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, September 25, 2012

Parent facilitators back in schools again as stipend volunteers

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.

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Buffalo schools deficit will increase

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."

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Buffalo schools student placement application ready online

Student placement applications are now accepted online only. Families who don't have internet access can go to the student placement office on Ash Street and use one of the computers there."

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New State Ed rules for priority schools reform plans

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."

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Buffalo Board committee meetings last night

The executive affairs committee of the Buffalo Board of Education, West District Rep. Ralph Hernandez chairs, met last night to discuss the redistricting committee, layoffs of cook managers, whether to allow a group present a proposal to convert Waterfront Elementary School and East High School into charter schools after the plans had been submitted to State Ed officials, and new priority schools plans must be submitted to State Ed using an innovative format focused on whole school plans in six areas that include CTE, the Arts, etc by Oct. 1. There are nine members on the redistricting committee its plan must be submitted before February 2013, when board members in district seats hit the pavement with petitions for reelection. The charter group Chameleon associated with Tapestry were not allow to present its controversial proposals to convert Waterfront and East High because Super Brown mentioned district had its own plan for Waterfront in Albany. And except for North District Jason McCarthy, the other board members protested the group previously presented its plans for the two schools to State Ed before sharing them with the board. And district lawyers added it was not a good idea or fair to other groups.

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

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Buffalo teachers win court battle on involuntary transfers

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.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chicago teachers close to reaching agreement

‘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.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Prez Obama speech on education at Democratic convention disappointing

"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.

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Prez Obama be or not to be

"...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.

Photo Credit:AP

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Brown ..."evidence turn-a-round model can be effective..."

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

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Buffalo Board of Ed committee meeting tonight Buffalo News live coverage

" 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

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Step down Silver

Scandal erupted Albany Assembly Speaker  Sheldon Silver embroiled in sexual harassment cover up involving Assemblyman  Vito Lopez, D-Brooklyn, private payouts settlements to victims using taxpayers funds in a state in financial crisis under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's austerity budget.  There is a call for the Joint Public Ethics Committee to investigate.

Silver must come clean 

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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