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May 11, 2017
As two Detroit districts merge, uncertainty over leadership and pay stokes fear of teacher exodus in 11 schools
The transition back to the Detroit Public Schools Community District could mean major pay cuts for EAA teachers and changes to school leadership that some fear could cause a mass exodus.
Fear and fury
January 20, 2017
Educators blast ‘uninformed decisions’ behind state plan to shutter schools
The news that state officials are moving to shutter as many as 38 Michigan schools triggered fear and fury from parents and educators.
September 8, 2016
Facing an uncertain future, a principal and his staff have one year to prove their school should survive
The Academy’s fate will be decided by a new Detroit school board that will be elected this fall and by the state School Reform Office, which has threatened to close low-performing schools across the state.
April 12, 2013
Operations chief exits DOE, Sternberg promoted in reshuffling
Veronica Conforme testified at a City Council budget hearing in 2011 alongside Chancellor Dennis Walcott. Conforme announced her departure from the Department of Education today. The Department of Education's chief operating officer is leaving to join the nonprofit organization headed by the architect of the Common Core standards, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today. Veronica Conforme, who has been the department's top operations officer since October 2011, will become vice president of the "Access to Rigor Campaign" at the College Board, according to a department press release. The College Board, which Common Core architect David Coleman took over last year, is rapidly becoming a top destination for people leaving urban school systems. Jean Claude-Brizard, a former city Department of Education official who resigned as Chicago's top schools official shortly after the teachers union strike there last year, recently became a senior advisor at the organization. Conforme's departure comes during a period of growing uncertainty at the Department of Education.
July 19, 2012
DOE's public affairs director leaving to teach in Central America
Lenny Speiller, the education department's head of public affairs whose stint was checkered by a lobbying incident that got him into trouble with city investigators, is making an unusual career move. He's moving to Honduras to become a teacher. Speiller's exit is part of a restructuring within the Department of Education's communication and legislative offices meant to improve how the DOE communicates with members of the public, Chief Operating Officer Veronica Conforme told staff in an email this week. Speiller's role in charge of public affairs was to work with elected officials and community-based organizations on DOE initiatives and to curry support for the department's legislative goals. Under a four-office merger, public affairs will be folded into the External Affairs office. The other public-facing shops getting absorbed are: Communications, Digital Communications, and the Chancellor's Strategic Communications Group (a spokeswoman said the last one helps Dennis Walcott read and respond to emails from the public). Jessica Scaperotti, a former Cuomo and Bloomberg aide who joined the department in April, will over see the new streamlined office. Elizabeth Rose, a public affairs official, will temporarily fill in for Speiller while a permanent replacement is found. In announcing Speiller's departure to staff, Conforme didn't offer much of a reflection on his two-and-a-half year tenure, which was filled with a busy legislative agenda. During his time, Speiller worked on the successful push to raise the state's cap on charter schools and on the less-successful effort to reform teacher tenure laws. But it was his work on the issue of seniority-based layoff laws that got him into trouble.
May 31, 2012
After closure scare, Opportunity Charter gets five-year renewal
Opportunity Charter School's principal, Marya Baker, is optimistic about the Harlem school's future. Months after fighting to stay open, a troubled Harlem charter school has secured a long-term future after the Department of Education recommended that it receive the longest-possible charter renewal. Last fall, Opportunity Charter School was one of six charter schools whose performance landed them on the city's short-list for closure. Now the city is locked in legal battles to shutter two of schools, Peninsula Preparatory Academy and Williamsburg Charter High School. But Opportunity is set to keep its doors open until at least 2017. It's good news for Opportunity, a middle and high school that has had its share of performance and management troubles in recent years. The Harlem school stands apart from many charter schools because it serves older students and maintains an even balance of students with disabilities and students who do not require special education services. “Opportunity Charter is incredibly pleased to have been recognized by the city for all the hard work we do,” said Principal Marya Baker while chaperoning the school’s prom in the Bronx last Friday. “I think that we’re finally being recognized for being successful for a model that is incredibly difficult and something we feel we do very well — that is, having an inclusive setting for 50 percent of our students who have special needs.” The about-face is especially remarkable because the city recommended a shortened charter renewal for Opportunity in January. Short-term renewals are given when a charter school has failed to fulfill performance promises but is considered capable of improvement. Opportunity got one in 2010.
October 5, 2011
Reshuffling among DOE operations execs as top deputy departs
Sharon Greenberger The city Department of Education is losing its top operations official and gaining a chief information officer in the latest spate of leadership changes announced today. In keeping with a hiring freeze that Mayor Bloomberg has imposed on all city agencies, the department is filling all of the open positions with people who are already on its payroll. Sharon Greenberger, who became the DOE's chief operating officer in 2010 after heading the School Construction Authority for four years, is leaving to become a senior vice president at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She's being replaced by the department's chief financial officer, Veronica Conforme, who has worked at the DOE since 2003, and another DOE official is moving up to fill Conforme's role. Greenberger is the first top deputy to resign since Dennis Walcott became chancellor six months ago. Several top officials, including Conforme's predecessor in the department's financial operations, left during the tumultuous months between ex-Chancellor Joel Klein's resignation last November and the resignation of his successor, Cathie Black, in April. The department also announced that it has filled the chief information officer position that had been open since March.
April 8, 2011
City estimates savings of $300 million by laying off teachers
Chancellor-designee Dennis Walcott testifies at the New York City Council's Education Committee's Budget Hearing City school officials said today that they would need roughly $300 million to avoid laying off thousands of teachers next year. Today's twice-delayed City Council hearing on the DOE's preliminary expense budget for 2012 focused on how to avoid teacher layoffs and the current "last in, first out" rules that require the city to lay off teachers based on seniority. Testifying before the City Council for the first time in his new role as chancellor-designate, Dennis Walcott fielded questions about how the city can avoid mass layoffs. And, although he's still being referred to by some DOE officials as Deputy Mayor, Walcott was treated just like his predecessors by the Committee: with skepticism. Council members were quick to offer their congratulations and support to Walcott, but then became less welcoming when the subjects of teacher layoffs and ending "last in, first out" rules were raised. Many council members questioned whether or not Mayor Bloomberg had requested enough funds from Albany, with several suggesting that perhaps the $600 million Bloomberg requested ($200 million of which was set to go to schools), was deliberately low, perhaps as a strategy to continue pushing for changes to "last in, first out" rules.
January 21, 2011
Nadelstern: "I have spent years training people to replace me"
After 39 years, Deputy Chancellor Eric Nadelstern is leaving the Department of Education just as new Chancellor Cathie Black is beginning her tenure. In a brief interview with GothamSchools on the day he announced his retirement, Nadelstern gave his take on why he's leaving and what he's leaving behind. What's the right greeting here? Congrats? Well, it's congratulations and good luck. So why are you retiring now? And where are you off to? After almost 40 years I'm ready for new challenges. I've had a number of very interesting offers — public, private, not-for-profit — all around my area of expertise. I haven't decided yet, don't want to rush it. I may wind up teaching at a university...very strong offer along those lines. Had an offer from a state education department outside of New York...I'm sure when the time comes, my dance card will be full. In December you were telling people that you'd stay through the year. What changed? That was my intention. A couple of things really — I turned 60 in October, hopefully you'll have a chance to find out how reflective [you get] when you reach that milestone. I had a pension consultation recently and there were financial advantages to making the decision sooner than later. That and talking it over with my family thinking about the kinds of things in life after the DOE. It seemed like the right time. Does this have anything to do with Chancellor Cathie Black's arrival? It's completely independent. In the weeks I've worked with Cathie I've not only come to admire her, I've come to like her...There's an enormous amount to learn. I think in an earlier point in my career I [would have liked to work with her]. I think at this stage there are really other things that I'd like to do.
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