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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Here We Go Again

The Children's Network was quietly being set up last year, with the moving of employees in offices formerly labelled "Integrated Service Center" (ISC)to many of the same rooms and floors labelled "Children First Network".

If you focus on the name alone, you get a sense that there is a warm and fuzzy program (CFN) addressing the needs of children - I mean, now the product being manufactured is actually in the TITLE!!! The "Empowerment" School network, and words like ""school district" and "integrated service center" simply don't have the same ring to them.

So, all people-in-the-know, (those people who know that Joel Klein and Mayor Bloomberg actually couldn't care less about children attending public schools in NYC) listen up: dont be surprised that when you protest Klein/Bloomberg's policies under the Children First banner, you will hear that YOU are the one fighting against putting children first. Oh, and one more item of interest that should not be passed over quickly: if you read the CFN Network of Principals list below, under "New Visions Partnership Support Organization"you will see the familiar name of Attorney Chad Vignola, fired several years ago for giving former Deputy Chancellor Diana Lam's husband a job as Principal without checking with the Conflicts of Interest Board. If you click here you can see that he does not mention his work for the NYC BOE at all!!

Children First Networks

Children First Network (CFN) is an initiative designed to integrate operational and instructional support for schools. The goal is to expand the philosophy of devolving as much decision-making power as possible to the people who know schools best: principals, teachers and school staff. Each CFN network employs a 13-person, cross-functional team directly accountable to principals that delivers personalized service to an average of 25 schools. The ultimate goal is to streamline operations and build capacity within schools so school-based staff can focus their time on instruction and accelerate student achievement.

The following networks of principals have chosen to operate as a Children First Network:

CEI-PEA Support Organization
Ben Waxman

Community LSO
Yvonne Young

Empowerment Schools Association
Shona Gibson
Charlene Smith
Yuet Chu
Bob Cohen
Jon Green/Patrick Fagan
Anya Hurwitz
Maria Quail

Empowerment Schools Organization
Marisol Bradbury
Laurence Harvey
Varleton McDonald
Altagracia Santana
Emily Sharrock

Integrated Curriculum and Instruction LSO
Gerard Beirne
Laura Feijoo
Dan Feigelson
Ira Pernick*
Janet Won*

Gerard Beirne
Laura Feijoo
Dan Feigelson
Ira Pernick*
Janet Won*

Leadership LSO
Richard Cintron
Irene Rogan

New Visions Partnership Support Organization
Chad Vignola

* The Pernick and Won networks will share one CFN team.

Eric Nadelstern

A DOE plan to personalize bureaucracy is making unions nervous
Posted By Elizabeth Green On March 10, 2009

In a quiet project that has union activists gritting their teeth with concern, the Department of Education is once again moving to reshape its own bureaucracy — this time by offering about 300 schools the option to transform the way they manage basic back-office tasks, from busing to budget planning to monitoring medical vaccinations. The change, which principals are learning about this month and which is set to begin in September, would be the third time these schools have transformed the way they work with the system bureaucracy since Mayor Bloomberg took control of the schools in 2002.

The way operational services are handled has already changed several times since 2002. When Bloomberg first took office, 32 individual district offices — plus separate offices for high schools, alternative schools, and special education schools — managed school operations. Those were replaced by six offices serving 10 regions after Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s first reorganization of the school system [1], and then by a single Integrated Service Center, with five borough branches, after Klein revised the structure again in 2006. [2] During the 2006 reorganization, instructional services were also relocated, to a group of nine support organizations from which principals now choose one.

The new format would further personalize services by expanding a model that’s been quietly piloted for the last two years under the name of the Children First Network. Rather than leaning on the imposing ISC for help writing their budgets and managing paperwork-heavy responsibilities like special education, the 90 schools in the Children First Network bypass the ISC altogether. Instead, each group of about 20 schools — the configuration known in all of the citywide support organizations as a “network” — works with a team of 13 staff members who do the same tasks performed by the ISC, but on a smaller scale.

Because these staff members focus only on the 20 schools they are assigned to, principals in the program say they are less like bureaucrats and more like partners. “I know these people really, really well. They’re not some faceless bureaucrat sitting halfway across the city that I only know through e-mail and phone calls,” said a principal in the pilot phase of the network, Michael Soet of Brooklyn’s International High School. “These are people that I really know well.”

The close attention means principals can free themselves of much of the business of running a school day to day and focus instead on the business of educating their students. Before she joined CFN, Marisol Bradbury, principal at Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory High School, said she spent hours managing tasks unrelated to instruction. “You would have to call one person, then call someone else, and then send that person to a different office, and then that person would have to communicate with someone else,” she said. “With CFN, it’s been such a better way of living.”

Chief Schools Officer Eric Nadelstern, who launched CFN when he headed the system’s empowerment schools program and is continuing to manage it, said the satisfaction has translated into better schools. Ratings of all the school system’s roughly 70 networks of schools [3] indicate that the first network to join CFN has risen from about the middle of the pack to the No. 1 network in the city, Nadelstern said. He said the ratings, which are based on student test scores, graduation rates, and other measures included on the school progress reports, will become public in the next few months.

The ratings are one reason Nadelstern and Klein decided to expand the pilot, which in the first two years included just four networks and was funded by a private grant from the NewSchools Venture Fund [4]. Starting next fall, the department will open CFN up to as many as 20 networks, an expansion that could bring more than 350 schools into the program.

While Nadelstern focuses on the instructional advantages he hopes will come out of the expansion, the news of the change has created something of a frenzy among some who worry it will cause confusion [5] of the sort that accompanied previous reorganizations of the school system’s bureaucracy — and at the worst possible time, during a budget crisis. A teachers union source who is familiar with the plan pointed out that the expansion would mean moving as many as 128 administrative staff from the ISC to networks. He said that kind of change looks unmistakably like a third reorganization of the school system. “I don’t know how else you can look at it, because you’re going to be shifting support people across the city of New York,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations are still underway with school officials.

Though the DOE has insisted the project won’t carry any new costs, and that it could even save money over time, the principals union is not yet convinced. “There is a certain amount of automatic suspicion because the DOE has spent a lot of money over time,” said Chiara Coletti, the union’s communications director. “We want them to demonstrate to us why it is cost neutral.”

Nadelstern and department officials insist that the change is not a reorganization, but rather an expansion of options. Principals already choose which instructional support system they’d like from a menu of options; now, Nadelstern says, they can also choose how they’d like to have their back-office needs supported. “Choice and competition have proven effective on the instructional side of the equation,” Nadelstern said. “We think it’s going to prove equally effective on the operational side.”

URLs in this post:

[1] reorganization of the school system:

[2] 2006.:

[3] Ratings of all the school system’s roughly 70 networks of schools:—-and-publicly/

[4] NewSchools Venture Fund:

[5] confusion:

Education officials rethinking how schools get support, again
by Anna Phillips

Call it early spring cleaning: the city’s Department of Education is planning its third official reorganization of how schools receive support services in eight years.

Support organization leaders say the new plan involves decentralizing the city’s large service centers, which offer schools assistance with writing their budgets and handling the mountains of paperwork that pile up. Since 2007, a Brooklyn principal would call the Brooklyn Integrated Service Center for help with these tasks; now, she’ll turn to a small group that’s assigned to work with her school through her support organization.

The groups, called Children First Networks, are part of a model that has been quietly piloted for several years by Eric Nadelstern, the DOE’s chief schools officer. About 300 schools are already part of the CFNs, an expansion that took place last year and is now being extended to all of the city’s public schools. The networks are small — each has a staff of 13 staff members — and are meant to personalize the way schools receive non-academic, logistical support.

Under the new plan, all schools will bypass the ISCs and go straight to the smaller networks, putting the ISCs out of business. The CFNs will be aligned with existing support organizations so that, for example, a school in the New Visions for Public Schools support organization will be paired with one of the organization’s several CFNs, each of which will focus on only about 25 schools.

The DOE refused to comment on the changes, which it plans to announce officially later this week.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city’s teachers union, said the city’s schools have seen enough turmoil in the last few years and this latest change would only create confusion.

“At this point the schools feel completely isolated and unsupported,” Mulgrew said.

“With the ISCs, at least there are general places where you know you’re going to get the safety, the special education, the back office stuff that you need. Now you’re telling me you’re going to spread that among how many CFN networks, do you really think they have the capacity to deal with all these issues?” he said.

Sy Fliegel, president of the Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association, which has already had a CFN for a year, said the piloted reorganization had earned positive reviews from the principals he works with.

“It’s not like calling down to Tweed where you don’t know who you’re getting,” Fliegel said. “And principals seem to be much happier with it.”

The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the union that represents principals and the executive administrators who run each of the ISCs, is worried that the reorganization could cost ISC staff members their jobs.

A spokeswoman for CSA, Chiara Coletti, said the CFNs will be staffed by former ISC members, who will have to apply with support organizations for jobs with their CFNs.

Anita Batisti, who runs Fordham University’s support organization, said support organization leaders are still waiting to hear the details of exactly how the city is redrawing its bureaucratic lines.

When Bloomberg first took office, 32 individual district offices — plus separate offices for high schools, alternative schools, and special education schools — managed school operations. During Chancellor Joel Klein’s first reorganization of the school system, those districts were replaced by six offices serving 10 regions. In 2006, Klein revamped the structure again, creating a single Integrated Service Center with branches each of the five boroughs. During the 2006 reorganization, instructional services were also relocated, to a group of support organizations from which principals now choose one. Depending on who you ask, the third unofficial reorganization occurred last year when the city expanded the Children First Network pilot program from 90 schools to 300.

“It feels a little bit like we’re going full circle,” Coletti said. “Now we’ll have networks that are like a district system. The difference is the old district system was geographic, which was quite healthy,” she said.

NYC BOE School Support Organizations
At least what they say are SSOs as of January 21, 2010
Schools have long benefited from support and assistance from people outside the building to help identify best practices in education; to provide targeted strategies for specific students in need of extra help; and to help prioritize among competing demands on resources and time.

To ensure that the support from outside the school is consistent with and advances the school’s priorities and focus, school leaders need the ability to choose the kind of support that best meets their needs.

This spring, schools will have the opportunity to again learn about different School Support Organizations (SSO) and choose to either renew their current SSO or select a different SSO. Principals should consult with their school community in April and make a final SSO selection by the beginning of May.

Regardless of which School Support Organization a school chooses, schools will remain public schools subject to the authority of the Department, the Chancellor, and the community and high school superintendents, as well as all Chancellor’s regulations. Every principal signed a Statement of Performance Terms and operates under the same policies regarding student placement, suspension, collective bargaining agreements, financial reporting, and other areas as outlined by the Department and State law.

View information about the SSO selection process, learning opportunities, and frequently asked questions.

Click on the links below to learn more about each SSO.

Academy for Educational Development

Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association

Community Learning Support Organization

City University of New York Center for School Support and Success

Empowerment Schools Association (ESA) and Empowerment Schools Organization (ESO)

Fordham University PSO

Integrated Curriculum and Instruction Learning Support Organization

Knowledge Network Learning Support Organization

Leadership Learning Support Organization

New Visions for Public Schools

Replications, Inc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Please check the below for answers to the most frequently asked questions. If you do not see your question, please refer to the contacts listed at the end of this page.

Will every school in the City be required to select a School Support Organization?
All eligible schools must either renew their commitment to their current SSO or choose a new SSO by May 1, 2009.

How will schools learn about their options and make a selection for school year 2009-10?
Information about all SSO options is available to principals and school communities on the Department of Education Website. Most SSOs have also scheduled informational open house events that will give schools a chance to learn about their school support options. Schools must choose an SSO by May 1. Schools’ choices are subject to the approval of the Community District or High School Superintendent.

Will School Support Organizations be assigned to schools?
No. In consultation with the School Leadership Team, each principal must either renew their relationship with their current SSO or choose a new SSO to best meet their school’s support needs. The DOE will make every effort to provide that choice. Because PSOs may have capacity constraints, we will ask principals to list more than one choice, in rank order of preference, until they have listed an organization that does not have capacity constraints (ESO or an LSO).

How will schools choose a School Support Organization?
Principals will first consider the unique characteristics and needs of their school, including their student population, teaching staff, and school community. Principals will be able to analyze the School Support Organization options in consultation with their School Leadership Team. By May 1, Principals will rank order their preference for SSOs.

Are there different prices for School Support Organizations?
The costs of SSOs range from $26,500 to $60,000. The difference between the least and most expensive is about $33,500. We are targeting to share budget information with schools by mid-April and schools are given an allocation specifically to cover the SSO price. Budgets, however, should not drive any school’s choice of SSO. Schools should assess support options based on their individual school’s needs.

How can I learn more about school support options?
Descriptive and data profiles for all School Support Organizations are available on the Department of Education website. Many SSOs are also hosting events that provide an opportunity to learn more. View a list of opportunities on the DOE Web site.

Can a principal choose not to have any support organization?
No. All schools must choose an SSO, as they provide critical supports to schools as well as affiliation opportunities where best practices can be shared among affiliated schools.

Will parents and teachers be able to provide input in the SSO selection process?School Leadership Teams must be consulted as part of Principals’ SSO decision-making.

How will schools be matched with networks?
Many SSOs organize schools into smaller networks. Those SSOs each have a unique process for networking. Principals will have the opportunity to express a network preference when selecting an SSO. For more information about the networking process in a particular SSO, contact the SSO directly. The Division of School Support does not manage the networking process.

Can a school stay with their current SSO but switch networks?
Yes. Schools may want to switch networks for a variety of reasons. To facilitate this process, Principals will have the opportunity to express a network preference when selecting an SSO. To learn more about this option, first consult with the specific SSO (rather than the Division of School Support) to learn more about their SSO networking process.

What are the main responsibilities of the School Support Organizations?
School Support Organizations (SSOs) will support schools in a variety of ways. This support might include:

* helping schools to identify the best ways to help students achieve academically;
* identifying actions and practices that the schools can/should pursue in reaction to accountability and performance information about students; supporting schools as they implement those strategies;
* coaching principals on how to improve their schools’ performance;
* identifying promising practices in schools that could be useful in other schools
* sourcing outside expertise on any question related to curriculum, scheduling, or staffing, and facilitating networking among schools to share best practices;
* responding to individual school requests for help, either supporting directly or acting as a liaison to other organizations/individuals who can help; and
* serving as liaison to central DOE services.

How will Principals be held accountable by School Support Organizations?
The Chancellor and Superintendents hold principals accountable for student achievement as measured by the Progress Reports, School Quality Reviews, and Principal Performance Reviews. Principals are also responsible for ensuring full compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws; state regulations; Chancellor’s Regulations; applicable collective bargaining agreements; and city-wide policies. SSOs support principals in their work related to these measures, but SSO staff do not serve in a supervisory capacity. All Principals will sign and be held to a Statement of Performance Terms that outlines terms for their students’ academic performance and progress.

What is the Children First Network (CFN)?
Children First Network (CFN) is an initiative designed to integrate operational and instructional support for schools. The goal is to expand the philosophy of devolving as much decision-making power as possible to the people who know schools best: principals, teachers and school staff. Each CFN network employs a 13-person, cross-functional team directly accountable to principals that delivers personalized service to an average of 25 schools. The ultimate goal is to streamline operations and build capacity within schools so school-based staff can focus their time on instruction and accelerate student achievement.

Do all SSOs have the CFN option?
All SSOs and networks were invited to express interest in adopting the CFN model. Since the CFN initiative is driven by principal choice, principals currently in existing networks needed to decide as a group to pursue the CFN option. The Division of School Support and leadership of the ISCs are working together to continue to improve services from the Integrated Service Centers. Within the ISCs, the ratio of staff to schools will remain the same.

When is the deadline for selecting an SSO?
By May 1, principals must either renew their commitment to their current SSO or choose a new SSO. Principals facing circumstances that prevent them from making a choice by May 1 should e-mail a request for an extension directly to the Chancellor and state the reasons.

Who should I contact if my question is not listed here?
For questions about SSOs and their support, please contact the appropriate SSO:

SSO Contact person Phone # E-mail address
AED PSO 212-367-4594
CEI-PEA PSO Bill Colavito, Senior Fellow 212-302-8800
Community LSO Elaine Goldberg, CEO 718-935-3701
Robert Graham, Deputy CEO 718-935-3707
CUNY PSO Cass Conrad, Executive Director 646-344-7267
Empowerment Schools MAK Mitchell & Justin Tyack, Cluster Leaders
Vincent Brevetti & Jackie Young, Cluster Leaders
Anthony Conelli & Nigel Pugh, Cluster Leaders
Fordham PSO Anita Batisti, Ph. D. 212-636-7009
ICI LSO 718-391-6500
Knowledge Network LSO 718-642-5701
Leadership LSO Laura Rodriguez, CEO 718-828-7731 / 917-714-7633
Yael Kalban, Special Assistant 718-828-7755 / 646-761-0815
New Visions PSO 212-645-5110
Replications PSO John Sullivan 212-714-3514

For all other questions, please contact

State Senate President Malcolm Smith gave $100 G in State Funds To Charter School

This action may not be illegal, but it feels yucky.


State Senate President Malcolm Smith gave $100 G in state funds to Queens school he founded
BY Kenneth Lovett, DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU CHIEF, Sunday, January 17th 2010, 4:00 AM

State Senate President Malcolm Smith steered $100,000 in state funds to a Queens charter school he helped found, the Daily News has learned.

The money was earmarked this budget year for educational programs at Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School in Far Rockaway.

Smith was a founder of the school, which was chartered in 2004, and an original board member. His spokesman said he divested ties to the school when he became Senate minority leader in November 2006.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), a close ally of Smith's, is still listed as a board member.

In 2006 and 2007, Smith received a total of $12,000 in campaign donations from Steven Klinsky,pictured at right, who founded the school's management company, Victory Schools Inc.

Victory has been the school's management company since 2004, according to a company official. The charter school's latest tax documents show it paid $762,322 in management fees.

While there does not appear to be anything illegal about Smith's steering tax money to the school from local assistance funds that he controls, the move raised some eyebrows.

"I don't know if it's inappropriate under the law, but it points to the influence the charter school association has on the crafting of legislation as a real special interest," said Richard Ianuzzi, president of the powerful state teachers' union.

Charter schools are publicly financed but privately run.

"Sen. Smith has been completely divested from any involvement in the governance and administration of the school for" about four years, Smith spokesman Austin Shafran said.

Peninsula Preparatory Academy Principal Ericka Wala said the school, which aims to "create a challenging, technology-rich learning environment," has yet to receive the $100,000, which is earmarked for computers.

Wala said Smith has no direct involvement with the school. She referred all other questions to school board chairwoman Betty Leon, who could not be reached for comment.

Victory officials said that Klinsky's donations were meant as a show of support for Smith's pro-charter school stance. Smith recently introduced a bill to double the amount of charters allowed under law.

Phylis Shafran is a Democratic Party Dream. Austin is a political appointee.