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February 9, 2015
City’s charter-school oversight again questioned by Regents, who raise eyebrows themselves
For a third straight month, officials raised questions about charter schools under the city’s supervision.
October 27, 2014
Gov. Cuomo’s commission on ed-tech spending recommends more online learning
Districts across New York should look to expand online learning with proceeds from the Smart Schools Bond Act, but should also focus on careful planning,…
April 17, 2014
Geoffrey Canada, Google’s Eric Schmidt to advise state on tech spending
The state is expecting to have an extra $2 billion on hand to invest in school technology and other upgrades over the next few years, and…
February 10, 2014
De Blasio address, HCZ news, and Regents meeting all on tap today
It’s shaping up to be a busy Monday — with a lot of open questions — for New York’s schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio will…
November 6, 2013
Memphis is having the right conversation about education, says Geoffrey Canada
Memphis’ early childhood initiative means that the city is having the right conversation about education, said Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children’s Zone,…
January 2, 2013
Commission recommends broad overhaul, with few specifics
The high-profile commission charged with overhauling New York's public schools released its first set of recommendations today, endorsing several popular education reform policies but shying away from declaring a position on others. The full report, titled "Putting Students First," is below the jump. Governor Cuomo, who created the commission, stopped short of endorsing its recommendations, but did express early support for several ideas, including teacher performance pay and the community school model of using schools to offer supports beyond academic preparation. Other recommendations include expanding pre-kindergarten for students in poor districts, strengthening teacher and principal preparation programs, and extending the school day and year. The commission did not address some prickly issues, such as teacher evaluation. Chairman Richard Parsons said that was by design, citing a recommendation from State Education Commissioner John King that the commission wait to take up the topic until its next report, scheduled for next fall.
June 26, 2012
At first meeting, Cuomo's ed reform commission maps road trip
Who's who: John King, Randi Weingarten and Geoffrey Canada (in background), were among the top education officials who attended today's inaugural meeting. In foreground from left are Mary Anne Schmitt Carey, of Say Yes to Education, CUNY's Eduardo Marti, and Chair Dick Parsons, a former executive at Citigroup and Time Warner. At their first official meeting today, members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's blue-ribbon education reform commission stayed away from specifics. But their two-hour discussion, held in a Midtown conference room, previewed some of the issues they will tackle as they travel the state to learn about problems facing local school districts. The 25-member commission, announced more than six months ago, is tasked with coming up with recommendations aimed at reducing costs while improving the overall quality of the state's schools. A report is due in late 2012. New York State's 3.4 million student school system is diverse and complex. It boasts the country's largest school district — New York City — but it also includes six districts that employ fewer than eight teachers. At more than $18,000 per pupil, spending in the state is the highest in the country, 70 percent higher than the U.S. average, according to an analysis by Cuomo's office. Spending has increased dramatically in the last 15 years, outpacing inflation, but student performance has barely budged. The state ranks 39th in graduation rates (73.5 percent) and no higher than 19th on any of the four NAEP test scores. Cuomo has argued that the state's school funds should be used more efficiently. The commission — which includes many of the state's and country's top education officials, including union leader Randi Weingarten and state education chief John King — is supposed to figure out how to make that happen.
June 23, 2011
For newly-freed charter schools, different paths to dismissal
The three schools released from the UFT and NAACP lawsuit this week followed different paths to legal freedom. The case for one of the schools relied on a broad base of community support, but a single man, Geoffrey Canada, made the case for the other two schools. Charter school advocates believe Canada's profile as a well-regarded, African-American education reformer made him an unpopular target for the NAACP. They say the decision to drop these schools from the lawsuit, which charges that the co-locations give preferential treatment to charter school students, weren't made on legal merits. "It makes it pretty clear that it’s not about equity. It's not about the children," said Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II, whose new school in Bedford-Stuyvesant is named in the suit. "This is about politics." Girls Preparatory Academy was unique from the other 17 schools named in the suit because its co-location plan had already received widespread community support. At the initial public hearing in February, both of the schools' leaders endorsed co-location, as did Lisa Donlan, the district's Community Education Council president and a frequent charter school critic. “There was not one person who opposed this co-location,” Donlan said.
June 20, 2011
In NAACP lawsuit, settlement details emerge then quickly retract
An optimistic press release that was later retracted is the latest sign that discussions to settle a lawsuit over charter school co-locations are intensifying in advance of the suit's first day in court. On Friday, the NAACP announced an agreement with the Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to remove three schools from its lawsuit against the Department of Education. The announcement did not explain the changes, but indicated that the same solution could potentially be applied to each of the 19 charter schools listed in the suit. "Our conversations with the Department of Education are beginning to bear fruit," NAACP CEO Ben Jealous said in a statement from the press release. "Resolution on these three schools gives us hope. It allows us to focus on reaching the same agreement with regard to other schools." But education department officials said they were caught off guard by the press release, which was later retracted. They immediately called charter school founders and principals to deny that a deal had been struck. In an email sent to the city's charter school network on Sunday, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, whom Jealous credited for the deal, said he was "outraged that the NAACP issued a false statement about an agreement that does not exist."
June 20, 2011
Charter supporters seek kindred spirit to succeed Bloomberg
A screen shot of the web site registered 9 days ago that touts Eva Moskowitz for mayor in its title. Two websites registered recently — one earlier this month — raise an intriguing possibility: Could a charter school leader jump into the next mayoral race? The website addresses tout Eva Moskowitz, the founder of the Success Charter network, and Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children's Zone and Promise Academy charter schools, for mayor. Neither site includes any content. The websites, EvaMoskowitzForMayor.com and GeoffreyCanadaForMayor.com, might reflect mounting concern among charter school supporters that Mayor Bloomberg's successor will not continue his level of support for charter schools. The nervousness may have increased when Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress last week. Of all the likely mayoral candidates, Weiner had appeared to be one of the more supportive of charter schools. "Personally, as a New Yorker, Bloomberg's successor has weighed heavily on my mind," Democracy Prep charter network founder Seth Andrew, who registered the URL touting Canada in December, said in an e-mail statement. "While I think Mr. Canada would be a great choice, we've never talked about it and he's made it publicly clear that he loves his day job." Andrew used his personal email and mailing addresses to register the Canada site. EvaMoskowitzForMayor.com was registered anonymously through a hosting service based in California on June 6, according to WhoIs.Net, which publishes records of web site registrations. Responding to a request for comment by e-mail, a spokesperson for Moskowitz said that she had never heard of the domain. "Looked into it. Don't know anything about this domain. Let me know if you find out who bought it," Jenny Sedlis, the director of external affairs at Moskowitz's charter network, wrote via e-mail.
June 13, 2011
Parent group says it will file separate suit challenging closures
More litigation could be targeted at Tweed's plans to close struggling schools, even as one lawsuit seems to be headed toward an amicable settlement. The New York City Parents Union announced this afternoon that it plans to file a separate lawsuit against the Department of Education, charging that its policy of closing low-performing schools and co-locating charter schools in district space was illegal. The lawsuit, according to the announcement, would effectively stop all school closure and co-locations from moving forward. "We, the public school parents, challenge the cynical chicanery of Chancellor Walcott and the DOE. We reject the privatization agenda supported by Mayor Bloomberg and his appointees. Our children deserve the best education and a supportive administration, and we will fight for all children to receive equal access to a quality education," the statement said. The lawsuit would also seek to reverse charter school co-locations because they aren't charged market rent for space in district school buildings.
May 26, 2011
In Harlem, charter school parents and students target NAACP
Students and families protested today in Harlem against the NAACP's involvement in a lawsuit against school closures and charter school co-locations with district schools. (Chris Arp) About 2,500 people rallied in Harlem this morning, calling on the NAACP to withdraw from its lawsuit with the teachers union against the city Department of Education. That lawsuit seeks to stop the closure of 22 schools as well as the placement of several charter schools in district school space. Speakers at Thursday’s rally included charter school parents and teachers, Harlem Children's Zone president and CEO Geoffrey Canada, and the actor Seth Gilliam from “The Wire,” whose child is a on a waiting list for a charter school. Speakers and attendees denounced the NAACP’s participation in a lawsuit they said would harm charter schools primarily serving students of color. "Ms. Dukes, turn your back on this lawsuit,” said Kathy Kernizan, the parent of a student at the Uncommon Schools charter network, referring to Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference. A letter to Dukes with signatures from charter school advocates was circulated through the crowd asking the organization to withdraw from the suit. A spokesperson for the New York City Charter Center, which helped organize the event, said that more than 2,000 signatures had been collected this week. “We gotta demand quality education,” Canada told the crowd. “We have to be prepared to fight for that.” The city Department of Education's proposal calls for two of the charter schools associated with the Harlem Children's Zone, the Promise Academy charter schools, to be co-located inside district schools. The charter center spokesperson said the protest, held outside the Harlem State Office building at 125th Street, was not the work of any one organization. But at least two groups appear to have taken leading roles: the charter center, an advocacy and support organization for charter schools in the city, and the Success Charter Network created by Eva Moskowitz. Many of the families at the rally had children at one of the Success network's nine schools. (Seven of the network's schools are named in the lawsuit.) Click here for a slideshow of photographs from the rally.
July 13, 2010
An East Harlem group hopes to open a Latino Children's Zone
Myrta Cuadra-Lash, the executive director of Sinergia, hopes to replicate the Harlem Children's Zone in East Harlem. (via ##http://www.sinergiany.org/en/node/102##Sinergia##) If Myrta Cuadra-Lash gets her wish, she could become Latino New York's version of Geoffrey Canada, the now-famous founder of the Harlem Children's Zone. The executive director of the non-profit Sinergia, Cuadra-Lash is applying for a federal grant to create a Children's Zone for Latino youth. She's focusing on East Harlem, which is predominantly Latino, whereas the population currently served by Canada's program is African-American. Though Cuadra-Lash's idea is in its early stages — she's applying for a one-year planning grant — she's already brought three public schools, Mount Sinai Medical Center, two colleges, and other community organizations on board. Promise Neighborhood grants are part of the Obama administration's goal to replicate Canada's program, an anti-poverty experiment that follows children from birth to adulthood. Zeroing in on a few neighborhood blocks in Harlem, the Children's Zone offers parenting classes, after school activities, and has started its own network of charter schools. The program has received high praise — and some questions about the strength of its results so far and its scalability.
May 3, 2010
New Harlem Children's Zone building planned for public housing
The Harlem Children's Zone is planning to open a new building for one of its two charter schools on the grounds of the Saint Nicholas Houses. The school's proposed site is marked on the map in blue. The city and the Harlem Children’s Zone announced a deal today that would create more charter school space in Harlem — without, officials hope, setting off a new front in the bitter space wars there. The deal would have the city and philanthropists team up to fund construction of a new building on the grounds of a Harlem housing project, the Saint Nicholas Houses, HCZ President Geoffrey Canada and New York City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea said. The new building would eventually nearly double the number of students in HCZ schools without imposing on nearby district schools in Harlem. The convenient deal could avoid political headaches, but it will also likely raise questions about whether erecting a new $100 million building in Harlem is the best use of city capital dollars.
June 3, 2009
Learn NY video highlights link between Obama, mayoral control
Yesterday I highlighted a new book by some of Mayor Bloomberg’s most vocal education critics. Now, here’s a video put together by some…
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