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Politics & Policy
September 19, 2008
Weakening economy kills plans for middle school at 75 Morton St.
Last month, after an extended campaign to relieve overcrowding in Greenwich Village schools elicited a commitment from the DOE to try to use a state-owned building on Morton Street as a new middle school, families and elected officials held a festive rally. But as the economy falters, it appears now that the celebration was premature. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at the August rally The Empire State Development Corporation, the state agency that owns the building, has withdrawn plans to sell the building, at least for now, citing the too-low bids it received from private developers while the building was on the market, the Villager reports today. The state agency currently occupying the building will stay there for the time being, making it impossible to renovate the building for use as a middle school in the fall of 2010, when neighborhood activists had hoped a new school could open. In early August, the city said it would formally ask the state to use the Morton Street building as a public school rather than auctioning it off to private developers. But the Villager reports that ESDC officials say the city did not submit any request in writing by the time the bidding process closed on Aug. 13. Asked by District 2 activists at the Panel for Educational Policy meeting on Monday about the city's apparent failure to lobby for the building's use as a public school, Chancellor Klein said the situation was fraught with behind-the-scenes complications. “If there is a way for us to successfully navigate those waters, we will be interested in doing that,” he said. And according to DOE press officer Marge Feinberg, the DOE hasn't given up on building new schools in overcrowded areas.
September 15, 2008
Former NYC teachers aim to "revolutionize educational philanthropy"
Two former New York City schoolteachers have taken to heart Teach for America's intention to create innovators who maintain a commitment to educational equity even after they leave the classroom — they've started a nonprofit organization designed to facilitate individual giving to public schools. Jessica Rauch and Eli Savit, who now live in Michigan, recently won $10,000 in start-up funds in the August competition on IdeaBlob.com, which pits new business ideas against each other in public voting. Their initiative, The Generation Project, aims to "revolutionize educational philanthropy" by facilitating connections between schools and individuals who want to donate to them. From 2005 to 2007, Rauch taught English language learners at PS 86 in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx; Savit taught 8th-grade social studies at IS 339 in the South Bronx. "As a new teacher, my time was very limited; between lesson planning, after-school tutoring, and graduate school, I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to find individualized opportunities for all of my students," wrote Rauch in an email to GothamSchools. "Although my administration was great and tried hard to expose students to various enrichment activities, I wished there was an easy way to further expand my students' horizons." For example, Rauch wrote, one of Savit's students who had developed an interest in domestic affairs could have attended a program in Washington, D.C., if Savit could easily have found a way to pay for it. Motivated by their own experiences, Rauch and Savit are working to create a database of prepaid gifts, "shaped by [funders'] own passions and priorities," that schools and teachers can apply to receive. This approach represents an inversion of the one taken by the popular website DonorsChoose.org, where potential donors browse funding requests from teachers who have identified particular needs for their classroom. "DonorsChoose is awesome, but it serves a different role for under-resourced schools than we propose," Rauch wrote.
September 12, 2008
American-style "no excuses" schools cropping up in England
Since the beginning of this decade, the British government has allowed private “sponsors” to manage state-funded “academies” in an initiative to create innovative, bureaucracy-free…
August 12, 2008
What can we learn from other states on property tax caps?
Mayor David Cohen of Newton, Mass. The town faces school budget cuts after failing to override a tax cap. <em>##http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/politics/view.bg?articleid=1083371&srvc=home&position=0##Boston Herald##</em> Last Friday,…
August 4, 2008
New charter schools on the way…
A $16.6 million federal grant will fund the development and support of new charter schools in New York State, the US Department of Education announced in July. The grant, from the Department's Charter School Program, will be used primarily to create and support secondary-level charter schools. Today is the postmark deadline for the current round of applications for the planning and implementation of new charter schools. Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein have long pushed for the creation of more charter schools, successfully convincing the state legislature to increase the number of charters granted from 100 to 200 in April, 2007. Half of the new charters are reserved for New York City. Even that limit may be short-lived; Governor Paterson reportedly told members of the Alliance for School Choice advocacy group that he supports lifting the cap on charters altogether. Approximately 18,000 students attend New York City's 60 charter schools, with thousands more students on waiting lists, according to the DOE. In response to this demand, eighteen new charter schools will open across the city this fall, with seven in the Bronx, five in Brooklyn, five in Manhattan, and one in Queens. The schools have a wide variety of institutional partners, including Victory Schools, adding two new charters to their six existing schools throughout the city, and the Success Charter Network, expanding from one to four schools in Harlem. The new charters, once they reach full capacity, will include six elementary schools, seven combined elementary-middle schools, one combined middle-high school, two high schools, and two K-12 schools. Most existing New York City charter schools serve elementary and middle school students.
July 31, 2008
Concerns, criticisms dominate at Contracts for Excellence public hearing
Photo by p_a_h Elected officials, teachers, and parents offered up a litany of concerns about the DOE's proposed Contracts for Excellence — regarding both their content and the process by which they were developed — last night at the final public hearing in Manhattan. The hearing, chaired by Terence Tolbert, executive director of the DOE's Department of Intergovernmental Affairs (and soon to direct Obama's Nevada campaign), was well-attended by representatives from numerous organizations, including ACORN, Class Size Matters, the Coalition for Educational Justice, the Alliance for Quality Education, the City Council, school level PTAs, the UFT, and others. Legally, Contracts for Excellence funding must "supplement, not supplant" existing spending; several speakers expressed concerns that the money will be spent to close holes in the budget rather than create or expand programs. Others worried that the new funding would be used to make up losses due to budget cuts in low-performing schools, rather than expanding services for high-needs children in those schools. Complicating these issues, several speakers noted, the plan includes little oversight of whether principals spend the Contracts for Excellence money as intended.
July 31, 2008
Here's the DOE's proposed Contracts for Excellence plan…
Coming soon… notes from Wednesday’s public hearing in Manhattan. New York City’s Proposed Citywide Contracts for Excellence plan provides: 63% or $242 million in discretionary…
July 30, 2008
Tonight: Final Contracts for Excellence public hearings
The DOE’s final public hearings on the 2008-2009 proposed Contracts for Excellence — the city’s plan for how to spend increased school funding from…
July 1, 2008
At KIPP, elementary schools are the next frontier
It’s not news that a KIPP high school is on the horizon. The charter network, which operates schools in 19 states and has…
June 27, 2008
Schools escape the ax in tentative budget deal
Looks like the City Council made good on its promise not to approve a budget that includes cuts to schools — late last night, the…
June 16, 2008
DOE spends its limited cash on courier service
Earlier this month, as it became apparent that the DOE had pretty seriously botched the pre-kindergarten admission process, Eduwonkette offered up a multiple-choice question…
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