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Monday, August 8, 2011

New York City Department/Board of Education: Administrators Needed

Are you a "network innovation manager"? Do you have experience managing/staffing an office for "central innovation"? If so, then run over to the nearest CFN (Children's First Network) and give out your resume with these important buzz words in there somewhere. Maybe you got a college degree in cup-cake creation. That definitely could go under "innovation manager" - every cupcake is unique, right? The frosting is swirled left on one, right on another, etc., etc. Just leave out the part about the cupcake.

Betsy Combier

Educrats win Race to the Top

By YOAV GONEN Education Reporter, Last Updated: 10:09 AM, August 8, 2011

The city's plan for more than $255 million in federal Race to the Top funds has something for everyone -- especially educrats, data analysts and consultants, a Post review has found.

The 32-page document calls for creating dozens of positions for midlevel managers at a tab of $28 million -- including $5 million to hire "network innovation managers" and "central innovation staff" to create personalized learning programs at just 25 schools.

Another $3.3 million will go toward hiring such experts as operations analysts, to oversee "talent management," which essentially means supporting the staffers who support the schools.

Nearly $6 million in funding is also earmarked for hiring external consultants to analyze, strategize and design several of the new initiatives.

"I see a lot of money going to figuring out how to measure things . . . I don't see anything in here that's for kids," United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said.

The money is part of New York's $696 million share of the $4 billion pot of last year's Race to the Top funds.

City Department of Education officials said federal guidelines dictate that the money be spent in just four categories: standards and assessments, data systems that support instruction, great teachers and principals and turning around low-performing schools.

The guidelines also require 25 percent of the district's funds to be spent on new teacher- and principal-evaluation systems.

Of the $47 million the city has earmarked for developing new assessments and online tests, $32.2 million is needed for tests that are aligned with a new Core Curriculum the state is adopting. The UFT’s parent union has even sued the state to ensure that districts have tests other than the current annual state tests for evaluating teachers.

DOE officials said the goal of Race to the Top wasn’t to introduce a program here or a program there, but to make deeper changes that reform teaching and learning across the board.

Since much of that effort involves training teachers and principals on using new systems or initiatives, as much as $78 million will go toward bulking up staff at networks that directly support schools – including $22.8 million dedicated to special education instruction and data analysis work.

Making grade

By CHUCK BENNETT,  NYPOST, July 16, 2011

Nothing like a $65 million federal grant to get the city Department of Education and teachers union to come together to fix struggling schools.

The two sides announced a deal yesterday to institute wide-ranging reforms on how teachers are evaluated and compensated at 33 low-performing high and intermediate schools to meet the terms of the grant.

Under the agreement, teachers at the 33 schools -- all considered "lowest achieving" -- will use a new state-approved system that rates teachers by four categories: highly effective; effective; developing; and ineffective.

Currently, teachers are ranked only satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

Teachers with two years of ineffective ratings could be removed.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew praised the deal, but noted that the new ratings won't spread to other schools.

"Does this mean because of the agreement we are moving towards schoolwide agreement? No, it does not mean that," Mulgrew told The Post.

Sources told The Post that state education officials pressured both sides to reach an agreement to avoid losing the grant.

Yesterday's deal involves other major changes. as well.

The schools will have four models or plans of improvement to follow.

Under those plans, principals of the failing schools will generally be replaced while skilled teachers who take on more responsibility in the schools will get paid more.

"With this agreement, we will be able to bring millions of dollars in federal funding to these struggling schools," Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.

For instance, "master teachers" are eligible for a 30 percent bump in pay if they mentor other teachers and work an additional 100 hours a year. And nonprofits will consult with schools to boost student achievement.

Granted Under the deal:

* City gets $65 million federal grant to fix 33 low-performing schools.
* Pays for higher teacher salaries, nonprofit consultants.
* Union agrees to a more rigorous teacher-evaluation system.
* Principals can be replaced with new leadership.

Haunting Words to Inspire Every Teacher

By Marilyn Rhames on August 2, 2011 10:48 AM

Back in the days when I had no idea of what was actually required to be a good teacher, back when I was in grad school studying education theory and making foolish assumptions about how to manage students, I walked in on a conversation in a teacher's lounge that would change my life.

I had recently fled—yes I said fled—an elementary school on the West Side of Chicago. My year of student teaching had begun with the principal telling her staff that she hired us because we were physically attractive and that she loved the "green stuff" (gesturing money with her fingertips) and thus would have no problem firing any of us to save her job. She frequently used the P.A. system to spread her tyranny. Once she announced basketball try-outs and bluntly added that students who weren't skilled at the game should not show up. "I like to win," she said.

I shared a class with a mentor teacher who passed out worksheets all day and once responded to an insult from a student by saying, "You're talking about yo' mama." Some days I felt more like a bouncer than a resident teacher because I had to break up fights in the hallways and shout at the top of my lungs to get students' attention in class. I knew that if I were to gain any positive teaching tools, I'd have to go to another school. So after six months, I fled. The split was so messy that I didn't get a chance to say good-bye to my students. I ended up finishing my training at a progressive public school on a different side of the city.

That's when I stumbled in on that life-changing conversation in the teacher's lounge. The chatter was animated. A few teachers were reminiscing about their classroom horror stories at other schools: John dashed out of the classroom ... Sarah threatened to jump out the window, again ... Angel knocked over bookshelves in a fit of rage .... And in my desire to fit in and one-up the last tale, I began to share about the unbelievable dysfunction at my old school. Even though I hadn't yet earned my teaching certificate, I felt like I had earned some stripes. I was persevering to educate the youth despite the insanity within the urban public school system. I was the heroine of the story, fearless and unafraid.

"It happened to them," were the four words that shut me and the other teachers up. "It happened to them, not to you. You tell the stories like it's some kind of entertainment, but it happened to them—the kids. They are the ones who 30 years from now will remember these stories with tears in their eyes."

It was the middle school social studies teacher. He was a demur white man in his late 30s who often wore cardigans like Mr. Rogers. Until then he had kept silent, even as each story gave rise to a higher level of ridiculousness. He went on to explain that he, too, used to complain and feel like the victim until another teacher rebuked him with those words. He felt compelled to pass that wisdom on.

It happened to them: This truth has haunted me for the past eight years I've been teaching. I am only glad that I got set straight early in my teaching career. Some teachers never seem to get it. You know this when their debates about education reform are centered around teacher rights, and not student rights. Teachers' needs are important—I have a mortgage; I have a family; I would like to retire one day—but they are not the core issue. The mission is bigger than us. Educators and policymakers must boil the chatter down to two essential questions: To what degree will this policy enhance student learning and how will we know?

My children attend the school where I teach so I am all the more aware that "it"—whatever "it" is in a school, good or bad—is happening to them. I have to continually raise my expectations for myself, as a practitioner and as a parent. I must think deeply about what I believe, and then advocate for it. I can no longer rely on the teachers' union (if I were still in one) to represent my views and values about education. I must be like that social studies teacher who took a risk and spoke up for what was right. That is the only way anyone has ever changed the world. And that's why I am "Charting My Own Course."