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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hawaii targeted high at risk must submit receipts to feds before withdrawing its SIG funds

As a condition of being designated a high-risk grantee, the State will be placed on cost reimbursement basis effective immediately. Under a cost reimbursement payment basis, the grantee is required to submit receipts for expenditures to the Department for approval prior to drawing down any grant funds. In addition, the State must notify the Department prior to obligating funds and must provide documentation to ensure alignment with its approved plan, as requested. Please note that failure to comply with the high-risk conditions may constitute a material failure to comply with the requirements of the grant. If the grantee disagrees with the high-risk designation, it may request reconsideration by the Implementation and Support Unit.

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Capitol Confidential » King says he’ll cut off SIG funding to schools (update)

Capitol Confidential » King says he’ll cut off SIG funding to schools (update)

A school principal speaks out on the principal and teacher evaluation madness in New York!

Race to the Top (RTTT) and its requirements have caused serious problems for states, such as New York, that are forging ahead with implementation. My own district wisely pulled out of this particular part of the ongoing insanity last month, saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ to the RTTT money. (As noted below, we can’t similarly opt out of the equally awful state’s APPR law.) Our superintendent realized that the RTTT mandates would cost more to implement than the money received. Not one pencil could be responsibly purchased nor local tax dollar responsibly offset by quickly implementing mandates that are neither effective nor wise.

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Commissioner King response to districts failing to meet the December deadline on teacher evaluations

“A rigorous, transparent evaluation system grounded in evidence of effective practice and student learning is critical to providing quality professional development, identifying models of excellence, and raising student achievement. Fair, sound teacher and principal evaluations are good for educators and vital for students. "

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Commissioner King criticized for failing to ask for waiver on teacher evaluation deadline requirements.

New York State United Teachers criticized the commissioner, saying he could ask the federal government for a waiver to extend the deadline, as has been done in at least 14 other states.

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Yonkers super looking at legal options to respond to commissioner King deadline on teacher evaluation system

“Yonkers has been working, in good faith, with its unions to reach settlements regarding requested modifications to evaluation systems,” he said. “However, settlements by Dec. 31 are impossible considering that both Yonkers Federation of Teachers and the Yonkers Council of Administrators are unavailable until the end of holiday break, Jan. 2.”

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Commissioner John B. King threatened to cut funds to NYC Schools

City schools stands to lose $60M from feds

In what many have viewed as the stick approach instead of the carrot, Commissioner John B. King threatened to cut the funding of NYC schools Friday  after an impasse reached in negotiations due to disagreement over the appeals process on the teacher evaluation system.

It has long been suspected  the federal government designed Race to the Top as a ploy to break down the powerful education unions across the nation.

And New York state has become the testing ground for this battle.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Community called on Commissioner King to keep Lafayette High School opened

"Lafayette, our dear old Alma Mater, we gather here to sing thy praise. Our hearts are filled with true devotion, gaining strength as fewer grow our days."

Lafayette High School was the scene of a public meeting on Saturday, December 17, organized to get the message out to Commissioner Dr. John King that "we are united when it comes to keeping the doors of Lafayette High School open." King had threatened to close it if the district had not submitted an acceptable school reform plan before January.
Principal  Naomi Cerre and supporters of the school gathered in the auditorium  at 12 noon. The event sponsored by a group of parents had the support of  teachers, staff, students, community stakeholders, politicians and religious leaders.
The presence of an alumnus, a grandfather of a teacher at the school added a bit of nostalgia to the days when Lafayette High School had produced graduates linked by "bonds of white and violet.." the colors of the school.
Principal Cerre and the teachers had to work under a deadline viewed  too short to produce an adequate timely plan. But Cerre led the faculty through one of its most difficult and challenging period to come up with a turnaround plan for a high school designated as one of the  persistently lowest- achieving in the Buffalo Public Schools by the NYS Education Department.
And the plan the school had submitted to the district had some unique features that included a full time attendance teacher in an office with a staff to address the high absenteeism rate in the high school. Fortunately, Cerre assigned additional help to the attendance office that is already showing signs of improvement over the dismal rate last year from 78% to 85%.
Also, the turnaround plan housed the 9-12th grades along with a welcome center in the main school building. And the older overage students,  SIFEs and a new-comer center at an annex building with ESL and a CTE program. Community organizations would have provided additional support such as closing the gap services. The faculty and staff wanted the involvement of Buffalo State College as the EPO followed by the turnaround plan but in the end the school board voted for John Hopkins University as the EPO for Lafayette.
The Rev. Bruce McKay from Pilgrim St Luke's Church at the public meeting who earlier had observed the work of the Site Based Management Team at the school when they voted on the turnaround said it was disrespectful for the school board to ignore how the team at the school voted.
A colorful caravan of cars displaying the school colors violet and white traveled from Lafayette down to Elmwood Avenue to Forest up around Grant Street back to the high school.
Appearing at the public meeting were: VOICE-Buffalo, El Nuevo Camino UCC, Pilgrim St. Luke's UCC, PUSH Buffalo, interim Superintendent Amber Dixon, Niagara Council Member David Rivera, Assembly Member Sean Ryan, J. Rivera, Rev. J. Claudio, Rev. Bruce McKay, Lisa Griffith, Principal Naomi Cerre, Cariole Horne, and faculty, staff, students, administrators, and others. A film produced at the school showed students talking about Lafayette High School in their native languages. The Community has been  asked to call Commissioner King at 518 474-5844 tell him they are united to keep the doors of "Lafayette opened."

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

48% schools labeled as failing since Bush signed NCLB in 2001

Forty-eight percent, up from 39 percent in 2010, is the highest proportion of schools labeled as failing since President George W. Bush signed the education law in 2001. Schools acquire the label when they fail to raise student reading and math scores enough to keep up with testing targets set by their states.

School board votes for turnaround plan at bilingual center school #33

The Buffalo Board of Education met yesterday to consider what school reform plan to choose for Bilingual Center School #33. When the School Board met on Wednesday they didn't get the complete turnaround proposal to read so opted to decide on Friday afternoon. Two board members were absent Florence Johnson and Jason McCarthy so only six showed up to vote and to discuss the at-large board seat vacancy.
The six voted  unanimously for the turnaround plan at #33 but Buffalo Teacher Federation, Phil Rumore voiced concern about the involuntary transfers of teachers under the proposal using a dual language immersion approach for pre-k through 2nd grade. In the third year it will be up to the community to decide if they want to continue it in the upper grades. Rumore insisted the teachers at #33 voted for the First Hand Learning, the educational partnership plan, EPO. And though the collective bargaining agreement has specific language about teacher transfers, Rumore said ..." it's not educationally sound to move 50% of the teachers and there is no study that says its works."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Time for Buffalo Schools to look back at magnet schools as turnaround plans cause disagreement at school board meeting

The Buffalo News reported this morning the Buffalo Board of Education decided what educational partnership organizations and turnaround proposals to forward to the New York State Education Department next week. The battle ground still waged will be in two schools facing the turnaround model options---Futures and Drew Science Magnet. Interim Superintendent Amber Dixon and Buffalo Teacher Federation Phil Rumore uttered different views about the involuntary transfers of teacher at these schools under the turnaround model. While Rumore indicated the involuntary transfers violate the collective bargaining agreement, Dixon suggested the State Ed folks will allow recent staff changes at the school to remain. Rumore threatened a court challenge if district moves forward with the turnaround plans recommended that it forgo the model. The union chief believes there is hardly any evidence in the research that supports the transfer of the teachers increases student achievement in these low persistently achieving schools. Interim Super believes it all about the children meeting their needs.
Buffalo Schools started a magnet school system in the latter part of the 1970's as part of the desegregation of the schools and there are stakeholders in the community that think it may be time to revisit it to see how it might shed some light or direction on how to solve some current issues. The idea is that the community at one time had a successful magnet school system,so all was not what it is today and it's time to look back in order to move forward,.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hundreds  gathered at the first Parent Assembly the District Parent Coordinating Council organized last Thursday at the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts. But the accolades interim Superintendent Amber Dixon received were noticeable.
A few of the speakers and parents participating in the event recognized Dixon and  the congratulatory words came from Sam Radford VP of the DPCC, parents asking questions and Regent Bennett himself who commented, "hats off to Amber Dixon"  while a parent commented, "we appreciate having you as our superintendent." 
So when is the next serious discussion about the search for a new superintendent? Well, at the  Buffalo Board of Education meeting last week it's suppose to be in January.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Educational partnership organizations and turnaround plans discussed at Board meeting last night

Interesting things happened last night at the School Board meeting on what educational partnership organization plan the advisory committee selected for the seven persistently low achieving schools in the Buffalo Public Schools district.
For one thing Futures and Drew Science no longer have an EPO as an option and they have to write turnaround plans. The EPO's that submitted plans to run the two schools didn't meet the expectations of the Board advisory group reviewing the proposals. This advisory group is composed of the following members: Kapsiak, Helene Kramer, Lloyd Hargrave, Richard Jurasek from Medaille, Casimiro Rodriguez, Phil Rumore, Blythe Merrill, Deb Sykes, Thomas Vitale. It's slightly different in composition from the one reviewing last spring.
Buffalo State College Foundation appears to be out of the running the group preferred the proposal of John Hopkins University experienced in working with public school districts in other cities such as Baltimore, Chicago and NYC.  Florence Johnson employed at Buffalo State College asked if the School Board can override the decision of the advisory committee and Debra Sykes the district administrator overseeing the plans responded "yes."
So it appear both East High School and Lafayette advisory committee voted in favor of moving to the next phase of the selection process with John Hopkins as the EPO. Still there are turnaround plans for both schools the School Board might consider of these schools as the faculty votes Friday for what they see is best for them.  Sykes said the School Board to get the packets on Monday with the information on the schools, statements and reasons why not selected.
While East High partnered with Niagara University on their turnaround plans Lafayette had a grant writer from the district helping its plan.
Buffalo Elementary School of Technology (BEST) PS #6 committee voted in favor of Research to Practice a group from NYS though they had put in to run four schools now district has to ask if they are interested in only one and revamp their fees designed for four instead of one school.  The Waterfront School committee favor Canisius College as the EPO.  Canisius is already partnering with Forham University in NYC to work with over 29 schools an anonymous person following the live blog commented.  And Bilingual Center #33 school has a turnaround model that is being seriously considered along with one of the other EPO.
The finalist whether turnaround or EPO the boards selects next week and the proposals chosen sent to Albany by December 23.
What has been a positive thing throughout is Interim Super Amber Dixon allowing for the entire community to be part of the process including the schools.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

 The Educational Partnership Committe EPO met for the last time today. There were the nine folks appointed to the advisory group by the Board of Education to help it select an EPO for each of its persistently failing schools (PLA). The Central District school rept, Mary Ruth Kapsiask and eight other composed this committee along with  Helene Kramer, Lloyd Hargrave, Richard Jurasek from Medaille, Casimiro Rodriguez, Phil Rumore, Blythe Merrill, Deb Sykes, Thomas Vitale.

Buffalo school board votes to open at-large seat to entire community

The selection is on to fill the at-large seat on the Buffalo Board of Education. Details appeared tonight on the Buffalo News  School Zone  live blog of meeting.  Candidates must be a U.S. citizen, eligible to vote in City of Buffalo, resident for three years and no felony convictions.
Buffalo School Board voted tonight  to fill the at-large seat vacated by Chris Jacobs today by opening up the process to the entire community instead of appointing themselves as it has been past practice.
At one time a squabble developed between which district board member to fill the seat but tonight the board voted to accept resumes from the entire community, including any board member that wants the seat.
However, any board member interested in being considered can not be part of the selection or voting process. Rosalyn Taylor, vice-president of the Executive Affairs Committee asked:  " We can go two ways. Fill it from within or fill it as an at-large seat? And they voted unanimously to fill it as an at-large seat.
Interestingly, former Ferry District School Board Member Florence Johnson, an at-large board member now had been appointed to fill an at-large vacancy back on December 2003 and sworn in on January 2004, but said "if we acted in error," then the board should not do that. She said she supported opening the process up" along with West District Rep Ralph Hernandez and North District Rep.McCarthy later joined by all the board members.
The dead-line date for resumes is  December 16, by 4 PM and  the news to appear in the newspapers by 12/17 and interviews set tentatively for December 21 or 22 if needed. Board ask to provide questions for the interviews based on their expertise or areas they represent. Interviews to last 20 to 30 minutes and candidates selected by the week of December 28 and sworn in on January 4, 2012.  Interested candidates can e-mail a letter of intent, resumes with three letters of reference by December 16, 4 PM to :
James M. Kane
Buffalo Public Schools
801 City Hall
Buffalo, NY 14202

Friday, December 2, 2011

Seven consultants submit proposals for Buffalo superintendent search

How serious is the School Board search for a new superintendent? Well, the RFP the Board sent out at the end of October generated 7 responses before the cut off date of November 15.  The four-member ad hoc committee responsible for reviewing the proposals  met Tuesday this week to go over them, select the finalist to present  to the Board. But only two members showed up, so the two decided to provide all the Board members with copies. So it appears the full board will vote on the finalist. Don't forget that June is the deadline the Board expects the consultants to help them hire a candidate.
And the Board conducts the oral interviews with the educational partnership organizations (EPO) under consideration to run the persistently low achieving schools (PLA) on Monday or Tuesday December 5 or 6. The following week on December 14, the Board votes on what EPO's they sent to the State Ed in Albany. Then, there is the Christmas school break in three weeks folks return to do business in January 2012.
In the interim there is an at-large seat the Board has to fill by the first week of January or else the Mayor appoints. Central District Rep. Mary Ruth Kapsiak and Park District  and Board President Louis Petrucci both vying for the coveted seat Chris Jacobs vacates to become the new Erie County Clerk when he resigns next week.If  either Kapsiak or Petrucci picked there is a district seat that has to be filled in January or February.
And there is a school break in February 20-24, and another in April 9-13. And sometime in-between while the district waits to hear from Albany  about the status of the proposals submitted in December in the spring,  there may be time for the superintendent search.
Yet, with interim Super Amber Dixon winning a few feathers in her cap so far by successfully settling a union contract, appointing an African-American woman to a top academic post in district,  cutting down exempt employees in central office even if a few just moved over to other non-exempt union positions in City Hall, and asking the entire community to get involved in participating in choosing a school reform model whether  EPO or  a turnaround one, it leaves one wondering about the superintendent search. After all an ad hoc committee meeting didn't generate enough interest to even review the resumes of the consultants who submitted proposals to do the search.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Buffalo board to vote on turnaround proposals soon

"It's critical the plans translate into real, substantive change in the schools, whatever [turnaround] model is chosen,"  said Commissioner John B. King, Jr in the first round of proposals  submitted for the PLA schools in Buffalo.
Yet  King has not sent the "disinquished educator" he announced back in August to the Buffalo Schools  to help "reconceptualize" the EPO models that didn't pass State Ed folks review last rounds.
Meanwhile, the advisory panel the School Board appointed in June selected five of the eight educational partnership organizations (EPO) that submitted proposals to turn around seven of the persistently lowest achieving schools in the district.
What do three of the five have in common? How about location, they're all from Buffalo---Buffalo State College Research Foundation, First Hand Learning and Canisius College. In fact these last two listed addresses located on Main Street not far from each other. One other group  is from New York called Research to Practice who had submitted a turnaround plans  the State Ed folks in Albany previously had rejected. The only real outside group to submit an EPO was John Hopkins University from Baltimore Maryland.
Why were the five selected might have more to do with the advisory panel  that six months ago had an interesting motley crew that included union heads, Hispanic religious leader, a former Buffalo School Board president and local literacy advocate, higher education leader, the Oishei Foundation, and a retired school administrator. 
Back in June this advisory panel included Phil Rumore, Crystal Barton, Casimiro Rodriguez, Helene Kramer, Canisius College's dean of education,  Blythe Merrill and Lloyd Hargrave. The School Board had appointed this advisory panel back in June.
Schools have until December 5th to submit revised plans to the district. And Mary Ruth Kapsiak, Board Rep from Central District and chair of the Academic Achievement Committee announced the selection of the five EPO's at last night's board meeting. She reported the oral interviews would be held on Monday December 5, described as the first phase of the process before the School Board votes on what finalist to send to Albany by the end of 2011.And Buffalo now has an Office of School Innovation and Turnaround that listed the five EPO proposals for the public to review.
Out of the five proposals selected by the advisory panel three  were for Lafayette High School such as First Hand Learning. Sam Alessi involved in the project was a former assistant superintendent in the Buffalo Schools.The State had rejected their earlier plan remnants of it resubmitted in this latest round.
Research  to Practice  and Johns Hopkins University also submitted EPO plans for Lafayette.
And Research to Practice submitted EPO plans for #33 as well as First Hand Learning. Canisius submitted EPO plans for School #95 along with the Research to Practice group. And  John Hopkins submitted plans for East High while Research to Practice had plans for the Buffalo Elementary School of Technology (BEST) PS #6. Research to Practice submitted a proposal to manage four schools the highest number from any of the EPO's. Futures School 37 and 59 had no viable options  but the turnaround model to be implemented requires the involuntary transfer of teachers in these two schools. A Board member asked about the possibility of reviewing  the EPO the advisory panel didn't choose, but discouraged after told the group had looked at the proposal very seriously.
Research to Practice, a Long Island group that includes an assortment of high-profile names in education, including Manny Rivera, former Rochester superintendent; Rudy Crew, former Miami-Dade County superintendent; and McGraw-Hill Education, according to Buffalo News Education Zone Blog.

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