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It’s February and the city has been socked for weeks by snow, ice and frigid temperatures in the most miserable winter many can remember. At City Hall, a new mayor from a political party that has not held the city’s top office in 20 years has just taken the reins of power, and his honeymoon period when he should be unveiling his ambitious agenda is instead frozen over by the icy weather.
But this is not 2014. Instead it’s 1994 and that new mayor is Rudy Giuliani.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, center right, speaks to students during a roundtable discussion in Aviation High School’s hangar in Sunnyside last Friday. Joining him was UFT President Michael Mulgrew, center left.
State Education officials have stepped in to implement a long-awaited teacher evaluation plan for the city, months after the city Department of Education and unions failed to agree on one themselves.
The plan, announced by State Education Commissioner John King on Saturday, will be four-tiered — teachers will be rated highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective —and will make it easier for underperforming teachers to be terminated. Under the plan, which will be implemented in September, a teacher rated “ineffective” twice will be subject to possible termination and there will be a shorter appeals process, which will be open only to teachers rated “ineffective,” and where the burden of proof will be on the teacher.
Fed up with the ongoing stalemate between the city Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers, Gov. Cuomo is expected to offer legislation that will give him the authority to force a plan on the city without the two sides coming to an agreement.
Cuomo’s office would not comment on the legislation Wednesday, but published reports say that the governor will propose his administration implement a new teacher evaluations system on city schools. A DOE spokesmsn said the city has not seen any bill from Albany.
After negotiations on a teacher evaluation deal collapsed just before Gov. Cuomo’s Jan. 17 deadline, state Education Commissioner John King, left, is telling the city it could still get some state aid if Mayor Bloomberg and Dennis Walcott, center, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew, right, come up with a plan on evaluations by Feb. 15.
Months upon months of talks over teacher evaluations broke down Jan. 17 only hours before Gov. Cuomo’s deadline to submit a deal or lose $250 million in state education funding.
In an email to members, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said the union had told Cuomo that negotiations with the city have ceased and that they do not expect to meet the deadline of midnight, Jan 17.
A day after the city and teachers union failed to reach an agreement on a teacher evaluation deal, costing the city $250 million in state aid, the Cuomo administration is asking the city to get its act together.
Months upon months of talks over teacher evaluations broke down Thursday afternoon only hours before Gov. Cuomo’s deadline to submit a deal or lose $250 million in state education funding.
As of Wednesday evening, neither the UFT nor the city Department of Education will say if they are close to a deal, but they did not dismiss the possibility of an eleventh-hour deal late on Wednesday or Thursday.
Parents and school staff in Queens Monday morning wanted to talk about anything other than Friday’s mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school that left more than two dozen people, including 20 children, dead.
60 miles southwest of the site of one of the worst school shootings in American history, moms, dads, teachers and principals are trying to wander through the minefield of what to tell schoolchildren about the tragedy that ended the lives of so many their age.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, left, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew engaged in a rhetorical back and forth over teacher evaluations even while the two sides were meeting to attempt to hammer out a deal before Dec. 21
If the city Department of Education and teacher unions do not agree on a new evaluation deal by Dec. 21, they may hope the Mayans were right about the apocalypse.
The city and the UFT have been in talks for over a year to set up a new teacher evaluation system, and now the deadline for it to get done is looming. If no agreement is reached, city schools could lose $250 million in state funding.
The United Federation of Teachers announced it is suing the city Department of Education, accusing it of violating the Freedom of Information Act by releasing heavily redacted emails between former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and other political figures.
On May 28, 2010 the UFTrequested copies of all emails from Dec. 1, 2009 through that date sent between two or more of the following individuals: Joel Klein, John White, Kathleen Grimm, Michael Duffy, Christina Grant, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, Executive Director of Democrats for Education Reform Joe Williams, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center James Merriman and mayoral aide Bradley Tusk.
The State Education Department released its list of troubled schools last month, just before the start of the new school year, highlighting over two dozen borough schools in need of improvement or risking closure by the end of the decade.
Among the schools listed on the priority list — schools with graduation rates under 60 percent — are the seven high schools that were part of the failed turnaround program earlier this year and two high schools that are already being phased out — Jamaica and Beach Channel. The list also includes Grover Cleveland High School, which was taken off the turnaround list at the last minute in April, along with Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village and Excelsior Prep High School in Springfield Gardens.
The Bloomberg administration’s high school “turnaround” plan suffered a stinging and perhaps fatal defeat on Tuesday evening as a New York State Supreme Court judge upheld an arbitrator’s decision to reverse the plan to close 24 city high schools, including seven in Queens, fire much of the staff and reopen them in the fall under new names.
The judge ruled that the Department of Education broke its contracts with the UFT and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators in closing the schools and reopening them under new names. In her ruling, Judge Joan Lobis, who originally sent the two sides to the arbitrator, Scott Buccheit, in May, upheld his ruling which stated the renamed high schools opening in September were not new schools, which would have allowed the city to void its contracts with the unions.
The Bloomberg administration's high school "turnaround" plan suffered a stinging and perhaps fatal defeat on Tuesday evening as a New York State Supreme Court judge upheld an arbitrator's decision to reverse the plan to close 24 city high schools, including seven in Queens, fire much of the staff and reopen them in the fall under new names.
The Bloomberg administration’s worst week ever on the issue of education got even worse late last week when a study released by the city Independent Budget Office said a majority of students they studied showed no improvement in English Language Arts and math proficiency between third grade and sixth grade.
The study tracked more than 46,400 city students between their third-grade year and sixth-grade year — between the 2005-06 school year and the 2009-10 school year, before the state changed the way it scored the tests. According to the results the IBO released, 62 percent of students surveyed ended up at the same proficiency level in sixth grade as they were at in third grade, while just over 30 percent were at a higher level and 8 percent actually saw their proficiency level drop.
Teachers unions scored a big victory against the Department of Education Friday afternoon. An independent arbitrator assigned to mediate a dispute between the UFT and the Council of Supervisors & Administrators against the DOE has ruled that the city's move to shut down low-performing schools and lay off half of their faculty and administration violated contracts between the city and the unions. The move may mean thousands of staff laid off at the end of the school year may again have jobs in September if they want them, and the City might lose out on almost $50 million in federal funding.
State legislators overwhelmingly supported Gov. Cuomo’s bill to restrict public access to teacher evaluations on Thursday — a move panned by Mayor Bloomberg but cheered by the United Federation of Teachers.
In the wake of a flood of sexual abuse allegations in the city’s public school system this year, everyone from Queens psychologists to legislators is focusing on ways to better protect children before words like rape and groped are uttered —and lives are shattered.
“This can have serious, serious impacts,” Dr. Elissa Brown, a psychology professor at St. John’s University in Jamaica Estates, said of sexual abuse. “We know kids who have been abused may have post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and aggression. We know those problems can follow kids over time. We know kids who are sexually abused can have problems in adulthood with relationships and problems with keeping jobs.”
A Queens math teacher filed a lawsuit last week alleging United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew had sex with a guidance counselor in a Brooklyn high school classroom, and then the teachers’ union and school officials allegedly worked together to hide the affair.
Andrew Ostrowsky, an educator at the Frank Sinatra High School of the Arts in Astoria, filed the suit in Brooklyn federal court that names Mayor Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Mulgrew and the UFT, among others. The 73-page suit alleges that a custodian — who has denied this happened —found Mulgrew and Emma Camacho-Mendez having sex in a woodshop at the William Grady High School. The lawsuit does not give a date as to when this happened, though other media outlets have reported Ostrowsky’s lawyer as saying it occurred more than seven years ago — before Mulgrew was head of the UFT.
Michael Mulgrew pointed the finger at Mayor Bloomberg over the failure to reach a deal on teacher evaluations Thursday.
The United Federation of Teachers and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators filed a lawsuit this week to stop the city’s plan to shutter and restaff 24 city schools by next September, including seven in Queens, saying it amounts to “sham closings” and violates labor contracts.
The Panel for Educational Policy voted last week to approve Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to shut the schools at the end of June and reopen them when classes begin in September with new names, up to half the teachers replaced and possibly other principals.