Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sagging: the feminizing of students in public schools

We see it daily in public schools but little is done to stop it.  Young men walking the hallways,  sitting in classrooms,  and in cafeterias wearing their pants down.
It's called sagging allegedly a fashion inmates  denied belts  in prison created from their ill-fitting uniforms. And pants down signal to other inmates the readiness to engage in sexual behavior of some sort. While others say rap stars from the hip-hop culture sag and promote it in their music.
Yet, few understand  how it promotes and contributes to the feminizing of urban youths before they are caught up in criminal behavior and sent to prison as many more children are being tried as adults across the nation.  In New York youths 16 years old  are automatically prosecuted as adults under the age of majority statutes.
The Children's Defense Fund campaign from the cradle-to-prison-pipeline  was created a few years ago to provide preventive supports in order to reduce detention and incarceration of black and Latino youths. Kevin Hawkins shared photos of these young men sagging on Facebook.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

State Education Commissioner King tells school board leaders to " different with less

State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. admonished school board members across the state attending the annual convention  of the New York State School Boards Association meeting at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Mary Pasciak education blogger for the Buffalo News covered the convention.
Addressing hundreds gathered to hear him on Friday, Commissioner King told them although districts are experiencing a decrease in enrollment, revenues and a tax cap, still they are expected to continue providing " a better education to students. And expected to " more with less but do different with less" while encouraging them to allocate dwindling resources toward academic achievement.
King recommended distant learning as a way for districts to use technology better and for students to access  courses not offered in the curriculum.
And the audience had an opportunity not only to hear the struggles other boards are confronting in districts around the state but to hear a distinguish panels of policy makers on a panel that included Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Regent Robert M. Bennett, Deputy Secretary for Education  David Wakelyn,  Buffalo School Board member and president of the state school boards association Florence Johnson and Katie Campos former director of the Buffalo ReformEd. 
Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Campos to the post of Assistant  Secretary of Education in his administration last June.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Local trailblazers in historical preservation

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture presented the Buffalo Preservation Awards for lifetime achievement to five outstanding local residents, including a philanthropic foundation. The standing room only audience that packed the Western New York Book Arts Center in downtown Buffalo on Tuesday night had the distinct privilege of listening to the struggles and contributions  of some of the most distinguished citizens in the historical preservation movement.

Left to right:
Howard Zemsky, President of the Richard-Olmsted Corporation
(William Dorsheimer Award for Civic Leadership);
Donn Esmonde, columnist Buffalo News
(Lifetime Award for Public Commentary);
Susan McCartney (Preservationist of the Century);
Edward Healy of Visit Buffalo Niagara
(Lifetime Award for National Civic Promotion);
David Franczyk, Buffalo Common Council President
(Grover Cleveland Award for Lifetime Public Service);
And not present (Margaret Wendt Foundation (Lifetime Award for Philanthropy).

Kudos! to Tim Tielman and the board of directors of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo for a superb awards program.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"These numbers are not acceptable," said Commissioner John B. King about NYC schools English language learners outcomes

NYC schools must improve the outcomes of the English language learners student population or face sanctions, the NYTimes reported state education officials announced on Wednesday.
NYC school leaders released their 31-page corrective action plan to address the problems of the ELLs in the city's schools. And this plan outlined the violation of state law in city schools in the services provided to the ELLs. The corrective action plan has been in the works for more than a year after state education officials directed the city to improve services to the ELLs.
John B. King Jr. the state education commissioner called "...the services poor, and the best indication of that are the student outcomes," of English language learners in the NYC schools. King cited how only 7 percent of ELLs graduated on time, 12 percent proficient in English in the lower grades and 35 percent in math, percentages way below the city averages.
The plan has targets and time tables for the improvements, covering  such issues as:

  • The large number of students who were not timely administered the LAB-R; 
  • The LEP/ELLs not receiving the mandated bilingual and or ESL services because of shortages of certified bilingual and ESL teachers; 
  • Parent choice...steps to create new Transitional Bilingual Education Programs (TBE), awarding annual TBE and Dual Language (DL) planning grants...; 
  • And long term LEP/ELLs must receive bilingual and/or ESL services until they are no longer LEP/ELLs based on the NYS proficiency exam and the NYSESLAT
  •  among other issues.
The Council of Great City Schools presented a report to the School Board about the ELLs in the Buffalo Public schools "Raising the Achievement of English Language Learners in the Buffalo Schools" last year, while the Buffalo News commented on it on August 2010.

Alabama law targets immigrant school children

A classroom in Birmingham, AL.
(Photo: Terry McCombs/flickr)
"Last Friday, close to 2,000 Latino students in Alabama didn’t show up at school. That is roughly five percent of the Latino children in the school system. Their parents kept their children away out of fear – twenty-four hours earlier, Alabama had begun asking students for papers," according to the online publication Feet in 2 Worlds.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Super Dixon rumored to appoint an insider as chief academic officer

Buffalo News education blogger, Mary Pasciak wrote today the elevator talk in City Hall is that  interim Super Amber Dixon plans to appoint an insider to the second highest academic post in the Buffalo Board of Education. Fran Wilson, a community superintendent rumored to be appointed to the exempt post of chief academic officer.  Former Super James A. Williams abolished this post to create instead the deputy superintendent to appoint Dr.  Folasade Oladele who once held the job. Yvonne Hargrave  held the post until appointed interim superintendent  in 2004.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Poughkeepsie and Syracuse schools models for Buffalo what's the beef?

The State Ed folks suggested Buffalo School leaders look at Syracuse and Poughkeepsie schools as models for  good school reform plans. Poughkeepsie was awarded a multi-million dollar School Improvement Grant (SIG) through June 2014. Poughkeepsie High School is a persistently low-achieving school  because of its low graduation rate. They are implementing the Transformation Model, extending the school day by adding another instructional period from nine to ten, increasing professional development, a new staff evaluation system rewriting their curriculum and intervention for failing students.
They are not only enhancing the rigor of the academic program but bridging the gap between the home and school through parent workshops improving technology to train parents to monitor the academic progress and attendance of their children. And educational consultants hired to monitor and evaluate the progress of the reform. Interestingly, the unions both teachers and administrators were involved in the application process that resulted in obtaining the SIG.  After professional development provided staff deemed inadequate will be removed.
Syracuse City School District  focused on systemic wide reform incorporating the Say Yes to Education program and the Rapid Results structural entry process to improve academic achievement. The district didn't achieve AYP in graduation rate   with Latino students lowest 35% followed by African-Americans 49%.
Also, Dr. Sharon Contreras was appointed superintendent of the schools in Syracuse in March.  Dr. Contreras is  an African-American-Puerto Rican-Venezuelan graduate of the Broad Superintendents Class 2010 program.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Buffalo to look at Syracuse city school district and Poughkeepsie for good school plan models

A team of Buffalo Schools  central office administrators along with  principals and assistant principals traveled to  the  State Education Department Office of School Innovation for two days on Monday and Tuesday this week to learn  from a Harvard professor about the turnaround  school reform model commented Debbie Sykes, Associate Superintendent Teaching & Learning at the Board Student Achievement Committee meeting tonight. Mary Pasciak,  Buffalo News education blogger recorded the meeting and the comments of the board members in her live blog in the School Zone.
As usual the State Ed folks are looking for dramatic and comprehensive intervention with a quick rise in student achievement.  Sykes said that all 13 persistently lowest achieving schools (PLA) submitted  new annual performance plans had spent a couple of weeks reviewing the plans  and  had benchmark  where they are at setting targets. So they now have real targets they monitor during the year. 
The State Ed folks to do on-site monitoring visits next week to  Riverside and Burgard High School issuing a report a few weeks later. Sykes commented they are meeting with the seven PLA schools to get input from them on the model.  She said "will conduct a bidders webex." She said, "state has suggested we look at Syracuse and Poughkeepsie for what good plans look like, a variety of approaches, a portfolio." 
This has to be determined because they have to write the plans in November for January deadline. Interim Super Amber Dixon commented it's up to the board to choose the model after presented with the feedback from the schools.  The plans have to be into the State Ed by January 1 and they could approve them as early as this spring for 2012-13.  Dixon said, 
"We're under the gun for these seven. We have until January. We were specifically told by the commissioner if we don't have approved plan for Lafayette by January, he may close that school. Lafayette has had two plans rejected, and that's important to note."
Board President Lou Petrucci asked what is different now than last year about the turnaround model. Sykes responded more time to talk with the Buffalo Teachers Federation regarding the 50% what it would look like---shifting teachers around again.  Dixon commented they have started discussion with Phil Rumore , BTF President about all the models, including looking at the turnaround model through a different lens. At October 12 meeting Sykes bringing copies of the Syracuse and Poughkeepsie models for board members to review.

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
"Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and major funding angel for the school privatizing Democrats for Education Reform, thinks there’s not enough rich, educated white folks.( Preaprez) click photo to his blog.

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education, click photo