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February 19, 2019
After 10 months, the education department released Richard Carranza’s briefing memos. Read them here.
The education department took almost 10 months to give Chalkbeat the documents, issuing form letters to extend their own deadlines on three separate occasions.
January 29, 2019
How did an out-of-town chancellor get to know NYC schools? Read Richard Carranza’s calendar.
Forty-five media interviews. Forty-six meetings with City Hall officials. A sit-down with an Obama nutrition advisor and White House chef.
September 21, 2017
Private managers of public schools, charter leaders enjoy extra buffer from public-records laws
Moskowitz and officials at other charter school networks treated differently under FOIL law than those employed by government entities.
September 13, 2017
New York City education department to improve response to public record requests
The education department is among the least responsive city agencies.
April 18, 2017
Requesting public records from NYC’s education department? Be prepared to wait… 103 days
"My thought was, ‘Gee things are going to get so much better’ and the reverse has occurred."
November 15, 2012
UFT lawsuit pushes back on education department redactions
A page from a batch of Department of Education emails released in June was almost completely redacted when it was released in response to a Freedom of Information Law request. The UFT is suing over the scope of the department's redactions. The city teachers union wants the Department of Education to justify withholding large swaths of information in emails it released to the union earlier this year. The UFT announced today that it is filing a lawsuit charging that the department redacted more than it should have when it fulfilled a union request for internal emails earlier this year. The emails were the target of a May 2010 Freedom of Information Law request by the UFT. The union wanted to see the communication exchanged between top department officials and charter school supporters in late 2009 and early 2010, a period when legislators were under pressure to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The department did not quickly release the emails, saying that the request was too broad when it deferred the request each month. In April, two years after first asking for the emails, the union filed suit over the delay, and shortly after that, the department started releasing the emails in sections. The emails shed some light on the department's internal communications and showed that then-Chancellor Joel Klein kept close tabs on legislative advocacy around charter schools. But to a significant extent, they revealed nothing. "The latest internal Department of Education emails to come to light are mostly dark: The 228 pages released today contain large swaths of blacked-out text," we wrote in June, when the city released hundreds of messages from December 2009.
July 12, 2012
Emails illuminate SUNY's 2010 bid to keep authorizing charters
A chart from a 2010 analysis that compared charter schools' performance by authorizer. When a researcher with a penchant for crunching charter school data sat down to compare New York State's charter authorizers in 2010, her impetus wasn't merely academic. For Jonas Chartock, then the director of one of three authorizers, who requested an analysis, the data was a matter of survival. “At the time there was a real push by some politicians to eliminate SUNY as an authorizer,” said Chartock, who headed SUNY's Charter School Institute until early 2011. Chartock asked Macke Raymond, a Stanford researcher who had just wrapped up a broad study of New York City's charter sector, to examine her school performance data based on which office had authorized it. Her comparison showed up as an attachment to one of several hundred Department of Education emails released last week in response to a teachers union's Freedom of Information Law request. Raymond found that students at SUNY-authorized charter schools improved at a quicker pace than students at schools authorized by the State Education Department and the city Department of Education. At schools authorized by SED, she found, students actually lost ground over time.
June 21, 2012
Legislators pass teacher data shield bill despite reservations
The high-profile debate on public access to teacher evaluations ended today when lawmakers signed off on a bill making the data available to parents, despite reluctance and opposition on both sides. The bill, which was introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, passed the Assembly 118-17. Cuomo called it a compromise between those aligned with the teachers unions, who opposed releasing teacher performance data, and officials who wanted full disclosure of the data. Not everyone was satisfied by the compromise. Many assemblymen said they felt the bill still left teachers vulnerable. Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement that he felt the opposite. “I believe that parents have a right to full disclosure when it comes to information about their child’s education, and I am disappointed that this bill falls short of that goal," he said. Many assemblymen said before the vote that they were supporting the bill in the spirit of compromise, although they said the bill itself was weak. One New York City lawmaker apologized to principals for the bill because he said he believed it would give them a host of new responsibilities in order to comply with the law. "I'm sorry for you principals out there for what we're doing to you today," said Bronx lawmaker Michael Benedetto. "I'll be voting for this very reluctantly."
May 25, 2012
Principal evaluation results stabilized with test scores last year
As test scores stabilized last year, so did principals' evaluations. Two years ago, the state made it harder for students to score proficient on state exams. Scores dropped — and so did principals' ratings, because the ratings are based almost entirely on student test scores. Last year's test scores were more consistent with the previous year's results. Almost 90 percent of schools received the same grade on their city progress report as they had the year before, or rose or fell by just one letter grade. Because of the way the city calculates principals' performance ratings, the stable test scores meant that most principals' annual ratings could only improve. As a result, only about 1 percent of principals — 18 out of 1,485 — got the lowest rating on the city's five-point scale in 2010-2011. More than 25 percent landed in the highest category, "substantially meets expectations." Of the lowest-scoring principals, only five remained in their position this year.
May 14, 2009
NYCLU: Lawmakers should stop DOE from being so secretive
Mayor Bloomberg's school leadership has been characterized by secrecy, defiance of the law, and a heavy hand in school discipline, the New York Civil Liberties Union declared today in a report titled "The Price of Power." The report details NYCLU's experiences with the Bloomberg-controlled Department of Education stalling on responding to Freedom of Information Law requests, refusing to comply with student safety-related laws passed by the City Council, and refusing to provide basic data about military recruitment that the organization said the U.S. Armed Forces provided freely. The report deliberately avoids some of the major questions of the debate about mayoral control of the city's schools, including whether the mayor should appoint the chancellor and whether the mayor should control the number of seats on the citywide school board. But it does offer recommendations on the law, which is set to sunset June 30 if it's not renewed or revised. The recommendations include making the public school system a city, rather than state, agency, which would bring it under a slate of good governance regulations about public notification of policy changes; opening the school system to audits by the city comptroller and public advocate; and requiring that schools contracts get publicly vetted. Transforming the Department of Education into a city agency would also allow the City Council to make laws about the public schools that the DOE would be accountable for implementing. Like others recommending changes to mayoral control, NYCLU is saying that the city's Independent Budget Office should get the right to receive and review DOE data, but the group adds the idea that the department needs an "inspector general" who would investigate systemic wrongdoing.
April 3, 2009
Pressure is mounting on DOE to follow city contracts rules
City Council Member Melinda Katz introduced a resolution asking the state to change the law so that the Department of Education is required to follow…
March 24, 2009
The missing SCI reports are notable for what they don't include
PHOTO: Nicholas GarciaThe receptionist at the office of the Special Commissioner of Investigations, Richard Condon. Condon's staff takes up more than an entire floor at its financial district building. I just picked up the 600 pages of reports on wrongdoing and misconduct by city school employees that got sent to Chancellor Joel Klein in 2007 and 2008, but never surfaced publicly. The Post highlighted some of the contents: a Stuyvesant librarian's unauthorized field trips to a Quiz Bowl, a substitute teacher who showed students a movie in which he appeared with a semi-naked woman. But the biggest story is what is not in this file: Any investigations into top or even mid-level Department of Education officials, or any evidence of educators fudging student performance data to make their school look better. The absence is matched by a similar drought among those investigations that have been publicized. The development suggests one of two conclusions. On one hand, the new reports could disprove critics' concerns that growing pressure to produce higher test scores and graduate more students has led some educators to cheat. They could also squash the speculation that the Special Commissioner of Investigations, Richard Condon, somehow managed to cover up looks into higher-profile targets. On the other hand, the cynical conclusion is that high-level misbehavior and cheating are happening with little intervention from an office whose purpose is to investigate schools for misconduct.
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