Archives for category: New York City

Eva Moskowitz announced she will not challenge Bill de Blasio in 2017.

Her work in education reform, she says, is too important.

She said humbly,

“I’m doing for education, frankly, what Apple did with computing for the iPhone; what Google is doing with driverless cars,” Moskowitz said.

Gary Rubinstein explores the familiar claim that charter schools in New York City are far superior to public schools, when measured by test scores. The media, especially the newspapers, have said this repeatedly, as if it were a proven fact.

Not so fast, Gary says. he checked out the scores of the city’s charter schools, in relation to their “economic need index,” and compared them to public schools with their economic need index.

Only one charter chain stand out as an outlier: Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charters.

Otherwise, the test scores of the charter sector were similar to those of public schools.

Gary concludes:

“It seems pretty clear to me that, on average, the charter schools are not outperforming the public schools, based on how about half of of the charters are above the trend line and half below. Also it is relevant that most of the charters have an economic need index between .7 and .9 while there are a significant number of public schools that have an economic need index above .9. This runs contrary to the charter school supporters who continue to insist that charters serve the ‘same kids’ as the nearby ‘failing’ public school.

“Success Academy are such outliers that I can’t understand why charter supporters who are so focused on test scores are not out there insisting that all charter school resources be sent to expand Success Academy and the ‘yesterday’s news’ charters like KIPP, Democracy Prep, Harlem Children’s Zone, The Equity Project, etc. get shut down for poor performance.”

Jamaal Bowman is principal of Cornerstone Academy for Social Action in the Bronx, a borough of Néw York City. Knowing that Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy was planning a mass rally today, he wrote an article saying that schools need to focus on the whole child not just test scores.

Bowman describes the harsh disciplinary policies at Success Academy schools to the supportive environment at his school. Unlike SA schools, school has very little teacher turnover, very minor student attrition, and low suspension rates.

He writes:

“During a recent conversation with a sixth grader who attends a Success Academy charter school, she referred to her learning environment as “torturous.” “They don’t let us be kids,” she told me, “and they monitor every breath we take.”

Although praised by many for its test scores, the draconian policies at Success are well documented. Students must walk silently in synchronized lines.

In classrooms, boys and girls must sit with their hands folded and feet firmly on the ground, and must raise their hands in a specific way to request a bathroom break.


Most disturbingly, during test prep sessions, it has been reported that students have wet their pants because of the high levels of stress, and because, simulating actual test-taking, they’re not permitted to use the restroom except during breaks.

Regarding the praise for Success Academy’s test results, we must be mindful of overstating the quality of an education based on test score evidence alone….

“As reported by Juan Gonzalez in the Daily News, the first Success Academy opened in 2006 with 73 first graders. By 2014, only 32 of the 73 had graduated from the school.

“What happened to most of that student cohort? Did they leave willingly just because their families were moving? Did they leave for other schools because Success Academy wasn’t right for them? Were they pushed out?

“Further, school suspensions and teacher turnover at Success are disproportionately higher than district schools. Said one teacher in a recent New York Times article, “I dreaded going into work.” Another teacher, when requesting to leave work at 4:55 p.m. to tend to her sick and vomiting child, was told, “it’s not 5 o’clock yet.”

At Bowman’s school, 99% of the students are black or Hispanic.

He writes:

“Although 90% of our students enter sixth grade below grade level, we’ve had success on the state standardized tests, ranking number one in New York City in combined math and English Language Arts test growth score average in 2015.

“But testing is not how we measure success.

“Our mission is to create a learning environment anchored in multiple intelligences. Student voice and passion are embedded into the curriculum. In addition to traditional courses like mathematics and humanities, S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art of Architecture, Mathematics), computer science, the arts, leadership and physical education provide a rich and robust learning environment.

“A favorite course of both the staff and students of C.A.S.A. is “Genius Hour.” Borrowing from the 20% time concept of Google, Apple and Facebook, we give students two 60-minute blocks per week to work on “passion projects.” Using design thinking, students explore issues within their community that frustrate them and conduct research into how to create solutions to identified problems.

“Finally, at C.A.S.A., during the 2014-15 school year, only 2.3% of our students received a suspension. Our teacher turnover rate is 1.5% annually. We also have an average of less than a 1% student attrition rate annually over a six-year period.

“Parents and students of Success Academy schools will rally Wednesday against Mayor de Blasio’s agenda of investing in public schools to turn them into community schools and otherwise improve their learning environments. Their goal instead is presumably to turn ever more schools into privately run charter schools — though it’s unlikely Moskowitz would agree to take over any struggling schools if she had to keep the student body intact.

“Our city needs more public schools that serve the whole child without an obsessive focus on tests. Only then will our children truly feel at home. This is a cause worth rallying for.”

The billionaires’ front group called “Families for Excellent Schools” has enlisted the actress Jennifer Hudson to support their campaign for charter schools. She probably thinks these are regular families, not realizing that the “Families” are the Waltons, the Broads, the Paul Tudor Jones family, and other hedge fund managers and equity investors. These are the billionaire families, not the people who need quality public schools for ALL children. Their schools will exclude children with disabilities, English language learners, students returning from prison, and children with behavior problems. All of these children will be dumped in the public schools, while their more fortunate peers are skimmed off. Then the boasting begins. FES is the same organization that has tried to derail Mayor de Blasio’s progressive agenda for children and heaped tens of millions on charter schools, not public schools. Please, Jennifer Hudson, don’t be fooled!

Here are sample tweets:

Good Morning Twitter Brigade!

We need your help RIGHT NOW! Popstar Jennifer Hudson is set to perform at a Families For Excellent Schools Rally in support of Charter Schools.

Read Here for Details:

Unfortunately, Hudson is under the misconception that Charter Schools bring equality to the city. That’s why RIGHT NOW we need your help!!

TWEET WITH US RIGHT NOW, tell Jennifer Hudson @IAMJHUD, the truth about charters!

See below for sample tweets, and if you need a little more inspiration, check out FES’ most recent racist ad here:

Don’t forget to follow our tweets:

@Fam4ExcSchools recent ad has Outraged Communities & Civil rights leaders @IAMJHUD please #SAYNO to Performing

Let @IAMJHUD Know Why She Shouldn’t Be Supporting FES Rally, Just Look at Their Recent Racist Ad

@IAMJHUD You Should Know the Equality You Stand For IS NOT in Charters. They Don’t Serve ALL Students

.@IAMJHUD Please #SAYNO to Performing at FES Rally, They Are Hurting Our Public Schools

See the Truth About FES, Watch Their Racist Ad and #SAYNO to Performing @IAMJHUD

FES Has Outraged Communities with their Recent Racist Ad, #SAYNO to Performing @IAMJHUD

FES and Their Charters Are Hedge Fund Controlled, NOT For the Community @IAMJHUD, #SAYNO

Support the Local Community, #SAYNO to the FES Rally @IAMJHUD

FES Rally is a Political Rally to Promote Eva Moskowitz, NOT Schools, OR Our Children @IAMJHUD #SAYNO

Don’t Become Apart of Their Race-Baiting @IAMJHUD #SAYNO to FES Rally!

.@IAMJHUD If you Stand for Equality, #SAYNO to Charters and FES!!

.@IAMJHUD Charters Are Destroying Public Schools Nationwide While Racking Up Public $$ #SAYNO

A coalition of organizations in New York City condemned a television ad promoting charter schools as “race-baiting.”

The ad shows a white boy and a black boy going off to different schools, one well-resourced, the other a failing school that would blight the black child’s chances of going to college.

“A coalition of elected officials, community organizations and union-allied groups criticized a new Families for Excellent Schools ad Friday, accusing the pro-charter group of “race-baiting” in order to advance its political agenda.

“The ad, first reported by POLITICO New York, is called “Tale of Two Boys” and argues that Mayor Bill de Blasio is forcing minority students into failing schools. It began running Friday, though it was not publicly promoted by FES.

“The ad buy will cost FES about half a million dollars this week and will become a multimillion-dollar ad buy over the next few weeks, according to a source.”

Who are these “Families for Excellent Schools” who can afford a multimillion dollar ad campaign?

It is not the families who send their children to charters or hope to.

Families for Excellent Schools live in excellent homes and excellent neighborhoods and send their own children to elite private schools. They are the 1%, the billionaires and multimillionaires who can pull together millions of dollars for an ad campaign in a day or an hour. They have names like Walton, Broad, and hedge fund magnate Paul Tudor Jones.

The tragedy of the charter school movement is that the original idea was admirable. They were supposed to be schools with a contract for five years or so, during which they would enroll students at risk of failure and dropouts; the teachers would seek innovative ways to spark their motivation in education. The teachers of charter schools would share their fresh ideas with their colleagues in the public schools. The students would return to their public school, re-energized and mmotivated. The public school would adopt the new methods pioneered by the charters. It was to be a collaboration.

But as charters began to open, the original idea was eclipsed by a philosophy not of collaboration, but corruption. Ambitious entrepreneurs created chains of charter schools. A new industry emerged, led not by educators, but by savvy lawyers, industrialists, and flim-flam artists. Some charters claimed they were far better than the public schools and showed contempt for public schools. They boasted that their scores were better than the public forces. They want to beat the public schools, not help them. They became a malignant force for privatization and union-busting.

Families for Excellent Schools is just one more of the deceptive names of organizations that are led by the 1% and whose goal is the impoverishment and –eventually–abandonment of public education.

Eva Moskowitz and Families for Excellent Schools plan a mass rally in Néw York City on September 30 to promote their goal of increased privatization.

Familes for Excellent Schools is not an organization of poor families of NYC, but an organization of hedge fund managers and billionaires who support privatization.

“Success Academy, the city’s largest and most influential charter network, again plans to flood the rally with its teachers and thousands of students and parents. Success parents are typically asked to take part of the day off from work to participate in the rally. A spokeswoman for the network confirmed students will have a half-day on Sept. 30 in order to attend.”

Mark the date on your calendar if you are a parent or teacher of the city’s more than 1 million students who attend public schools. In accordance with law, public schools are not allowed to close for half-a-day for a political rally.

Carmen Farina, Chancellor of the New York City public schools, here describes her plans to improve the public schools in a district with 1.1 million students. She wrote this post in response to my request to outline her priorities. The last three Chancellors in Néw York City were non-educators. Many educators were delighted when Mayor Bill de Blasio selected an experienced educator to run the system. It is also welcome to hear the chancellor talk of collaboration, not competition.

“Toward a More Perfect School System

“September has always been my favorite month. I love it because it’s a time of possibilities, when every child can be reached and every parent can be engaged in their child’s education. This September has added meaning for me: it’s my 50th as a New York City public school educator. I’ve seen many changes over the past five decades and I am pleased that one thing hasn’t changed: our most important work still happens in the classroom, with teachers and administrators who are committed to doing whatever it takes to help all our of students realize their dreams.

“I am proud of the strides we have made over the past 20 months, restoring dignity and respect to the craft of teaching and school leadership. We continue to focus our attention on teacher recruitment and retention, providing mentoring and other supports so that our teachers feel valued and continue to grow professionally; every student deserves to learn from an excellent, engaged teacher. We have successfully moved from a system of competition to one of collaboration. Our educators have embraced the new spirit of cooperation that informs all of our work. This summer alone, thousands of teachers, principals, and superintendents attended professional development sessions on topics ranging from STEM and information technology to building a leadership pipeline and creating a college-going culture in schools. This year, we also created a new, streamlined school support structure under the direction of strong, experienced superintendents. The approach, which marries accountability and support with innovation, aims to provide all of our schools with the tools help they need to improve instruction, operations, and student services.

“Now, we are building on that progress. This fall, every four-year-old in the City will have access to free, full-day, high-quality pre-kindergarten. It’s extremely satisfying to know that our youngest learners will have an additional year of rich academic experiences. We are targeting extra supports to our Renewal Schools and we will have 130 new Community Schools, with wrap-around services that meet the whole needs of all of our students. As a former English Language Learner, I am also proud of the 40 new Dual Language Programs we are opening. A multi-lingual, multi-cultural education is crucial for our students, and our nation, to compete in the global economy.

“Finally, we have renewed our commitment to parent engagement, which we know plays a critical role in student achievement. With a new, strong leader overseeing family and community engagement, we will deepen the connection between schools and communities. The 40 minutes schools set aside each week to involve families in their schools will ensure that the entire community puts the interests of students front and center.

“We realize that challenges remain and we won’t rest until all of our students graduate from high school fully prepared to pursue the future they imagine for themselves. This September, I am excited to take up that challenge once more, and I am optimistic because I know that all of our brilliant educators share my mission to create a more perfect school system.”

Fariña is New York City Schools Chancellor.

While there has been much talk about the racial achievement gap in test scores, there has not been sufficient attention paid to the racial gap in wages.

A new study by professors at the City University of New York finds that unionization is a successful strategy in reducing the racial wage gap.

This bears directly on educational outcomes, because children from economically secure families are likelier to be more successful in school than their peers who live in poverty.

A study released on Friday, noting the gains made by black union workers in New York City, said that raising the rate of unionization among black workers across the country would help narrow the racial pay gap.

The study, conducted by two professors affiliated with the Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the City University of New York, which issued the report, described high unionization rates for black workers who live in the city compared with national rates.

Nearly 40 percent of black workers who are city residents are union members, compared with roughly 13 percent of black workers nationally.

The difference between the rates of black and nonblack unionization is also especially pronounced in New York City. The black unionization rate is nearly double that of nonblacks in the city, a difference that is much smaller nationally.

The authors, Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce, found that black union members enjoyed higher wages than black nonunion workers, and were also likely to have better access to employer-sponsored health care benefits and pensions.

The corporate education reform movement has tried diligently to decouple the relationship between education and the economy, but the relationship is there whether they admit it or not. Not admitting it is a way of obscuring the root causes of poor academic performance. Children who have medical care, good nutrition, and decent housing in a safe neighborhood are more successful than those who lack these advantages. This has been documented time and again; it is a correlation that shows up on every standardized test in the world. Economic security is good for children; economic insecurity is not.

When reformers say that “poverty doesn’t matter,” what they really mean is that it doesn’t matter to them. After all, almost every reformer lives in great comfort and ease; few attended public schools or send their own children to public schools. They like to declaim on what other people’s children should be doing and why they don’t need the same level of school resources as they expect for their own children.

But back to the study that shows the advantages of unionization:

“Unionism offers black workers a substantial economic advantage in regard to earnings — to a greater degree than is the case for nonblacks, reflecting the fact that larger numbers of blacks than nonblacks are employed in low-wage jobs,” the study said.

Unionization shrunk the racial wage gap by roughly half, reflecting the tendency of unions to fight for more equal wage distribution across the workplace. Black nonunion workers who live in the city made about $4 less in median hourly earnings than their nonblack counterparts. Among union members, that difference dropped to $2.

Dr. Milkman, a sociology professor, said in an interview that the findings suggested one path to addressing racial disparities in pay and broader income inequality that have come under increasing scrutiny across the country.

“When unions were more powerful in the United States, income inequality was also smaller,” she said. “One component of that is de-unionization.”

She added, referring to the black unionization rate in New York City, “We knew it was better here, but the extent of that is surprising to even us.”

Dr. Milkman said the findings could be explained in part by the fact that the health care and transit industries, which are major parts of the city’s work force and have high proportions of black workers, are heavily unionized.

Amazingly, one of every four workers in New York City belongs to a union.

The New York Times has a lovely article about where to find the art that portrays working people. I tend to think (wrongly) that the art of and about working people is from the 1930s, Socialist Realism. But much of the art described here is centuries old. People have always worked, but the great painters tended to paint royalty or mythical scenes or portraiture or still life, but not so much the people building and sowing and making.

One thing that occurs as you view the art of labor is how much of this kind of work–in factories and fields–has disappeared, either because it has been mechanized or outsourced. A factory that once employed 1,000 workers has either been transformed into a sleek production line run by robots and overseen by a handful of people. Or shipped to China or Mexico, where labor is cheaper.

Another thought is that unions arose to combat terrible working conditions and give working people a voice, so they were not treated as disposable by the bosses.

In the 1930s, the owners of capital hated unions. They have always hated unions. They don’t want to share power. They hate them still and do not lose an opportunity to reduce them and wherever possible, eliminate them.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg left office in January 1, 2014. One of his legacies was the changes he made in the school system over 12 years of total control.

Today the Néw York Post says his “reforms” were disastrous, and the only hope for children in the city’s public schools is escape to a privately managed charter school.

The Post writes about the Bloomberg reforms:

“New York’s public-school system is an ongoing horror — one that traps hundreds of thousands of kids in schools that don’t work, “tracked” into dead-end “promotions” to equally bad schools that lead to worthless diplomas and limited economic opportunities for the rest of their lives.”

The Post has long–at least since Rupert Murdoch owned it–loathed public schools, their teachers and administrators, and unions.

So the editorial says that the “obvious solution”–based on a study commissioned by billionaire hedge fund managers who have the chutzpah to call themselves “Families for Excellent Schools”—is more charter schools.

Why not?

Let Eva do it! Let her open her schools to the children with severe cognitive impairments, the students who can’t speak or read English, the kids right out of the juvenile justice system! She should show what she can do.

She has a chance to demonstrate that her schools are replicable for all, not merely a triumph of skimming and attrition.


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