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, October 30, 2012

Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram, launched her 2nd book of letters

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.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Billionaire attempts takeover of Bridgeport, CT Ed Board

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Hedge fund operator got state to take over schools

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.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Wealthy donors and state wrongfully attempted take over a Connecticut public school

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.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Mississippi agencies sued over 'school to prison pipeline'

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

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Time to negotiate a contract, eight years too long for teachers to wait

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

State ed directs school board members to hold public hearing on charter schools

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.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's time to move Leonardo da Vinci

Although, there is support on the school board to reconfigure Leonardo da Vinci High School from a 9-12 grade to a 5-12 grade model as North District Rep. Jason McCarthy advocated, the other option is a 7th to 12th grade reconfiguration at the renovated Grover High School. The building is shaped like the letter "Y" possibly could incorporate a model to house the junior high school on one side and the high school on the other. This an opportunity for the Buffalo Board of Education to move the Leonardo da Vinci High School located in a cramped space in a former residential hall at D'Youville College to the newly renovated Grover Cleveland  High School. The board should stand by its own resolution passed back in April 2011 not to renew the lease at D'Youville College. And State Ed folks will not continue to fund it at $857k, the chief financial officer reported at finance and operations committee meeting last Wednesday, October 17. While students at da Vinci have access to the college, it is limited to the library, gym, pool and for classes on campus for the few students enrolled in courses for college credit. On a personal level, when my daughter attended da Vinci she was not allowed in the college book store though she wanted to buy school supplies there. She didn't have access to the college cafeteria that served better food. Students should have more access to the D'Youville College campus, including any study-abroad programs. If the mission of da Vinci is to prepare students for college why not provide to them the experience by opening up the college campus, especially to many students coming from families where they are the first to attend higher education? I told my daughter a former graduate of da Vinci about the plans to to move the school. She responded, "oh great, now the students can breathe!" "It was so cramped for us in what used be a dormitory,"she said. Secondly, Grover is within walking distance to the college so students still can take courses for credit there. Thirdly, the building at Grover is larger with a capacity to enroll 900 students instead of 299 at the D'Youville site. This will allow the district to provide access to a college preparatory curriculum to more students meeting the criterion for admissions at da Vinci from International Prep and Early Middle College, as well as, other students during open enrollment. Finally, the board has an opportunity to not only to  continue Leonardo da Vinci, but to expand this innovative high school in one of its own buildings, providing access to a high performing school  to an ethnically diverse student population on  the West side It's cost effective and students will have ample space to participate in traditional high school activities not available to them in the cramped space at D'Youville College. It's time to go home for da Vinci to a renovated Grover now called Leonardo da Vinci High School. Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Saturday, October 20, 2012

School board member McCarthy supports moving da Vinci expanding opportunities for more families at high performing schools

Jason McCarthy, best known for his advocacy and development of the first dog park in the City of Buffalo, at the school board finance and operations committee meeting Wednesday supported that Leonardo da Vinci High School move to a newly renovated old Grover Cleveland High School building on the West side.  Back on April 2011,  the Buffalo Board of Education approved a resolution not to renew the leases of Early Middle College High School and Leonardo da Vinci High School. Instead supported the district end its expensive lease at D'Youville College renovate Grover move the students. And CFO of the district Barbara Smith at the committee meeting added, that the state already said they're not going to give us aid on that lease $857K (at da Vinci). Something has to be reduced to pay for it." So, Boorady, a community superintendent offered they are resubmitting to State Ed for lease aid because da Vinci is located on a college campus. Doesn't the State Ed folks already know it? It's exciting for the Buffalo Board of Education to expand the student enrollment at da Vinci  in one of the few college preparatory  high schools with the largest population of black and Puerto Rican students in the district. Yet, school officials advocated International Prep and  Early Middle College  High School instead be housed at Grover both former College Board schools no longer funded by this entity. And the questionable academic performance of these latter two schools some say why continue to invest in them? The community superintendent overseeing I-Prep reported at the Buffalo Board of Education Committee meeting Wednesday, Oct. 17 the school has, 515 students, 29 percent graduation rate for Class of 2010, 50 percent for Class of 2011, 30 percent for '12, while Early Middle College had 297 students with a 54 percent grad rate for class of 2010, 65 percent for Class of 2011, 64 percent for '12. Besides, Early Middle College once it moves from its downtown location away from  Erie Community   College,  what happens to its mission of providing a unique 5 year high school program where students obtain both a high school diploma from Buffalo Public Schools and a college degree from ECC and its relationship to ECC ?  So why keep a model that lacks a mission with a graduation rate of hovering between 54 and 64%, though better than the district average of 50%? And, International Prep with an enrollment of academically talented international students will add more diversity at a newly expanded Leonardo da Vinci High School at the old Grover building where they had been originally housed. Yet board member Sharon Belton Cottman, West Ferry Rep. supports da Vinci remain at D'Youville College with more space. Also, Middle College and International prep students who meet the criterion for admissions at Da Vinci in an expanded and larger high school building at Grover provides these students mostly black, Latinos and International an opportunity to access a college preparatory curriculum similar to City Honors. Buffalo News Blogger Mary Pasciak reported how "McCarthy argued passionately for the district to stick to the plan to move da Vinci to Grover and expand it to begin in fifth grade, rather than ninth grade. Da Vinci is one of the most highly regarded high schools in the district. Belton-Cottman said da Vinci should remain on the college campus and push to get more space there." There are different opinions from board members about what to do even after they had approved a resolution not to renew the leases of Early Middle College and Leonardo da Vinci. Yet moving da Vinci to a newly renovated Grover Cleveland High School with a model reconfigured   for grades 7th through 12th is another viable option cost effective and the building has a capacity to house 900 students. And board member McCarthy views it as an opportunity to offer parents more choices to access high performing schools in the district as well as to provide the students in a newly reconfigured Leonardo da Vinci an opportunity to create another City Honors High School. But whatever is decided it must be quickly, the engineers advised for construction.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Inside the 'Genius School'

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Murdoch company access to new student database riles parents

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

BPS Distinguished Educator Plan Oct 2012

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Millions dollars funding for alternate transportation to schools....

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.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

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.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Friday, October 12, 2012

Absenteeism a pervasive problem says distinguished educator Judy Elliot

• Student absenteeism is a pervasive problem that requires a multi-agency effort at the city and county levels to effectively address it.

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."

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Thursday, October 11, 2012

John Hopkins site visits to Buffalo schools new EPO

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.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Distinguished educator report calls for more decisions made in schools less at central office

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.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Buffalo board of ed voted to allow super Pamela Brown to settle case of involuntary transfer teachers

The Buffalo School Board voted, 7-1, Wednesday to authorize the superintendent to decide how to proceed in the court case regarding involuntary teacher transfers at three schools.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Buffalo News opinion page on district cancelling K-6th grade summer school

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.

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

Prez Obama credits Race to Top in presidential debate

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.

A record 36 elementary and middle schools now in danger of shut down

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

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