StudentsFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: November 9-15

StudentsFirstNY // November 15, 2013

In this week's education news: a national report card shows education reform is working, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's education agenda could take 16,000 students out of charter schools and teachers show support for the Common Core.

Aggressive Teacher Evaluations Improve Test Results
New York Daily News // November 10, 2013

Recent test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicate that states with aggressive teacher evaluation plans outpace the nation.

In an op-ed, the New York Daily News notes that Washington D.C. and Tennessee have seen improvements in teacher performance due to evaluation systems that hold teachers accountable:

In 2009, the school district in the nation’s capital, then led by Michelle Rhee, put in place a bold, mega-controversial teacher evaluation system that systematically rated instructors, rewarded top performers with bonuses of up to $25,000 and gave low performers a year to improve or find another line of work.

The Daily News calls for newly elected mayor Bill de Blasio and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew to implement similar policies in NYC:

The two must not be allowed to rob the city’s kids of the best hope in a generation of getting a high-quality teacher in every classroom.

Education Commissioner Must Deliver Results
New York Post // November 15, 2013

As New York state executes new teacher evaluation plans and Common Core standards, State Education Commissioner John King must improve student performance to reduce criticism from opponents.

In an opinion piece, the New York Post pressures King to deliver results comparable to states who have seen improvements in student performance as a result of the Common Core:

The bottom line is results. If John King hopes to rebut his critics, he will need to deliver gains like those we’ve seen in Tennessee and DC.

The opinion piece referred to the latest National Assessment of Education Progress report, providing evidence on Tennessee’s recent achievements in education:

Take Tennessee. The Volunteer State adopted a fairly reasonable teacher-rating system in 2009. Like New York, it also raised its student-performance standards to match the Common Core.

Guess what: The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress reports — long considered the gold standard in testing — show the scores of Tennessee kids shooting up four to seven points over 2011 on fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading tests. Tennessee achieved these gains, moreover, at a time when scores nation-wide showed little or no improvement.

Study: de Blasio Could Kick 16,000 Students Out of Charter Schools
New York Post // November 9, 2013

Last week, Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of New York City with 74 percent of the vote.

de Blasio has made no secret of his plans for NYC's expanding charter school network: he wants to place a moratorium on their growth and charge rent to charter schools that share space inside a larger public school. The New York Post states that these policies, if enacted, could take up to 16,000 students out of a city charter school:

But we suspect that the roughly one-quarter of New Yorkers who didn't back [de Blasio] include some of the city's most vulnerable people: moms and dads with kids in charter schools.

These people fear de Blasio's campaign promise of a moratorium on new charter-school co-locations. With good reason. According to Families for Excellent Schools, a charter-advocacy group, fully 15,817 city schoolchildren could lose access to a charter school if the moratorium goes through.

Charging Rent to Charter Schools Sets Up Double-Standard
New York Post // November 11, 2013

Why should New York City's cultural institutions be allowed to use city land free of charge while successful charter schools be forced to pay rent?

That's the policy position Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has taken as he comes into office. He believes that the cultural organiztaions boost tourism and generate revenue for the City. But de Blasio's critics argue that charter schools are also benefiting New York City.

The New York Post reports:

The mayor-elect plans to charge rent to well-funded charter schools that serve kids in poor neighborhoods, while 34 top cultural institutions - including museums and music venues with huge endowments and million-dollar CEOs - continue to use city space without paying rent.

New Mayor Under Pressure to Select NYC’s Next Schools Chancellor
New York Daily News // November 10, 2013

One of the biggest decisions newly elected mayor Bill de Blasio will face is selecting the next chancellor for NYC schools.

According to the New York Daily News, observers are paying close attention to who de Blasio selects as well as how he makes his decision:

Insiders, advocates and union leaders said de Blasio is already well-versed in education and has consulted with key players for years on how the public schools should be run.

Contenders, such as New York University Prof. Pedro Noguera and school network leader Bob Hughes lack the state education certification de Blasio has said his eventual pick must possess.

And other possible choices, such as former Baltimore schools boss Andrés Alonso and the city’s academic chief Shael Polakow-Suransky, may be too close to Bloomberg for the job.

Bronx Teacher Supports Common Core and Teacher Evaluation Plans
WNYC // November 12, 2013

Despite common misconceptions, New York teachers support education reforms such as the Common Core and teacher evaluation systems. Recently, Bronx teacher Nick Lawrence testified in front of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Education, voicing his support for change.

In his contributing piece for WNYC, Lawrence describes his testimony, acknowledging that education reforms are advantageous:

From where I stand in front of my classroom, the reforms – specifically, the new teacher evaluation system and Common Core learning standards – have advanced both teaching and learning in New York public schools.

Lawrence goes on to disprove the common notion that teachers do not support the Common Core:

The evaluations of ‘how’ we teach come as we implement the new Common Core State Standards. One would think from the tone of the debate that a few greedy for-profit textbook companies are the only entities on earth that support the new standards. But I have some news for the professional Common Core–haters: it’s just not true. A recent poll conducted by the National Education Association – the country’s largest teachers’ union – found that about 75 percent of teachers favor the new standards.

Common Core: Essential for Educational Justice
Capital New York // November 13, 2013

Transitioning to the Common Core standards has not been easy but it is essential. On Tuesday, Education Commissioner of New York John King gave a speech to teachers at a Common Core training in Albany.

According to Capital New York, King thanked the teachers for their hard work and compared the challenge of adopting Common Core standards to the Civil Rights movement:

“Change is hard,” he continued. “It is challenging, and it is tiring, but the goal, their goal, was to advance the cause of civil rights. Our goal is to advance the cause of civil rights through educational justice, through ensuring that all of our students have access to the richest possible instruction that prepares them to succeed when they graduate from high school, in college and careers, and prepares them to be good citizens.”