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Democratic Mayoral Candidates' New Approach to the Charter-School Issue: Exploiting Parents

Right now, 50,000 students are on waiting lists to attend charter schools in New York City. Instead of advocating for an increased number of charter schools, most Democratic mayoral candidates oppose the founding of new charter schools.

In a recent New York Post op-ed, Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, discusses how many candidates are “exploiting parents’ envy” as a new approach to the charter-school issue:

Sadly, many children, including those who ended up on waiting lists, are trapped in failing district schools. It’s heart wrenching for these children’s parents to know that other kids are getting opportunities that are denied to their own. And this leaves these parents subject to manipulation by conniving politicians.

To fan the flames of these parents’ envy, the politicians have come up with the phrase “separate and unequal” to describe charters.

These politicians are telling parents with children in failing district schools not only that it’s unfair but also that charters are causing their schools to fail.

The idea that charters are to blame for the problems of district schools makes utterly no sense, since these problems existed long before we came along. But envy is a powerful emotion that causes irrational thinking, and the politicians know this.

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New York Observer Calls Out Candidates for "Pandering" to UFT

As the NYC mayoral race heats up, candidates seem more focused on impressing the United Federation of Teachers than supporting meaningful education reform to help New York students.

An editorial in the New York Observer argues the candidates should not be seeking the support of the union, which has fought to maintain a broken system that serves its own interests:

From charter schools to teacher evaluations, the UFT has fought every attempt to fix what is so obviously broken. It claims to act on behalf of children, but seriously—does anybody really believe that? This is a union that has protected incompetence for decades. Whose interests have been served by unacceptably high dropout rates and archaic work rules? Whose interests have been served by the UFT’s costly refusal to implement a new evaluation system?

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NYC Sees High Demand for Charter School Seats

According to the New York Post, New York City’s charter sector is currently overwhelmed by applications for seats. This year, 183 charter schools will offer parents just over 18,000 seats and the schools have already received 181,600 applications.

The New York Post reported that the Democratic mayoral candidates’ vision for City schools won’t support this high demand for charter school seats:

Many of the Democratic candidates for mayor back policies that would be harmful to the growth of charter schools — including less willingness to provide the schools free public-building space and opposition to raising the statewide cap.

James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, stated:

“Our supply of seats that parents want does not meet demand . . . and that’s true on the district side as well. If four years hence, the [next] mayor isn’t able to create more high-quality seats and lots of them . . . then that mayor is going to be judged harshly.”

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NYC's Schools and Students Need a Stronger Teacher Evaluation System

In a recent op-ed published by the New York Daily News, New York City Schools Chancellor Walcott highlights the need for a stronger teacher evaluation system for the City’s schools. Last week, the teachers' union and the City submitted contrasting teacher evaluation proposals to the state of New York.

In the op-ed, Walcott explains that the state must act now to ensure NYC’s students get the education they deserve with a stronger system of evaluating teachers:

No matter how we reach a deal, it has to be the right one. It must set clear expectations for teachers, provide them with meaningful feedback, help them develop and remove those who cannot improve and educate our students.

In the end, the evaluation deal that we negotiate — or that is imposed upon us — will determine whether New York City maintains its position as a national leader or becomes trapped in the mire of a system designed for the benefit of a powerful union.

As chancellor, I am responsible for ensuring that our 1.1 million students are receiving an education that prepares them for college and careers. They get only one shot at an education. They can’t afford to spend time stuck in a classroom with an ineffective teacher. I urge the state to do what is best for the students of New York City.

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NYC Public Advocate Sends Letter of Praise on Charter Schools

NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio recently sent a letter of praise to Eva Moskowitz, an operator of charter schools. According to the New York Daily News, the move seems at odds with de Blasio’s general stance on charter schools:

Moskowitz has long been engaged in bitter battle with the public advocate over her school network -- particularly on the issue of co-locating charters within traditional public school buildings. She questioned why, if de Blasio is so intent on reining in charters, he sent a letter praising the schools' work.

"We're glad Bill de Blasio recognizes the great work of our schools, teachers and students, so it begs the question why he repeatedly vows to stop us from serving these very children if he becomes mayor," Moskowitz told the Daily News Tuesday. "New York's schoolchildren need a leader, not a panderer."

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Teach for America to Carry on NYC's Progress in Education

Teach for America Founder and Board Chair Wendy Kopp pledged last week that her organization would carry on Mayor Bloomberg’s education legacy.

GothamSchools reports on Kopp’s remarks at Teach for America New York’s annual gala:

In fact, she said, the city’s schools have been transformed in the last decade. She described walking into large high schools years ago to find that only a third of students had shown up. Now, she said, the city’s schools are filled with teachers “on a mission” to help their students.

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NYC Schools Chancellor Walcott Disappointed With Democratic Mayoral Candidates' Plans for City Schools

After a forum sponsored by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) last Saturday, New York City schools chancellor Dennis M. Walcott has said he is not impressed with any of the Democratic mayoral candidates’ vision for the City’s schools. According to the New York Times, the candidates have openly spoken about moving away from Mayor Bloomberg’s focus on test scores, charter schools, and the strategy of closing failing schools to replace them with higher-performing ones.

Chancellor Walcott shared his opinion of the candidates’ statements on New York City’s schools with the New York Times:

Calling their words “unconscionable,” Mr. Walcott accused the candidates of harming the reputation of Education Department employees by questioning gains in test scores during Mr. Bloomberg’s 11-year tenure.

“They are either not aware of what’s going on or want to misstate the facts,” Mr. Walcott said.

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NYC Schools Chancellor Walcott Disappointed With Democratic Mayoral Candidates' Plans for City Schools

After a forum sponsored by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) last Saturday, New York City schools chancellor Dennis M. Walcott has said he is not impressed with any of the Democratic mayoral candidates’ vision for the City’s schools. According to the New York Times, the candidates have openly spoken about moving away from Mayor Bloomberg’s focus on test scores, charter schools, and the strategy of closing failing schools to replace them with higher-performing ones.

Chancellor Walcott shared his opinion of the candidates’ statements on New York City’s schools with the New York Times:

Calling their words “unconscionable,” Mr. Walcott accused the candidates of harming the reputation of Education Department employees by questioning gains in test scores during Mr. Bloomberg’s 11-year tenure.

“They are either not aware of what’s going on or want to misstate the facts,” Mr. Walcott said.

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NYC Mayoral Candidates Denounce Education Reform at Teachers Union Forum

At a recent United Federation of Teachers Forum, six New York City mayoral candidates attempted to win the union’s endorsement by railing against school accountability and reform.

An editorial from the New York Daily News warns that such pandering could mean a serious setback for NYC’s students:

Union boss Michael Mulgrew produced the program and was pleased with the answers delivered by the six participants as they pursued the UFT’s support in the coming election.

Competing for Mulgrew’s affections were City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Controller John Liu, former Controller William Thompson, former Councilman Sal Albanese and former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion.

While de Blasio topped the field by hailing Mulgrew as a “great leader,” all called for eliminating or markedly changing annual school report cards and letter grades — a landmark reform instituted by Mayor Bloomberg.

The grades let parents see how schools stack up in academics, student progress from year to year and safety. Abolishing the report cards or mushing them by reducing the importance of standardized test scores would deprive moms and dads of a crucial yardstick of school performance.

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Top State Education Official Will Decide NYC's Teacher Evaluation Stalemate

New York State Education Commissioner John King will soon decide on how New York City public schools will implement a new teacher evaluation system. The city and the United Federation of Teachers have not been able to come to an agreement on how to evaluate teachers. According to the New York Post, King will be the sole individual to hear the cases for and against implementing meaningful teacher evaluations:

"[King will] have until June 1 to weave the better of their ideas into a system that will be imposed on the city's schools come September.

"'I hope what comes out of it is the governor is able to...have a real deal with real enforcement that really evaluates [teachers] based on real numbers — and our kids will be the great beneficiaries of it,' said Mayor Bloomberg."

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