Showing posts tagged EDUCATION

In Document, Peek at City Plans to Replace Schools

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January 13, 2011

In Document, Peek at City Plans to Replace Schools


The Department of Education is planning to put two new charter schools in the place of the closing John F. Kennedy High School, the troubled behemoth in the Bronx that used to enroll as many as 5,000 students at a time.

It is planning to place an innovative new technology-themed school, which will go up to Grade 14 and is supported by I.B.M., in Paul Robeson High School, a closing Brooklyn school that advocates have been trying to save for its work educating at-risk youths.

And the department plans to move the West Prep Academy middle school from West 77th Street to P.S. 145, an elementary school on 105th Street that had been considered as the site for a new charter school founded by Eva S. Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman.

The revelations are among dozens contained in a Department of Education planning document obtained by The New York Times. Over several pages, it outlines which schools are slotted to replace the 26 schools the city has recommended for closing because of poor performance, as well as planned locations for roughly two dozen additional charter and traditional schools. The information, which was current as of Jan. 5, was scheduled to be released slowly over eight Fridays in the coming weeks and could still change.

WikiLeaks it is not, but news of the proposed location of new schools, particularly those that will replace failing traditional schools, is generally a tightly choreographed process, in part because of the contentiousness of the issue.

After a suit led to the reversal of 19 approved school closings last year, the city has had to take great care in carrying out its moves, and said it had planned consultations with local leaders before these plans were announced.

“This is a draft, internal planning document,” said Natalie Ravitz, a schools spokeswoman. “It is incredibly disappointing and irresponsible that someone took it upon themselves to share an internal, draft document with the press before we could discuss these matters with school communities and elected officials.”

The moves will still be subject to public hearings at each location, as well as a vote by the Panel for Educational Policy, a mayor-controlled body, in March.

Charter school operators, who are waiting to hear where their schools will be placed, said Thursday that they were surprised to hear of the proposals.

Community Roots Charter School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, for example, one of the city’s most popular charter schools, has received permission to expand to a middle school. Its proposed location, according to the document, is P.S. 44 in Brooklyn, though it does not specify if the entire school, or only the middle school, will be moved there from its current shared space at P.S. 67.

“We would prefer to have the entire school all in one building, but we haven’t been told anything,” said Allison Keil, a co-director, who added that she did know that P.S. 44 was among several options under discussion.

The plan to place two new charter schools run by New Visions for Public Schools at Kennedy High School in the Bronx may be among the most controversial. The huge building has been split into five other small schools, and the 1,000 students who attend the part of the school still called Kennedy are mostly low-income, native Spanish speakers from the surrounding neighborhood.

In December, city officials met with a group of local council members, who said they were promised a public meeting before a proposal was issued. The charter school plan was supposed to be announced on Friday, but Department of Education officials told neighborhood officials on Thursday once it became clear that the plans had been leaked.

“This is not something that we agreed to,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, whose district sends students to Kennedy. “We were supposed to be convening a meeting with the parents.”

In Brooklyn, Councilman Al Vann said he still opposed the closing of Robeson but was not opposed to the I.B.M. model — under which students can earn the equivalent of an associate’s degree and graduates will be given job considerations — if that fight failed.

But other defenders of Robeson were not soothed.

“Why not use all those resources they will pour into this new school to help us?” said Stefanie Siegel, the head of Robeson’s school leadership team.



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New York Teachers Still in Idle Limbo


For her first assignment of the school year, Verona Gill, a $100,000-a-year special education teacher whom the city is trying to fire, sat around education offices in Lower Manhattan for two weeks, waiting to be told what to do.

For her second assignment, she was sent to a district office in the Bronx and told to hand out language exams to anyone who came to pick them up. Few did.

Now, Ms. Gill reports to a cubicle in Downtown Brooklyn with a broken computer and waits for it to be fixed. Periodically, her supervisor comes by to tell her she is still working on the problem. It has been this way since Oct. 8.

“I have no projects to do, so I sit there until 2:50 p.m. — that’s six hours and 50 minutes,” the official length of the teacher workday, she said. “And then I swipe out.”

When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg closed the notorious reassignment centers known as rubber rooms this year, he and the city’s teachers’ union announced triumphantly that one of the most obvious sources of waste in the school system — $30 million a year in salaries being paid to educators caught up in the glacial legal process required to fire them — was no more.


BREAKING: Panel Declines To Recommend Waiver For Cathie Black

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BREAKING: Panel Declines To Recommend Waiver For Cathie Black

BREAKING: Panel Declines To Recommend Waiver For Cathie Black

The panel advising state education commissioner David Steiner on the appointment of Cathie Black as school chancellor has declined to recommend that she be given a waiver.

The panel’s recommendation is non-binding, but many people thought that at least the panel was a sure thing for Black, since it included many Bloomberg allies. Three of the panelists have worked for the mayor at the Department of Education.

A spokesman for the Bloomberg administration declined to comment.

Black, a magazine publishing executive, needed a waiver since under state law she lacks the minimal requirements to head the city’s schools, including graduate coursework or teaching experience.

Several papers are reporting about conversations with a source close to Steiner saying that the commissioner himself intends to deny the waiver unless Mayor Bloomberg promotes an experience educator to oversee teaching and curriculum.

At a news conference earlier today, the mayor said that Black’s experience in business was a plus in light of the city’s enormous education budget and the coming fiscal difficulties.

You want somebody that really has experience in dealing with budgets, business experience, and financial experience. Harder to find, but a lot of people out of habit just don’t want to come in to public service. I’m thrilled we’ve somebody who is willing to do that. We are going to have some very tough budget times ahead…we have to make sure that we can deal with less monies in our school system, making sure that the monies get used as efficiently as we possibly can because we can’t walk away from our kids. At the same time the challenges of attracting great people and keeping them to work in our city and our school system is a daunting challenge and that’s one thing that Cathie Black has a lot of experience doing. She is a cheerleader. She is somebody that can excite people and bring them together and give them confidence. She has shown that repeatedly.

Will update with more information as it comes in.


Andrew Buck is the dumbest principal in city, says he’s against ‘text books’ in idiotic letter

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Andrew Buck is the dumbest principal in city, says he’s against ‘text books’ in idiotic letter

A rambling letter from the principal of a Brooklyn middle school was so poorly written and full of grammatical errors that parents and teachers say he deserves a dunce cap.

Principal Andrew Buck of the Middle School for Art and Philosophy was defending his policy of not providing textbooks in the email sent last week.

Or at least he seemed to be.


It was hard to tell because his logic was so bewildering, his language so stilted. His subjects and verbs didn’t always match. He repeatedly misspelled “textbook” as two words.

After Buck fired off the email to teachers, parents got a hold of it and passed out copies in front of the East Flatbush school. Many are calling for his ouster.

Andrew Buck (CLICK TO READ HIS LETTER.)