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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mid year layoffs possible Buffalo schools

Buffalo Public Schools mid year layoffs possibly happening slips being sent out December 17, to meet the required 30 day notice period Super Pamela Brown announced at Wednesday night Board meeting.

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

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is Say Yes to education in Buffalo similar to the Kalamazoo promise?

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 |

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Access to top elite public schools still a problem for Latinos and African-Americans in New York City

White students access top NYC public middle schools more than minorities.
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.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

The elections over, what now?

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 unidojamás será vencido," and advocates of public education "están unidos!"

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?

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