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April 16, 2018
Carranza promises parents he will be a ‘provocateur,’ ask tough questions of mayor
"While he may be the mayor I’m the chancellor and he’s giving me the opportunity to lead in this organization."
March 8, 2018
Convened by de Blasio to talk school safety, New York City students tell him his latest solution is misguided
Student after student grilled Mayor Bill de Blasio about metal detectors.
town hall time
February 25, 2014
Fariña promises Common Core "re-rollout," downplays gifted programs at town hall
Chancellor Carmen Fariña gave some big hints about how the city will be handling the Common Core, co-locations, and gifted policy to parents in Far Rockaway on Monday night.
December 8, 2011
In District 2, push to create more schools trumps closure news
Chancellor Dennis Walcott responds to District 2 Community Education Council member Tamara Rowe's questions at a town hall meeting. Parents in Manhattan's District 2 came to a town hall meeting Wednesday night with Chancellor Dennis Walcott with one item at the top of their agendas: plans to manage school crowding. But Walcott wanted to talk about other things. He opened his remarks by talking about the city's scores on a national exam, then segued into announcing that the Department of Education would soon name the schools it wants to close. No District 2 schools are on the city's shortlist for closure. Three high schools located in the district, but not administered by it, are on the list. Walcott was tight-lipped about which schools would receive closure notices over the next two days. But he said department officials had been considering whether the shortlisted schools "have the capacity to improve." And he told reporters that the decisions would support the middle school reform initiative he announced earlier this year. "I made a commitment around middle schools and I intend to adhere to that commitment," Walcott said. "I want 21st-century middle schools that are meeting the needs of our students." Most of the roughly three dozen parents who braved heavy rain to attend the meeting wanted to talk about the demand for new neighborhood elementary schools and the city's recent rezoning proposals.
November 10, 2011
At Washington Heights town hall, Walcott gets a cool reception
A District 6 town hall meeting with Chancellor Dennis Walcott got a little unruly last night in the auditorium of Washington Heights' P.S.48, to the point where both Walcott and Judith Amaro, president of District 6’s Community Education Council, had to ask audience members to be respectful. Washington Heights parents use posters to help get their message across at last night's town hall “I get it, I get it,” Amaro told her community, amid jeers. “But we’re going to do this respectfully because regardless of what’s going on, there are visitors. Here in District 6, we treat our visitors right.” The hostility was not funneled towards a specific issue, as was the case with last week’s town hall in District 23, where parents focused the agenda on school closures. Nor was it so loud that the meeting could not proceed, as when a group of protesters derailed a Department of Education meeting about new curriculum standards. But, it touched on multiple issues ranging from colocations to instruction to budget cuts. Early in the meeting, the CEC quickly clicked through a powerpoint presentation overviewing their district’s demographic and academic profile. More than a third of K - 8 students are English Language Learners, almost ninety percent receive free or reduced lunch, the majority of students are Hispanic and black. “You will never, ever hear me single out poor children or children of color as being children that are different. I’m a firm believer that all our students can learn and can learn at high levels,” Walcott said later in the meeting. “You will never, ever hear me make excuses about what a student can or can’t do because of his background “ Before the community took the mic, the CEC presented six sweeping questions of their own to be answered by Walcott and his delegation of DOE employees, who represented offices such as English Language Learners and Portfolio Management. Their questions ran the gamut from “What makes a good school?” (strong leadership, qualified teachers, involved parents) to “What plans do you have for our ELL students?” (native language programs, grants for dual language programs). When Walcott attempted to answer a question about tightening budgets within schools by mentioning the salary steps built into the United Federation of Teachers’ contract, he was met with rogue shouts of “Are you kidding me right now?” and “Don’t try to put the budget on the teachers!” When he touched on the idea of colocations and of rising class sizes, the response was similar.
October 19, 2011
Walcott downplays SESIS issues at first town hall of school year
A new special education data system isn't as bad as its critics say, Chancellor Dennis Walcott told Bronx parents Tuesday night. The chancellor acknowledged that the Special Education Student Information System was earning “mixed reactions” from educators, but he downplayed concerns that it was a “systemic” problem. The web‐based system was created to track information about students with disabilities and is being rolled out this year, to massive complaints. Over the summer, SESIS was blamed for leaving some special needs students without school seats. Now, teachers are saying the system is extremely burdensome to use. As a compliance deadline approached last week, the union blasted the DOE for its “total incompetence” in managing the system rollout. In a separate email, UFT Secretary Michael Mendel called SESIS a “systemic problem that is affecting almost everyone who uses it in almost every school.” Walcott voluntarily addressed those concerns and others last night at a meeting with District 7 parents in the Bronx. It was the first of many town hall‐style meetings that Walcott will host this year in accordance with a law that requires the chancellor to visit each of the city's 33 districts in a two‐year period. At this meeting, held at The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, Walcott answered questions about budget cuts, school closures, absent teacher reserve deployments, and class sizes. He brought SESIS up on his own.
June 15, 2011
The questions LES parents didn't get answered last night
Members of the Community Education Council for District 1 prepared for a meeting last night with Chancellor Dennis Walcott by compiling a 6-page list of questions about the most pressing issues facing the Lower East Side school district. They got few answers. The council's questions addressed space allocation in local school buildings, the implementation of new "common core" standards, and District 1's unique all-lottery enrollment model, among other issues. Their questions went largely unanswered in part because of a scheduling mishap: Walcott told the council on Monday that he would leave the meeting early so he could celebrate his daughter’s birthday. Having billed the meeting as a town hall conversation with the chancellor, the council decided to devote the entire hour to public comment instead of their own questions, according to Lisa Donlan, its president. About a dozen people asked the chancellor questions that were mostly personal, rather than policy-oriented. Donlan said the Department of Education still could have addressed the council's concerns more fully. Department officials came to the meeting with a 2-page response to their questions, which had been submitted earlier in the week. “Clearly this was not a good faith effort to answer the CEC’s questions,” Donlan said. The council's questions and the department's response are below.
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