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GOP Mayoral Candidate Joe Lhota Calls for Doubling NYC Charter Schools

NYC GOP mayoral candidate Joe Lhota is calling for NYC to double the number of its charter schools. The suggestion comes in stark contrast to the Democratic candidates for mayor, who criticized charter schools in an attempt to please the teachers union.

The New York Post reports:

The city is home to 159 charters, according to the New York City Charter School Center. In the fall, the city plans to open 26 more. Albany has imposed a cap of 460 statewide.

“I am a big believer in charter public schools and so are parents, as evidenced by the wait lists to get in. Parents want and deserve more choices. Charter schools have successfully improved the education of tens of thousands of New York City children,” Lhota said.

The center said there are 56,000 students enrolled in city charters and another 52,900 on waiting lists.

Read the full article.

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UFT Endorses Bill Thompson for NYC Mayor

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) endorsed Democrat Bill Thompson for New York City Mayor. As The New York Times reported, the UFT has not endorsed a winning candidate for NYC mayor since 1989:

The endorsement was something of a risk for the union, which has not aligned itself with a successful candidate for mayor since 1989, when it supported David N. Dinkins. The union has avoided many races since then; it last made an endorsement in 2001. It passed over Mr. Thompson in 2009, when he was the Democratic nominee running against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a political independent.

Thompson has made an effort to reach out to his education critics. The New York Times reported that Thompson had met privately with charter school supporters to allay some of their concerns. But after receiving the UFT endorsement, some groups wonder which way Thompson will go on education issues:

Glen Weiner, acting executive director of StudentsFirstNY, an advocacy group, said he was concerned Mr. Thompson would adopt the union's policies, including its demands for retroactive raises. Mr. Thompson said on Wednesday that he supported raises, but did not comment on whether he would agree to retroactive payments.

"Espousing the teachers' union policies would turn back the clock on our kids," he said. "We don't want kids to be forced to attend failing schools."

Read the full article here.

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New Data Show Different Results in Teacher Evaluation

NYC's Department of Education has released data related on the 2011-12 state tests used in the new teacher evaluation system imposed by the state Education Department. Based on student scores last year about 6 percent of the city’s fourth through eighth grade teachers were rated ineffective. The new teacher evaluation system will hold teachers accountable to higher standards than under the previous system and help schools remove ineffective educators from the classroom.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

City officials have said that, under the city's current teacher-performance system, far too few were flunked by principals, who had only two choices: a rating of satisfactory or unsatisfactory. In 2011-12, under the old rating system, 2.6% of the city's roughly 73,000 teachers received unsatisfactory ratings, and the rest were rated satisfactory. It was once common for less than 1% of teachers to be rated unsatisfactory.

The new system, which will take effect this fall, ranks teachers in four categories: ineffective, developing, effective and highly effective. The scores will generally be based 20% on state tests, 20% on school-based tests and 60% on classroom visits by administrators.

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New Data Show Different Results in Teacher Evaluation

NYC's Department of Education has released data related on the 2011-12 state tests used in the new teacher evaluation system imposed by the state Education Department. Based on student scores last year about 6 percent of the city’s fourth through eighth grade teachers were rated ineffective. The new teacher evaluation system will hold teachers accountable to higher standards than under the previous system and help schools remove ineffective educators from the classroom.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

City officials have said that, under the city's current teacher-performance system, far too few were flunked by principals, who had only two choices: a rating of satisfactory or unsatisfactory. In 2011-12, under the old rating system, 2.6% of the city's roughly 73,000 teachers received unsatisfactory ratings, and the rest were rated satisfactory. It was once common for less than 1% of teachers to be rated unsatisfactory.

The new system, which will take effect this fall, ranks teachers in four categories: ineffective, developing, effective and highly effective. The scores will generally be based 20% on state tests, 20% on school-based tests and 60% on classroom visits by administrators.

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StudentsFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: June 10-14, 2013

In this week's education news: mayoral candidates discuss the city’s charter school system while vying for an endorsement from the teachers union.

Mayoral Candidates Discuss Charters at Forum with Families for Excellent Schools

WNYC // June 13, 2013

Families for Excellent Schools organized a forum that hosted mayoral candidates Anthony Weiner, Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, and John Liu to discuss their views on charter schools. Candidates Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio cancelled their scheduled appearance at the debat,  citing scheduling issues.

WNYC’s SchoolBook reports on the forum:

[Weiner] said if it turns out it’s good for children to use space in a school building for a charter he’s for it, but if it turns out it’s better for a music or chemistry lab, he’s for that, too.

Similarly, neither Quinn nor Weiner would rule out the option of closing a failing school. Quinn, who called school closings a “tragedy” for communities, explained, “I can’t promise you we’re never going to close the school when I’m Mayor.”

By contrast, former Councilman Sal Albanese and Comptroller John Liu took a harder line against school closings and co-locations. Both called for more community involvement before moving a charter into a regular school building. And Liu was booed when he said charters should pay rent if they move into district school buildings.

Mayoral Candidates Chose Teacher Union Over Majority of New Yorkers

New York Post // June 13, 2013

Mayoral candidate John Liu shared that he does not approve of charter schools at a recent forum sponsored by Families for Excellent Schools, despite the schools receiving overwhelming support from New Yorkers. Candidates Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio, though noticeably absent, are known to hold the same view and are hoping to receive an endorsement from the teachers union. At the same forum Mayoral candidates Anthony Weiner and Christine Quinn seemed wary in expressing their support for charter schools. 

According to the New York Post:

There’s no question New Yorkers want charters. In a new Zogby poll commissioned by the Manhattan Institute, 86 percent of likely city voters said parents should have more options for their kids — of which charters are the most compelling example. At one charter school recently, 12,500 applicants applied for 1,400 slots.

But there’s also no question that the teachers union — which is set to announce its endorsement any day — finds charters anathema. So anyone hoping for that endorsement will be more than willing to give the 86 percent the shaft.

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Mayoral Candidates Discuss Charters at Forum with Families for Excellent Schools

Four Democratic NYC mayoral candidates made their pitch to charter school advocates in a forum on Tuesday. The event, organized by Families for Excellent Schools, hosted candidates Anthony Weiner, Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, and John Liu in front of a large crowd that included many charter school parents and students. Candidates Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio had said they would participate but then canceled, citing scheduling issues.

WNYC’s SchoolBook reports on the forum:

[Weiner] said if it turns out it’s good for children to use space in a school building for a charter he’s for it, but if it turns out it’s better for a music or chemistry lab, he’s for that, too.

Similarly, neither Quinn nor Weiner would rule out the option of closing a failing school. Quinn, who called school closings a “tragedy” for communities, explained, “I can’t promise you we’re never going to close the school when I’m Mayor.”

“If we’ve intervened and we’re not able to get the school to be on point and succeed, we can’t keep it open – that’s not fair to children and their parents. Now, that said, I don’t want to hold up a number of schools to close and make that my goal was mayor. I want to work with all of you and other parents to hold up a number of schools that we are going to improve as our goal.”

By contrast, former Councilman Sal Albanese and Comptroller John Liu took a harder line against school closings and co-locations. Both called for more community involvement before moving a charter into a regular school building. And Liu was booed when he said charters should pay rent if they move into district school buildings.

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Mayoral Candidates Chose Teacher Union Over Majority of New Yorkers

Mayoral candidates Anthony Weiner and Christine Quinn recently expressed support for charter schools and other options for students at a forum sponsored by Families for Excellent Schools. Mayoral candidates John Liu, Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio are choosing not to support charter schools, despite overwhelming support from New Yorkers, in hopes of receiving an endorsement from the teachers union.

According to the New York Post:

There’s no question New Yorkers want charters. In a new Zogby poll commissioned by the Manhattan Institute, 86 percent of likely city voters said parents should have more options for their kids — of which charters are the most compelling example. At one charter school recently, 12,500 applicants applied for 1,400 slots.

But there’s also no question that the teachers union — which is set to announce its endorsement any day — finds charters anathema. So anyone hoping for that endorsement will be more than willing to give the 86 percent the shaft...

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Mayoral Candidates Discuss Charters at Forum with Families for Excellent Schools

Four Democratic NYC mayoral candidates made their pitch to charter school advocates in a forum on Tuesday. The event, organized by Families for Excellent Schools, hosted candidates Anthony Weiner, Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, and John Liu in front of a large crowd that included many charter school parents and students. Candidates Bill Thompson and Bill de Blasio had said they would participate but then canceled, citing scheduling issues.

WNYC’s SchoolBook reports on the forum:

[Weiner] said if it turns out it’s good for children to use space in a school building for a charter he’s for it, but if it turns out it’s better for a music or chemistry lab, he’s for that, too.

Similarly, neither Quinn nor Weiner would rule out the option of closing a failing school. Quinn, who called school closings a “tragedy” for communities, explained, “I can’t promise you we’re never going to close the school when I’m Mayor.”

“If we’ve intervened and we’re not able to get the school to be on point and succeed, we can’t keep it open – that’s not fair to children and their parents. Now, that said, I don’t want to hold up a number of schools to close and make that my goal was mayor. I want to work with all of you and other parents to hold up a number of schools that we are going to improve as our goal.”

By contrast, former Councilman Sal Albanese and Comptroller John Liu took a harder line against school closings and co-locations. Both called for more community involvement before moving a charter into a regular school building. And Liu was booed when he said charters should pay rent if they move into district school buildings.

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NYC Candidates for Mayor Discuss Education Reform with Charter School Parents

At a recent forum hosted by Families for Excellent Schools, NYC mayoral candidates Christine Quinn, Anthony Weiner, John Liu, and Sal Albanese discussed their views on charter schools. For many of the parents in the audience, the city charging charter schools rent seemed to be an important issue.

According to Gotham Schools:

[Liu] said that because district schools shoulder some costs that charter schools do not, letting charter schools use public space rent-free puts them on an unequal playing field. He also said the tension that co-locations create between parents, teachers and communities is not worth it.

“It has distracted away from the learning environment that should be in each and one of those school buildings,” he said, in comments that prompted the only boos of the night. “If we want to have charter schools they should be community-grown charter schools with their own space.”

Each candidate spent about 25 minutes answering questions posed by charter school parents, whom Families for Excellent Schools is trying to mobilize in the mayoral election. Quinn and Weiner each said, as they have before, that they support continuing to allow charter schools to use public space. But each said tensions between district and charter schools could be reduced.

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StudentsFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: June 3-7, 2013

In this week's education news: a state-imposed teacher evaluation system for NYC is announced, StudentsFirstNY Acting Executive Director Glen Weiner comments on the idea of the UFT electing NYC’s next mayor, and mayoral candidates weigh-in on education.

StudentsFirstNY Acting Executive Director Glen Weiner Comments on UFT Influence in Mayoral Race
Politicker // June 5, 2013

The president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, believes that the union’s endorsement will be so influential in the mayoral race that the group can essentially pick the city’s next mayor.

In a recent New York Observer article StudentsFirstNY Acting Executive Director Glen Weiner expressed concern at the prospect of a UFT-endorsed mayor turning back the clock on education reform for New York students:

[Weiner] said that the UFT would be “a formidable force” during the primary, but warned that it is “a scary proposition to think of them electing the next mayor.” He argued that rolling back Mr. Bloomberg’s policies would set back progress in outcomes such as graduation rates.

StudentsFirstNY Acting Executive Director Glen Weiner Praises New Teacher Evaluation System
New York Post // June 5, 2013

State Education Commissioner John King announced a landmark teacher-evaluation system that holds teachers accountable to the highest standards and removes ineffective ones from the classroom.

In an opinion piece of the New York Post, StudentsFirstNY Acting Executive Director Glen Weiner writes:

Until now, most New York City teachers have been rewarded based on seniority or quantity of graduate education; neither has been shown to improve student achievement. Effective and ineffective teachers leave our schools at the same rate, because we had no means to differentiate one from another.

Now, we do. We can identify 1) the best teachers, who should be rewarded, 2) developing teachers, who should be supported, and 3) failing teachers, who should be removed from the classroom. We have the chance to foster a culture of excellence in our schools so our children have the best chance for educational success.

State Education Commissioner John King Sides with Students over Teachers Union
NY Daily News // June 4, 2013

State Education Commissioner John King has announced a new teacher evaluation plan that put the educational interests of the students ahead of the employment interests of the teachers union. King’s plan will give New York’s next mayor a better chance at evaluating teacher performances, with the goals of helping them improve and removing ineffective teachers from the classroom.

According to the Daily News:

In September, principals will begin rating teachers using yardsticks that include standardized English and math test score gains, demonstrated progress in other subjects, classroom observations and pupil surveys.

Grades will be highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective, with two ineffective ratings in a row presumptive grounds for termination. According to some estimates, several thousand teachers a year could eventually face dismissal.

NYC Mayoral Candidates Weigh in on Teacher Evaluation System
GothamSchools // June 4, 2013

Following State Education Commissioner John King's announcement of a new teacher evaluation system mayoral candidates are giving their opinion on the requirements.

According to Gotham Schools, it's clear that some candidates are trying to walk a fine line between appeasing the teacher's union and actually considering the implementation of the plan:

...whether or not they’re angling aggressively for the union’s support, candidates know that whoever becomes mayor will actually have to implement the system that is in place — and, quite possibly, renegotiate it with the teachers union as part of contract talks.

Bloomberg's Education Legacy a Key Issue in Mayoral Race
Associated Press // June 3, 2013

Over his three terms as mayor, Michael Bloomberg's education policies in New York City have become a model for reform around the country. While the city's mayoral candidates are criticizing the policies to score political points, StudentsFirst Founder and CEO Michelle Rhee offered her perspective on the race and the mayor's education legacy to the Associated Press

"I think that people are watching the race pretty carefully," Rhee said. "Mayor Bloomberg was really I think the mayor that put school reform on the map and really was the first mayor who was involved in driving reform in the city."

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