal Joseph O'Brien last month, he said he attributed the school's gains to spending on technology and teacher training, and to a new emphasis on test performance.
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