Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Integrating The Schools - A Tale Of Two Districts

Chalkbeat correctly pointed out why integrating Brooklyn's District 15 middle schools had different roots than District 28 in Queens.  According to Chalkbeat, District 15's integration program was parent led and resisted pushback from other parents.  Moreover, the parent advocacy in District 15 is quite liberal and supports the Mayor and Chancellor when it comes to eliminating the standardized test for the specialized high schools.  Finally, the middle schools had a districtwide middle school screening program that saw many students leave their neighborhood to other middle schools in the district.

By contrast, the proposed District 28 integration plan was spearheaded by the now departed Superintendent who didn't bother to ask her parents what they thought.  The DOE actually promoted her for her incompetence  Moreover District 28 parents in the Forest Hills and Rego Park communities are strongly opposed to any integration plan that require their children to be bused out of their neighborhoods.  Finally, these parents also support standardized testing for the specialized high schools.

The District 28 working group was selected in secrecy, without parent input.  Moreover, the large Jewish community was not represented in the integration working group when, under pressure, the working group was named.

In summary, what might work for District 15 is a potential disaster for District 28 when it comes to integrating the middle schools.

Note:  The DOE has delayed (cancelled?) the District 28 middle school integration plan due to intense parent backlash.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Maspeth High School In The News Again

Maspeth high school which has been identified for a massive cheating scandal, finds itself in the New York Post as a Dean and Math teacher was quietly removed from the school in December.  The teacher was identified by the New York Post as Danny Sepulveda.  According to the DOE, Mr. Sepulveda was removed for reasons unrelated to the academic fraud at the school.

According to the article by Susan Edelman, Mr. Sepulveda was identified as one of the teachers that supplied students with answers to the Regents.  He was alleged to have sent a text message to another teacher and wrote the following:

 “Having someone fail and not graduate HS because of a state exam that colleges never look at is more of a failure than anything else. I look at state tests as the anti-christ,” Sepulveda wrote.

In the Maspeth cheating scandal no administrators have been punished so far and no teachers who were identified as part of the cheating scandal were removed.  One would think the DOE has basically closed their collective eyes to the academic fraud at Maspeth high school and the many other schools in New York City  In fact, the FBI has started an investigation on the widespread academic fraud of the NYC school system as OSI and SCI has failed to seriously investigate the academic fraud issue

You can read my articles on Maspeth high school Here and Here.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Governor Cuomo's Steath Charter Cap Expansion

Governor Andrew Cuomo has buried in his proposed budget an expansion of the charter cap in New York City. This shows that the Governor is still beholden to the Chharter industry and their education reform supporters despite his claims that he supports public education in the State..

Buried in budget documents released late Tuesday was a proposal to make room for more charter schools in New York City. In 2015, the state set a limit on how many charter schools could open in New York City in the years ahead: 50. Authorizers hit that cap last year. But the total number of charters available has actually been slightly higher, since a 2017 deal allowed authorizers to reissue 22 charters originally issued to charter schools that closed before July 2015.

This week, Cuomo proposed expanding that number, offering a new pathway to open charters as state lawmakers show no signs of wanting to increase the charter cap. His plan would allow authorizers to re-issue as many abandoned or leftover charters as they have available, though it wasn’t immediately clear how many that amounted to.  Is it 10, 25, 50?

In addition, the Governor's budget once again short-changes the schools by only increasing funding less than what the State Board of of Regents proposed.  His proposed spending increase is less than half of what the state’s education policymakers and advocacy groups have called for. It also fell $175 million short of the year-over-year increase the governor suggested last year. 

Chalkbeat has an article about the Governor's proposed budget Here.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mayor De Blasio And Chancellor Carranza's Student Discipline Policy Is A Disaster

One of the worst policies of the Bill de Blasio administration is his student discipline policy.  Principals are no longer are allowed to suspend violent and misbehaving students without approval by Tweed and since the Mayor and Chancellor frowns on suspensions, far too many students are sent back to class to continue the reign of terror,  Instead the violent or misbehaving student is required to attend the useless restorative justice session which they find as a joke.

To hide the unsafe climate at schools, the Mayor and Chancellor have made it clear that school administrators are not to report incidents and to quietly handle it at the school.  The result is that fewer incidents are reported and the Mayor and Chancellor can claim that the schools are safer.  Of course, if you ask students and teachers you would hear a different story. They would tell you that there is widespread bullying and intimidation as well as threats to students and staff.

The latest incident that school administrators tried to cover up was a middle school girl fight in the cafeteria at MS 158 in Bayside Queens.  The school administration never reported the fight and it was only after a parent of the girl who was beaten up and reported the attack to the police who then arrested the other girl, did the school administration report the incident.  You can see the fight Here.  In another incident, last year,at the same school a girl was sexually harassed numerous times and groped by a boy who exposed himself to her and the school administration did not take any action.  The boy decided he could sexually harass the girl whenever he wanted and finally the girl told her parents who called the police and he boy was arrested.  The school also failed to suspend a male student who sexually molested another male student.

At the District 26 meeting, a teacher cited the new discipline code for lowering morale and leaving teachers unable “to effectively manage classrooms,” adding that staff are “no longer respected and supported.”  Even the head of the usually dead-quiet principals’ union, Mark Cannizzaro, recently sounded the alarm, writing Carranza: “In many schools, misconduct is on the rise, leading some students to believe there are little or no consequences for disruptive, openly defiant and even violent behavior.” Principals and staff feel “unsupported” by system higher-ups, he complained.

Chancellor Carranza went to the District 26 Town Hall at MS 74 and when parents confronted him about the lax student discipline policy he refused to respond and quickly left the meeting without addressing the parent concerns.  The Chancellor's cowardly action shows that it may be time to find a new Chancellor who puts school safety first.  Read the New York Post opinion article on the Chancellor's cowardly action at the MS 74 Town Hall.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

NYC Graduation Rate Continues To Show A Racial Gap

The New York City high school graduation rate inched up to 77.3% and of course Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Richard Carranza hailed it.  However, they were silent on the racial achievement gap.  Black (74%) and Hispanic (72%) were lower than Whites (85%) while Asians(88%) had a 3% higher graduation rate than Whites.

Of all kids who began their freshman year in 2015, 88.2 percent of Asian students were handed a diploma last year, followed by whites at 85 percent, blacks at 73.7 percent, and Hispanics at 72 percent, according to the figures.  More discouraging was the graduation rate for Special Education students and English Language Learners who only had a graduation rate of 52.5% and 40.9% respectively.

While City Hall and the Department of Education cast these annual hikes as evidence of skillful stewardship, continually shifting standards and graduation requirements give critics pause.   Moreover, students have been given new routes to graduation in recent years. Changes include the option of taking assessments in languages other than English and swapping out a required social studies exam for a test in another subject, including art and math.  Finally the State made it easier to appeal low Regents grades.

 Statewide, while the State achieved an 83.4% graduation rate,  only 12% of black students and 17% of Hispanic students earned advanced designation, compared with more than 47% of white students.  I suspect that these numbers are lower for New York City.. Charter schools in the State only had a 80.8% graduation rate,which is  2.6% less than traditional public schools in the State.

Chancellor Carranza has vowed to have a graduation rate of 84% by 2025 which will only increase the already abundant academic New York City high schools.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Will Eliminaing The Gifted and Talented Programs Cause Middle Class Flight?

Chancellor Richard Carranza's goal of integrating the New York City Public Schools has run into fierce resistance from middle class parents, especially Asian parents.  Except for a couple of District middle schools, the Chancellor has been unable to convince parents to agree to his proposals.

One exception is a Brooklyn elementary school. PS 9 which will eliminate their "Gifted and Talented" program to help foster a truly integrated classroom.  While the school's goal is a worthy cause, the reality is that it will ultimately fail as middle class families will send their children to schools that have a "Gifted and Talented" program or move to another school district.  The question is will the elimination of the "Gifted and Talented" program lead to middle class flight?  I believe it will if the school really goes through wit their ill-conceived program of integrating the classroom.

The bottom line is the school may win the battle but lose the war on integration.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Charter Schools Lose Again On Teacher Certification

The New York State Appellate Division, Third Department upheld  a lower court ruling that the SUNY alternate teacher certification scheme for charter schools was not allowed under State education law.  The Appellate Court unanimously rejected SUNY's argument that they had the authority to have an alternative teacher certification for charter schools.

It's no secret that charter schools are having trouble in recruiting and retaining certified teachers and by State law are only allowed to have no more than 15% uncertified teachers on their staff.  My guess is if the State scrutinize the charter schools they would find that most violate that limitation.  Take Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy High School in Manhattan that saw an astonishing 70% teacher turnover in one year.

  I know of a Science teacher that was unfairly terminated by the DOE but every year charter schools compete with each other to hire the teacher since most of them lack a certified Science teacher.  The Science teacher tells me that every charter school she teaches in, the next year most  teachers are either not invited back due to money, incompetent administration, lack of certification, or because many teachers quit during or after the school year.

The State and local teacher unions as well as the NAACP, the Board of Regents, and The NYSED oppose the alternate teacher certification scheme and the unions called the SUNY teacher certification scheme as "Fake certification".  The alternate certification scheme only consists of 160 hours of classroom instruction and 40 hours of practice teaching and allows the charter school to self-certify to get around the 15% uncertified teacher limitation.

Will SUNY appeal to the NYS Court of Appeals?  Probably since they are supported by deep pockets charter school supporters but with a unanimous decision at the Appellate Court, it does not look promising for the charter schools.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Rating The Democratic Candidates Based On Their Education Policy

This post is to grade the Democratic Presidential candidates based on their education policies. Obviously,  Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, and Cory Booker get a  failing grade for their support of charter schools and their cozy relationship with education reform organizations..

Bernie Sanders:

Bernie is pro public education and wants to increase teacher pay and wants to fully fund our traditional public schools while putting a freeze on new charter schools.  Moreover, he wants existing charter schools to be held accountable as traditional public schools are.  Finally, he also wants the charter schools to have the same studnt demographics and percentage of high needs students as the neighborhood schools.


Elizabeth Warren:

Ms. Warren has similar education policies as Bernie Sanders, except she is somewhat vague about how she would implement her education policy which gives her wiggle room if she becomes President which is somewhat concerning.


Peter Buttigieg

Mr. Buttigieg's education policy is influenced by his husband who is a middle school teacher in a private school and wants to raise teacher pay and ban for profit charter schools.  Unlike Sanders and Warren he is silent on publicly funded charter schools and as Mayor he supported some state voucher programs but claims he is against vouchers now.


Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar's education policy wants to increase teacher pay but supports charter schools as long as they don't steal funding from traditional public schools.  She voted against a federal voucher system as a Senator.


Andrew Yang:

Andrew Yang's education policy is ill-defined but because of his autistic son, he is sensitive to Special Education and wants public schools to be fully funded.  He supports charter schools but has not spelled out his complete education policy.


Joe Biden:

Joe Biden has a long track record on education and as Obama's Vice President he supported the Obama administration on attacking teachers and supporting charter schools.  He also supported the teacher evaluation system that unfairly blamed teachers for student academic growth.that resulted in many teachers getting terminated nationwide. He gets support from education reform organizations. He is trying to distance himself from Obama on education but who can trust him?


Cory Booker:

Cory Booker's education policy is ome of the worst as he is a strong charter school supporter and many of his donations comes from hedge funds and Wall Street.  He is the favorite of education reformers.  He would get my lowest grade with the exception of Michael Bloomberg.


Michael Bloomberg:

Michael Bloomberg's education policy resulted in over 150 schools to close in New York City,giving money to charter schools while under funding traditional public schools and despised the teacher union.  He once suggested at MIT that he supports doubling class size and reduce the teaching staff by half.  He was the darling of the education reform organizations.  Finally, he ignored parents and community leaders when it came to education issues.  See my posts Here.


Tom Steyer:

Tom Steyer's education policy is unknown, except he wants to give every student an equity opportunity but doesn't explain the specifics so he gets no grade.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Representative IIhan Omar Voted Anti-Semite Of The Year

I'm an independent voter and usually vote Democratic but there are some Democrats I will not vote for.  They are the "squad".  The squad consists of four house representatives that are considered far left progressives and out of touch with mainstream society.  This post focuses on only one of these far left progressives, IIlan Omar.

In a poll by a Jewish NGO  representative IIhan Omar beat out the perennial winner Louis Farrakhan and Richard Spenser who were in the top three.  What has IIhan Omar done to get the anti-semitism of the year award for 2019?

1. Accusing American Jewry of possessing dual loyalty.

2. Alleging that Jews buy their influence with money, infamously stating “It’s all about the Benjamins.”

3. Accusing Israel of having hypnotized the world.

4. Supporting the anti-semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

5. Submitting a resolution in the House of Representatives comparing boycotting Israel to boycotting the Nazis.

6. Having her anti-semitic statements endorsed by infamous neo-Nazi David Duke.

The organization also mentioned her refusal to take back or regret many of her anti-semitic comments, as well as the backing she receives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.  She also wants to sanction Democratic Israel and wants to eliminate sanctions on the dictatorship in Iran.

The NGO has a video of the anti-semitic tropes Here.

Note:  The NYC schools will be developing a school curriculum  to combat antisemitism Here.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Chancellor Carranza Keeps Selecting Perverts In His Inner Circle

Chancellor Richard Carranza selected as his Deputy Chief of staff David Hay, despite the DOE not fully vetting him.  It turns out that David Hay was arrested in Wisconsin for arraigning for a sexual tryst with a 14 year old boy.  Read the New York Post article Here.

This follows the abrupt resignation of Richard Carranza's protege, Abram Jimenez, tapped as  “senior executive director for continuous school improvement”. only two weeks into the school year.  Mr Jimenez was also not fully vetted by the DOE despite his high level position.  He was found to have alleged financial mismanagement and was forced to quit as an Assistant Principal.  Moreover, as a teacher he accepted a three year probation for inappropriate comments to students, including sexual innuendoes and threatening behavior.

Then there is Carranza appointed Bronx Executive Superintendent, Meisha Porter, who organized and raised funds from subordinates for a lavish party celebrating her birthday and August 2018 promotion by Carranza, which apparently violated the Chancellor's conflict of interest rules. It appears SCI, while notified of the lavish party, chose not to investigate.  You can read the entire story Here.  Did the Chancellor take appropriate action and fire her?  Of course not.

Finally, there is the deep seated academic fraud that exists in the DOE that the Chancellor refuses to address and even protects the perpetrators Here.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

My Predictions For 2020

The education issues for 2020 are many and some of them are complicated.  Here is my best guess.

School Integration:
Chancellor Carranza would like to integrate the public schools and despite some limited success in certain school districts like District 15 in Brooklyn  and District 3 in Manhattan.  Most of the Districts are either highly segregated or resistant like District 28 in Queens.  I expect little progress in integrating the NYC shools without causing large scale middle class flight and expensive busing to implement the Chancellor's wishful policy.

Class Size:
Mayor Bill de Blasio will probably not support lower class sizes unless the State fully funds the schoolz but with the State expecting a major budget shortfall of 6.1 billion dollars, the Mayor will shortchange the schools by only funding them at 90%.  The result is that class sizes will continue to be the largest in New York State.

Fair Student Funding:
I don't expect the DOE to eliminate school based fair student funding since many of the Bloomberg holdovers remain in policy making positions, despite some small changes by Chancellor Carranza..

ATR Pool:
Look for the ATR pool to continue at current levels as a result of the fair student funding and hiring practices that discriminate against veteran teachers.  I also do not expect an ATR buyout this year.  The DOE pilot program that allows the worst schools to hire an ATR without being charged might be expanded to other terrible schools that no self respecting ATR would accept.

The Open Market Transfer Syste:
I believe that the Open Market Transfer System will remain unchanged and only non tenured teachers will be offered positions as principals will not hire veteran teachers due to their salary.

I hope I'm wrong but I doubt it.: