Saturday, January 7, 2017

Education Issues In Election Year 2017

Tweed Courthouse Education Staff Increasing, Consultants Everywhere and Students Still Not College Ready 
Why Boss Tweed would envy NYC’s public-schools chief (NYP) We always worried that it sent a bad message to have the city Department of Education headquartered in the Tweed Courthouse building. But even we’re shocked to see the city schools chancellor goosing the payroll in a way that Boss Tweed would envy.  As Selim Algar reports in Wednesday’s Post, pay has more than doubled for DOE Central Administration staff in the de Blasio era. Indeed, it’s set to nearly triple by next year — from just over $4 million in 2013 to $11.4 million in 2018. Why? Chancellor Carmen Fariña is vastly increasing the size of the central bureaucracy, apparently on the theory that it’s the best way to improve your child’s classroom education.  The chancellor may well believe that — after all, she spent her career in the city system, and she believes in it. And never mind that reducing the central schools bureaucracy has been the goal of local education reformers for all those same decades.  Just weeks ago, The Post’s Susan Edelman and Bruce Golding exposed how Fariña’s Renewal Schools program has proved a jackpot for outside consultants, paid under contracts that total around $40 million a year — on top of the $8.5 million payroll for 72 DOE bureaucrats dedicated to the program.  One consultant, Laura Kotch, had co-authored a book with Fariña. She was earning $1,200 a day — while Sandra Kase, another of the chancellor’s friends, collected $1,400 a day and over $167,000 for all of 2016.  All this, when Renewal is failing badly at turning around dozens of low-performing city schools. Usually, when we rage about how the school system is run to serve the adults, not the students, our target is the teachers union. Sadly, Fariña is proving that management can be every bit as sordid.* DOE doubles number of top administrators under de Blasio (NYP) * De Blasio's $400M education project yields lukewarmresults, charter school advocates say (NYDN)
More on Education 2017
de Blasio Fake News Inflated Grad Rates

The Only Think Farina Has Done Well is Get Away With Grade Inflation and Helping the UFT Block Charter Expansion 
De Blasio promises to probe failing School Renewal Program (NYP)  De Blasio’s first step toward fixing his failed Renewal schools (NYP Ed) When it comes to his troubled Renewal schools program, Mayor de Blasio isn’t accusing The Post of running phony news — as he did when we first exposed the street-homeless crisis and other stories.  In fact, the mayor not only pledged Wednesday to probe revelations about the schools in The Post’s multi-part series this week, he also asked for the paper’s help in contacting one of the whistle-blowers.  And he’s even taking questions from City Hall Bureau Chief Yoav Gonen, whose previous queries he famously snubbed.* Teacher probed for misconduct continued working in Renewal school (NYP) * Here’s proof de Blasio doesn’t care about Renewal School kids (NYP) In 2014, Mayor de Blasio defiantly refused to close failed public schools and vowed instead to fix them through his Renewal Schools program. So you’d think he’d make that a high priority. Wrong.  As the case of former teacher Alaina LaRocca suggests, Team de Blasio doesn’t seem to care much about Renewal Schools. If it did, it never would have allowed LaRocca to be sent to one of them.   As The Post reported last week as part of its series on the program, LaRocca was facing serious misconduct charges but was allowed to keep teaching — and was then transferred to a struggling Renewal high school, Monroe Academy.  Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon’s probe discovered she had bought an iPhone for a male student and exchanged hundreds of late night texts with him. She was also said to be ineffective at controlling her classroom.    After placing LaRocca at Monroe, the city Department of Education ignored Condon’s recommendation that she be punished. Fortunately, LaRocca quit in December.  If the Renewal program were truly about helping kids and turning around failing schools, why would the DOE let a seemingly unfit teacher facing misconduct charges transfer to one of its schools?  Surely de Blasio could have found a way to ensure that the best teachers were sent toRenewal classrooms.

In last stand, Fariña takes on public education detractors (PoliticoNY)
De Blasio’s education spending problem is even worse than it looks (NYP) This week’s Independent Budget Office report on soaring Department of Education spending was even worse than it seemed — because it failed to flag what rising DOE outlays on charter schools should mean for the rest of the budget.  The IBO rightly noted how de Blasio’s new contract with the United Federation of Teachers has goosed the DOE payroll, along with a rise in total staff that’s to hit nearly 10 percent in 2018, for an average yearly rise in “personal services” of 3.8 percent.  And the agency also correctly pointed out that a huge chunk of the “retroactive” payouts under that contract is deferred until 2019-2021 — and so doesn’t yet show.  But it missed one big issue: In noting the $1.2 billion rise in payments to non-DOE schools (a category that mainly covers charters, along with a few private schools that handle special-ed kids the regular public schools can’t), the IBO failed to point out that virtually every child attending a charter is one the regular schools don’t have to educate.  In other words, the DOE ought to see about the same savings in its main budget as it’s “losing” when it sends the cash to charters.  In fact, as a past IBO report noted, the DOE on average shells out less for a charter student than it does for one in the traditional schools. So, at least in theory, every dollar it spends to support a charter student should save it more than a dollar in other costs. And since charters now account for 10 percent of the city’s public-school population, the savings should add up. Instead, DOE spending on operations (which doesn’t include payroll) is set to rise from $16.7 billion in 2013 to $20.8 billion in 2018, an average jump of 4.5 percent a year.  Bottom line: Even aside from the generous pay hikes he’s handed the UFT, the deBlasio Department of Education is spending billions more to educate ever-fewer kids. * The Post is reporting on de Blasio’s Renewal Schools program this week, finding that the plan meant to “reinvent” failing schools instead of shutting them down was doomed from the get-go. * State education officials plan to scrap a literacy exam given to prospective teachers and allow certification for some applicants who fail a performance-assessment test – moves that critics warned will weaken the pool of candidates, the Post reports.  * The state Board of Regents eliminating a literacy test and dropping the standards for teachers means potentially unqualified teachers may be let loose upon New York’s kids, the Post writes. * De Blasio’s questionable school consultants cost taxpayers millions (NYP) *  Will New York open the door to teachers who can’t read? (NYP) * The only good way to close “failing schools” is quickly, and although de Blasio wasn’t as concerned about students as he was about teachers and staffers affected by the closures, at least he’s willing to “have folks look into” the many troubling issues, the New York Post writes.

How Team de Blasio Covers-Up A Failing School
This public school is a victim of De Blasio’s empty promises (NYP) When Mayor de Blasio unveiled his pricey plan to turn around 94 struggling public schools, he made the announcement at one targeted for improvement — East Harlem’s Coalition School for Social Change.  “We’re going to do something that, bluntly, has rarely been tried. We’re going to give these schools the tools they need to succeed — plain and simple,” the mayor said to applause in November 2014.  But in a bitter irony, Coalition School staffers, students and parents say the mayor’s promise has proved empty as the third year of his “School Renewal Program” draws to a close.  The high school’s classrooms are starved for supplies and qualified teachers, with unlicensed interns leading one class and the kids in others left to learn from videos, sources said.  Meanwhile, the dean who dealt with discipline problems was replaced with a “business manager” described by staffers as a close friend of the school’s new principal, Geralda Valcin, who arrived in March 2016. Valcin also redecorated her own office and on Thursday treated about 100 faculty members, “on track” students and their parents to a gala dinner and awards ceremony at the New Yorker hotel, staffers said.  Most disturbing, however, are claims that Coalition teachers are being pressured to pass students to boost the graduation rate. “The message is clear that if the percentages are not high enough, then teachers are going to be held accountable,” one staffer said. “The students know they can pass the class even if they’re not doing anything.” Another staffer was even more candid.  “Teachers are told: ‘You must pass this student and this student,’” the source said. “She told us to our faces, ‘You need to leave, you’re not good for this school, you’re bringing kids down,’” the student recalled. “I felt very hurt. She did anything in her power to get kids who she said were like me out.” Staffers said Valcin has refused requests to buy new textbooks, even though there aren’t enough to go around and the ones that are available are nearly 10 years told. Valcin also rations the school’s supply of paper, giving each teacher 5,000 sheets and saying they have to last four months, staffers said.Many teachers hand out that much paper to their low-income students in just one month, forcing them to buy more with their own money, with one teacher spending $200, staffers said.

Pols Say de Blasio's Failing Schools Fix Plan is Failing  
City pols blast de Blasio’s plan to fix failing schools (NYP)  City pols on Tuesday blasted Mayor de Blasio’s failing plan to improve some of the city’s lowest-performing public schools following a series of Post exposes.  Public Advocate Letitia James said Hizzoner’s costly “Renewal School Program” was producing “nothing but abject failure” and called The Post’s revelations “very troubling.” James zeroed in on Monday’s report about the shortage of supplies and qualified teachers at the Coalition School for Social Change, where sources said unlicensed interns have been teaching a Spanish class.  “A significant number of the students are low-income students who are struggling to make ends meet and who are struggling to pass these tests,” she said. “How can they possibly compete and pass these tests with teachers that are not certified and with a lack of resources?”  “What we’re getting is nothing but abject failure,” she added.  State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. (D-Bronx) — who has 16 Renewal schools in his district, including three slated to close for failing to improve — demanded that de Blasio pull the plug on the program, which will cost $186.5 million this year.

“These Renewal schools have proven to be very detrimental to our children,” Diaz fumed. “It’s throwing money at sinking ships. Stop wasting money. Stop this nonsense now!”  Among other findings, The Post revealed how enrollment at Renewal schools has plummeted 25 percent while per-student spending has surged nearly 35 percent, and only 12.3 percent of last year’s grads were deemed college-ready.  Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Brooklyn) said the state Legislature should examine the Renewal program this spring, when it considers continued mayoral control of the city’s schools.  “We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars and we can’t get textbooks to students and supplies to teachers?” she said. “It’s time to do something different. Maybe these schools really need to be restructured.”  City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), a former teacher who chairs of the Education Committee, said he plans to grill schools officials at a March 21 expense budget hearing.  “We want to know where has that money gone,” he said. “We need a full accounting of how that money was spent . . . And we’ll expect details.”  US Rep. Dan Donovan (R-SI, Brooklyn) said The Post’s series was “deeply troubling.”  “Spending precious education dollars on dubious consultants with no accountability is not going to fix our public school system, and throwing money at the problem doesn’t equal reform,” he said,

Farina's Consultants Win What Me Worry 
Under de Blasio’s Renewal-Schools program, consultants win – kids lose (NYP Ed)  Not only are Mayor de Blasio’s Renewal schools failing to get better, they’re also wasting millions on crony “consultants” and dubious nonprofit groups.  That’s the depressing take-away from Tuesday’s final installment of a Post series on de Blasio’s Renewal program, which aimed to fix the city’s 94 worst schools.  Under the $754 million program, the city is laying out a whopping $40 million a year on “leadership coaches” and $77 million for two-year contracts with 35 nonprofits. Yet look at who the city’s hiring:  Ex-principal Gregory Hodge, for instance, was tapped as a coach despite a special commissioner for investigation recommendation that he be fired for lying and barred from ever working again for the schools. David Morse, who retired in 2015 after his Beach Channel HS was closed due to a dismal 46 percent graduation rate, is also a coach. Both get $660 a day.  Meanwhile, Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s pal and co-author Laura Kotch pulls in $1,200 a day in a similar position. Another “friend,” Sandra Kase, get $1,400 a day.  Then there are the 35 nonprofits, two-thirds of which were cited for “significant adverse information” in a Department of Education report. Any wonder why the program’s a bust?  Like many “progressives,” de Blasio thinks throwing (other people’s) money at a problem will make it go away. But The Post’s series shows what a disaster the program has been: At 86 Renewal schools, enrollment has fallen nearly 25 percent. Just 12 percent of the schools’ grads were deemed college-ready. Last year, only three Renewal schools met their goals.  Fariña’s cronies and the questionable nonprofits, it seems, are doing fine. Too bad the kids aren’t also.* Make more space for charters (NYDN, Eve Moskowitz)
de Blasio Fake News Inflated Grad Rates

Charter Group Says Half of City's Renewal Schools Fail to Improve 
Nearly half of de Blasio’s Renewal schools did even worse this year (NYP) Nearly half of the de Blasio administration’s Renewal high schools did worse at preparing their students for college last year than they did the previous year, a pro-charter group charged. Families for Excellent Schools said it reviewed public data from the 34 high schools that the mayor’s Education Department identified as the most failing and targeted for improvement in 2014. Of that group, 15 of the schools declined in terms of college preparedness last year. “Mayor de Blasio’s refusal to admit that his School Renewal program has failed is keeping thousands of kids off the path to higher education,’’ the group said in a statement, arguing that this is yet another reason for Hizzoner to not fight new charters. The city Department of Education said that the lobbying group was misstating the facts, and that data show the schools have, in fact, improved. “Despite its inaccuracies, this report correctly recognizes that a majority of Renewal high schools increased their college-readiness rates last year,” said DOE spokesman Will Mantell.

A rotten Queens principal may finally be gone — for good (NYP) Why did the judge do that? Because she filed her petition . . . late.   Sills was sacked as principal of PS 106 in Far Rockaway by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña in 2014 after a series of New York Post stories called attention to conditions at the school. The stories highlighted the school’s lack of textbooks, gym and art classes, which earned it the moniker “The School of No.” 
New York City just gave up on IDing bad teachers (NYP Ed) Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña last week joined with United Federation of Teachers boss Mike Mulgrew and principals’ union head Ernest Logan to ask for a waiver from the state mandate for outside, independent evaluations of teachers.
City, teachers union don’t want independent evaluations (NYP)
The Daily News criticizes New York City’s move to evaluate teachers on less concrete measures of achievement, instead of students’ performance on state tests, and writes the new deal makes an already weak-tea system taste even more like water.
Failing Bronx junior high school set to close at end of year (NYP) JHS 162 Lola Rodriguez de Tio, where just 3 percent of students were proficient in math, has decided to close rather than allow the state to send a manager to take over, according to Chalkbeat.
Pushing for Change, Bronx Principal Is Undone by Investigation (NYT) Santiago Taveras, of DeWitt Clinton High School, joins a list of principals tasked with turning around troubled schools, only to leave or be forced out after Education Department inquiries.
Public schools for all N.Y.: After a promising stepforward on integration, de Blasio and Fariña have much further to go (NYDN) The positive spin put on a new report on persistently struggling schools in New York City is serving only adults looking to make political hay, as the better results are actually just the product of lowered standards, a move that hurts students, the Post writes.
Embarrassing 1% boost in NY schools touted in glowing report... (NYP)
Fixing’ schools by painting failure as success (NYP)
 A report from a pro-charter school group shows that New York City’s reluctance to give charter schools space in public buildings is costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in needless rental costs, the Post writes.
Charter school says city won’t pay its rent after rate hike (NYP)
Time’s up for de Blasio’s failed plan to fix failed schools (NYP)
Brooklyn state Sen. Simcha Felder ‘gives up’ hope to passprivate school tax credit (NYDN)
City schools struggle to keep pace with rise in number of homeless students (PoliticoNY)
New York Education Department Drops Plan to Merge 2 Harlem Schools (NYT)
Next fall, new science standards will endeavor to include more hands-on learning and to focus on better preparing students for higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields, the Times Union reports.
Barred from public schools, Success Academy charter boss drops $68M on classroom spaces in luxury Midtown building 
After years of fighting with city officials over the district’s obligation to provide school sites, Success Academy Charter Schools has agreed to pay nearly $68 million for space in the base of a residential tower at Hudson Yards, The Wall Street Journal reports.

No comments:

Post a Comment