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StudentsFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: May 13-17, 2013

In this week's education news: NYC mayoral candidates seek an endorsement from the teachers union, one candidate lays out his full education platform, and the demand for charter schools is on the rise. 

NYC Mayoral Candidates Denounce Education Reform at Teachers Union Forum

The New York Daily News // May 14, 2013

At a forum hosted by the United Federation of Teachers, NYC mayoral candidates sought the union's endorsement by promising to roll back important reforms that have improved city schools.

From the New York Daily News

Six mayoral wanna-bes called for stripping the schools of accountability and returning to United Federation of Teachers domination at a disastrous candidates' forum.

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

Bill Thompson Outlines Education Platform

The New York Times // May 15, 2013

Democratic NYC mayoral candidate Bill Thompson outlined his education platform in a speech this week.

From the New York Times

One of Mr. Thompson’s more distinct ideas is to allow the mayor to appoint only six of the 13 members of the Panel for Educational Policy. Since the mayor now appoints eight, it is effectively a rubber stamp for his policies. But Mr. Thompson said that the mayor should have to convince one of those he does not appoint that his ideas are sound.

Acting Executive Director of StudentsFirstNY Glen Weiner reacted to the plan, saying: "The education policies Bill Thompson outlined today failed to make the grade."

Read Weiner's full statement here

NYC Sees High Demand for Charter School Seats

The New York Post // May 15, 2013

Charter school applications in NYC have reached a record high, but there are not enough seats for every student.

From the New York Post:

Despite opening 24 new schools this coming fall, the city’s charter sector still has at least 50,000 more applicants than available seats — a record-high number that could fill Yankee Stadium, officials said yesterday.

There will be 183 charter schools operating in the city come September, with a collective 18,600 seats to offer parents who applied for spots earlier this year.

Charter officials said the schools, which are publicly-funded but privately-run, received a flood of 181,600 applications — including an estimated 69,000 from unique applicants.

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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?

Read the full article.

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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.

Read the full article.

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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."

Read the full article.

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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.”

Read the full article.

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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.

Read the full article.

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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.

Read the full article.

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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.

Read the full article.

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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.

Read the full article. 

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Two Candidates with StudentsFirstNY Support Win School Board Races in Buffalo

On Tuesday, May 7, Buffalo residents voted two StudentsFirstNY-supported candidates to the Buffalo School Board. As reported by The Buffalo News, StudentsFirstNY supported James Sampson, the president and CEO of Gateway-Longview child services agency, and Jason McCarthy, a manager at Hutch's restaurant:

"The leader of StudentsFirstNY, the state chapter of a national school reform group headed by former Washington, D.C., School Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, said Wednesday that his group gave $10,000 to Sampson and $2,500 to McCarthy."

Both Sampson and McCarthy won the election despite strong opposition from the Buffalo Teachers Federation. In The Buffalo News, StudentsFirstNY's Acting Executive Director Glen Weiner explained why the organization decided to support these two candidates:

"The group identified Sampson and McCarthy as 'like-minded,' he said, based on their positions on several issues. He cited charter schools and issues related to teacher evaluations as two of them.

"'In terms of teacher quality, we know Buffalo had that side deal attached to their teacher-evaluation system,' Weiner said. 'If we had a reform-minded board with Jim Sampson along with Jay McCarthy, I think you wouldn't have seen that kind of undermining of an effective system.'"

Read the full article.

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