Beth Fertig is WNYC’s Contributing Editor for Education. She previously covered politics, which included City Hall during the Giuliani administration, and the U.S. Senate campaigns of Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. She also covered transportation and infrastructure.
Principals Chafe at City's New Plans for Federal Grants
Tuesday, August 09, 2011 - 04:26 PM
The union representing New York City principals is angry the city is planning to turn 14 low-performing schools over to six outside organizations.
The groups are local non-profits that are already involved in schools including New Visions for Public Schools, Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association and John Hopkins University.
Under the plan, principals will report to them instead of to their district superintendents, and no teachers will be removed.
"[It's] curious that public schools would be removed from what should be the responsibility of school superintendents and placed under the management of private entities," said Ernest Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.
But Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the decision is about what's best for students, not adults.
The city has applied for federal school improvement grants worth up to $2 million a year per school. The U.S. Department of Education requires the city to use the money in a way that complies with four different models.
A total of 11 schools already received the grants last year for the "transformation" model, which involves a longer school day, teacher training, plus replacing the principal. Some schools, including Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School (profiled in our Big Fix series) kept their principals because they were still pretty new.
But the city now wants schools getting federal grants, including John Adams High in Queens, to be paired with outside organizations in a model known as "restart." Two of the schools that got transformation grants last year will join 12 newly selected struggling schools this coming year for the "restart" model, and the city is still deciding on its plans for nine more low performing schools.
The state has yet to announce whether the city will get the federal dollars for all 33 schools. But the money is expected to flow now that the teachers union and the city agreed on a teacher evaluation plan which the state had wanted.
With just a month to go before the start of the school year, the main challenge for principals will be working with their partnering organizations and making new plans for improving teaching and learning.