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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eight principals from Buffalo Schools sign open letter of concern on Annual Professional Performance Review

A group of administrators, educators and concerned citizens from New York State have signed "An Open Letter of Concern Regarding New York State's Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) Legislation for the Evaluation of Teachers and Principals."  
This Open Letter has been signed by 1280 Principals across New York State as of January 23, 2012, including 38 from Erie County and eight principals from the Buffalo Public School District.
The APPR is an evaluation system the New York Regents developed that the New York State Legislature used to approve an amendment to Education Law 3012-c in order to qualify for the federal Race to the Top funds on May 2010. 
These professional educators and administrators have a problem with the state using standardized test scores to rate their performance, including those developed to assess student learning such as the Regents examinations and the Grades 3-8 Assessments. 
Thus, not only will students be adversely affected by the NYS APPR, but the most vulnerable students poor whites, black and Latinos academic progress and achievement suffer as the things they need the most in the curriculum, enrichment activities such as the arts, music, home and careers, physical education and other non-tested areas diminish. One of their concerns:
 "Schools will have an incentive to place struggling students in lower-level classes without standardized assessments School systems may hesitate placing students in Regents classes beyond the basic five needed for graduation so that their performance on Advanced Regents examinations will not negatively impact evaluations. If schools use advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) scores, as Commissioner King suggested, schools might be more reluctant to challenge students upward for fear that poor test performance might result in teachers being unfairly penalized." And  teachers will subtly but surely be incentivised to avoid students with health issues, students with disabilities, English Language Learners or students suffering form emotional issues. Research has shown that no model yet developed can adequately account for all these ongoing factors."

Monday, January 30, 2012

"...children deserve good lives, even if school doesn't lead to a better job..." Deborah meier

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

It was an historic occasion as the Buffalo Board of Education interviewed in public the consultants selected to conduct its superintendent search through the RFP it issued October 2011.  In an effort to be transparent and to involve the community in the superintendent search process the Buffalo Board of Education conducted the interviews in public in the board room in City Hall where it usually meets for its meetings.
There were few if any from the public present at this historic event except for three and only this blogger stayed until the end when it concluded the interviews at 2 PM.
The consultants were  Vincent Coppola from SUNY Buffalo , followed by Proact,  Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates and  Cascade Consulting.
Dr. Copppola is associated with the Western New York Educational Services Council office located at SUNY Buffalo and Cascade Consulting with Say Yes.
Rosalyn Taylor, East District served as a moderator for the group asked the opening questions: How to involve the community and stakeholders in the superintendent search? What steps taken to keep board informed of process? Confidentiality, open or closed, what works?
And Ruth Kapsiak, Central district asked Hazard, many  of its searches involved urban school districts? The response was they have done 200 searches out of 1000 or more.
Florence Johnson, at-large asked what team  was working with Buffalo district?
Dr. Coppola and Cascade Consulting presented in person, while the other two through Skype.  Cascade Consultants is collaborating in the search with the organization Say Yes  that will be working with the Buffalo Schools similar to the Syracuse City School District. The group did an excellent presentation the best, but there were questions regarding Cascade's association to Say Yes.  Cascade asked the board to pay its consulting fees and Say Yes to pay for the other expenses involving the superintendent search. There were questions from three board members, Ralph Hernandez, West District, Lou Petrucci, Park District and newly appointed Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold about the relationship of Cascade to the Say Yes group soon to be involved with the Buffalo Schools.
In a school district with 75% minority children, the consulting groups were not as diverse except for the Cascade group that had an African-American psychologist.
The other question was the one concerning the internal candidate whether interim Superintendent Amber Dixon announcement in the media of her interest in the post made it more challenging to interview prospective  external candidates.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Obama on IRAN nuclear threat...state of union speech 2012

"And we will safeguard America's own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran's nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations."

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Obama state of union reforms in education

"I'm a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more. That's why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and States."

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Obama wants to all states to raise compulsory school age to 18. Who pays for for it?

We also know that when students aren't allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.

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OBAMA state of the union speech 2012 same as in 2011

Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let's offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren't helping kids learn.

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Obama state of the union rhetoric about teachers

"At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced States to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies – just to make a difference."

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let's offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren't helping kids learn."

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How much is it costing districts to comply and implement State and feds Race To the Top it worth it?

In 2006-07, education spending in NY was about 30 billion. In 2007-08, education spending in NY was about 33 Billion. In 2011-12 educational spending will grow to about 42 Billion. The growth rate remains pretty consistent, a 6% jump year over year. But now King is telling us that educational spending in NY will just about double in 4 years? 80 million in 2016? A 25% annual growth rate over 4 years? I know healthcare, pensions and other benefits are inflating the budget but are they really capable of driving things up this much? I have a feeling King is either inflating his estimates to support his political agenda or there are other factors at play here... To be more specific, exactly what are the long-term costs of implementing the federal mandates associated with Race-To-The-Top? Many states like Virginia and Texas are choosing not to participate. The main reason given by their Governors was the fear and uncertainty surrounding the price tag. I think Kings testimony today may give credence to these concerns. I would like to know one thing, what exactly are New Yorks long term costs toward implementing Race-To-Top? Can someone at The News ask the question? calvados on Mon Jan 23, 2012 at 09:04 PM

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Gov. Cuomo wants union to withdraw lawsuit on teacher evaluations...

He's fighting for kids...

So what's all the fuss it really about the kids or are public schools under seige by politicians and government officials elected to safeguard them? 

Commissioner John B. King, appointed less than 8 months ago stopped SIG funding to several financially struggling school districts earlier this month. Then, Arne Duncan, the top ed dog in the U.S Department of  Ed Office threatened to withhold billions in Rttt grants. Now it's the governor of New York threatening to withhold state funds to public school or to reduce their budgets if contract talks are not settled in 30 days on a teacher evaluation system favorable to the state  education commissioner and governor.

But what is it that they really want? Many believe it's unfair to pressure NY State Teachers United union to withdraw its successful lawsuit the state education folks are appealing. It's what causing the mess and the kids are caught in the middle of the conflict. And teachers have had enough?

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gov. Cuomo doing the competitive grant thing again no data to support his position

New York first in spending 38th in results? Hmm? Is it true?

$250 million again for competitive grants, yet no data available on  what happened with the last round of grants.

Many experts in the educational arena question why Gov. Como did not provide the funds to the neediest districts?

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comment from reader NY Daily News court ruling teacher evaluation system

This ruling makes sense. For those of you who don't understand this, read the NYTimes article "When The Numbers Lie" by Michael Winerip. It follows a very dedicated and excellent teacher's journey with her class. Not only did the principal admire her, but so did the parents and staff. Yet, do to a mere less of a tenth percentage point under the evaluation system called VAM, the city deemed her ineffective. Editors and some people from their comments here don't understand how these tests are evaluated under a system called VAM. Studies have proven this system to be skewed. Because of it, a truly excellent teacher may now leave teaching forever. This ruling states that if under VAM a teacher is found "ineffective" and the other 60% of the rating found that teacher effective, you cannot still rate the teacher as being ineffective. This is a ruling that makes sense.

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Gov Como to deny increase in state ed funds... developing his own rating system for teachers

The statewide teachers union successfully sued the state Department of Education to block their standards on the teachers ratings. The state Department of Education is appealing the ruling. New York State Teachers United president Richard Iannuzzi rejected the governor’s accusation that the union was the obstacle, noting in 90 of the state’s school districts, the local unions have already agreed to the new ratings. “The evidence certainly contradicts the rhetoric coming from both the governor and the [state education\] commissioner,” Iannuzzi said, noting the state union has already conceded on two key issues. Teachers who score a zero or minimal points on the student test scores will not be considered effective, Iannuzzi said, but he won’t fold on the issues where courts have already determined the state rules violated the Race to the Top law. “The only thing that’s preventing the full implementation of the law is the State Ed Deparment’s appeal,” said Iannuzzi. Cuomo has called on the two sides to settle the lawsuit within 30 days — or else he will write his own teacher evaluation standards and put them in his budget submission to the legislature.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Education under siege

Are we under siege? State Education Commissioner John B. King suspended the SIG funds of a few public school districts in the state for failing to meet a December 31 deadline during Christmas and New Year's. King wanted a "rigorous, transparent teacher evaluation plan" that has left many scratching their heads since the state still has its own RFP out on what to do in this area.Yes, it's nice to tell districts to simply read the paperwork, but what is he really saying? If that isn't enough what about Gov. Como calling himself a lobbyist for children trying to link state education funding uto districts developing a teacher evaluation system? While Arne Dumbkin had threatened the loss of one billion in RTTT funding for New York. Is there any taxpayer funds left that's not dole out on a competitive basis? What use to be a right, a constitutional right for children has become a competitive game for a few philanthropist, hedge fund investors and equity firms. In the name of highly effective teachers, testing, teacher evaluation plans, merit pay, and competitive grants that use to be based on the poverty level of districts, New York State children are being denied their constitutional right to a basic education to prepare them for work or for higher education. And this is happening unfortunatelly after the Campaign for Fiscal Equity had to close its doors in june .

Rebell still a voice for equity in education

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Michael Rebell Campaign for Fiscal Equity former director on closing down of CFE offices

Commissioner John B. King suspended the SIG funds of several public school districts in New York that included Buffalo City School District. Never mind Buffalo had already fronted some of the money hired nearly 70  to work in the six struggling schools including attendance teachers.

"That children's education rights cannot be temporarily suspended is not only a matter of law but also of common sense: A child who misses her opportunity to learn to read during the critical early school years forever falls behind. A teenager who drops out of high school rarely will return to complete his education. This is especially true for the low-income and minority-group students whose educational needs are the greatest and who tend to be the most detrimentally affected by service reductions.”  Michael Rebell

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Where the TURNAROUND schools madness started in the living of room of Bill and Melinda Gates

"To support the new initiatives, the Gates Foundation had already invested almost $2.2 million to create The Turnaround Challenge, the authoritative how-to guide on turnaround. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has called it “the bible” for school restructuring. He’s incorporated it into federal policy, and reformers around the country use it. Mass Insight Education, the consulting company that produced it, claims the document has been downloaded 200,000 times since 2007. Meanwhile, Gates also invested $90 million in one of the largest implementations of the turnaround strategy—Chicago’s Renaissance 2010. Ren10 gave Chicago public schools CEO Arne Duncan a national name and ticket to Washington; he took along the reform strategy. Shortly after he arrived, studies showing weak results for Ren10 began circulating, but the Chicago Tribune still caused a stir on January 17, 2010, with an article entitled “Daley School Plan Fails to Make Grade.”

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UFT forcing NYC chancellor back to negotiating table on teacher evaluation talks after filing impasse with PERB

UFT President Michael Mulgrew on Jan. 13 announced that the union has filed an impasse petition with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). If PERB finds that an impasse exists, it will appoint a mediator and force the city to participate in attempts to reach a new agreement on the teacher evaluation process.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Evaluations yearly in Tennessee on their First to the Top Act annual system

The Tennessee First to the Top Act requires, beginning in Fiscal Year 2011, annual evaluation of all teachers and principals and that personnel decisions – including promotion, retention, tenure and compensation – be based in part on these evaluations. Fifty percent of the new evaluation must consist of student achievement data, of which 35 percent will be Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS) data or some other comparable measure of student growth. The remaining 15 percent will be other measures of student achievement as determined by the committee.

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Student submits proposal for non-voting member on school board

He's young, gifted and black. His name is Stephon Wright, a student at Emerson High School, a Buffalo City School District premier culinary school.

He told the Buffalo school board they should serve food as a way to bring people together.

What else does he want? 

He submitted a proposal to the board to appoint a student as a non-voting member on the school board. Stephon was a candidate to fill the at-large seat Chris Jacobs vacated recently to become Erie County Clerk.

Although not appointed, his proposal merits consideration and the school board should develop a process to appoint a student to serve on the board.

There are student reps on school boards across the nation. And their voices are needed now to provide a student perspective on educational policies that impact them.

Photo credit: Buffalo News

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Teacher commits suicide in Illinois school district

Intimidation is a tactic in a nationwide strategy to de-professionalize teaching, as a precondition for the dismantling of public education and the selling off or leasing of its related assets. The so-called educational reforms, begun under the Bush administration and expanded by President Obama, have largely been couched in the highly confrontational language of “accountability,” which implies that teachers are overpaid and undeserving of professional status. This has accompanied a frontal assault on the workplace gains teachers struggled to win throughout the 20th century.

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Mayor bloomberg to give highly effective teachers $20,000 salary increase

Bloomberg also said he is offering to forgive $25,000 of student loans for teachers who finish in the top tier of their college classes.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Buffalo School officials preparing for mid-year cuts

Buffalo Board of Education members, "learned that district officials are bracing for a worst-case scenario of possible midyear layoffs in the event that the state permanently withholds $9.3 million it suspended from the district this week," according to a story in the Buffalo News today.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gov. Cuomo a lobbyist for students?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his first year in Albany he learned that everyone has a lobbyist from superintendents, principals, to teachers...but not students. So, he proclaimed himself a lobbyist for students in his State of the State address today.

He said they have to redo the teacher evaluation they had worked on in 2010 after State Education Commissioner Dr. John B. King's decision to suspend grants to school districts this week.

Cuomo cited problems with school management and efficiency and announced the formation of a bipartisan commission to overhaul public education.

Yet, clandestinely Cuomo's educational  allegiance some say is to the privateers of public education such as the group Democrats for Education Reform.  Their website is collecting donations for him, while he  appointed a former development employee Katie Campos from Democrats for Education Reform as his secretary of education last year. Campos was the director also of the Buffalo based group Buffalo ReformEd.

"Transforming Public Education: New York spends more money on education than any other state, yet places 38th in graduation rates. To reform the state's education system, Governor Cuomo announced that he will appoint a bipartisan education commission to work with the Legislature to recommend reforms in key areas including teacher accountability, student achievement, and management efficiency."

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The carrot has now become a big stick after NYS Education Commissioner Dr. John B. King Jr  suspended the  SIG Funds of several school districts in the state. Some say he was the real grinch who stole  Christmas, expecting school districts and union leaders to work out a  teacher and principal evaluation system before a  December 31 deadline, during a traditional school holiday break in the nation.

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Applications for Gov. Como incentive performance grants due January 2012

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the School District Performance Improvement Awards program that is designed to transform New York State's education system by incentivizing student achievement and encouraging school districts to implement innovative reforms to improve student performance.  The performance awards will be granted to school districts in the state that have demonstrated the most success in increasing student performance, narrowing the achievement gap, and increasing academic performance among students with the greatest educational needs. The awards will also be available to school districts that exhibit the greatest potential for continued improvements in student performance. Up to $75 million in grants will be distributed over the next three years, with additional awards to be distributed in future years. Districts that do not receive awards are eligible to reapply.

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Teacher evaluation and the Danielson Framework for Teaching | United Federation of Teachers

Teacher evaluation and the Danielson Framework for Teaching | United Federation of Teachers

Cuomo creating education reform group

Gov. Cuomo creating an educational reform commission to address what he views as an unaccountable system of public education. Cuomo's State-of-State will be all about momentum

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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