StudentsFirstNY Weekly Education News Roundup: October 28 - November 1, 2013

StudentsFirstNY // November 1, 2013

In this week's education news: Common Core curriculum hearings come to NYC, Bill de Blasio proposes legislation that would affect charitable giving to charter schools, and PTA groups report a wide disparity in fundraising.

StudentsFirstNY Shares Parent Statements at Hearing on Common Core
SchoolBook // October 30, 2013

At a recent hearing before the New York Senate Standing Committee on Education, New York State Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch discussed the new Common Core standards.

Tisch said that while the new standards are tough, they will help students succeed in the modern economy.

StudentsFirstNY attended the meeting and support for the Common Core on behalf of parents. SchoolBook reports:

"... representatives from the group Students First New York brought statements from parents praising Common Core's emphasis on reading books such as "Charlotte's Web" at an earlier age."

Common Core Forums to Be Scheduled for NYC
Capital New York // October 30, 2013

The New York State Education Department has already scheduled 16 forums on the Common Core curriculum in upstate New York and Long Island. This week, they are expected to announce at least five additional forum in New York City.

In Capital New York, Executive Director Jenny Sedlis praised State Education Commissioner John King for his handling of the Common Core curriculum implementation:

Jenny Sedlis, executive director of StudentsFirstNY, a group that advocates for the Common Core, among other issues, said in a statement: "Commissioner King has fully demonstrated his commitment to listening to parents across New York State as he goes about the necessary work of bringing rich and rigorous content into the classroom."

Charter and District Schools Share Education Goals
GothamSchools // October 30, 2013

While candidates in the mayoral race argue over the value of charter schools, educators from both charters and district schools are working to share best practices and help each other.

In a post on GothamSchools, Morty Ballen, the Founder & CEO of Explore Charter Schools in Brooklyn and Stacy Goldstein, the Principal of School of the Future High School in Manhattan, discuss how they collaborate with leaders from district schools:

There are fundamental and meaningful differences between district-run schools and charter schools, which can include curricular choices, autonomy and level of union involvement. But the political fights focusing on the differences draw attention away from another important conversation that needs to be taking place, about what we have in common.

The goal of providing the best education possible is a shared goal, and teachers in both kinds of schools tend to check politics at the door and focus on educating students. The debate over real estate does little to recognize what's happening in schools every day: the very difficult challenges educators confront and the hard work they're doing to improve education for all students, no matter what kind of school they attend.

Bill de Blasio's Proposed Charity Legislation Will Hurt Charters
New York Post // October 29, 2013

New Yorkers will elect a new mayor in less than a week. According to the polls, Democrat Bill de Blasio is set to beat Republican Joe Lhota by a wide margin. Given de Blasio's stature in the race, the New York Post is beginning to question the frontrunner's proposed policies.

According to the New York Post, de Blasio supports legislation that would force charities to spread their money around across different causes. As an example, the Central Park Conservancy would be required to donate up to 20 percent of its funds to other parks across NYC.

The logic holds for charter schools as well. Wealthy benefactors who support charters would by law need to spread their finances around to other causes, which would harm these schools. The Post explains:

The same goes for de Blasio's bashing of "wealthy charters." Fact is, part of the reason charters need private money is they get no funding for capital expenses. And if Bill de Blasio really wants to ensure the city give all its schoolchildren fair and equal funding without regrard to race, religion or economic standing, there's a very easy answer: Issue each city schoolchild a voucher for the exact same dollar amount.

Opinion: Charter Schools are Public Schools, Not Corporations
New York Post // October 30, 2013

CEO and founder of Explore Schools, Morty Ballen, writes an opinion piece clarifying the misconception that charter schools are corporations. Ballen stresses that charter schools should not pay rent as they are public schools, educating “public-school students, in public-school buildings, with public dollars.”

In the New York Post, he writes:

Without a doubt, a rent charge could have dire financial implications for our schools, but I’m more troubled by the feeling that our families are treated differently from other public-school parents and kids. It’s not right.

Students attending an Explore School are attending a public school — and, like the other 1.1 million public students in New York City, our students are entitled to have a roof over their head as they get the outstanding education they deserve.

Buffalo School Board Member Encourages Support for Common Core Standards
The Buffalo News // October 30, 2013

New York State United Teachers is fighting to prevent the implementation of a teacher evaluation system as part of Common Core standards that would better prepare students for college.

James M. Sampson of the West District on the Buffalo School Board writes an opinion piece encouraging citizens to stand behind Governor Andrew Cuomo, and State Education Commissioner John King.

Sampson writes in The Buffalo News:

The union's call for a three-year moratorium on using the new standards to evaluate teachers would be a step in the wrong direction. That's the kind of thinking that has kept the bar too low for too long. With only 9 percent of Buffalo students hitting language arts standards and only 12 percent in math, we know that we have to demand more of our district and of ourselves.

We need to stand with the governor and King, not the special interests dedicated to the status quo. Change is never easy, but we are failing our students if we shrink from this moment.

PTA Groups for the Best-funded Public Schools Raise $53 Million
New York Daily News // October 31, 2013

In an analysis of tax documents by Families for Excellent Schools, PTA groups from NYC's 30 best-funded public schools collectively raised $53 million over the past five years.

However, PTA groups in less-affluent neighborhoods have struggled to raise money for public school programs.

New York Daily News reports:

The parent leadership council at Coney Island Prep charter school has been unable to raise anything for school programs, said parent Joe Herrera, who is also the group’s vice president. A proposal by mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio to charge charter schools rent would only pinch the school more, he said.

“If we had to pay rent, it would make the inequality worse,” Herrera said.