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StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Discusses Charter Schools

StudentsFirstNY Executive Director Jenny Sedlis writes for the Daily News discussing the importance of charter schools for families with limited options:

Mayor de Blasio has vowed to end the tale of two cities, or at least to narrow the gap between the 99% and the 1%. One part of that gap is educational choice.

The wealthiest New Yorkers have an array of options — paying for private school, moving to a neighborhood with better schools or even moving outside New York City.

In the past, poor students were stuck with attending their zoned school whether or not it met their needs. Charter schools help to level the playing field by giving choice to the 99%. The families of 70,000 students have chosen to send them to charters in the city, deciding this was a better option. Of the students benefiting from this opportunity, 93% are African-American or Latino. Three-fourths receive free or reduced-price lunch.

But there are many in the 99% who still don’t have choice. There are 50,000 students on waiting lists for charter schools.

De Blasio should be credited for listening to the parents of the 50,000 students in need of pre-K. He should also listen to the demands of the families of an equal number of students on charter waiting lists.


Exclusive Interview with NYC Schools Chancellor

In an exclusive WYNC interview, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña talks about the impact teacher quality has in the classroom:

"I think the most important thing to do is what happens in the classroom. The best teacher in the classroom with kids who have the support they need, that's what's going to move the system."


NY Post Editorial: Parents Voice Must Be Heard in Anti-charter Lawsuit

Last Tuesday, New York City parents gathered at City Hall to protest the lawsuit against charter schools.

A New York Post editorial discusses the difficulties parents are facing as they try to become more involved in the lawsuit:

They [parents] are also seeking standing to intervene in the case, because they know the aim of the suit is to kill off their kids’ charters. It tells you all you need to know here that, in response, the United Federation of Teachers has filed a brief asking that the parents not be heard.

The editorial goes on to discuss the importance of listening to parents and questions the stance of Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña:

So how about it, Chancellor Fariña: Will you speak up for these parents, or let your silence speak for the teachers union?


NYC Earns A- on Nationwide Score Card

In a study that surveyed the nation’s 100 largest school districts, New York City scored an A-minus on an index evaluating school choice and competition. The only city to score higher was New Orleans, which had executed critical education policies following Hurricane Katrina.

According to the New York Post, Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed plans for slowing the growth of charter schools by charging some for rent which could hurt the city’s score on school choice.

Several individuals have spoken out against de Blasio’s policies including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) who is scheduled to give a speech on Wednesday:

“Mayor de Blasio should abandon this plan and allow New York’s charter schools to continue to flourish,” Cantor will say, according to the prepared remarks.


Charter School Supporters Rally at City Hall Against Co-Location Lawsuits

Last year, two lawsuits were filed to reverse 30 New York City charter schools co-locations. In July, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew filed the a lawsuit to stop 11 charter school co-locations, and on December 27th, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James filed a suit to stop an additional 19 charter school co-locations.

On Tuesday, Families for Excellent Schools held a rally at City Hall with charter school parents calling for these lawsuits to be dropped. They claimed reversing the co-location policies for these schools could displace 5,600 students.

According to Capital New York, several parents spoke out in support of charter schools:

Damisa Henry, who has a child at a Success Academy in Crown Heights, said, "If this lawsuit is successful my daughter will not be able to continue to attend a school she loves. I would ask elected officials to come visit our schools. See what you are trying to take away."

Rafael Lois, whose daughter attends Girls Prep Charter School in the the Bronx, said he would have to find another school for his sixth grade daughter if James' suit is successful. He said that Girls Prep was one of the only schools in the Bronx that received an 'A' on the Department of Education's report card, and said his daughter's only other option in the neighborhood would "pretty much be a failing school."


NY Post Editorial: Bill de Blasio Wants to Assess Charter Schools

In New York City, a lawsuit was filed last month to prevent charter schools from sharing space with public schools. While Mayor Bill de Blasio opposed co-locations during his campaign, he wants to assess each school’s record before denying them space.

A New York Post editorial discusses why this is a smart move for de Blasio:

Fact is, schools have shared space for decades. But the teachers union, threatened by charters that outperform traditional, union-run schools, thinks it can squash the competition by depriving it of real estate.

We’ve backed charters because they offer hope to students and parents stuck in failing public schools. But even if de Blasio doesn’t agree, it still makes sense for him to look at each school’s record before letting a court starve them to death by denying them space.


New York Post Opinion: NYC Schools Chancellor Faces Many Challenges

Recently, Mayor Bill de Blasio selected Carmen Farina as the new schools chancellor of New York City. Jenny Sedlis, executive director of StudentsFirstNY, outlines several challenges Farina will face as the new chancellor.

In an opinion piece for the New York Post, Sedlis discusses topics regarding education reform such as the teachers contract, the Common Core, failing schools, teacher quality, charter schools, and testing:

These are all immense challenges, but our new chancellor will not have to face them alone. There are concerned New Yorkers ready to help. We are among them, and we look forward to working with her in the months ahead to build on our students’ progress and continue to work for a public education system that gives all New York City schoolchildren the chance to realize their dreams.


StudentsFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: December 16-20

In this week's education news: NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott reflects on accomplishments during the Bloomberg administration, columnists discuss the future of NYC education under Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, and NY State education leaders and Teach For America support the Common Core standards.

Opinion: de Blasio Can Succeed Where Others Have Fallen Short
NY Daily News // December 16, 2013

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has a golden opportunity to adopt Mayor Bloomberg's successes in education and apply them across New York City.

NYC Education Chancellor Focuses on Securing Bloomberg’s Legacy
Crain's New York Business // December 16, 2013

New York City is anxious to learn who mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will select as the new Chancellor of Education. Current chancellor Dennis Walcott shares his thoughts on NYC education as he prepares to leave office, making sure Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s school-reform policies are secured.

State Education Leaders Stand By the Common Core
Times Union // December 16, 2013

Recently, the New York State Educational Conference Board issued five recommendations to help improve the transition to the Common Core curriculum.

NY Times Editorial: What We Can Learn From Other Countries
New York Times // December 17, 2013

A recent survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicated that out of twelve developed countries, American adults only performed better than two countries in mathematical and problem-solving skills. High performing countries demonstrate successful education policies that the United States should adopt to improve student performance.

Mayor Bloomberg Leaves Important Education Legacy
New York Post // December 17, 2013

During his twelve-year term, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a significant impact on New York City, including great improvements to the school system. Bloomberg fully supported the charter school movement and is the first mayor to obtain complete control of NYC schools.

Teach For America Endorses the Common Core
Education Week // December 18, 2013

Teach For America, an organization that enlists recent college graduates as teachers, has released a statement supporting the Common Core standards.

New Report Finds Bloomberg Education Reforms Will Create Economic Gains
Capital New York // December 18, 2013

A new report finds that education reforms under Mayor Mike Bloomberg have led to student success that will boost incomes and property values in New York City.

How Students in One NY School District Are Benefiting from the Common Core
Times Union // December 18, 2013

While some adults continue to critique the Common Core, students are benefiting from higher standards in the classroom.

Editorial: The Next NYC Schools Chancellor
The Observer // December 18, 2013

New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is facing pressure to select a chancellor that will place the students’ interests above the United Federation of Teachers and special interest groups.

Mayor Bloomberg Transformed NYC Education
Queens Chronicle // December 19, 2013

As Michael Bloomberg’s term comes to an end, his most controversial decisions that transformed New York City schools are reviewed. Being the first to have mayoral control over NYC education, Bloomberg created more than 100 charter schools, increased the number of career and technical schools, and improved SAT performance among high school seniors.

How Public and Charter Schools Can Get Along
WNYC // December 19, 2013

With the number of public and charter schools increasing in New York City, real estate is limited causing schools to share the same space. New York City principals give advice on how public and charter schools can share space in an effective and cooperative manner.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott Reflects on his Accomplishments
GothamSchools // December 19, 2013

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has served in his current position since April 2011.


Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott Reflects on his Accomplishments

New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has served in his current position since April 2011. Before that, he was a deputy mayor under Mayor Michael Bloomberg who was focused on education. With just a few days left as the top school administrator in New York City, Walcott reflected on his accomplishments.

In an interview with GothamSchools, Walcott said he hoped his work and the Bloomberg administration would be remembered for beginning the transformation of New York City's public schools:

GothamSchools: We have a new history [now] of what was going on 12 years ago. What do you hope that people will be saying about your administration 12 years from now?

Walcott: That’s interesting.That we laid a solid foundation for the future success of our children. That we shook up the system to improve outcomes for our students. And that they were not afraid to tackle very difficult and thorny issues and not worry about polls.

[That] they were not hesitant as far as the belief in trying to provide quality choices for our students. And looking back and having a very whimsical smile on their face on the meetings that lasted until four o'clock in the morning but at the same time, it was worth it. Because looking from 12 years back, if shows that they were truly committed to withstanding a variety of different types of pressures to really focus on children.


Mayor Bloomberg Transformed NYC Education

As Michael Bloomberg’s term comes to an end, his most controversial decisions that transformed New York City schools are reviewed. Being the first to have mayoral control over NYC education, Bloomberg created more than 100 charter schools, increased the number of career and technical schools, and improved SAT performance among high school seniors.

According to Queens Chronicle, current Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott discusses achievements in education during Bloomberg’s administration including the increase in charter schools:

Another factor that helped improve school reputation, Walcott said, was the increase in charter schools. When the Bloomberg administration took office, the charter movement was still in its infancy. Mayoral control gave Bloomberg’s first schools chancellor, Joel Klein, power to explore charter schools as an option.

“As Joel looked at the system, he concluded a number of things. One of them was he wasn’t going to be able to fix the school system from the top down,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center. “He saw that the school was the unit of change.”

He said the opening of new charters — 175 since Bloomberg took office — provided more choice for parents, especially in areas with failing schools where parents were struggling to send their children to better schools outside their communities. Merriman said charters have had trouble keeping up with demand. More than 70,000 students are now in charter schools, with 50,000 parents on waiting lists.


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