Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Monday, December 29, 2014
The Buffalo News reported Saturday night that the Governor planned to be in town on New Year's Day, Thursday at 4:15. PM, to give an inaugural address at the Buffalo History Museum located at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Nottingham Terrace.
the World Trade Center on Mahattan on Thursday morning.
Small Cities Lawsuit starts in January could affect other resources starved districts in New York State
TRIAL IN NY SMALL CITIES SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT TO START IN JANUARY
October 29, 2014
After waiting six years, the parents and children in eight NY, high poverty, low wealth school districts will finally get their day in court. The plaintiffs in Maisto v. New York – known as the “Small Cities” case – are challenging New York’s persistent failure to provide sufficient teachers, curriculum, reasonable class sizes, interventions for at-risk students, and other resources deemed essential for a sound basic education under the NY Constitution. The eight Small Cities districts are Jamestown, Kingston, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie and Utica.
Last month, the case was assigned to a new Judge, and a new trial date was selected.
Judge Kimberly A. O’Connor has set January 21, 2015, as the date for the start of trial in the New York State Supreme Court in Albany. William Reynolds of Albany-based Bond, Schoeneck and King is lead trial counsel. David Sciarra and Wendy Lecker of Education Law Center are serving as co-counsel, along with Gregory Little of the White and Case firm. Megan Mercy, associate counsel at NY State United Teachers (NYSUT), is also on the trial team.
The outcome of this trial will not only impact the 55,000 students in these eight high need districts, but could well affect similarly situated students in resource-starved districts across the state and in New York City.
Education Law Center prepared this primer with answers to frequently asked questions about the Small Cities case.
Reprint from ELC
Friday, December 26, 2014
Thursday, December 25, 2014
"As widely reported in the press following the implausible statistic that 96 percent of teachers in New York state are effective or highly effective while at the same time, students in those schools are proficient in math and English to the tune of 34.8 percent and 31.4 percent, respectively, Governor Cuomo sent a December 18, 2014 letter to outgoing Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch. In thatletter, the governor (actually through Director of State Operations Jim Malatras) posed 12 pointed (sometimes compounded) questions for the chancellor and commissioner to answer. These range from issues related to the clearly flawed APPR system of evaluating teachers to broader topics such as possible school consolidation, tenure laws and even selection of the Board of Regents. The final question encourages the chancellor and Board of Regents to design “an open and transparent selection process so parents, teachers, and legislators have a voice” in the selection process to replace Education Commissioner John King. Prior to the letter, Chancellor Tisch promised an honest selection process – nothing was said about openness or transparency. The chancellor did not mention what the alternative would be."
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Thursday, December 11, 2014
And now that he has quit as the commissioner, what will happen to the Buffalo Schools turnaround plans for the four schools and the threat of closures?
Sunday, November 30, 2014
Bennett High School public meeting for a new school and charters begin requests to locate at Buffalo Public Schools
Interestingly, a Calvados comment in the BN story on Nov. 26, cited an August 19, 2014, State Ed Press Release with a list Reward Schools.
"NYSED designates high performing public schools as "Reward Schools. "Reward Schools are either schools that have high achievement or schools that have made the most progress in the state and do not have significant gaps in student achievement between subgroups. For 2014-15, the state identified 354 NY public schools for their list. There are 248 charter schools currently approved to operate in New York State as of October 2014. Only seven of these charter schools appear on
Tapestry Charter School visited Bennett last summer and has indicated an interest in the Bennett High School building, while Health Sciences Charter School founded in Tonawanda in 2009, until it renovated the old ECC building and moved to this location on Ellicott Street in 2011, has submitted a request to State Education officials in Albany to open an elementary school at the Dr. Martin Luther King building on High Street in order to offer K through 12.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
He was a product of both public and private education, and I think that made him particularly proud to teach at a public institution that he said attracts “the best and the brightest” from across the city, across the country and, from what I saw in the classes that I visited, across the world.
What really jazzed him was the fact that he was teaching, and learning from, first generation Americans. He often spoke of their hunger for knowledge and their drive. He loved being part of their lives and they loved him. - See more at:
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Before schools are closed, it may be better to revamp how candidates are interviewed and offered positions in the Buffalo Schools. It may reveal the problems are not failing schools but a hiring system that behooves a thorough investigation.
|Korean War Veteran : Domingo Rosa Cordero & Aurea Rosa Rey|
|Korean War Veteran: Domingo Rosa Cordero|
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Education Hot Topic In New York As Election Nears - WBEN NewsRadio 930 : Buffalo & Niagara Falls, NY
Buffalo Urban League, StudentsFirstNY
Education Hot Topic In New York As Election Nears - WBEN NewsRadio 930 : Buffalo & Niagara Falls, NY
Friday, October 31, 2014
Diane Ravitch, a leader educator and author of many books on American public education has given her support to the Green Party.
She said, "I am voting Green because Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones will fully fund our public schools, will stop the over-testing of our students, and will not open more privately managed charter schools. They promise to rebuild our public schools, which enroll nearly 90% of the state’s children."
The Democratic Party has been viewed in the last 20 years as a major advocate for the privatization of the American public schools through the leadership of Democrats for Education Reform, drawing its support from hedge fund investors and billionaires.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo seen as a favorite cheerleader of the group is expected that many of his traditional constituents are voting Green instead, while others in the education field even view the Republican candidate as a better choice,
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Sunday, September 7, 2014
" New Orleans will have only five public schools—those operated by the Orleans Parish School Board. Everything else will be charters. The post-Katrina path to almost 100 percent charter education began with the post-storm shutdown of the city’s struggling public schools and the firing (recently declared illegal) of some 7,500 unionized teachers and other school employees, predominantly African American women. The assault was accelerated by a massive infusion of foundation and entrepreneurial investment in new charter schools, and years of state and federally supported deregulation and privatization."
Today, the New Orleans Parish schools are privatized made up entirely of charter schools, and research about the experiment indicates that students are no better off than when it was operated by the Orleans Parish School Board before Katrina hit in 2005.
In a public school system that enrolled 60,000 students today, it's a mere 33,000 and there are thousands of children never enrolled. And "one 2010 study found 4,000 teens, about 10 percent of the city's student population, not enrolled in school at all."
For example, the Recovery School Districts, a statewide school district set up to turn around schools the state labels failing started before Katrina in 2003, when 107 schools out of 128 were transferred to the RSD. While, the state acquired the buildings, bargaining unit teachers disappeared to be replaced by Teach for America recruits and nearly all the charter schools hired teachers from TFA too. Yet, in "2011, 79 percent of these RSD schools were rated D or F."
Once this happens, it is difficult if not impossible to reinstate schools under democratically elected control through elected school boards.
In an attempt to reclaim schools that were not failing back into democratically elected control through the old Orleans Parish School Board, the court rejected its bid. Although the post Katrina law limited schools under the RSD to five years, in 2010, this was amended to allow each charter the right to decide if they wanted to return to local control and most of course opted not to return.
And children with disabilities were seen as liabilities by the charters that hired inexperienced teachers many of them with limited experience working with special education children such as TFA recruits.
Yet, the 2,500 students awarded vouchers didn't do any better than those in the RSD, while this voucher pilot failed, still it was implemented statewide.
"I tell people that if you believe what has happened in New Orleans is OK—stripping away our right to be self-determined in public education by taking our schools away—are you ready to say that America should not operate on democratic principles? Because that’s where this leads."
Monday, August 11, 2014
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
CREW Calls for Investigation of NY Gov. Cuomo and Aides Over Use of Private Email Accounts | CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Reports are surfacing, Gov. Cuomo continued to keep four staff members of the defunct commission on the government payroll at the tune of $418,000. He quickly reassigned them to other positions when the reports surfaced.
Remember this is the same governor who wanted to cap the salaries of superintendents of public schools back in 2011. Yet, his appointee to head the defunct Moreland Commision was earning $175,000 to keep tabs on a handful of commissioners that in nine months racked up $350,000 in expenses.
When the dust settles after the investigation if he doesn't resign before the probe on the Moreland Commission digs deeper, it may reveal that Andrew Cuomo has been among the most corrupted ever in the history of the state and one of the most unfriendly to public education.
Former Senator and Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada must be jumping for joy in his prison cell waiting for Andrew Cuomo possibly sentenced for his role in corruption as the Moreland Commission fiasco unfolds.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Saying he wants to lead this district, " I think can make a difference," former superintendent of BOCES, Donald Ogilvie is thevnew interim superintendent of the Buffalo Schools.
He signed a contract at the school board meeting tonight, but there were four abstentions by the African-American women board members disagreed with the selection process though when questioned by reporters said "could have been done in a different way."
He wants to work with all board members, calling it "bringing the temperature down," and feels empathy for anyone who feels not apart of the process.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Teachers encouraged to attend an upcoming evening seminar with acclaimed education professor Dr. Mark Garrison.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Saturday, May 3, 2014
The position was filled in February, when Superintendent Pamela Brown appointed Dr. Mary Guinn after the Buffalo Board of Education ended its contract with the consulting firm Cross and Joftus last fall. The firm had a contract for one year costing nearly half a million with Guinn making $290, 359, irking some members of the Buffalo Board of Education alleging it was more than what the superintendent of schools earned.
Previously, Guinn filled the position on a interim basis last March 2013, but at the time she didn't possess the certificate from the New York State Education Department in Albany that she obtained in February 2014, when Superintendent Brown appointed her again.
And the Buffalo News reported two years ago in the fall that the Say Yes to Education organization had contracted Cross and Joftus for $400,000 to develop a new organizational structure for the district, action plans for the superintendent's cabinet, a building based budgeting model to encourage "earned school autonomy" and a model to evaluate the work of the executive cabinet.
Hence it was Guinn's role to supervise the implementation of the new Central Office organization after she ended her temporary duties as the interim deputy superintendent.
Superintendent Brown has been criticized for hiring an executive staff viewed as top-heavy with Central Office administrators similar to her former predecessor James Williams. In fact, she has done many similar things, yet Williams stayed on for six years, while Brown a female superintendent right or wrong; she has been held to a higher standard than her male counterparts, surviving attempts to oust her as soon as she was appointed.
Moreover, there is an election looming on May 6, three at-large school members will be elected from a slate of 14 candidates, there are two incumbents seeking office, attorney John Licata and Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold. Florence Johnson who served for over 20 years is not running for reelection this year.
And it's hard to predicate the outcome of the race that five years ago two whites and one African-American won seats. If it happens again, two whites and one black, the quorum on a nine-member school board critics of Brown sought will be in place to end her contract.
Yet, something is different about this at-large school board race that happened five years ago and another that didn't happen.
For one thing, big time money is pouring into the race from the unions, wealthy groups and individuals and outside organizations such as StudentsFirstNY, all vying to influence school board policy that governs 57 schools 12 in good standing.
Also, there are racial overtones in the race and a sector in the black community composed of the old-guard individuals and organizations like George K. Arthur, Frank B. Mesiah, and the NAACP that view the elections as a threat to the presence of blacks on a school board where they first served for the first time in the early sixties and after the City charter changed to an elected school board in the mid-seventies.
And a good example was the reelection of Mayor Byron Brown though he lost his popularity in the two terms he has been in office among blacks before elected again, African-Americans came out to keep the Mayor in office for another third term.
Interestingly, Puerto Ricans and other Latinos have become energized too, and for the first time two Latino candidates Ralph Hernandez formerly on the school board and Sergio Rodriguez former Mayoral candidate are both in the at-large school board race this year.
Whether the deputy superintendent position is finally filled depends on this election, as well as, the tenure of Superintendent Brown in the district.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Friday, April 4, 2014
Still too many schools continue on the State Ed list of failing schools, while more has to be done about the "focus " schools to prevent them from becoming "priority." Elliott told the School Board the district has enough of its own data to do something about improving the failing schools and don't need to wait upon State Ed for more data.
Interestingly, other comments from the public on the Buffalo News School Zone blog concerned the new district policy of school based budgeting.
For example, "Re: Title I .. The expectation is that Title I funds will be bumped 2% in the Federal 2015 budget (per U.S. Dep't of Ed's website) .. NY's share should for next school year should remain flat, but still consistent with funds that have been recv'd each of the past 3 years.
Yet, Dr. Brown's school -based budget program is cutting discretionary Title I funding by half, resulting in cuts in reading teachers, guidance counselors, etc. These people are essential and there is no logical explanation as to why this is happening--state funding doesn't affect Title I.. Sandra, I looked forward to the BN looking into this issue."
Sunday, March 30, 2014
|Dr. July Elliott: Photo: Mike Desmond, WBFO News|
She presented a report to the School Board at a meeting on Wednesday, March 26. Elliott presents quarterly reports as part of her contract with the district.
Elliott, quiet as it is kept, has been mentioned as possible superintendent of the Buffalo Schools, though she left the area to pursue her career goals, some have asked why not?
Her appointment as distinguished educator generated controversy because the Buffalo School Board had to hire her whether they agreed to her appointment or not about 18 months ago. She works as a consultant from her home in Tampa, Florida after spending a tumultuous period as Chief Academic Officer in the L.A. Unified School System after a new superintendent allegedly wanted his own team and disagreed with her advocacy of a controversial homework policy in the district.
Her contract bought out in 2011, she has been moonlighting as an educational consultant in the nation's public schools, Buffalo Schools is one of these schools she works for around the country. When appointed it was rumored, the distinguished educator was the first step in the State Education Department move to take over the Buffalo Schools, "something prefaced by the proposed take-over legislation discussed back in 2009. And it may happen if there is as she noted at the School Board meeting Wednesday night, …"the number of low-performing schools has not changed."
"Judy's here to help - be a source of support for the superintendent and the board," present recommendations to them and ultimately to us at the (State Education) Department on how to move things forward in Buffalo. The only thing I'm interested in is improved student outcomes." Commissioner King (10/7/2012)Tiffany Lankes blogged in the School Zone blog , Buffalo News, it was the second time in three months she had seen Elliott. This information cited here mostly comes from her blogging at the March 26, Buffalo School Board meeting
She described her role as a new one for the state education department and said it was "meant to be a technical resource and assistance." Lankes blogged, Elliott provided, "…an overview of her role and the system she is using to assess progress."
Elliott said there are two key questions in doing this work: "Are you happy with your data and is every classroom one you would put your own flesh and blood?"
She spoke about her collaboration with Superintendnent Pamela Brown to develop the new Common Core Formative Assessments and the audit on special education by the Great City Schools, working with the Educational Partnership Organizations and walking classrooms. And she has been working with the Chiefs of Leadership in Central Office more closely this year on student support plans.
Lankes blogged, Elliott, Elliott mentioned, "Student placement is a huge issue in this district, especially students with special needs, English Language Learners and those overage and under credited ." She said, "some areas of concern are promotion and retention, student placement, service for suspended students, attendance taking, discipline data, general use of data to improve outcomes for students."
Elliot continues, "We are working on a better system for taking and tracking attendance. "(The Buffalo Schools introduced the student information system Infinite Campus, the summer of 2012, but personnel have complained they were offered minimal staff development to understand how it worked from the clerks to the administrators. And the system is a problem because teachers have to document attendance period by period though last year home room attendance introduced).
She cited as "our big picture issues…support for students with special needs and those learning to speak English."
A "Comment from Kim" on the blogged mentioned, "we were directed to change IEPs in the building to reflect whatever services we happened to have available. We told the state, Barb Trunzo. Nothing ever came of it." News blogger Lankes responded, "Kim, I'd like to hear more about this can you e-mail me, so expect a story sometime about this issue if "Kim" follows through and e-mails Lankes.
Elliott recommendations included "…improving instruction for struggling students, increasing collaboration with principals and help them to understand policies and procedures. School Board member, Carl Paladino responded, "It seems to me we spend an awful lot of money hiring consultants to train our principals." To this, Superintendent Brown responded, "that with all of the new mandates and standards you don't always have expertise in the schools."
Eilliott adds, "we are spending a lot of money on professional development, but need to do a better job tracking or return on investment."
Hmmm, does it include her work and reports about the Buffalo Schools? How is the district return on investing in a distinguished educator? How is it helping to move the failing schools she oversees, the Priority schools from the state list? Some have questioned in a cash strapped school district facing a $50 million budge deficit why is a distinguished educator needed at nearly $200 hourly in addition to daily paid expenses who principally resides out of town? That includes Dr. Mary Guinn and Company from Evans Newton Consultant group.
Lankes blogged, "Elliott was taking about the retention issue and the need to track kids throughout the year to make sure they are not sliding. Right now, the number of low-performing schools has not changed. It behooves us as a district to go in and look at our focus schools to make sure they don't slip into priority school status."
Superintendent Brown chimed in that district still"... waiting to hear from the state on whether any of our schools can come off the priority list." While School Board member Paladino said, "it's nice to say we're making progress, but it's hard to see it."
Elliott sees as a problem, …"disconnect between Central Office and the schools, and that's typical in large urban districts. If we want to show improvement, we need to listen to the people at the building level." How? In what way is Elliott proposing this listening should be done? Isn't there suppose to be a "one-stop shop" mechanism Superintendent Brown proposed the different Chiefs of Leadership are suppose to do through their offices in Central Office to help the leaders in the school buildings?
At large School Board member Florence Johnson chimed in saying " I am amazed at how long it takes the state to get us data." Elliott responded , she "…thinks you have the data you need to make decisions." And Elliott continued to respond to School Board member Johnson, "the last thing you want to do is wait for someone to give you a report to take action. The challenges with students who are overaged and under credited are well-documented in this district."
If so what is Elliott doing to contribute to the discussion to remedy the situation some ask? And she added, "you're held accountable for all of the kids who show up in your building. You can calculate that right now." And, "theres's lots of stuff in the district's power and authority that we could be doing."
Elliott commented, " if we're suppose to be taking attendance, we need to make sure we're doing it. Principals have Apps on their telephone to help track which teachers are taking it."
A secondary staff member making a "Comment From Guest" said something very interesting why attendance is challenging to keep up with on the new student information system Infinite Campus:
"...students come in at any point in the period (especially in chaotic schools). It becomes unreasonable for teachers, who need to be teaching, to keep updating Infinite Campus throughout the period. Especially when they need to be in the hallway during transitions and therefore can't do it between classes."
Attendance is an issue. I have the same class all day but have to take attendance eight times.....its time consuming.
Interesting Elliott quoted as saying, "this is not necessarily a safe environment for people to speak their truths." Hmmm, did she mean her own truths or district staff in general?
Elliott presented for about one hour at the meeting. Her reports are on the district website .
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Friday, March 28, 2014
Charter schools in line for more state funding agree give State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli authority to audit their finances.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
"...narrowly approved turnaround plans for Bennett High School and Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute. At the same time, the board rejected a plan to merge the former Pinnacle Charter School with Harvey Austin School."
Buffalo News reported yesterday two of her most senior top administrators and cabinet members aren't properly certified and don't hold the professional administrative experience to have been appointed to their positions. How is Superintendent Brown moving the district forward with what appears as a leadership team made up of charlatans many of the comments in the News report allege?
Park District school board member Carl Paladino divulged the information in a memo gone viral and appearing in the Buffalo Rising news blog on the Internet. He named it "Collusion and Conspiracy"
and has called for a criminal investigation.
Also, an official at the State Education Department, Albany when contacted chimed in to say:
"The failure of these two administrators, and of the district, to secure the proper certification means that the district could be held liable for any decisions made by Williams or Alexander on a daily basis, according to Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn." And “A district necessarily incurs liability in such situations,” he said.
What adds to the Shenanigans is the response of the Director of Human Resources now called "Chief of Talent Management" ironically, Darren Brown, appointed to his post by former interim Superintendent Amber Dixon.
Darren Brown, in the BN article said “I should have followed up on this.”
"He also said that while the district could face liability issues until Williams and Alexander are properly certified, both administrators work in collaboration with the superintendent and other administrators who do possess the proper certification, so district exposure should be limited."