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Free this Bed-Stuy high school to excel: Boys and Girls needs more flexibility and higher standards

By Gideon Gabbidon, the parent of three graduates of Boys and Girls High School

This past June, my son graduated from Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant. And while I was proud that he received his diploma, there was also a sense of relief that Orlando will no longer be attending this struggling school. You see, over the past few years, Boys and Girls has fallen on hard times — and the students and teachers there need real leadership to get back on track.

There’s no more time for putting band-aids on the school’s problems. The time is now to make serious changes so no more kids have to suffer.

Read the full oped in the New York Daily News.

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What works for NYC students

When schools in New York City consistently failed generations of students, the Bloomberg Administration and Chancellor Joel Klein phased them out and replaced them with smaller schools. 

Critics questioned whether the school closures benefited students. The evidence is now clearly in. 

A new report from The Research Alliance for NYC Schools shows the policy had significant benefit for students. The report analyzed academic outcomes of 20,600 students who attended one of 29 high schools closed between 2003 and 2009. 

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Testing transparency is working in New York state

By Jenny Sedlis, the executive director of StudentsFirstNY, and Stephen Sigmund, the executive director of High Achievement New York

Since the rollout of the Common Core curriculum in New York, opponents have claimed that teachers and parents were not provided with an appropriate number of released questions from the aligned grade 3-8 assessments, as well as the background to both understand the tests themselves and to help their children succeed.

First, the state didn't release enough information about the assessments. Then it was criticized for releasing the information too slowly.

However, according to a new report, the state has not only heard these criticisms, it has addressed them. It's time for opponents to recognize these essential good faith efforts and to engage in a constructive conversation aimed at ensuring that all children are being assessed on worthwhile, rigorous material.

Read the full oped in City & State.

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The Graduation Facade: How New York City’s Diploma Mills Mask College Readiness Crisis

At the start of 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed a two-point increase in New York City’s high school graduation rate to approximately 70 percent. The Mayor said the City was on its way to achieving his goal of 80 percent graduation in the next ten years. The goal would be admirable if it weren’t being used as a façade to cover up a larger issue – the fact that college readiness in NYC high schools lags far behind graduation rates.

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Open Letter from a NYC Parent: Stop Transferring Ineffective Teachers to Our Low-Income Schools

By Au Hogan, a New York City public school parent and grandparent from Jamaica, Queens.

Last week, I was one of hundreds of New York City parents rallying outside City Hall to demand answers about teacher quality — and the city’s “Absent Teacher Reserve.” As public school parents, citizens and taxpayers, we deserve to have our voices heard when it comes to the future of our children.

But instead of listening to me, or the voices of the other parents who came out that day, Mayor Bill de Blasio blew right past. He didn’t stop and listen; didn’t even break his stride. His dismissive reaction speaks volumes about how much he really cares about what real people think about the state of our public schools.

Read the full oped in The 74.

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Parents Demand Details from Mayor de Blasio

On June 14th, more than 500 parents and students gathered on the steps of City Hall to call on Mayor de Blasio to deliver details on how his administration is addressing teacher quality and the Absent Teacher Reserve pool. They also delivered the signatures of more than 7,500 New Yorkers who joined the campaign.

Watch the video to learn more, and then share it on Twitter and Facebook.

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A Safe Place to Learn

By Nicole Thomas, mother of a third grader and fifth grader at P.S. 256 in Bedford-Stuyvesant and a parent volunteer with StudentsFirstNY

A year ago I was appalled to discover, from local news reports, that police had arrested a teacher at my two kids’ school, P.S. 256 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, for performing a sex act on a student. I was concerned about how a person like Mr. Grant could have slipped through the cracks to end up in the front of a classroom. As a parent, I want to prevent any future Mr. Grants from entering my kids’ school or any other school in the city.

Last month, a group of parents joined me to attend a town hall meeting with Chancellor Carmen Farina to ask her questions about follow up from the incident and how to prevent it from happening anywhere again. When I looked into the case, I learned that there are several problems in the system that made this possible, so I wanted to know if the Chancellor is working to fix them.

Read the full oped on Medium.

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Parents Demand Accountability from Mayor de Blasio Outside Mayoral Control Hearing

Public school parents from across New York City gathered outside the New York Senate's second mayoral control hearing to send a clear message: Parents are dissatisfied with the quality of NYC public schools and they expect Mayor de Blasio to be held accountable.

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Mayoral Control = More Accountability

By Tenicka Boyd, StudentsFirstNY Senior Director of Organizing

My New York State Senate Mayoral Control Hearings Testimony

Good afternoon. My name is Tenicka Boyd and I am the Senior Director of Organizing for StudentsFirstNY and a New York City public school parent in Brooklyn.

First off, I want thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify about mayoral control.

My bottom line is: Mayor de Blasio wants control of the schools without any of the scrutiny. New York City public schools are not good enough and the Mayor must be held accountable. You have a copy of my testimony, but I wanted to summarize it and then give you some insight into the parent experience.

Read the full testimony on Medium.

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Bronx Families Deserve More Choice in Schools

Shalamar & Kashay Ward and Rossileny Linarez are all parent members of the leading education reform organization StudentsFirstNY

Like a lot of parents in the Bronx, we worry about the quality of the schools in our neighborhoods and we wish we had better choices in where to send our kids to school. We believe in the value of education and we understand how important it is for our kids to get a solid foundation starting an early age. That’s why it’s so frustrating to watch our children struggle in chronically failing schools. Ours kids work so hard, but the system is letting them down. That’s why the system needs to change. We need more choice, including more charter schools, in the Bronx.

Read the full oped in The Bronx Chronicle.

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