Streams

Success Academy Charter Battle, Take Two

Tuesday, November 01, 2011 - 10:52 AM

Here is what is making news in education on Tuesday in the New York area:

Eva S. Moskowitz is deep into another battle, this time in Brooklyn, where she is trying to start one of her Success Academy charter schools in Cobble Hill.

Ms. Moskowitz was interrupted on Saturday night when she tried to present a pitch for a new school in a still-to-be-determined location in the neighborhood. Though some parents turned out to listen, saying they were seeking other school options for their children, protesters far outweighed them and she was shouted down, Gotham Schools reports.

The Daily News says staff from the Success Academy Network were handing out fliers at the annual Halloween parade in Cobble Hill on Monday night. But other parents The News interviewed said they are opposed to more charters and wanted to see city money go toward improving traditional city schools.

Some of the people at Public School 261 Philip Livingston in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, are girding for a battle. In a posting on their SchoolBook page, they are promoting a free screening of the teacher-created film "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman," and urging parents to attend for a discussion about the Success Academy expansion.

This is Ms. Moskowitz's second attempt to start one of her charters in a middle-class neighborhood.

There are more reports on complaints about cheating on standardized tests, started with Sharon Otterman's article in The New York Times showing a steep rise in complaints under the Bloomberg administration.

As the city and state turned test scores into make-or-break indicators of school and student success, the portion of city public high schools facing allegations of test tampering rose to 7 percent in the 2009-10 school year, from 1 percent in 2002-3. Over all, the state has recorded complaints of cheating by educators in more than 100 city high schools, about a fifth of the total, since Mr. Bloomberg took office in 2002. During the same period, the number of complaints in the rest of the state’s high schools tripled.

While it is unclear how many of the allegations were ultimately proven, the steep rise in complaints itself is notable at a time when cheating scandals have engulfed other districts and state officials are acknowledging a failure to adequately detect and prevent cheating.

The Daily News and The New York Post also have articles on cheating allegations.

In a sign of the times, Richard Pérez-Peña reports in The New York Times that the economy has so weakened Cooper Union’s financial state that school officials are considering charging tuition to some undergraduate students for the first time in more than a century. The school was founded in 1859 to provide free education for the working class.

Such a change would be a cultural shift for an institution whose tuition-free education and esteemed programs in engineering, architecture and art have made it one of the nation’s most selective schools, admitting 5 percent to 10 percent of applicants annually, depending on the department.

And in still another sign of the times, Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn bought a town house for its new headmaster, Vincent Tompkins to help lure him from his position as deputy provost at Brown University. The price $3.8 million. Diane Cardwell writes in her Appraisal column in The New York Times: “The Saint Ann’s search was a major undertaking, with the board of trustees contributing generously to the purchase, said Peter Darrow, president of the board.”

Parents and others are commenting heavily on a report by The Local East Village last week about allegations of harsh discipline at Girls Preparatory Charter School in Manhattan.

Teachers were upset about the new rules that required teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve to change positions every week. Gotham Schools reports that it is not driving teachers out of the system as many had feared.

Numbers from the first month have not borne out that theory. Of the teachers who left the pool, 172 found new positions, 11 took a leave from the DOE, and 18 exited the school system entirely. Altogether, nearly 750 teachers have exited the pool since mid-August, when the city said 1,940 teachers were without permanent positions.

Lastly, schools again reported low attendance on Halloween. Gotham Schools said it is because students stay home because they fear gang violence.

Gotham Schools' Rise and Shine post has a more complete roundup of Tuesday's school news.

Here is what is happening Tuesday:

At 11 a.m., National Assessment of Educational Progress math and reading scores will be released. Stay tuned for a report on the so-called Nation's Report Card on SchoolBook.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Alec Baldwin will hand out Mayor's Awards for Arts and Culture to six people and organizations — including Ronnie Shuster of P 94M — at 6 p.m. at Alice Tully Hall.

On the Learning Network on Tuesday: Does Pop Culture Deserve Serious Study? The question stem from an article about a "Jersey Shore" academic conference. Seriously.

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