As city schools head into spring vacation, starting on Friday, Dennis M. Walcott is marking a personal day of celebration: his one-year anniversary as city schools chancellor.
Mr. Walcott has been granting a series of interviews to news organizations, and The Daily News's report on Thursday focuses on the air of calm and steadiness Mr. Walcott has brought to the job.
Walcott has quietly plugged away at carrying out Mayor Bloomberg’s education agenda, moving to close a record number of struggling schools this year, opening more charters than ever next fall, and reciting City Hall’s talking points at countless meetings with
Mr. Walcott said there was harmony between his Tweed organization and City Hall.
Walcott, the former deputy mayor who helped craft education policy for the first decade of the Bloomberg administration, said he shares the mayor’s vision of how to run city schools.
“I can’t think of anything in my years here where we have had disagreements that resulted in something being pushed back,” Walcott said in an interview with the Daily News before his first anniversary Saturday. “We’re pretty much in sync with each other.”
Asked to recall a difference with the mayor, Walcott cited only a discussion, not a disagreement, several years ago over whether the controversial policy to end “social promotion” should be rolled out starting in third or fourth grade.
Not everyone thinks the unanimity is a good thing, The News reports.
“I believe the chancellor has struggled to be his own person,” said principals union President Ernest Logan.
But at least one person is extremely happy with the chancellor's views, The New York Post reports.
“It is a very difficult job, and Dennis is doing a great job,” said Bloomberg.
To mark the occasion, Mr. Walcott will visit a number of schools: at 9:45 a.m., M.S. M247 Dual Language Middle School on the Upper West Side, Manhattan; 12:15 p.m., the Young Scholars’ Academy for Discovery and Exploration in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; 1:30 p.m., P.S. 48 William C. Wilcox, in Todt Hill, Staten Island; and at 5:30 p.m. he speaks at the 2012 High School Directory Cover Design Awards Ceremony, Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 111 Central Park North at Malcolm X Boulevard in Manhattan. At 2 p.m. he can be heard on WNYC in a taped interview with Michele Martin of NPR.
Thursday is the due date for students, parents and teachers to return their school survey forms, the city's annual attempt to capture opinions of academic expectations, communication, engagement and safety at each public school. The survey, the sixth, is used by the Education Department to determine 10 to 15 percent of each school's Progress Report grade.
At 4:30 p.m., a group of students, advocates, elected officials and others will gather at City Hall to press the Bloomberg administration to drop its plan to shut down and reopen the remaining 26 so-called turnaround schools. According to a news release, the event will start with a news conference and turn into a walk and rally in City Hall Park. The release says:
The administration responded to growing public and political pressure this week by eliminating seven schools from its list of “turnaround” targets — but opponents of the plan say the model should not be used at all, arguing there is no research to show that firing half the staffs and imposing radical overhauls at schools works. They will also release a report at a rally kick-off press conference showing “turnaround” changes would up-end progress at schools on the list which are demonstrating success with the use of other models, and that “turnaround” would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars that are needed for proven school improvement strategies.
And this weekend is Passover and Easter. This is also the time of year when baseball season gears up. As Chris Palmer reported for SchoolBook on Wednesday, Bronx High School of Science students are awaiting the day when the field right across from their school will be declared ready for play by parks officials, who say the sod there needs more time to "knit," and they can leave the ranks of the city's thousands of sports "nomads."
Meanwhile, on Saturday at 10 a.m., the East Harlem Little League "will celebrate its 20th anniversary as the organization marks the official start of the 2012 baseball season. Uniformed players, local officials, parents and members from the community will gather for an opening day parade and ceremony at the EHLL Field." Play ball!