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Archive for May, 2012

Sign of the Times

Sign of the times

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, May 24, 2012Highlights from the May 24 issue of New York Teacher:

Mulgrew: Union ‘must’ play role in shaping city’s schools
Saying that the union won’t wait for Bloomberg’s departure in 2013, UFT President Michael Mulgrew on May 12 mapped out a path for improving New York City public education built on bringing the public back into public education and ensuring that city schools work for and with the whole community.

The operating room
A select group of 8th-graders at MS 217 in Queens knows exactly how to get to the heart of the matter. Working in teams of two, the young scientists search for the upper great vein of their sheep’s hearts and begin to cut. With scalpels, probes and scissors at hand, students in the Briarwood school’s after-school Heart Surgery Program begin the exacting work of dissecting hearts.

A model for co-locations
Long before co-locations became about squeezing scores of new schools into already occupied school buildings, the Twin Parks Campus in the East Tremont section of the Bronx grappled with the issue of sharing space. At Twin Parks, at least four schools have been cheek by jowl in one large building for more than 14 years.

Cincinnati community schools: A model for New York?
Cincinnati schools now have a whole range of social, academic and economic wraparound services to help its children and communities and allow its teachers to teach. More »

Romney On Vouchers

I was against them before I was for them and now I am against them.

Romney: Worst Elementary School In Harlem Is A Charter School

Yes, Romney did make that claim in his educational policy speech. Here is the passage:

We have good teachers, like the ones who are leading New York City’s Democracy Prep.  Because of them, kids from the city’s poorest community are outperforming children from the wealthiest.  Last summer, these teachers took over the worst elementary school in Harlem rather than let it shut down.  Democracy Prep is a testament to good people who refuse to give up on our kids or leave our cities without a fight.

That worst school in Harlem, taken over by Democracy Prep? None other than Harlem Day Charter School.



The Zombie Al Shanker “Quote”

The one sure sign of an empty educational agenda without real ideas?

Trotting out the apocryphal quote attributed to Al Shanker: “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of children.”

It does not matter how many times this false attribution is killed and buried, the zombie quote comes back to life again and again in the hands of the union-bashing right. When you are guided by ideological dogma, the truth of the claim is unimportant.

Foiled Again:
An Inside Look At Joel Klein’s War
Against Public Schools And Teacher Unions

Over a year ago, the UFT submitted a Freedom of Information request for emails between Joel Klein and other top DoE brass, on the one hand, and the leaders of the New York City Charter School Center, the New York Charter School Association, Democrats for Education Reform and other leading supporters of corporate education reform. As it does with FOIL requests that do not suit their purposes, the DoE stonewalled the request. (Take note of the contrast with the DoE’s eagerness to release the Teacher Data Reports.) Last month, the UFT went to court, arguing that the DoE’s continual delays amounted to constructive denial of the FOIL law. Facing the inevitable, last Friday the DoE began to release the emails, sending several hundred to the UFT and the news media. Another 15,000 emails are still to come, so keep your eyes peeled on this one.

Here are some of the highlights of the emails just released. More »

Request for Proposals: Collective Impact Model in NYC

The UFT is has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to advance the Collective Impact Model in New York City. The idea behind the model is simple: Make schools into community “hubs” where children and their families have access to all types of programs and services, including health and dental clinics, youth development activities, tutoring, counseling programs, health education programs and social services, just to name a few. By seamlessly aligning all of these important resources into the schools’ daily operations and by engaging the community and bringing in outside volunteers, businesses and organizations, schools are able to address the needs of children in a holistic way — not just in academics, but also in overall health and well‐being.

All schools are encouraged to apply.

Download the RFP package »
Read about the Collective Impact Model »

NYC Labor Communicators Annual Convention on June 15

Metro NY Labor Communications Council

The Metro New York Labor Communications Council is having its annual convention on June 15, and the lineup is excellent. The morning panel on Occupy Wall Street: Keeping the Message Going will include Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News and Democracy Now!, UAW Local 2110 organizer and OWS activist Mary Clinton, Joe Dinkins of the Working Families Party, and Melissa Ryan of the National Organizing Institute. Nick Unger, veteran labor organizer and author, will moderate.

Lunch and labor communications awards presentation to follow.

Register online »

Download the flier »

New York Teacher

New York Teacher, May 10, 2012Highlights from the May 10 issue of New York Teacher:

If pineapples could speak…
What teachers have been saying for years about the content on state ELA tests has finally resonated with journalists, professors and even the state education commissioner. After 8th-graders voiced their bewilderment over the questions on this year’s infamous “Hare and the Pineapple” passage, Commissioner John King struck it from the test.

Final budget includes money for more teachers
Mayor Bloomberg’s final budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, released on May 3, restores 2,570 of some 6,000 teaching positions lost over the past five years — marking the first time in four years that the city will be replacing teachers who leave.

A schoolwide ‘Movement’: OT-, PT-driven morning program helps Bronx students prepare for learning
The magic that gets the school day started in high gear at PS 396 in the Bronx is a schoolwide, early-morning call to action called Movement in the Morning. And in every pre-K to 5th-grade classroom, everyone moves to the music. Teachers join their students for three minutes of jumping jacks, running in place, stretches and extended arm rolls.

UFT protests PEP ‘charade’ at City Hall
Waving signs that read “Support our Kids” and “True Reform Requires Investment,” scores of parents and teachers rallied outside City Hall to protest the mayor’s school-closing policy on April 26, just hours before the city’s Panel for Educational Policy voted to shutter 24 struggling schools, dismiss their staffs and reopen them in the fall under new names. More »

Tearing Down The Symbols, Along With The Schools

It is perhaps fitting that the Department of Education’s feeble attempt to suggest that their efforts to purge the teaching staffs of the 22 Transformation and Restart schools involve the creation of truly new schools has come to focus on the most ephemeral element — a new name. In the joint meetings, staff, students and community all objected strenuously to the erasure of their schools’ history and heritage, but that means little to the ideologically hell-bent at Tweed and City Hall.

It is worth pointing out that these name changes, following on the closure of 140 DOE schools since the beginning of the Bloomberg era, has significantly changed the names of New York City schools. Pre-Bloomberg, school names reflected the city’s rich heritage of protest and social progress. Now, schools named after trade union leaders, civil rights leaders, democratic socialists, feminists and civic reformers have all had their names stripped from them, one by one, by the corporate reformers:

Trade Unionists: John Dewey, Samuel Gompers, Harry Van Arsdale.

Civil Rights Figures: Benjamin Banneker, Henry Highland Garnet, Martin Luther King, August Martin, Luis Muñoz Marín, Bayard Rustin, Paul Robeson, Dr. Betty Shabazz.

Democratic Socialists: John Dewey, Martin Luther King, Bayard Rustin, Norman Thomas.

Civic Reformers/Feminists: Jane Addams, Lucretia Mott.


Still alive on this endangered species list? A. Phillip Randolph and Fannie Lou Hamer.


It’s Teacher Appreciation Week

Don’t forget to thank a teacher this week, especially on Tuesday, May 8 — National Educators Day.

In his Saturday Times column, Charles Blow thanks his mother, a veteran educator, and shares some refreshing, common-sense wisdom on teachers and teaching.

She showed me what a great teacher looked like: proud, exhausted, underpaid and overjoyed. For great teachers, the job is less a career than a calling. You don’t become a teacher to make a world of money. You become a teacher to make a world of difference. But hard work deserves a fair wage.

That’s why I have a hard time tolerating people who disproportionately blame teachers for our poor educational outcomes. I understand that not every teacher is a great one. But neither is every plumber, or every banker or every soldier. Why then should teachers be demonized so much?

A big part of the problem is that teachers have been so maligned in the national debate that it’s hard to attract our best and brightest to see it as a viable and rewarding career choice, even if they have a high aptitude and natural gift for it.

New Charter Report Improves Transparency but Leaves Many Questions Unanswered

The release of a new “State of the Sector” report by the New York City Charter School Center will hopefully mark a turning point in efforts to have a more substantive conversation about charter schools’ demographics and performance in our city. As local media have noted, the report is one of the first from within the charter sector itself to acknowledge some troubling data on charter schools that we and other analysts have been discussing for several years.

Specifically, the report found that, compared to the average school in their Community School District in 2010:

  • 68% of charters served a lower proportion of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch
  • 72% of charters served a lower proportion of students with IEPs
  • 96% of charters served a lower proportion of English Language Learners

The report also noted that the charter sector was experiencing significantly higher turnover of principals, teachers, and students than the district:

  • 26-33% of charter teachers left each year between 2007 and 2011, compared to 13-16% at district schools
  • 18.7% of charter principals left each year between 2005-06 and 2010-11, compared to 3.6% at district schools
  • Charter middle school enrollments shrunk by 5.9% from 2010 to 2011, compared to an increase of 3.2% at district middle schools

More »

UFT LEGO Education Symposium on May 19

LEGO EducationJoin the UFT and LEGO Education for a day of creativity, teamwork and learning.

Learn how to successfully engage students in science, technology, engineering and math with LEGOs.

Hear how teachers are using LEGO Education solutions in the classroom and about the success their students are having.

Experience it first hand by attending one of the hands-on workshops.

Saturday, May 19
UFT headquarters
52 Broadway, 2nd floor
Morning session for elementary school educators is from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Afternoon session for middle school and high school educators is from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Space is limited, so sign up today »