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Schools Chancellor Defends Common Core, Blames Implementation Process

New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña defended the Common Core curriculum in a meeting with a group of PTA presidents earlier this week. The curriculum, she argued, was solid - instead, the implementation of the curriculum had been the major problem:

"Testing itself is not the issue," she said, when asked about the controversy over increased standardized testing. "I do think Common Core is the way to go. ... It hasn't been implemented well."

According to Capital New York, Fariña wants to create a team that will help struggling school principals get their schools up to speed with the new Common Core curriculum.

Fariña also said she wants to reduce reliance on testing, which features more prominently in the Common Core curriculum over the old status quo:

Fariña did tell the crowd she was looking for ways to reduce reliance on testing to determine grade promotion. She said she had already assembled a group internally at Tweed to discuss the issue.

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Wall Street Journal Editorial: Students and Teachers Suffer Due to Politics

Recently, the Rhode Island State Investment divested pension funds from Third Point LLC, a hedge fund owned by StudentsFirstNY board member Daniel Loeb. The decision is believed to be influenced by the American Federations of Teachers (AFT), a teachers union that has previously clashed with Loeb.

According to a Wall Street Journal editorial, this is a political move by the union based on opposition to teacher accountability: 

But the AFT put Mr. Loeb high atop the union's hedge-fund black list last year because he also sits on the board of the New York chapter of StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee's education reform outfit that advocates teacher accountability in part based on student achievement.

The editorial goes on to discuss how the decision will affect teachers and students:

The larger and sadder irony is that Rhode Island's investment is chump change in Third Point's $14 billion portfolio. Mr. Loeb doesn't need Rhode Island's money, but poor students in New York and teachers in Rhode Island need his. The teachers and public employees will now lose the benefit of the higher returns that Third Point provides for their retirement. And the poor kids will lose if other private-equity or hedge-fund owners lack Mr. Loeb's fortitude and decide to stop contributing to charter schools or reform outfits like Ms. Rhee's.

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StudentsFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: January 26-31

De Blasio Must Embrace Bloomberg's Goal to Measure Student Progress
New York Times // January 26, 2014

When the full Regents exam data is released later this spring, it will likely show that only a quarter of New York City students are prepared for college.

NY Daily News Editorial: NY Must Stick with the Common Core
NY Daily News // January 27, 2014

New York teachers, parents, and students have expressed resistance to the rollout of the Common Core standards and its associated curriculum. As a result, Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers are working to get corrective action passed into law to improve the transition into the Common Core.

Lower Education Must Be Improved Before Higher Education
Gawker // January 27, 2014

A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that the quality of a high school can predict how well its students will perform in college.

Mayor de Blasio Must Continue Plans for Charter School Expansion
NY Daily News // January 30, 2014

If Mayor Bill de Blasio does not continue the plans to open or expand 30 charter schools in New York City, more than 5,600 students could lose their opportunity at a better education.

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Mayor de Blasio Must Continue Plans for Charter School Expansion

If Mayor Bill de Blasio does not continue the plans to open or expand 30 charter schools in New York City, more than 5,600 students could lose their opportunity at a better education.

According to the New York Daily News:

The disputed charter schools were approved under Mayor Bloomberg in 2013 and would share space with district-run schools in city buildings, an arrangement the new mayor has said he opposes.

Education Department spokesman Devon Puglia contradicted Families for Excellent School’s findings, saying that only 2,300 students would be affected if the charters are scuttled.

De Blasio has said he will review plans for the new and expanded charter schools on a case-by-case basis.

Families who are counting on seats for their kids at the disputed charter schools will demonstrate at City Hall Thursday.

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Lower Education Must Be Improved Before Higher Education

A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that the quality of a high school can predict how well its students will perform in college.

According to a Gawker article, students from poor performing high schools are disadvantaged when attending good colleges alongside students from high performing high schools:

The study found that the quality of a student's high school is "a key predictor" of their grades in college, meaning that without a serious dose of remedial studies, kids from disadvantaged high schools are doomed to be at a disadvantage themselves in good colleges full of kids who attended better high schools.

The article goes on to argue that lower education must be improved before higher education:

From this we may draw the reasonable conclusion: If you want to fix higher education for disadvantaged students, first fix their high schools. And before that fix their middle schools and elementary schools. And before that, get that Universal Pre-K going.

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NY Daily News Editorial: NY Must Stick with the Common Core

New York teachers, parents, and students have expressed resistance to the rollout of the Common Core standards and its associated curriculum. As a result, Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers are working to get corrective action passed into law to improve the transition into the Common Core.

A New York Daily News editorial discusses why the Common Core is necessary for improving New York State education:

The Common Core standards and the curricula that should help students meet them are two different things. Together, they require greater reading comprehension, writing ability and math mastery than New York students have been required to display.

The editorial goes on to identify key factors that should not be altered when correcting the rollout of the Common Core standards:

Altering the standards themselves — carefully developed new benchmarks in math, English and other subjects that demand students engage in deeper, more rigorous, higher-level thinking — should be off the table.

Also non-negotiable should be the linkage of the standards to student tests and a teacher evaluation system that for the first time is distinguishing the best teachers from the worst. It would be meaningless to set a goal and hold no one accountable for meeting it.

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De Blasio Must Embrace Bloomberg's Goal to Measure Student Progress

When the full Regents exam data is released later this spring, it will likely show that only a quarter of New York City students are prepared for college. For minorities, these numbers are expected to be even lower.

In his campaign last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio often criticized then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg on his education policies, notably his administration's decision to grade all NYC schools on an A-to-F grading scale. In his first month as mayor, de Blasio has already scrapped this grading scale.

Now, de Blasio must act to find ways to improve student outcomes. According to a New York Times editorial, the mayor cannot abandon Bloomberg's mission to adequately assess New York City's public schools, as a means to help these schools improve:

The report cards can be improved and revised. But their basic purpose - providing a plausible system for measuring student progress - cannot be abandoned. If it is, city officials will never know how well students are doing until, on graduation day, they find that too many of them do not have the skills they need to go to college.

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NY State Education Commissioner Urges Equality in Education

New York State Education Commissioner John B. King honors Martin Luther King’s fight for true equality of opportunity. John B. King acknowledges the tremendous progress in racial equality over the last 50 years and further encourages the fight for educational equality.

In an opinion piece for NY Daily News, John B. King discusses the importance of educational equality, specifically through the implementation of the Common Core standards:

The Common Core offers a path to the precise reading, writing and thinking skills that will help propel their children and children across the state to success. Yet some now want us to delay, or even abandon, our efforts to raise standards.

I say no. As King said in that speech a little more than fifty years ago, “We do not have as much time as the cautious and the patient try to give us.”

We have many great schools in New York State, but we do not have time to wait to dramatically transform those that are not working. We do not have time to wait to give all students — regardless of their race or zip code or the language they speak at home — access to the enriching and engaging learning experiences they need and deserve. And we do not have time to wait to ensure that the students who graduate from our high schools do so ready to succeed in college and careers.

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NY Daily News Editorial: Mayor and Chancellor Need to Learn from Charters

Charter schools in New York City have proven to be a successful option for parents and students. With over 50,000 students on charter school wait-lists, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña have a duty to serve those families.

De Blasio and Fariña have strongly indicated their desire to charge many charter schools rent for occupying public school space. A NY Daily News editorial discusses how this decision will severely halt the success charter schools have been experiencing:

While neither [de Blasio and Fariña] urges abolition of charters, de Blasio has called for charging many rent for the space they occupy in public school buildings. This is akin to demanding payments from public schools to occupy public school buildings. Under these constraints, in the long run, the expansion of charters would come to a halt, if not reverse.

The editorial further points out that charter schools provide parents and students with quality alternatives to education:

Parents, especially parents struggling to pay the rent in this exceedingly expensive metropolis, crave more quality alternatives. Proof: There are 50,000 students on New York City charter school wait-lists.

De Blasio and Fariña should learn from charters’ success and seek to replicate it, not resent it or wish it away.

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Charter School Co-Location and Rent-Free Policies Come Under Fire

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is wasting no time fulfilling a campaign promise to effectively stop charter school growth. Through new Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, de Blasio is working to end charter school co-location policies and rent-free accommodations.

Farina makes two cases for ending the charter school co-location and rent-free practices. First, she argues that public schools need the space that charter are currently occupying free of rent. Second, she argues that removing charter schools from co-locating in public school buildings will also help free up space for de Blasio's proposed pre-kindergarten initiative.

As the New York Post argues out in an opinion article, these justifications are not the real motivation for dismantling New York City's charter school network. Rather, these power plays are about the unionized public schools versus the non-unionized charter schools:

New York City's seemingly endless charter-school debate has nothing to do with rental income - or even money, except tactically. Intrinsically, it has very little to do with classroom space, either.

It's about the fact that most charter schools aren't unionized, and that more often than not they work - embarrassing the unionists.

This makes them an existential threat to the perceived best interests of the United Federation of Teachers, which involve the jobs, pay and perks of its members - and never mind the kids. Now the union is calling the public-education shots, and it has decreed that the charter baby be drowned in the bathtub - and, again, never mind the kids.

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