Archives for category: NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that middle schools will drop their screens–e.g., test scores, grades, etc.–for admissions and will choose students by lottery if they have more applicants than places. The administration of Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein eliminated zoned neighborhood high schools and middle schools and introduced screens for admission; about 40 percent of the city’s middle schools have selective admissions. The Mayor and Chancellor Richard Carranza are taking advantage of the pandemic–which caused the cancellations of last year’s state tests–to turn the situation into an opportunity to promote racial integration in the city. New York State has the most segregated public schools of any state in the nation, according to the latest report from the UCLA Center on Civil Rights, which says “New York is the most segregated state in the country for Black students. The average Black student in New York attends a school with only 15% White students and 64% of Black students are in intensely segregated schools with 90-100% non-White students. While New York is the most segregated, Illinois, California, and Maryland and others also have extreme segregation levels.” Segregation and admissions tests are correlated.

Jillian Jorgensen of NY1 explains how the changes would work.

The city is making significant changes to the middle and high school admission processes due to the coronavirus pandemic — eliminating the use of academic criteria to determine admissions to middle schools this year, but allowing it to continue at high schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced Friday. 

The mayor and chancellor argued that using screens at the middle school level was not possible when those students did not get grades or take state exams last academic year, in part because they are so young. Students applying to high school, they argued, had more data to draw from for screened admissions. 

“I think the simple answer on high school versus middle school is, middle school just wasn’t viable. There was no way to do fair evaluation with a screen this year. High schools, there’s more factors to deal with for this year,” de Blasio said.

The controversial Specialized High School Admission Test, the sole criteria for admission to the city’s most prestigious public schools including Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech and Bronx Science, will remain in place and will be given in person in January.

Here’s a rundown of how admissions will work this year.


Middle schools will not use academic screens as part of their admission process this school year. However, middle schools will still be able to give priority for admission to students who live within the school’s community school district.

Keeping middle school screens would have meant admitting students based on their third-grade scores, and that’s the first year children take state exams.

“It’s just not educationally sound. But we do have other data points for the high schools and that was factored into the decision,” Carranza said.

The removal of middle school screens is so far temporary — but the mayor hinted it could continue.

“This is clearly a beginning. And what I think is clear is that unfortunately screens have had the impact of not giving everyone equal opportunity. And this is not our future,” he said.

If a school has more applications than seats, students would be chosen via a lottery.

Students will be able to apply to middle school beginning the week of January 11; a deadline will be set for some time during the week of February 8.


Academic screens will remain in place for high school admissions. However, those screens typically use tests scores and grades a student earned in the last school year, and public schools did not give grades last school year, nor were state exams taken. Schools will instead be able to use test scores and grades from the year prior — so, a student’s sixth grade year, as opposed to their seventh.

Schools will now be required to post online the exact rubric they use for ranking students; and that ranking will be done by the Education Department’s central office, not the school.

In a significant shift, the city will eliminate the use of district geographic priorities for high school students, a process that had come under fire in Manhattan’s District 2.

The city eliminated “zoned” high schools under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, allowing students to apply for high schools across the city. But some schools still gave preference to students who live within the same district where the school is located, giving those students a tremendous edge for admission. That means students who live elsewhere are often shut out of these schools — some of the highest performing, and often least diverse, in the city.

All other geographic priorities — some schools have priority admissions for students from the same borough, for example — will be scrapped in the next school year.

Eliza Shapiro of the New York Times writes:

New York is more reliant on high-stakes admissions screens than any other district in the country, and the mayor has for years faced mounting pressure to take more forceful action to desegregate the city’s racially and socioeconomically divided public schools. Black and Latino students are significantly underrepresented in selective middle and high schools, though they represent nearly 70 percent of the district’s 1.1 million students.

But it was the pandemic that finally prompted Mr. de Blasio, now in his seventh year in office, to implement some of the most sweeping school integration measures in New York City’s recent history. They will be, by far, the mayor’s most significant action yet on integration.

With many schools shuttered, grading systems altered and standardized testing paused since the spring, the metrics that dictate how students get into screened schools have largely disappeared. That has made it next to impossible for many schools to sort students by academic performance as they have in previous years…

The changes, which will go into effect for this year’s round of admissions, will affect how about 400 of the city’s 1,800 schools admit students, but will not affect admissions at the city’s specialized high schools or many of the city’s other screened high schools.

Mr. de Blasio and his successor will no doubt face pressure to integrate those schools, which are among the most racially unrepresentative in the system. But integrating specialized and screened high schools has long been considered a third-rail in the district, and changes made there would no doubt be highly contentious.

The city will eliminate all admissions screens for middle schools for at least one year, the mayor will announce. About 200 middle schools, or 40 percent of all middle schools, use metrics like grades, attendance and test scores to determine which students should be admitted. Now those schools will use a random lottery to admit students.

Selective middle schools tend to be much whiter than the district overall. Mr. de Blasio is essentially piloting an experiment that, if deemed successful, could permanently lead to the elimination of all academically selective middle schools.

This article by the superintendents of New York City (Richard Carranza), Chicago (Janice Jackson), and Los Angeles (Austin Beutner) appeared in the Washington Post. For those too young to know, the Marshall Plan was a massive American investment in foreign aid package to rebuild Europe after World War II. It was proposed by General George Marshall.

President-elect Joe Biden has described the crisis in public schools caused by the pandemic as a “national emergency.” As the superintendents of the nation’s three largest public school districts — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — every day we grapple with the challenges that worry not just the president-elect but also the students and families we serve. Our schools, like thousands more across the nation, need help from the federal government, and we need it now.

The challenges school communities face aren’t for lack of effort by principals, teachers, staff, parents and students. Among our three districts, more than 2 million students and hundreds of thousands of educators have worked to transform teaching and learning from the inside out. We’ve seen teachers tackle long division from their kitchens and students debate the Constitution in Spanish from their living rooms.

But the fact is that for many — if not most — children, online and even hybrid education pales in comparison to what’s possible in a classroom led by a great teacher. Too many children are falling behind, threatening not just their individual futures but also America’s global competitiveness.

In Los Angeles Unified, where almost 80 percent of students live in poverty and 82 percent are Latino and African American, Ds and Fs by high school students have increased about 15 percent compared with last year. Meanwhile, reading proficiency in elementary grades has fallen 10 percent. In Illinois, students have lost more than a year of math progress. In New York City, 82 percent of students are children of color, largely from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus, suffering tremendous loss and trauma that accompanies kids into the classroom. Across the country, math performance on standardized tests lags the prior year by 5 to 10 percentile points.

It’s time to treat the dire situation facing public school students with the same federal mobilization we have come to expect for other national emergencies, such as floods, wildfires and hurricanes. A major, coordinated nationwide effort — imagine a Marshall Plan for schools — is needed to return children to public schools quickly in the safest way possible.

Schools have shown that they can stay open safely despite community spread of the virus, but that demands the right set of actions, and adequate financial support, to bring students back safely and address the impact of this crisis head on.

Part of the problem is that the Cares Act and subsequent relief packages did not designate public school districts as recipients. Direct federal support for schools must be specific and targeted.

A federal relief package for schools should cover the basic building blocks of a safe, healthy and welcoming school environment so that educators and students can focus exclusively on their mission: high-quality teaching and learning. Funds should be provided directly to public school districts for four essential programs: cleaning and sanitizing of facilities and providing protective equipment; school-based coronavirus testing and contact tracing to help reduce the risk for all in the school community; mental health support for students to address the significant trauma they are facing; and funding for in-person instruction next summer to help students recover from learning losses because of the pandemic. Many local districts have poured resources into these efforts, and places such as New York City have seen success. But it’s simply not sustainable without federal support, and as covid-19 infection rates surge across the country, the pandemic shows no sign of slowing.

The cost of this lifeline for schools — an estimated $125 billion — is less than 20 percent of the total earmarked for the Paycheck Protection Program and about twice the amount provided to airlines. That’s a relatively small price to safely reopen the public schools that give millions of children a shot at the American Dream and their families the chance to get back to work.

Getting children back in the classroom and helping them recover must be addressed by the federal government with the same urgency and commitment as other disasters. Failure to do so will allow a “national emergency” to become a national disgrace that will haunt millions of children for the rest of their lives.

There is a website called Glass Door,where employees rate their employers.

The most startling reviews have been posted by teachers (former and current) at Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter chain in New York City.

The last one, posted October 18, is titled “Flee, everyone else is.”

As you read other reviews, they are similar.

The last time this happened, Glass Door was suddenly flooded with rave reviews.

Take a look as soon as you can, before the trolls and sock puppets arrive.

NY Kids PAC is an organization of parents that endorses candidates who support public schools and their students. Its members have endorsed four candidates in Tuesday’s election.

Read here:

NYC Kids PAC endorses Gustavo Rivera, Robert Jackson, Debbie Medina and Robert Carroll for the State Legislature in Tuesday’s Primaries

We hope you and your family had a great summer and you’re ready for a new school year. There’s an important primary for State Legislature tomorrow Tuesday, Sept. 13, and we wanted to make sure that you knew about it. It is critical to have allies in the NY Senate and Assembly who will fight with us to protect our children and their public schools.

NYC Kids PAC, composed of parent leaders and public school advocates from throughout the city, are endorsing four outstanding candidates running for state office on Tuesday. Based on their exceptional records and their responses to our candidate survey, our board urges you to be sure to vote for Gustavo Rivera in the Bronx, Robert Jackson in Manhattan, and Debbie Medina in Brooklyn, all running for the State Senate, as well as Robert Carroll, who is running to replace retiring Jim Brennan from Brooklyn in the State Assembly.

We endorse Gustavo Rivera, who represents District 33, which includes parts of Kingsbridge Heights, East Tremont, Crotona Park, Fordham, Belmont, Van Nest, Claremont, High Bridge and Morris Park in the Bronx. Senator Rivera has an exceptional record of standing up for our children and resisting the hedge-fund backed charter school onslaught which is diverting hundreds of millions of dollars and taking precious space from our public schools. His responses to our survey were also exceptionally thoughtful on school funding, equity, and campaign finance reform. In contrast, his opponent, Fernando Cabrera, failed to respond to our survey and supports tuition tax credits for private schools, which would create huge tax breaks for billionaires and further imperil our already underfunded public schools.

We strongly endorse Robert Jackson who is running for State Senate in District 31, which includes parts of the Upper West Side, Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights in Manhattan. Jackson is a hero to many parents, not just in his district but throughout the city, for his stellar record on public education. He led the CFE lawsuit as President of the school board in Washington Heights and Inwood, resulting in the Court of Appeals decision that the state had illegally underfunded NYC public schools. He went on to chair the City Council Education Committee, and has been fighting with parents every step of the way for our kids to obtain their constitutional right to a sound basic education. His responses to our survey also showed a profound understanding of problems related to privatization, the Common Core standards, high-stakes testing and school overcrowding.

While his opponent, Marisol Alcantara, had many good responses to our survey, she favors the continued expansion of charter schools, and has been supported by the IDC, the caucus that deprived the Democrats of control of the State Senate by voting with the Republicans. Meanwhile, Micah Lasher, who is also running for this seat, refused to complete our survey and has a long history of supporting charter school expansion and high stakes testing, first as the chief lobbyist for the NYC Department of Education under Bloomberg and Klein, and then as the founding director of StudentsFirstNY. StudentsFirstNY is relentlessly pro-charter and pro-corporate reform, though Lasher has scrubbed his affiliation with the organization from his campaign biography and his Linked-In profile. That’s why we enthusiastically support Robert Jackson as the best candidate by far for anyone who cares about protecting and strengthening our public schools.

We endorse Debbie Medina has a long history of decades of grassroots community activism for social justice in District 18, which covers parts of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick. In recent years, Medina has stood up for neighborhood public schools and joined the community in a fight against Success Academy’s co-location in MS 50. As the responses to our survey make clear, Medina is a strong advocate of public education and supports smaller classes, reducing the role of high stakes testing in public education, and stopping the expansion of charter schools. Medina is also committed to keeping big money out of politics to ensure that our neighborhood public schools are sufficiently and equitably funded. Meanwhile, incumbent Martin Dilan failed to complete our survey and has done little for the schools in the district.

Finally, we endorse Robert Carroll, who is running in District 44 for Assembly, which covers parts of Park Slope, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood and Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn. Though all three candidates for this Assembly seat had good answers to our survey, Robert Carroll’s was the best, scoring 100% on governance, privatization and charters, parent empowerment, testing, standards, resources and more. Carroll has a progressive record as an activist on Community Board 7 and we’re confident that he will do a great job in the Assembly, advocating for our public schools.

In addition to endorsing these candidates, NYC Kids PAC members are also volunteering for their campaigns and urge other parents to do the same. Links to the candidates’ surveys and Kids PAC endorsements are here:

Please share this message with your friends, neighbors, colleagues and fellow parents at your children’s schools!

Here’s hoping for a great school year, and thanks!

Shino Tanikawa, Isaac Carmignani, Leonie Haimson, Fatima Geidi, Eduardo Hernandez, Andy Lachman, Brooke Parker, Naila Rosario, Karen Sprowal and Tesa Wilson

Leonie Haimson tells the story here about her discovery that the New York City Department of Education was about to award a multi-million dollar contract to a tech company that had been previously been involved in scandal. When you read this account, you will understand the importance of citizen vigilance. Who else but Leonie Haimson would lounge around on a lazy Sunday afternoon reading the list of DOE contracts due to be voted on that week? That is why you should contribute to her organization, Class Size Matters, which operates on a tiny shoestring (I am a member of the board) and allows Leonie to play an outsize, unpaid role in the city, state, and nation. That shoestring is so small, it wouldn’t be enough to close an infant’s shoe. Help Leonie continue to fight for students.



She writes:


Last February, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was perusing the list of DOE contracts due to be voted on that week by the Panel for Educational Policy. Among the long list of contracts, I noticed a proposed contract for equipment and internet wiring worth $1.1 billion over five years, extendable to nine years at two billion dollars. I had never seen a DOE contract that large before.


She googled the name of the company:


I was astonished to discover that this very same company had been involved in a kickback scheme, robbing DOE of millions of dollars just a few years before, according to a report from the Special Investigator’s office. This widely reported scandal subsequently sent Ross Lanham, a DOE consultant, to jail.


I immediately blogged about my discovery, and promptly alerted Public Advocate Tish James and Council Member Helen Rosenthal, as well as members of the media.


On Monday, the very next day, DoE officials started getting lots of calls from reporters. Later that day, the PEP Contract committee was due to meet at 5 pm at Tweed, the DOE headquarters. I was sitting with a bunch of reporters in a room in Tweed, waiting for the meeting to begin when the reporters began getting emails from the DoE officials, announcing that that in the last 24 hours, the contract had somehow been “re-negotiated” and reduced by nearly half a billion dollars – with no change in the terms.


It was still going to be a ridiculously high $635 million over five years, extendable for four more years at over $1 billion. The fact that nearly $500 million could be cut out of the contract over night was even more evidence of how inflated the contract had been. When the Contracts committee met, surprisingly few members asked any questions about it, except for Robert Powell, the Bronx appointee and head of the committee….


Juan Gonzalez in the Daily News provided even more details about the original scheme that had defrauded DOE of millions. He pointed out that the company being awarded the contract had been the high bidder among three companies, and that the man who was still CEO of the company, Gregory Galdi, had set up a real estate company with Ross Lanham that was dissolved only after Lanham’s arrest.


At the subsequent PEP meeting on Wednesday evening, Helen Rosenthal and I pleaded with Chancellor Farina and the PEP members not to allow this unconscionable contract to be approved. The Chancellor was obdurate that “due diligence” had been done and that awarding the contract would allow NYC kids to be “put in the future” while now they’re “struggling in the past.”


The DOE official in charge, David Ross, argued that the contract had to be rushed through in order for the city to have a chance of winning $100 million in federal E-rate funds – without mentioning that the DOE had been cut off from this program for the last five years because of the very same scandal that had sent Ross Lanham to jail.


I made this point when I had my two minutes to speak , and argued that by awarding a contract to this very same company, the DOE was almost sure to be barred from any reimbursement from the feds. I also said that with a fraction of the amount, the DOE could double the number of schools to be built and significantly relieve school overcrowding.


Laura Zingmond, the Manhattan PEP member, responded that there was “plenty of money” to go around for both building more schools and awarding this contract. Though some members expressed reservations, the PEP approved the contract 10-1, with only Robert Powell, voting no. More on this disappointing vote in my blog and in Schoolbook….


Then in March, a few weeks after the vote, the city cancelled the Custom Computer Specialists contract, the first time this has ever happened in the history of the DOE. Possibly officials were concerned about how the NYC Comptroller and other oversight agencies would have questions about this egregious contract….


 Juan Gonzalez reports that after DOE rebid the contract and broke it into several smaller parts, the same work and equipment will cost city taxpayers far less: $472 million over five years, $163 million less than the renegotiated amount and $627 million less than what Custom Computer Specialists was originally supposed to receive before Tish James, Helen Rosenthal and I protested. Assuming that the city is also now far likelier to receive $100 million in federal E-rate funds, we may have helped save the city $727 million.



This story in the New York Times tells a lot about what happened in New York City during the Bloomberg years (Mayor Bloomberg was elected in 2001, won full control of the school system from the Legislature in 2002, and put his plans into effect in September 2003). Although the city had a term-limits law of two terms, Bloomberg persuaded the NYC City Council to allow him (and themselves) to stay in office for a third term. So, Bloomberg ran the public schools from 2002-2013, when he left office. The signal strategy of his years in office was closing low-performing schools–many of them large comprehensive high schools–and replacing them with small high schools or charter schools, sometimes with three, four, or five schools in the same building, each with its own principal and administrative staff. The small high schools were allowed to exclude students with disabilities and English-language-learners for a set number of years, and of course, they had better results than the big high schools. The big high schools meanwhile became dumping grounds for the students unwanted by the new small schools or the charters.


The linked article notes that the Bloomberg administration closed 157 schools–most of them large high schools–and opened 656 schools, including charter schools.


The irony of the article is that it features Santiago Taveras, who was the man charged with closing schools. In public hearings, he appeared stonily impassive as students, parents, and teachers pleaded for the life of their school. Taveras is now in charge of DeWitt Clinton, one of the few remaining comprehensive high schools, and he is leading the effort to turnaround the school. His is one of 94 schools selected by the de Blasio administration for extra resources and services, because de Blasio wants to help schools instead of closing them. Taveras led the effort to close schools, now he is part of De Blasio’s effort to rescue them. Flexibility is a good thing.


I personally believe that de Blasio is on the right track in trying to give schools the help they need to survive. As the article points out, many of the comprehensive high schools were doomed because they took in the low-performing students that the new high schools excluded. Some of those that were closed–like storied Jamaica High School–had extensive programs for college-bound students, for English-language learners, and for many other students with different interests and needs. But Jamaica High School died, despite the loyalty and efforts of its staff.



New York City parents charge that Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies are underenrolled and should be placed on probation instead of awarded 14 new charters.

Here is the parents’ press release:


Brooke Dunn Parker
646 543 4492
Noah E. Gotbaum
917 658 3213

Empty Seats, Phony “Waitlists,” and a Shocking Lack of Oversight: Newly Uncovered Charter Enrollment Data Sparks Parent Leaders to Demand Moratorium on ALL Charter Approvals Until SUNY & Charters Are Audited; Insist on Immediate Probation for Out-of-Compliance Success Academies

Data Shows Failure to Meet Mandated Enrollment Targets at More Than Two Thirds of Success Academy Charter Schools—and No Consequences from the SUNY Charter Institute and Trustees Charged with Charter School Oversight

Local public school parents have unearthed evidence that more than two-thirds of Success Academy charter schools were under-enrolled in 2013-14, rendering the charter chain’s oft touted claims of “high demand” and “waitlists” demonstrably false. Four of the schools were so profoundly under-enrolled that SUNY, which in its role as overseer of the state’s charter schools is charged with closing schools that fall below 80% of their targeted enrollment, would have been legally obliged to take action. Yet none of the under-enrolled Success Academies were even placed on probation—a clear dereliction of duty on SUNY’s part.

This revelation is particularly egregious as it coincides with today’s expected rubberstamp vote by the SUNY Trustees to approve 17 more charter schools, 14 of which are new Success Academies.

In the face of this evidence of massive under-enrollment and of SUNY’s lack of accountability, elected parent leaders from the city’s Community Education Councils are gathering on the steps of Tweed Courthouse together with fellow public school parent activists*, City Council Education Chair Daniel Dromm, and additional City Council members to publicly address the SUNY Charter Institute and Trustees with an important question:

Why are you authorizing the opening of more charter schools, and in particular Success Academies, when the evidence shows that Success cannot even fill seats in its existing schools?

The parents assembled are calling for:

· a full and independent investigation of SUNY to ascertain that the charter authorizer is adhering to the law

· an independent audit by the NYC Comptroller of the enrollment, attrition, suspension and expulsion rates, particularly for high-needs students, at all charter schools to determine how widespread missed (legally mandated) targets are

· a moratorium on all new charter approvals, renewals, and expansions until the above investigation and audits are completed

· immediate probation for the four Success Academies under-enrolled by more than 20% (as is mandated by their charter agreements and by State law).

Kari Steeves, who self identifies as “Class Parent for Rm. 308,” described what drove parents to undertake the research, write a letter to the trustees and comptroller, and spend days organizing to get the word out: “We are real parents, on our own time and impetus, speaking for what NYC public school parents really want. We don’t want seats at a charter school, and these numbers show neither do the vast majority of parents. Charters are being foisted upon us without community input or request, and their low enrollment, especially as compared with the overcrowding of our schools, shows that we want the resources devoted to making room for all kids at public schools.”

Public school parent Brooke Parker, whose research through the School Construction Authority’s “Blue Book” brought the enrollment data to light, remarked, “This is just the tip of the iceberg. SUNY has knowingly withheld enrollment data for charter schools from the taxpaying public—even though taxpayer dollars bankroll charters. If we had open access to enrollment information, I am convinced that we would find that even more charter schools have been allowed to open, remain open, and even expand despite their inability to meet enrollment targets. That’s outrageous. And illegal.”

Naila Rosario, president of Brooklyn’s Community Education Council 15, added, “I was already concerned that marketing might be what was creating so-called charter ‘demand.’ After all, our bus stops and subway stations are plastered with ads for charters; our mailboxes overflow with their glossy brochures. Now it seems that even with all that marketing, Success couldn’t fill its seats. By contrast, the waitlist for my child’s school, like those of many other district public schools, is ridiculously long and REAL.”

The discovery that SUNY has concealed important enrollment data and authorized out-of-compliance charter management organizations to open still more schools is the latest in a string of abuses of the public trust. Just last week, a Daily News reporter revealed that the charter authorizers had allowed a Michigan-based charter operator to overcharge the city by $250K for rent for a single Brooklyn school. And there has long been evidence that charters do not serve the students they are required to by law, particularly English language learners and special needs students.

Miriam Farer, who serves on Upper Manhattan’s Community Education Council 6, declared, “I applaud the parents who dug up this information, but let’s get real. It is not the job of parents and reporters to keep SUNY honest. I join with other public school parents and community leaders to demand that Comptroller Scott Stringer investigate the SUNY charter school authorizers, whom we believe to have violated the public trust by failing to safeguard precious education tax dollars. We also demand a moratorium on new charter school approvals, renewals, and expansions until SUNY has proven that it is not breaking the law and all schools are equitably funded.”

Some highlights from the research (sources on attached Fact Sheet):

• Of the 18 Success Academy charter schools open in the 2013-14 school year, more than two thirds (13) were under-enrolled.

• On average, schools in the SA network were under-enrolled by 7.6%

• In 2013-14 school year, 4 of SA’s 18 schools were severely under-enrolled—by 22%-33%:

Success Academy Charter School – Ft. Greene: -29%

Success Academy Charter School – Crown Heights: -22%
Success Academy Charter School – Hell’s Kitchen: -27%
Success Academy Charter School – Union Square: -33%

*including representatives from WAGPOPS!, Make The Road, and NYCpublic


The Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia, just released a report describing the ways that co-location of multiple schools into the same building reduces educational equity. The report is called “THE EFFECTS OF CO-LOCATION ON NEW YORK CITY’S ABILITY TO PROVIDE ALL STUDENTS A SOUND BASIC EDUCATION.”

Co-location was a primary goal of the Bloomberg administration, which closed many large schools and opened many small schools. Today, almost 2/3 of the city’s schools are co-located: “In 2013, 1,150 (63%) of the city’s 1,818 schools were co-located. Charter schools made up 10% of co-located schools (115); the other 90% were traditional public schools.”

Many of the small, co-located schools “suffer from inadequate facilities, oversized classes and instructional groupings, inadequate course offerings, insufficient student supports, and inadequate extracurricular activities….” In many cases, these conditions violate state statutory, regulatory, and constitutional requirements.”

The report spells out in detail how these conditions limit students’ educational opportunities.

Small elementary schools are unable to provide adequate instructional time in the arts, science, or physical education.

Some high schools were unable to provide basic chemistry or physics classes, or foreign language classes

No school was able to provide the academic intervention services to which students were entitled.

Many middle and high schools were unable to provide required arts courses.

Many lacked the support staff for struggling readers or English language learners or others in need of extra time and attention.

These, and many more shortages of staff and resources, short-change children.

Co-locations have meant that many children do not get the academic opportunities or the social services they need.


Arthur Goldstein is a high school English teacher and chapter chair of the United Federation of Teachers at Francis Lewis High School. He is part of the opposition to the Unity Caucus that leads his union, the UFT in New York City. In response to my post praising the recent contract agreement between New York City and the UFT, Goldstein wrote this dissent:




It’s been almost six years since NYC teachers have received a raise. This was particularly frustrating since most NYC employees received twin raises of 4% in the 2008-2010 round of pattern bargaining. While they got more money with no givebacks, our leadership helped craft the junk-science based NY APPR law. The entire state got a junk-science based evaluation system. We were told the beauty of it was that it could be negotiated, but when that didn’t work out leadership allowed John King to write it for us.


Now there is an agreement, but UFT members will receive not only the retro money, but also the salary raises almost a decade later than FDNY, NYPD, or DSNY. Being a teacher, I don’t know a whole lot about money. Still, I’m fairly certain that money has more value in 2010 than 2020, when we will finally be made whole. It’s plainly disingenuous to argue we have parity with the other unions.



There are other issues in this contract that are troubling. Paramount to me is that of due process for ATR teachers. The UFT agreed in 2005 to create the Absent Teacher Reserve. The UFT had supported mayoral control, which helped enable the massive school closures favored by Bloomberg, and rather than insist teachers in closing schools be placed in classrooms, it made them wandering subs, covering for absent teachers. They now wander from school to school, week to week. They are vilified and stereotyped in the media on a regular basis.


I’ve worked with and advocated for several ATR teachers. I can assure you, despite the nonsense propagated by self-styled expert Campbell Brown, that those teachers were guilty of nothing more than either being in the wrong school at the right time, or being targeted for no good reason . Under our new system, any ATR teacher accused by two principals of ineffective behavior will receive an expedited one-day 3020a hearing, after which this person may be fired on the spot. I fail to see why ATR teachers should have fewer due process rights than I do.


As for Ms. Campbell Brown, apparently there is hat tip in the agreement to her:


The rules also expand the definition of sexual misconduct, which will make it easier for the city to fire teachers for actions like inappropriate touching or texting, officials said.


I can’t really say whether or not this rule is reasonable, since neither I nor anyone who voted on this agreement has actually seen it. Generally, it would be shocking that a 300-member contract committee could approve an agreement it hadn’t seen. However since the overwhelming majority of that committee were members of the elite, invitation-only UFT Unity Caucus, and had signed an oath promising to support whatever leadership told them to, it would not be surprising to me if they had nominated a cheese sandwich for President of the United States.


We’re also looking at a program that strongly smells of merit pay, something that’s been tried and failed in the US for about a century. This is the UFT’s second flirtation with such a program, and like the last one, discarded as a failure, it is presented as not merit pay.


Another mysterious issue in the proposal is this:


Under the tentative deal, collaborative school communities will have new opportunities to innovate outside the confines of the UFT contract and DOE regulations. A new program known as Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools for Excellence (PROSE) will give educators in participating schools greater voice in decision-making and a chance to experiment with new strategies.


This sounds very much like the original concept of charter schools, and we all know where that has led us. I’m wary of anything with “excellence” in the title, because it clearly implies those of us who do not participate somehow oppose excellence. Also, there is a clear implication in such programs that our Contract somehow hinders excellence, which I do not believe.


My experience and observation suggests schools do better with strong principals and strong chapter leaders being adversarial when necessary, but working together when it benefits the school. I’ve also observed schools with little or no union presence having programs imposed on them that are less than productive, and I can certainly envision that happening here.


I’m further puzzled by several things UFT President Michael Mulgrew wrote us when he announced the agreement.


The union won major changes, including a focus on eight instead of 22 Danielson components and a better system for rating teachers in non-tested subjects.


I have heard directly from union sources that they’d insisted on focusing on all of Danielson, and that making them focus on all aspects was a great victory. Apparently making them focus on fewer factors is also a victory. We shall see what happens with non-tested subjects.


A more substantive improvement might have been to let supervisors off the hook from so many observations. If a competent supervisor observes a teacher doing a good job, and receives no complaints about that teacher, the supervisor ought not to have to revisit that teacher 3 to 5 additional times that year. Supervisors ought to be focusing their attention on supporting teachers who actually need their help.
We succeeded in eliminating time-consuming teaching artifacts.


Again, union sources have told me directly that the inclusion of artifacts was a great union victory, empowering teachers. Apparently the exclusion is also a victory. When the union does one thing, it’s a great victory. When they do the opposite, it’s another great victory. I’m troubled by that.


Moving forward, fellow educators — rather than consultants or other third parties — will serve as the “validators” brought in the next year to review the work of a teacher rated ineffective.


In 3020a hearings, in which teachers can be fired, the burden of proof has traditionally been on the DOE to establish teacher incompetence. The validators would have had the option of placing the burden on teachers to establish they were not incompetent, a very high hurdle. Now, though this practice has never even been tested, with no evidence whatsoever, it is deemed to be improved. I would not wish to ever sit in judgment of my colleagues as to whether or not the city should have to establish their incompetence. I would question the motives of any colleague who would.


I fail to see why my brother and sister UFT members deserve any less financial consideration than those in other municipal unions. As for the other factors in this contract, the devil is in the details. Thus far we haven’t seen them, but history suggests a lack of foresight in insular UFT leadership, which has supported allowing teachers to become ATRs, charter schools, co-locations, the NYS APPR law, junk science teacher rating, Common Core, and mayoral control, none of which have helped public school teachers, parents or children.


Finally, I’m not particularly proud that we’re set to impose a pattern for all other city unions that will not allow them even to keep up with inflation for the next 7 years. If the best we can do is worsen conditions for our brother and sister unionists, we’re not doing our jobs very well at all.

With the likely election of Democrat Bill de Blasio as mayor of Néw York City, the educrats at Bloomberg’s Department of Education are updating their resumes and starting to pack their bags.

First to jump ship is Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg, who is moving to Arkansas to help the Walton Family Foundation in its quest to replace public schools with vouchers and charter schools.

This article, written before the Democratic primary (which de Blasio won) explains why the DOE will no longer need Mr. Sternberg’s inestimable services:

“Two days ago NYC Mayoral Candidate de Blasio (the frontrunner for Tuesday’s Democratic primary) announced his support for a moratorium on ‘co-locating’ charter schools into buildings already occupied by neighborhood schools. If ‘co-locating’ sounds reasonable, well it’s because the practice was given a deceptively anodyne title.

“NYC co-locations are really hostile takeovers (sometime in whole, sometimes in part) of zoned neighorhood schools. Kids attending then’co-located’ neighborhood schools are kicked out of their classrooms and forced into yet more crowded classrooms. Charter schools don’t pay rent, often get the best facilities, and cherry pick the use of ‘shared space’. They often reject students who don’t fit in their managers’ model of the right sort of student.”

Apparently Sternberg will keep pushing those co-locations in NYC until the day he moves to Arkansas. The Bloomberg administration has a long list of co-locations that it expects to approve next month.

It is time for de Blasio to assert that the last-minute efforts of Bloomberg’s lame-duck Panel on Educational Policy to give as much space as possible to charter operators will be subject to a moratorium on January 1, when a new day begins for Néw York City