The Very Expensive Mandates of Race to the Top The states unlucky enough to “win” Race to the Top funding are arriving at a startling conclusion: Race to the Top mandates cost more than the money that was awarded to the state and the districts. Ken Mitchell, a superintendent in Rockland County, New York, did the math. Mitchell determined that school districts in his county are spending far more than they receive as they try to implement the mandates. When you consider that Governor Cuomo enacted rigid tax caps on every public school district in the state, it means that costs (for Race to the Top) are soaring at the same time that the district cannot raise new sources of revenue. The result: layoffs, program cuts, larger class sizes. Mitchell writes that in six districts in his county, the cost of RTTT implementation will be $11 million, but the revenues will be only $400,000. This is a deficit of more than $10 million that must be covered by district funds. Where will the money come from? When you consider that there is no research base to support the initiatives demanded by the Race to the Top, this is, as he puts it, “a grand and costly experiment that has the potential to take public education in the wrong direction…” That is putting it politely. The word is getting out. Race to the Top has no research base. Race to the Top is a burden on the states that “won” the money. It will be a burden on the districts that have the misfortune to “win” funding. The United Teachers of Los Angeles were wise to refuse to sign on to their district’s application. If they won, the district would soon by laying off teachers to pay for consultants and experimental programs of no value. Race to the Top makes guinea pigs of the nation’s public schools and their pupils. I will vote for Obama despite this terrible program.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Move On! By David G. Sciarra
Putting aside pronouncements from inside-the-beltway pundits, there is no research to support continuation of competitive grants in general, and Race to the Top (RTTT) in particular. There is simply no evidence that RTTT has improved, or even has the potential to improve, education opportunities and outcomes for the our nation’s students, especially those in attending public schools in high need
I have been an educational evaluation professional, teacher, and author for 35 years. I've published three books and 38 technical articles on teacher evaluation. I directed three U.S. Department of Education teacher evaluation grants, and was president of the national Consortium for Research on Educational Accountability and Teacher Evaluation. I have conducted pilot programs in real schools with real teachers and administrators. It's always a good idea to have the widest community participation in teacher evaluation development. However, at this time because of technical and sociological reasons, I commend the educators of Portland Public Schools for postponing application for Race to the Top grant funding. Race to the Top programs usually feature a kind of student
However, that's not the reason that UTLA president, Warren Fletcher, gave for refusing to sign the application. "Race to the Top costs more than it brings in," Fletcher told the Daily News. "You're essentially setting up a system with a lot of bureaucracy,and those pieces have to stay in place after the grant period." "There were enough issues out there that were complex enough that we could not get to the point where we could get together with the district," he continued. However, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who tried to come to an agreement with Fletcher and UTLA but failed, had a different account. He said that the teachers union was wary of the grant because of requirements that included “a new, robust teacher evaluation
The union is right, the cost of implementing RTTT is more than the grant money the district would receive. RTTT requires way more student testing that costs money and loses time on actual learning. The amount of time needed for professional development is another added cost and more loss to time on learning. The amount of training of in the new methods for evaluations, the additional amount of time needed for additional supervision of teachers is more added costs. The mountains of data collection and storage is costly as well. How do I know this? Because even though my district chose not to sign on the RTTT, we are required by law to implement it because our state did sign on to RTTT. We have to implement by 2014. It's very expensive, the districts that needed the money were eligible for federal funds before RTTT. The RTTT is re-worked federal programs that were formally targeted to needy school districts. Arne Duncan thought of this clever program to spread this money around to even wealthy districts as a carrot to get states to buy into his education policy. A policy that is unproven in terms of raising student achievement. It's all smoke and mirrors. LA teachers made the right choice.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Sunday, December 23, 2012
There is a school of thought that staff should be armed in schools, while others continue to believe in gun free zone laws in schools.
If so, should teachers and administrators be required to take coursework for certification that includes training and workshops in knowledge of second amendment rights, proper use of firearms, and permit to carry a gun in schools?
There are school districts in the nation that quietly allow for armed staff, teachers and administrators.
Yet to have stopped Adam Lanza it would have taken more than a pistol, but a school security plan that included access to high power weapons locked up ready for use by specially trained school staff to prevent what happened at Sandy Hook and Columbine.
Several years ago, a man walked into the front office of a school shot his wife.
This scenario is repeated too often in schools across the nation so the question many are asking is how do we prevent school violence?
Should there be a national dialogue about violence in schools that includes security plans for allowing armed staff?
Friday, December 21, 2012
And included in the sweet deal was $11 million over the life of the lease for operating costs more than in 1998, because the duration of the agreement is shorter.
While, King Cuomo sends his top aides in commercial jets to negotiate these unprofitable and questionable investments across the state, he threatened to deny impoverished and cash strapped school districts an increase in funding if they failed to meet a January deadline to submit teacher evaluation plans to the State Ed folks in Albany.
Mean while, State Ed is unable to review the flood of evaluations districts are sending in because its still hiring the staff according to the Buffalo News perusal of the website.
The Governor called himself a "lobbyist" for children, but he's more of a mouthpiece for the hedge fund investors that contributed heavily to his campaign "the most hedge fund money – nearly $2.6 million for his 2010 campaign ..." helped by Democrats for Education Reform. They sit on his newly created Education Reform Commission and appoints educational advisors to his staff with ties to these investors, especially charter school advocates. Legal challenges to his education policies similar to the one on the property cap because of its devastating impact on school districts in New York State likewise might be needed with Cuomo's threat to withhold funds for not submitting teacher evaluation plans by January 17.
One official said the total public investment of $226 million between the county and state compares to about $214 million in the 1998 deal. But that older deal only called for about $68 million in stadium investments, with none of the money coming from the team.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Adam Lanza wore black battle fatigues similar to the one the two Columbine students used when they opened fire in the school cafeteria.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
I left work on Friday, listening to the Principal of the high school asking us for a moment of silence for the victims, 20 children and 7 adults bodies riddled with bullets from a young man obviously mentally ill using semi-auto weapons at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct.
My fingers froze on the computer, but it wasn't until I got home and researched the shooting did I realized the magnitude of what had happened at the school.
I kept looking for updates on the internet like so many in the nation hearing, seeing and reading about the horrific tragedy.
The 20 children ages 6 and 7 in a in first grade massacred along with the school principal, psychologist, and the others all teachers some beginning their careers, while two nearing retirement age 7 all women.
And the perpetrator age 20, believed to have killed his mother first at their home located in an upper-class Newtown neighborhood used her car to transport himself and his weapons to the elementary school where his mother may have worked. Nancy Lanza got custody of her son Adam Lanza after parents divorced in 2009. There is another sibling Ryan Lanza that mistakenly was blamed as the perpetrator of one of the worst massacres in an elementary school in the United States.
Mrs. Lanza got to keep the estate on 3 acres of land along with child support settlements starting at $10, 000 monthly to increase to over $13,000 at another period in later years.
The father is a tax expert, a VP of a company, and adjunct professor in taxes at a college in Massachusetts. Mrs. Lanza has been profile as a teacher aide, school volunteer, and substitute teacher, though NYTimes article cited superintendent of the district saying there wasn't any connection. Mrs. Lanza dressed classy, a nice person, while one report said she was rigid.
Mother Jones Magazine featured a store in a video where she shopped, the customers and merchants describing her as a happy person. Adam was portrayed in some news reports as very bright, an honors student, socially awkward with a disability specifically autism and home school because of battles Mrs. Lanza had with school officials.
It was eerie to read how the children he shot were his own age, 6 years old when a similar massacre occurred at the Columbine High School. And the youths involved in the shootings wore similar clothing a "black battle fatigues and a military vest,"and weapons as though he was mimicking them.
The reports of why this young man committed this horrific crime on 20 innocent children and 7 adult women at Sandy Hook Elementary School still are being updated on the internet, but mental illness and school safety certainly are going to be part of the dialogue because Lanza shot his way into a school with a security system that was supposed to be designed to prevent what had happened , while the state of mental illnesses supports has not improved for young people since Columbine.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Finland spends 30 percent less per student than the United States, yet 96 percent of Finns graduate high school and 66 percent go to college. 26 amazing facts about Finland's school system: http://goo.gl/hvPC6 — with Andrea Cain
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Can anybody even explain how the Triborough Amendment can be overridden by Cuomo? (For those who don't know, the Triborough Amendment is a New York State law that states that when a municipal contract expires, the rules of that contract stay in place until a new contract is negotiated) Now with the new evaluation there will be unannounced visits, "validators" and only 13% of teachers will be able to appeal ineffective ratings. None of these items are in our current UFT contract. As a matter of fact, none of these items are in any New York State teachers contracts which are all covered by the Triborough Amendment. Can the state simply override these contracts? Don't the rank and file teachers have ANY say in this?
Overall, 633 of the state’s 694 districts have submitted plans, but only 274 have had them approved. The New York City school system, which educates 38 percent of the state’s students, also has not submitted its evaluation plan.
District officials have been unable to reach an agreement with the Yonkers Federation of Teachers, despite all-day meetings on Tuesday and Thursday. State law requires that key elements of the evaluation plans be decided through collective bargaining.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Brown told board members last time she talked with BTF union representing teachers was about two weeks ago
The BCSA union reps for district administrators nearer to ironing out an APPR than BTF.
Super Brown asking community to help her rein the BTF back to contract negotiations to work out a teacher evaluation plan acceptable to State Ed officials in Albany before the January 17 deadline.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to withhold school funding unless union officials negotiate with district a teacher evaluation plan by January 17.
Mean while, district officials in court appealing the involuntary teacher transfer ruling BTF won a few months ago.
The BTF Delegate Council voted to stop negotiating with district until Super Brown complied with court ruling make teachers whole for violating the collective bargaining agreement.
In other board news, school counselors moving along in doing senior reviews, district partnering with UB to help seniors with the financial aid process while Say Yes to Education application is ready and site facilitators selected for the PLA and Focus schools.
District won a $50,000 technology grant yearly for three years for the common core.
Turn out for the redistricting meetings low reported West District Rep. Ralph Hernandez, but there are three plans one to be selected soon in preparation for the School Board district seat elections in May. The nominating petition starts about the last week in February 2013.
State Ed received documents from Buffalo School Board regarding the Chameleon proposal to convert three schools to charters.
School Zone | The Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Ever since, the New Markets Tax Credit bill passed in the second term of the Clinton Administration, rich donors covertly and overtly funded projects in underserved communities. And educational programs emerged as the pet projects for these wealthy donors. In 2005, Kalamazoo public schools superintendent had announced a program funded by mysterious donors to pay the tuition of every high school graduate in the district to attend a public college. Sound familiar?
Yet, some believe if it weren't for the astronomical tax cuts these wealthy folks received the last 50 years, there wouldn't be a need for rich donors to step in because many public colleges such as CUNY and the California system would still be free, while students would be less likely to have borrowed loans to pay for their college education.
Now, we have to depend on these donors to partially foot the tuition bill for some college students in the nation. While they continue to enjoy undeserved tax cuts, the rest of us have to depend on their meager handouts.
The Kalamazoo public schools have one of the oldest tuition handouts in the nation where mysterious wealthy donors meet in secrecy to discuss and plan the project.
Complete coverage of Kalamazoo Promise: Everything you want to know | MLive.com
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Access to top elite public schools still a problem for Latinos and African-Americans in New York City
Inequities continue to exist in the vast majority of public schools in the nation that continue to limit the number of poor children from African American and Latino families. It's a practice that not only impacts high school admissions but also the middle schools as found in a New York City report.
And it's one thing when it happens in the private school sector but for it to continue in the public school sector is not only shameful, but the practice deprives a vast majority over 70 percent of children from poor families from an equal educational opportunity.
African-American civil-rights organization filed a complaint challenging what they contend are discriminatory practices in public school admissions in NYC schools.
Monday, November 12, 2012
The presidential election behind us, what now?
Prez Barack Obama didn't promise anything or commit himself to anything except to hire 100 math and science teachers even touted his Race to the Top education reform policy as successful in his televised debates.
Hardly was he ever challenged while the nation's leading education unions too busy blindly working behind the scenes on the get-out-the-vote for Obama/Biden democrat team.
Rumors circulated U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan is stepping down, the name of former D.C Chancellor Michelle Rhee surfaced as a possible candidate.
The only thing that has changed is Obama won the election, while U.S. Senate still in Democratic control, U.S. House of Representatives still in GOP hands and U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn at the helm of the House education committee.
There is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) seven years overdue and the issue of the waivers from key mandates in the No Child Left Behind that irked GOP leaders on the House education committee.
Differences in teacher evaluation less federal government intrusion, while more focus on state and district role. Surprisingly, what both Democrats and Republicans appear to be bipartisan on is passing charter school legislation, a pet project of Prez Obama that helped a Amendment One passed in Georgia election night.
One of the few surprises in Georgia ballot tallies on Tuesday was the startling support given by African-American voters to Amendment One, the measure to permit the state to create a commission that will directly license charter schools.The African-American community hoodwinked by an ad with Obama encouraging the proposed constitutional amendment though many opposed it based on its re segregation of public schools.
On a local scene, six district school board seats are up for election in May along with the board redesigning the district boundaries based on reapportionment. Many of the current members elected in the past because of the concern in the community for a net-work of charter schools proposal former school superintendent Marion Canedo hired to implement. It didn't happened as the new school board supported a moratorium on charters in the City of Buffalo.
Things have changed since at the State Department of Education a new state commissioner of education, Dr. John B. King a charter school proponent hired amid a scandal when the previous commissioner David Steiner stepped down after the controversy downstate in NYC surrounding the appointment of Cathy Black NYC Chancellor.
If nothing else, "keep up the faith, baby" the struggle to reform public education in urban schools is an on-going tug-of-war. Don't expect too much from Prez Obama second term but more havoc from Arne Duncan and once dust settles regarding the federal deficit with a renew bipartisan move to continue the charter movement.
But, "El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido," and advocates of public education "están unidos!"
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Rampant student absenteeism leaves many high school classrooms sparsely populated in Buffalo Public Schools
"Not only are many classes not fully enrolled, but rampant student absenteeism leaves many high school classrooms sparsely populated on any given day, according to the consultants, who were hired by Say Yes to Education. “Very few of the high school classes we went into had more than nine students,” Scott Joftus, one of the consultants, said during a meeting with The Buffalo News Editorial Board.His firm, Cross & Joftus, sent observation teams into 195 classrooms throughout the district last spring. The five-minute observations were used to analyze systemic issues, he said, not to evaluate individual teachers."These observers overlooked the attendance offices in the high schools that would have helped them to understand the "sparsely populated classrooms" and the absenteeism problem in the Buffalo Public Schools.
The district laid -off fifteen attendance officers on August 2005, while plans to replace them were inadequate or nonexistent. Thus, schools were left without a means of enforcing the New York State Compulsory Education laws and students did not benefit from a public school education. This district-wide educational neglect contributed to the culture of absenteeism studied by consultants and cited in numerous reports.
Thus, for a period of six years from September 2005 through June 2011, the Buffalo Public Schools operated with only two attendance attendance officers. This was not an adequate number of officers to respond to 37,000 students in the district during this period.
In January 2011, three attendance officers were recalled to work in three high schools through the School Improvement Grant (SIG). Subsequently, seven attendance officers were recalled on September 2011.
There are now 12 attendance officers, still not an adequate number to respond to the culture of absenteeism that had developed during the six year period from 2005 through 2011 in the district after the district laid off these officers.
Compounding this problem is the lack of an administrative infrastructure in Central Office in City Hall to handle attendance.
For example, there existed an Attendance Department in Central Office, but it disappeared about 2002, followed by district officials pulling out all the attendance officers from the schools, warehousing them in the old Kensington High School building that no longer had any students except a small program for suspended students.
And three years later, the Buffalo Board of Education voted to lay off the attendance officers in 2005 over a dispute about health care benefits with the Buffalo Teachers Federation during contract negotiations.
Former Superintendent James Williams threatened to lay off a group of teachers and administrators if the unions didn't accept the single health carrier insurance instead of the multiple plans the contract offered. Williams continued to stall hiring back the teachers until the school board voted to recall the attendance officers after allocating $500,000 in the school budget.
Meanwhile student absenteeism was rampant and academic achievement the lowest ever in the district coupled with the ever growing number of Buffalo Public Schools on the NYS list of persistently lowest achieving schools.
And so began the lay off of 15 attendance officers in 2005, and the growth of the culture of absenteeism in the Buffalo Public Schools.
Today, attendance offices in the high schools are under-staffed and not operating at the levels they had been in the past before the attendance officers were laid off. There are some high schools that still don't have fully functioning attendance offices. And it's a struggle for an attendance officer to develop the infrastructure while overwhelmed at the same time with combating absenteeism and truancy.
The district hired a national attendance consultant in 2010-2011, Hedy Chang, while the Buffalo Teachers Federation produced their own attendance studies during this period.
So why is absenteeism still a problem? What have we learned from the consultants and the studies? Why the district not hiring more attendance officers, and why is it not adequately supporting the attendance offices in the high schools?
We have been inundated with costly reports many collecting dust in some desk drawer in Central Office. Yet, what have we learned and how is the data used to inform decisions?
Sunday, November 4, 2012
NYC Teachers were instructed to return to work on Friday even while the subway service was only partially restored and buses were jammed. It took me three hours to get to work and the same to return. For many teachers it was just impossible to get in. It remains to be seen whether the city will require teachers to use personal leave time if they were unable to return on Friday.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram, co-editor of Go, Tell Michelle, a collection of letters to the First Lady, proposed a similar project to Say Yes to Education only this time it was for the new superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools.
So, she asked the residents of the City of Buffalo to respond to her call for letters.
Her idea for the book she wrote, "...preceded selection of a new superintendent by at least two months," as well as "to support Say Yes to Education, Buffalo efforts to enhance education..." in the community.
Dr. Brooks-Bertram attended the superintendent search forums in the community saw a low turn out wanted to engage more stakeholders in the process with an opportunity to respond.
Say Yes embraced her idea provided the funds to compile and edit the book with over 100 letters called, Letters to the Superintendent, a Community Responds published on October 2012.
And over 100 city residents attended the launching of the book tonight at the Daemen College International Center for Excellence in Animation at the Tri-Main St. Bldg in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy.
Board members Mary Ruth Kapsiak, Sharon Belton- Cottman, Dr. Barbara Nevergold, co-editor, Go, Tell Michelle, and Uncrowned Queens, and Lou Petrucci and Superintendent Dr.Pamela C. Brown attended the gala affair.
Also, present were David Rust, Jennifer Parker, President Edwin G. Clausen, Daemen College, Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, Pres. Buffalo Community Foundation.
Notables in the audience writers Gary Earl Ross, and Karima Amin, Dr. Tammy Alsace, Multilingual Ed. Director, PBS, Dorothy Hill, Elena Cala Buscarino, PBS, Public Relations, and others.
Pictured above is Dr. Brooks-Bertram, standing in front of the exhibit she also served as curator, featuring letters from her book, holding a special recognition award from David Rust, Director Say Yes to Education.
Hedge fund operator got state to take over schools
Edited Aug-05-11 by roxiejules
The parties were put together by a group funded by $1.3 million from the Walton Family Foundation. It appears the public voice was left out of the discussion.
a group of wealthy donors, which in December created the Bridgeport Education Reform fund with $400,000, in part to bring in Paul Vallas, the former New Orleans schools chiefs and a national figure in education reform, to help run the district as interim superintendent didn't succeed because the Ct State Supreme Court ruled state take over violated the rights of board members to be trained first.
Mississippi Agencies Sued Over 'School-to-Prison' Pipeline By Nirvi Shah on October 29, 2012 12:14 PM | No comments The U.S. Department of Justice sued several government agencies in Mississippi last week, saying they systematically violated the due process rights of juveniles and are thus operating a "school-to-prison" pipeline in the area. The Justice Department said children in Meridian, Miss., are routinely jailed for minor offenses, including school discipline incidents, and are punished disproportionately without due process. Black students and students with disabilities are especially affected.
Printed from Education Week
Sunday, October 28, 2012
The logjam that exist between the Buffalo Public Schools and the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) is resolvable. And it has to happen in order to bring both parties back to the negotiating table. All eyes are on Superintendent Pamela C. Brown to make it happen.
The Council of Delegates approved unanimously a Resolution "that the BTF cease participation in the APPR discussions until the Superintendent (Pamela Brown) and the Board of Education agree to abide by the contract it approved."
That is an arbitrator ruled in August the district violated the collective bargaining agreement when teachers were screen inappropriately and involuntary transferred from three low-performing schools--Futures, Drew Science Magnet and Bilingual Center #33. The district had to cease and desist with "the Turnaround-related involuntary transfers of teachers," while, a State Supreme Court justice affirmed this decision in September.
A case dealing with former Super James Williams denial of voluntary transfers occurred in 2010. The arbitration results on July 25, 2011, again supported the collective bargaining agreement that the district had to honor the transfers.
This time there were teachers that could not voluntary transfer because of how the involuntary transfers handled in this case.
And Super Brown offered to settled the case by giving $2,500 each to both groups of teachers with the condition the union accept one of the teacher evaluation models the State Ed folks had approved in other districts such as in Syracuse and Binghamton.
But the union rejected the offer because it contended it had won two prior cases on the matter, an arbitration decision and State Supreme Court affirmation of the decision, stating they should be compensated not "ask them to do more," said BTF President Philip Rumore.
The Buffalo News wrote, "... this is the first major test of the new superintendent’s ability to negotiate a major agreement of any sort with the union – seen by many observers as an indication of her ability to hammer out a new contract to replace the one that expired eight years ago." And there is a pile of state and federal funds at stake over $50 million.
Is it possible for the district to negotiate with the union to make the teachers whole and move beyond the logjam?
Yet, both groups are back in court again this time the Appellate, while the district appeals the State Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the arbitrator's decision.
While, there may be teachers that don't want to return to the schools they were involuntary transferred and that might help to solve some of this issue, what about those who want to return and those that were not able to transfer contrary to the CB, how are they made whole?
While the real culprit some say are the U.S. Department of Education and New York State Education Department imposing on districts four turnaround school models that use tactics contrary to the collective bargaining agreements.
And of course there is Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatening to deny districts additional school aide if they don't submit a timely teacher plan a deadline he set for January 17, 2013.
Also, some skeptics believe Gov. Cuomo reasons for supporting educational reform has more to do with acquiescing to the privatization forces that donated money to his campaign such as Democrats for Education Reform, The New York Times reported on May 9, 2010, than any genuine interest in appointing an education reform commission.
The reform commission he established was criticized for being"... rigged for pre-ordained outcomes" on the Perdido Street School blog.
Meanwhile there is the teacher step case still making its way through federal court though a judge ruled in favor of the district in February, affirming the earlier March ruling of the NYS Court of Appeals.
And there is still the millions of dollars accumulating in the district coffers related to the step case when teachers were denied their contractual salary steps after the wage freeze was lifted in 2007. The district only provided one step so this battle continues in federal court.
It would be interesting to know what are the court costs on both sides dealing with these various legal challenges through the years, a sum certainly that would be more than whatever crumbs the feds and the state allocated to the district under their turnaround plans. It's the irony of these tug of wars some say.
Besides the teachers who deserve to be paid, it's the children harmed the most when the funds from the feds and state diminish yearly for the turnaround plans until there isn't any more money to support the educational policies the privatization zealots have imposed on public schools in the nation.
And there is en election looming, if Barack Obama isn't elected, what happens, do we continue to turnaround or "bend down" or take ownership of public education again?
Still, it's time to negotiate the contract
Thursday, October 25, 2012
A company paid $35,000 for a vacant Lackawanna School District building leased it to Global Concepts Charter school for over $2 million with an option to buy it that would have cost them over $5 million.That's a deal!
Annual lease payments started at $260,000 in the first year until reaching $480,000 for 2013-14. After five years, Global Concepts can exercise an option to buy the building for $2.9 million. State auditors found that by the time the school can buy the building, it would have already paid more than $2 million toward the lease, plus about $200,000 in taxes. Once those costs are added to the purchase price, the school would pay $5.1 million in those five years for the building, auditors said.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Florence Johnson, at large school board rep. voiced her concerns at the Buffalo Board of education meeting tonight about the latest State Ed requirements that Buffalo Board of Education permit a public hearing for Chameleon to present their proposal for converting Waterfront and East High School into a charter schools, because they already have a EPO through John Hopkins set to start in January part of the Promise neighbourhood initiative.
Board memberJohnson asked "how can we have a hearing on an EPO school we've already approved? How can we have a charter presentation on a school the board has already approved as an EPO?"
State Ed response makes one wonder if anybody in Albany knows what it is they are doing in the Race to the Top initiative. It gets more illogical daily,as confusing as, the evaluation plan the district has to develop in partnership with the unions.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
School board member McCarthy supports moving da Vinci expanding opportunities for more families at high performing schools
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Federal funding is available to make walking and biking to school less dangerous. The Safe Routes to School program will award millions of dollars in grants this year, including more than $1.6 million in Western New York. The regional office of the state Department of Transportation is reviewing 21 applications for funding, according to spokeswoman Susan Surdej. The program is intended to promote walking and forms of transportation to school other than motor vehicles. Projects, such as new sidewalks, crosswalks and signs within a two-mile radius of an elementary school, could be fully funded. There also is funding for non-infrastructure improvements, such as crossing guard training and materials, she said.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Buffalo public criterion schools criticized in report for lack of reserved seats during open enrollment
There are a number of Buffalo public schools that require an admissions test but it is the high performing ones that appear to be exclusionary.
And these include just three--- School #64, the Olmsted now housed at newly renovated old Kensington building, and City Honors.
There are others Hutch Tech, Emerson Culinary, Mckinley,Buffalo Academy of Visual Performing Arts and Da Vinci.
Yet it's City Honors the most exclusionary in admissions requirements that appears to favor white students nearly 70%, in a district where they make up less than 26%, while black and Latinos make-up over 80% of the Buffalo Public Schools student population. And the 28 failing priority schools in the district except for South Park High school enroll the majority of these minority students.
The principals of Olmsted and City Honors appeared at a school board meeting explaining and justifying the admissions process in their schools, yet it left one board member Sharon Belton Cottman still puzzled by the lopsided lack of ethnic diversity at these two high performing schools.
While distinguished educator, Dr. Judy Elliot report to the State Ed officials criticized the lack of reserved seats in the criterion schools during open enrollment that relegated the vast majority of students to the priority schools.
And these schools become dumping grounds for overage students, with few credits and behavioral problems.
She said criterion schools – those that require students to meet certain admissions requirements – do not have any seats reserved for open enrollment. Because of that, priority schools end up with a disproportionate number of students who lack credits, have lower skills and often have behavioral problems.
Elliot cited placement as a problem in her report how these priority failing schools enrolled a disproportionate number of students whose native language is not English and they don't have the supports to help them.
Friday, October 12, 2012
This is what distinguished educator, Dr. Judy Elliot wrote in her report to Commissioner John B. King at the NY S Education Department in Albany as part of her review of the 28 priority schools she oversees in the Buffalo City School District after she had a few telephone conversations and had spoken to some district office officials and community leaders.
Elliot who resides in Florida appointment as a consultant back in August was contentious as board members argued the merit of her role as a distinguished educator.
And there was concern about who picked up the tab for her work as a consultant at fees many viewed as exorbitant in a cash strapped district.
The district had studied the absenteeism problem hired a consultant last year, while the Buffalo Teachers Federation issued its own report on the problem.
As a result of these efforts, the district recalled attendance officers laid off in 2005, after a dispute on the single carrier insurance with the teachers union.
This issue not only became embroiled in the courts for three years, but the attendance officers continued laid off for six years from September 2005 through August 2011.
So, the Buffalo Board of Education voted to abolish the positions of 15 attendance officers left only two to serve over 35, 000 students.
This absence of attendance officers in the Buffalo Schools over a six year period is correlated to the absenteeism problem.
So if students had no one to compell them to attend school for six years, this caused the high absenteeism problem in the district today.
While 15 attendance officers had been laid off in 2005, only 6 were recalled and two newly hired for a total of eight teachers. Four were recalled in 2004, funded through the SIG grants in the four high schools labeled persistently failing.
Still, there are 28 priority schools and eight attendance officers not enough to provide adequate coverage for these schools. Unless more attendance officers hired, the absenteeism will not only persist, but the academic failure of children.
Dr. Elliot should read the reports both the district through the consultant it hired Hedge Chang wrote in 2011 and the BTF study on absenteeism to address the issue.
The first step is to hire additional attendance officers, especially in the 28 schools Elliot oversees in addition to the "multi-agency" efforts she had recommended in her report. And it's not only the leadership in central office that has to be scrutinized, but the appropriateness of the district wide leadership currently in place.
Elliot should also review all the reports the district commissioned in the last ten years collecting dust on a central office shelf to better assist her to understand the problems. Also, recommend Super Pamela Brown study the reports as well costing the district thousands of dollars yet collecting dust in City Hall.
It may be that it's not the centralized decision making in City Hall, but the overall quality of this leadership district wide leaders put in positions as one board member had been quoted in the local media ..."highly paid, but don't know what they are doing."
Thursday, October 11, 2012
John Hopkins is in town visiting with the priority schools in the Buffalo it won the contract to serve as the educational partnership organization (EPO).
Consultants are at Lafayette and East high schools this week meeting with school leaders and staff as they prepare to manage and operate the two buildings in January. Distinguished educator Dr. Judy Elliott seen in the Library at Lafayette is visiting too.
Talent Development Secondary is comprehensive, on-site support focused on building a strong and safe school environment, creating and refining effective professional learning communities, and ensuring effective teaching and learning in every classroom. Talent Development also helps create and manage an Early Warning Indicator data tool and multi-tiered student support process.
And decision-making for everything from staffing to budgeting has been happening in City Hall – not in the schools, as it should be, Elliott wrote in her report, which the state Education Department released to The Buffalo News on Wednesday.
Buffalo board of ed voted to allow super Pamela Brown to settle case of involuntary transfer teachers
Saturday, October 6, 2012
discrimination complaints filed with feds in districts failing to effectively communicate with ELL parents
Thursday, October 4, 2012
The district canceled summer school this year for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, mainly in an effort to save $4.1 million that would have been spent over a four-week program. Federal stimulus funds were non-existent and Title I funds that had been used in the past for summer school instead went to additional teacher assistants in kindergarten classes throughout the district during the regular school year.
Prez Obama still talked about wanting to hire 100,000 math and science teachers, but never explained why in a presidential debate where Romney showed superior debating skills and image. Prez Obama cited the success of his failed Race to the Top education reform policy, while Romney talked about how Massachusetts public schools best in country after he was governor of the state.
Romney wants to diminish role of the feds in education views it as state and local.
Romney said," all the federal funds I'd have follow the child, and have the parents and child decide where they want to go to school." "I think [the government] has a significant role to play in education..." while Obama continues to show ignorance on public education, including on his RTTT policies, when he credits it for improving education.
Prez Obama needs a better debate coach cite more specific successful education reform policies in public education with data to support it or risk being a one term president.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Mary Pasciak provided information on new changes on how parent facilitators are viewed and paid.
Will Keresztes, associate superintendent said:
We're ready to assign parent facilitators. This year, they will be regularly scheduled volunteers who received a stipend. Last year, they had individual contracts. They will be eligible for stipends that are $40 per day for a minimum of four hours per day, for a maximum of $2k a year. SIG schools had budgeted for much more. Parents at those schools would be eligible to receive up to $5k per year.
To be assigned, parent volunteers would complete a one-page application, interview with the principals and go through a background check. My goal is to have them in place in October. Under the old system, parent facilitators did not go through a background check. Under this one, they will. Licata is asking if something is being done to let parents know about these opportunities. I do expect principals to let their parents know. We'll do the things we usually do to get the word out -- ConnectEd calls, etc. But we're really leaving it up to the principals to get the word out. Volunteers are scheduled by the principal. The parent facilitators are not independent of the principal. That will be very clear to them. They will work the hours the principal stipulates. I cleared that up. If there is any challenge, I'd like to get personally involved and settle that. We want parent facilitators in all our schools.
Buffalo News education Blogger Pasciak last week covered the school board finance committee meeting in City Hall.
CFO Barb Smith said how "the baseline deficit for 2013-14 was $40.7M. The deficit will increase $7.3M based on current projections. And Smith said the district could have saved about $3M by changing bell times for some of the schools, but that didn't happen. She said the teachers were polled, and they weren't in favor of it.
McCarthy asked why the teachers get to decide. Smith: It's in the contract. McCarthy: Well, that'll handcuff us. Cottman: So what ideas do you have, Barbara, to fix this (deficit)? We need help. Smith: I have a lot of ideas, it's just whether they're actionable or not."
Monday, September 24, 2012
The New York Civil Liberties Union recently released a study based on sex education curriculums it collected from 82 school districts across the state, obtained under the Freedom of Information Law. The group found a wide range of which topics are taught, which are often ignored, and how some of them are presented to students. "It's shocking what passes for sex ed in some New York classrooms," said Johanna Miller, who co-wrote the report.
Buffalo News, 9/24/12
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Buffalo school official stated at Wednesday's committee meeting "The new rule states that we must have at least two-thirds of our priority schools put in a plan or in the middle of a plan for the 2013-14 school year, and the rest have to put in a plan for '14-15. We could put in for school innovation funds, which is a whole new reform model. CTE, looking for partners, is one model. Arts is another model. There are six models to choose from. The basic idea is we need the schools implementing some type of whole-school reform plan. We would need a minimum of seven new plans needing a new plan for '13-14. Waterfront would have to be among them."
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
What makes one low-performing school turn around and build momentum over time, while another, seemingly similar school tries the same strategies but continues to struggle? It's not just particular programs or practices, but the interplay of school implementation with district policies and support, according to the Institute of Education Sciences' Turning Around Low-Performing Schools project—the most comprehensive federal research on such schools to date.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Charter school proponents invitation to present controversial proposal to school board gets little support
I strongly urge the Buffalo Board of Education to NOT allow Chameleon to present at the Executive Affairs meeting on September 19th as it is in my opinion a violation of the well prescribed method by which we select partners for our schools and as such, I submit that we are exposing the district to liability on a variety of fronts from the litigious to the potential loss of funds for improper practice. I am not anti-charter school and believe that under the present methodology used to select models for our low performing schools, a charter may be our only option. That being said, we are allowing a group to present to the board and we have not presented that opportunity to all the other parties that were previously interested, much less those that may have an interest now. That is why we use an RFP/RFQ so that individuals know that we are seeking partners. We have not issued either to my knowledge. I have had conversations with SED. SED will only approve a charter school or EPO that the board has approved first. BY going directly to SED, Chameleon is not complying with the established protocol. The prescribed method is to gain local approval first. They applied and were rejected. Unfortunately points were not awarded for persistency. Furthermore as Chameleon was not approved previously by the method the Buffalo Board of Education established by permitting them to present directly to the board, we undermine our own actions. I cannot support this as currently presented to the board and urge in the strongest terms possible that my fellow board members do the same. Sincerely, Lou Petrucci
Judge rules teacher transfers violate BTF contract - City & Region - The Buffalo News
A State Supreme Court justice upheld today, the ruling of an arbitrator that the Buffalo Public Schools violated the collective bargaining agreement of teachers when district officials involuntarily transferred 54 teachers.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
‘Framework’ to end Chicago teachers' strike
Teachers in Chicago last strike was in 1987 for 19 days, they are close to reaching an agreement that includes teacher evaluations based on other things besides test scores, and many other concerns especially teacher respect, laid off instructors with seniority having first pick at available openings in schools.
The Mayor resisting wants principals to decide. Chicago teachers strike garnered support and popularity around the nation.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Chief financial officer "Smith noted that when the district analyzed its general fund spending for 2010, it found that costs per student were $16,545. That included $1,457 per student to cover retiree health insurance, she said. That district analysis did not include about $140 million in grant revenues that the district spent in addition to its general fund.
That would account for an additional $4,000 per student."
Monday, September 10, 2012
Saturday, September 8, 2012
"But teachers must inspire; principals must lead; parents must instill a thirst for learning, and students, you've got to do the work. And together, I promise you – we can out-educate and out-compete any country on Earth.""Millions of students are paying less for college today because we finally took on a system that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders."
Indeed, this is an important achievement for the Obama administration.
Whatever else Prez Barack Obama said about education didn't make any sense. For, example, why did he call for more math and science teachers when so many are being laid off along with dwindling school budgets? The Prez said,"help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next ten years..." Why?
His signature Race to the Top school reform agenda has caused more havoc than its worth implementing. And needless to say , all the court battles and legal challenges are draining urban public school districts of needed dollars.
It was disingenuous for the Prez to say his reform educational agenda has turned around the failing schools across the country. Again the Prez said,..."some of the worst schools in the country have made real gains in math and reading." Really, never mentioned what districts.
In the Buffalo public schools there is a costly court battle brewing between what the feds believe is the right course for the schools, the NYS Education Department support of its reform agenda and a local teachers' union defense of collective bargaining rights.
Four short paragraphs in an eight-page speech dedicated to his reform plan in education certainly confirms that Prez Obama has done more to dismantle public education than any other president.
Yet, Mitt Romney offers a worse alternative with a platform to cut federal spending on social programs, including the education budget. The Repubs want to abolish the U.S Department of Education!
The education community would like to see U.S. Secretary of Education ex-Australian basketball league player with only a B.S. degree in sociology replaced or gone along with all his cronies few educated enough to be driving or formulating any reform agenda in education for the nation.
It seems all the educational rhetoric exalts the leaders with less credentials in education and experience, while their reform agendas require highly educated teachers and administrators in the schools. Even the education commissioner in NYS many have alleged doesn't have the experience in education to formulate policies to sustain a culture of academic achievement in the public schools in the state. Race to the Top in NYS is overly represented by a cadre of white policymakers far removed from the cultural diversity of the public schools.
It's hard to predicate what's happening in education the next four years, yet the Obama reform agenda must be challenged now. He must appoint a new U.S Secretary of Education, because the basketball team under Arne Duncan has missed too many hoops, and its time for a new team and leader.
"...speakers at the convention have largely avoided dwelling on some of the cornerstone policies of Obama's education agenda, which have angered some teachers and the unions who represent them. Those policies—which have drawn rare praise from some Republicans at the state and national level—have included charter school expansion, merit pay for teachers, and support for tough steps for turning around schools.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Attorneys for the district argued in a court filing that the arbitrator exceeded her authority in directing the district not to take action "that the district is compelled to take by law. This case pits the parties' collective bargaining agreement obligations against the clear legislative mandate issued to the district under federal and state law."
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Superintendent Pamela Brown " Well we have an obligation to comply with federal and state regulations. We also remain committed to turning around the three schools that were slated to go through the turnaround model. We know 80 to 90 percent of the studnets in these schools have failed for eyars, and that’s not an acceptable proposition to the board or myself. We believe it’s important to appeal the decision and move forward with the plan.
" In Philadelphia there were 13 schools that went through turnaround process. All of those schools showed more academic gains than the districtwide averages. Obviously it depends on the plan in place and how well the plan is implemented. There is definitely evidence the turnaround model can be effective and has been effective.
Mary Pasciak, Buffalo News, live coverage, board committee meeting tonight
" The Buffalo Public Schools will move forward with an appeal of a recent arbitrator’s ruling that a transfer of 54 teachers, as designated in the New York State Department of Education plan for failing schools, was in violation of the teachers’ contract. Superintendent Dr. Pamela C. Brown states, “The appeal is the best way to move forward in the interest of the children we serve to educate.
The current arbitration calls for the District to cease and desist with implementation of the transfers in a plan that was approved by both the Board of Education and the State Education Department, in order to improve the academic achievement at these schools. By appealing the award, the District remains eligible to receive over $5 million in State funding for 3 Persistently Lowest Achieving schools. This money is intended to directly support the classrooms at each of the 3 schools. A decision to implement the award without exercising the District's right to appeal all but guarantees that the District will be ineligible to receive the greatest amount of funding available from the State of New York for the current academic year.
Mary Pasciak, live coverage, Buffalo News