Join the GOOGLE +Rubber Room Community

Sunday, January 22, 2012

City, nonprofits at odds over legal liability at 14 restart schools

"Restart", "Turnaround", "EPO", "UFO".... any normal person listening to, or reading about, the many meaningless terms meant to convey "Hey, we want control over the money and the data and we are going to get it or else" could be a little confused over all of this, which I guess is the whole point, right Mike and Dennis? 

Posted By Geoff Decker On December 19, 2011, Gotham Schools

Related Stories

A dispute over who would take the fall if something goes wrong inside struggling schools is delaying a federally funded turnaround effort that had already gotten off to a slow start [1].
As part of its application to secure school improvement grants, the city agreed to hand over operations to independent education organizations at 14 of its lowest-performing schools [2] through a process called “restart.” The Department of Education selected six nonprofits to take over the reins at those schools, awarding them more than $17 million altogether.
But four months after the groups started working in the schools, the money remains in the city coffers.
The sticking point is that city lawyers want the groups, known as educational partnership organizations, to cover their own legal costs for any litigation brought by teachers, principals, staff or students in the schools they’re working in.

"Restart", "Turnaround", "EPO", "UFO".... any normal person listening to, or reading about, the many meaningless terms meant to convey "Hey, we want control over the money and the data and we are going to get it or else" could be a little confused over all of this, which I guess is the whole point, right Mike and Dennis?

The proposition is controversial because the groups are replacing an authority figure — the superintendent — who does not actually carry any of the liability costs. The DOE is effectively an insurance carrier for superintendents, so when a lawsuit challenges, for example, a teacher rating that the superintendent signed off on, the DOE bears the legal costs.
The EPOs said they assumed they would have the same protection against legal liability, known as indemnification, because the state’s regulations mandate that they adopt all of the roles and responsibilities of each school’s superintendent. But according to several EPO directors, the city’s initial contract language treats them like vendors providing services to the schools, not managing everything from hiring to budgeting to discipline.
“It’s been several months of frustration over what we see as a fairly straightforward issue,” said a program director from one of the EPOs. “We feel we should be covered to the same extent that a superintendent would be covered in the case of a lawsuit.”
“You’re asking us to be superintendents in these schools and that’s a very complicated role to play,” added the director, who wanted to remain anonymous because he wasn’t authorized to speak about the negotiations.
Doug Elmer, director of Diplomas Now, which is working at Sheepshead Bay High School and Newtown High School, said the absence of signed contracts wouldn’t inhibit work being done in the schools. Diplomas Now has managed to stay afloat financially withmoney from the Investing in Inovation fund, [6] Elmer said. At both Sheepshead Bay and Newtown, they’ve added 9th grade academies, hired more than a dozen consultants and extended day schedules.
But Elmer acknowledged that the lack of a contract could soon have an effect. Sheepshead Bay principal Reesa Levy has announced she is retiring at the end of the month and, as a restart school, the new EPO should have the authority to replace her. Without the contract in place, Elmer said, that role is still reserved for the current superintendent. Elmer said Diplomas Now is working closely with the current superintendent, Aimee Horowitz, to evaluate candidates, but would prefer not to hire a new principal until the contract is in writing.
“We’d feel a little more comfortable if there’s a contract signed,” said Elmer.
Of the four federally mandated improvement strategies, the city saw the restart model as a relatively safe political bet earlier this year [3] because it did not require immediate staff firings and therefore could be used without sign-off from the teachers union.
DOE officials declined to comment about difficulties in implementing restart, but the rollout has drawn fire since it was first announced in August.
Ernest Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, which represents principals, immediately expressed doubt about the plans [2], saying that the city was distancing itself from struggling schools at a time when it should be dedicating more energy to them. Logan reiterated that sentiment [7] earlier this month in response to the city’s decision to close more than two dozen struggling schools:
The Bloomberg administration needs to take more responsibility, not less, for schools that are not doing well, rather than turning them over to private entities like EPOs or closing them and washing their hands of a deep-rooted problem that it has been unsuccessful in remedying.
The bumpy transition in the restart schools comes even as the DOE is supposed to submit plans to overhaul another 10 struggling schools to the state by the end of the month. Those plans will have to be approved by the state education department before they can be implemented.
Last month, New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch indicated that she’s not happy with the city’s turnaround plan in at least one restart school. After visiting Automotive High School, a restart school that she referred to as a ‘warehouse’ for needy students [8], Tisch said she had observed little evidence of improvement.
“These contracts haven’t been signed yet and the people aren’t in place,” Tisch told GothamSchools last month. “I find it to be very troubling.”
“It was an obligation to get this money and I will not be happy to spend good money after bad,” Tisch said.

Article printed from GothamSchools:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] ‘Restart’ partners say they plan to ease into management role:
[2] As city names ‘restart’ partners, principals union sounds alarm:
[3] Worried union talks will fail, city plans to “restart” schools:
[4] After Verizon uproar, ‘restart’ contracts win easy approval:
[5] Bloomberg disputes Tisch’s assessment of struggling schools:
[6] money from the Investing in Inovation fund,:
[7] reiterated that sentiment:
[8] she referred to as a ‘warehouse’ for needy students:

In Memory of Stuyvesant High School Teacher Richard Geller

From Betsy Combier: Two of my four daughters were lucky to have been students of extraordinary teacher Richard Geller at Stuyvesant High School and before they got in, as students in his SSHAT tutoring group. Notice that I dont write "extraordinary MATH teacher".

I dont put math in my description of Mr. Geller, not because he wasnt a terrific math teacher, ( I believe that he was exceptional at teaching math), but because he was a terrific teacher. And that's what I remember.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Geller.

Richard Geller
Stuyvesant High School's Richard Geller in the New York Times Magazine:
"The Lives They Lived"

When Richard Geller died, students put his catch phrase, “Math is #1,” all over Stuyvesant High School, in New York City, where he had taught. It was taped onto lockers. It was drawn on a couple of desks. It was handwritten on a T-shirt. In the classroom, Geller was passionate and intense and demanding. One student remembered her math grade was the lowest one on her report card, “but it was a Geller grade, and it was the one I was most proud of.” Geller could have retired a decade before he died, but he didn’t want to. He was a math teacher through and through.

This is an edited and condensed version of a speech Geller delivered at Stuyvesant’s graduation in June 2011. He died four months later.

I would like to thank the graduating class for having chosen me as your faculty speaker.

I wondered: Why me? I have been teaching math at Stuyvesant for 29 years and was never chosen before. By the way, 29 is a prime number. There are exactly two factors for 29: 1 and 29.

Maybe I was chosen for the approximately 5 basketballs that I confiscated from students during your four years at Stuyvesant. Or the 17 Frisbees I took away. Or the 113 decks of playing cards. Or the 257 cellphones I took away and brought to Miss Damesek’s office. In case you haven’t figured it out, all those numbers are prime numbers.

No, I don’t think so. I think that you heard three months ago that I have metastasized melanoma cancer in my lungs and that you wanted to honor me for my passion for teaching math. Thank you for honoring me.

Even through all my problems, the best part of my day is teaching math. I have been teaching math for 43 years — another prime number — and still love it. I got lucky. I found a career that I really love.

I have been to many junior-high-school and high-school graduations as a teacher. However, the most important graduations for me were my children’s graduations. Yes, I am a parent of a son and a daughter. Teachers do it, too, you know.

Only when I attended my own children’s graduations did I realize how special parents find graduation. So give your parents a break today. Thank them for everything they have done for you. Let them take lots of pictures. Spend time with them. Let them enjoy it. In fact, please stand up, turn around, face your parents.

I have some homework for you. Assignment No. 1: Volunteer. Tutor for free. Volunteer to help a political candidate. Help your parents. Make dinner, baby-sit, say thank you. Give up your subway seat to someone who is elderly or disabled. Think of others.

Assignment No. 2: Find a career that you enjoy as much as I enjoy teaching math. You will be much happier with your life if you enjoy your job. And if your parents don’t like what you choose, that is their problem, not yours. When they see you happy in your life and career, they will be happy for you, too.

Assignment No. 3: Is 2011 a prime number?

I have loved being part of your four years of Stuyvesant. I have enjoyed watching you grow — physically, mentally and mathematically. I leave you with the following words:

Math is #1.

At 2 a.m. on the day he died, Richard Geller woke from a deep sleep and opened his eyes and began to speak. His son, Jason, was spending the night in the hospital and tried to make out what his father was saying. These would turn out to be the last words Richard Geller ever spoke, and Jason says it was hard to understand him. “Then I realized he was saying: ‘Take one and pass it down, take one and pass it down. Are there any questions?’”