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StudentFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: November 3-8, 2013

In this week's education news: Complete coverage of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's education agenda, how a lack of school funding is hurting low-income students, and a defense of the parent-trigger law.

De Blasio Must Rise to the Challenge
New York Daily News // November 6, 2013

Now that he’s been elected the next mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio must have a plan to build upon improvements made under the Bloomberg administration, particularly in education.

In an op-ed, the New York Daily News notes the importance of de Blasio’s choice for a new schools chancellor. The Daily News calls for de Blasio to select a chancellor who will continue to raise standards for NYC students:

“… he must select a schools chief who is committed to meeting the standards of the new Common Core curriculum, who will hold teachers and principals accountable for improving achievement and who can win over parents on the need for standardized testing. Fuzzy-wuzzy will not do.

Mike Bloomberg Set High Standards on Education for Bill de Blasio
New York Daily News // November 5, 2013

NYC education has come a long way under Mike Bloomberg’s administration.

A recent New York Daily News op-ed highlights the high standards set by Bloomberg for NYC’s next mayor, including educational achievements:

Under Bloomberg, children made gains on standardized reading and math tests, even as pass rates gyrated. A good gauge is how the kids compared with peers around the state.

In 2006, 62% of fourth graders read at or above grade level in New York State, versus only 51% in New York City. By 2013, the schools here had closed that 11-point gap to just five points. De Blasio’s goal must be to get the children in the five boroughs on par with those across the state.

Bloomberg also presided over a graduation rate that climbed from 51% in 2001 to 71% in 2011. De Blasio will have to keep that going, while boosting the 22% share of graduates who are prepared for college or careers.

Mayor-Elect de Blasio Needs to Surround Himself with Dissenting Voices
New York Daily News // November 6, 2013

On Tuesday, Bill de Blasio was overwhelmingly elected as the new mayor of New York City. For the first time in 20 years, NYC will have a Democrat in City Hall.

Josh Greenman of the New York Daily News argues that de Blasio will need to surround himself with dissenting voices in order to best choose New York City's future direction. For the last 20 years, Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg had to work with dissent, but now, de Blasio will be leading a single-party government. Across the board, politicans similar to de Blasio were elected to other citywide positions on Tuesday, making the need to hear from different points of view even more important in his administration:

Beware. While too much political friction brings paralysis, too little presents the opportunity for major mistakes. For the good of the city, de Blasio has to see this danger coming. He needs to get used to saying no to his friends, and even turning some of them into enemies.

Then there's education. The mayor-elect purports to be on the side of disgruntled parents and teachers, who've screamed as Bloomberg has, the charge goes, ignored them. But if de Blasio is truly intent on putting the interests of kids first, clashes are necessary, especially on the need to swallow tough new Common Core tests.

Bill de Blasio Should Support Charter Schools
Crain's New York Business // November 3, 2013

NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has said that charter schools located in city-run schools should pay rent.

In an op-ed on Crain’s New York Business, David Briggs, chairman of Amber Charter School and a trustee of New Visions Charter Schools, argues that charters are in fact public schools. Like public schools, Briggs points out, charter schools rely on tax dollars, prudent management, and fundraising. Additionally, their annual per-pupil reimbursement is 80% of what traditional public schools receive.

Briggs goes on to note:

History is replete with examples of social, religious and financial institutions forging relationships to stabilize growing urban centers. Charters offer a fresh approach to reinvigorating a mediocre school system. Rather than taking punitive measures, our next mayor should seek partnerships that equitably support all public schools.

Education Reformer Responds to Bill de Blasio's Education Agenda
New York Post // November 3, 2013

Not everyone is convinced Bill de Blasio’s education policy proposals will help New York City students.

In an opinion piece for the New York Post, Chester E. Finn Jr., president of The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, breaks down de Blasio’s education agenda, addressing each policy and program.

Finn shares his opinion on de Blasio’s platform and calls for more specifics on certain proposals, such as those focused on career and technical education:

As for “expanding and improving career and technical education,” the whole country should do that, but what exactly does he have in mind? Likewise “placing great leaders” in every school — and then empowering them to lead those schools. The key is to give building-level leaders real power to make decisions about personnel — who to hire and fire, where they’re deployed and how they’re paid — which would drive the unions bonkers.

The Common Core is Necessary for our Children
Newsday // November 7, 2013

The Common Core standards have been proven to advance student performance. Former state senator Craig Johnson discusses why slowing down implementation of the Common Core will negatively affect our children.

In Johnson’s opinion piece for Newsday, he writes:

The Common Core standards are a definite improvement. They are clear, focused and rigorous — something even critics acknowledge. In the early grades, the standards emphasize foundational reading and math skills, and they acknowledge the importance of play to learning in kindergarten classrooms. By high school, they are focused on ensuring all students do the kind of demanding daily work that will prepare them for the range of opportunities that await them after graduation.

School District Funding Gap Leaves Poor Students Behind
New York Times // November 5, 2013

With limited federal funding, school districts heavily rely on local sources, putting students in poor districts at a disadvantage. This disparity is hard to ignore.

According to the New York Times:

[In the 2010-11 school year], the wealthiest 10 percent of school districts, in rich enclaves like Bridgehampton and Amagansett on Long Island, spent $25,505 on average per pupil. In the poorest 10 percent of New York’s school districts — in cities like Elmira, which has double the nation’s poverty rate and half its median family income — the average spending per student was only $12,861.

The article goes on to discuss how the disparity affects student performance:

In New York, according to Peter Applebee, an expert on education finance at the United Teacher’s union, only 18 percent of students in the poorest 10 percent of school districts scored above proficiency level in math last year. In the richest tenth, 45 percent did.

Why the Parent-Trigger Law is Necessary
Education Week // November 5, 2013

The parent-trigger law gives parents the right to force positive change in their children’s education. Retired California legislator Gloria Romero explains why she wrote the nation’s first parent-trigger law.

In the Education Week commentary piece, Romero explains:

Undoubtedly, if sweetheart contracts didn't enable effective teachers to bypass struggling neighborhood schools, and if bureaucrats actually used the federal laws at their disposal to transform such schools, I never would have had to write the parent-trigger law. But that was not the case. Lists of failing schools, representing hundreds of thousands of kids in California, were simply released and promptly ignored. Few people even knew about the lists, and those who did weren't outraged.

So I looked back to the foundations of our democracy and gave parents the right to take on their own government when it refused to act on behalf of their children. Thus, parent trigger was born.

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