Beth Fertig

Senior Reporter, WNYC News

Beth Fertig appears in the following:

Teaching Fellows Face Hiring Freeze

Monday, May 18, 2009

City school officials may not be able to place all the teachers that were trained this year with taxpayer funds. That's because there's a teacher hiring freeze. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.

REPORTER: New York City spends about $13,000 preparing each of its teaching fellows. The ...


Teachers Say City Waited Too Long In Flu Response

Friday, May 15, 2009

The city is closing three more schools on Monday because of flu-like illnesses. They are I.S. 74 and P.S. 107 in Queens and I.S. 318 in Brooklyn. The news comes a day after the city closed three Queens public schools because of confirmed cases of ...


City Shuts 3 Queens Schools Over Concern of Swine Flu

Friday, May 15, 2009

The city has shut three public schools in Queens because of concerns about swine flu. Five cases of swine flu have been confirmed at one of those schools and a 56-year-old assistant principal is hospitalized in critical condition. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.

REPORTER: The assistant ...


Mayoral Control - Two Lawmakers Weigh In

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When the New York Civil Liberties Union invited reporters to hear its ideas for reforming mayoral control of the schools today, it also invited two legislators with their own strong opinions.

State Senator Bill Perkins, who represents Harlem and other parts of Manhattan, and Queens Assemblyman Rory Lancman, both support the NYCLU's goal of making the school system more transparent. The NYCLU officially takes no position on whether to renew mayoral control. But it's says the current system is "absolute" and "unfettered." It cites the reluctance by the Department of Education and NYPD to disclose information on student arrests, suspensions and expulsions. There have also been incidents in which principals don't feel like they're fully in charge of their buildings, because of the NYPD's responsibility for school safety. The report is available here.

While the NYCLU wouldn't say whether it thinks the current system of mayoral control should be diluted, the two lawmakers did share their thoughts.

State Senator Perkins is one of a handful of lawmakers who want end the mayor's control of the Panel for Educational Policy. Bloomberg currently gets to appoint eight of the 13 members, including the chancellor - who chairs the body. The five others are appointed by the borough president. In 2004, the mayor fired three panel members because they were about to vote against his plan to stop promoting third graders who got low scores on their state math and reading tests.

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NYCLU Says Mayoral Control Decreases Transparency

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mayoral control has made the school system less transparent about its policies, according to a new report by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). Donna Lieberman, the group's executive director, says one example is the free reign City Hall has given the NYPD in ...


Poll Finds New Yorkers Split on Mayor's Impact on Schools

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The new Marist Poll breaks down New Yorkers' opinions on the way Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been handling the public school system, and both supporters and opponents of Bloomberg can find plenty of ammunition.

Overall, 51 percent of registered voters approve of the way Bloomberg is running the schools compared to 41 percent who don't, and 8 percent who are unsure. Republicans are more inclined to support the mayor's handling of the schools than Democrats (53 percent to 47 percent). Queens voters gave him the highest marks (58 percent approve) while Bronx voters gave him the lowest (42 percent approve).

The poll gets more interesting when you look at how voters responded to this question: "Do you think the New York City public schools have gotten better, gotten worse, or stayed about the same since Michael Bloomberg became mayor?"

This time, 36 percent said the schools had improved, 20 percent said they'd gotten worse, 33 percent said they'd stayed the same, and 11 percent were unsure. Not a clear referendum at all. Among parents, the results were almost equally mixed with 40 percent saying the schools had gotten better, 22 percent saying they'd gotten worse, and 35 percent saying they'd stayed the same; 3 percent were unsure.


Charter School Exceed State Standard in English

Friday, May 08, 2009

More than 77 percent of New York City charter school students met or exceeded the state standards on this year's English Exam - a gain of 11 percentage points over last year. That's the same as the statewide average for grades three to eight. Schools ...


Getting to the Bottom of the Reading Scores

Thursday, May 07, 2009

School districts from New York City to Buffalo found plenty to cheer about when the state released the results of this year's English Language Arts exam. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg once again said the increase showed his administration had put the schools on the right track. Skeptics once again found little evidence that the gains in New York City were really so much more dramatic than the statewide gains.

Let's do the numbers:

Statewide, 77 percent of students made Level 3 or 4 on their English language Arts exam, which is what the state considers meeting or exceeding the standards. That's a nine percentage point increase from 2008. In New York City, almost 69 percent of pupils met the standards, an increase of 11 points from 2008.

Clearly, the gap between the city and state scores is definitely getting smaller. But are the city's scores off the chart, so to speak? And what does that bode for Mayor Bloomberg's effort to persuade the legislature that he should maintain full control over the schools when that 2002 law expires at the end of June?

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More NYC Students to Graduate

Thursday, May 07, 2009

More New York City elementary and middle school students are on track to graduate. Almost 69 percent met the state standards on this year's English exam, an increase of 11 percentage points from last year. Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott says the scores are evidence of ...


Parents Protest Overcrowding in Kindergarten

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Parents anxious about the waiting lists for some Manhattan kindergarten classes aren't finding much comfort in the Department of Education's promise to find everyone a seat nearby, if not within the school of their choice. Dozens of Manhattan parents rallied with their children at City ...


What's Up with Those Kindergarten Wait Lists?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Rebecca Bond's daughter is number 68 on the waiting list at P.S. 41 in the Village.

Rebecca Bond\'s daughter is number 68 on the waiting list at P.S. 41 in the Village.

Parents of children enrolling in kindergarten classes next fall have become increasingly agitated over lengthy waiting lists in several districts throughout the city, especially in Manhattan. The outcry is expected to get even louder today with a 4 p.m. rally at City Hall.

The city's Department of Education is eager to get the facts straight following a 'New York Times' report this morning that mentioned the possibility of shutting down Pre-K at two West Village schools in order to make more room for kindergartners. Here's what we know:

The DOE has only released information for Districts 2 and 3 in Manhattan while it crunches the numbers in other districts. Yesterday, the department gave us these figures:

-A total of 273 students at 7 schools in Districts 2 and 3 are currently on wait lists at their zoned schools and do not already have a placement at other schools. Those schools include PS 166 on the Upper West Side (31 students); PS 3 and 41 in the West Village (90 students); PS 6, PS 40, PS 59, PS 183, and PS 290 on the Upper East Side (with a total of 152 students).

-The DOE predicts wait lists will 'disappear' or be 'greatly reduced' now that children are receiving notice of their acceptance to gifted and talented programs. A total of 1038 students in districts 2 and 3 will be offered seats in the programs. Some Manhattan children are also bound to enroll in private schools.

-By those estimates, the DOE says there should be NO wait list for students zoned to attend PS 166, and almost none at the four Upper East Side schools. But because only 26 students in the West Village were offered gifted and talented slots, there could still be wait lists at PS 3 and 41. The DOE has said it's 'optimistic' it can work with the schools to accommodate more students and said it would have details 'within the next few days.'

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Parents Protest Long Kindergarten Waiting Lists

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The city's Education Department says kindergarten waiting lists in Manhattan should shrink by this fall, now that it's offered more than a thousand children gifted and talented slots.

But that's no comfort to Henry Sidel. He says his four year-old son is number 79 on a ...


Parents Rally Against Kindergarten Waiting Lists

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Dozens of parents rallied outside City Hall today to protest the waiting lists for kindergarten at several Manhattan schools. Rebecca Bond says her daughter is on the combined waiting list for two schools in Greenwich Village. She blames Mayor Bloomberg for not planning enough schools ...


Quinn: Don't Relocated Pre-K's to Fit Kindergarten Classes

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says she's uncomfortable with the Education Department's plan to consider moving pre-kindergarten classes out of two schools in Greenwich Village to accommodate a growing number of kindergarten students.

QUINN: The plan is basically to fix the kindergarten problem by creating a ...


Law Proposes More Oversight of Education Department

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Two state lawmakers from New York City are introducing a bill that would subject the Department of Education to more scrutiny. Queens Assemblyman Rory Lancman says the legislation he co-sponsored with Assemblyman Daniel Squadron addresses a gray area that came about when the mayor was ...


Tough Choices: Brooklyn Tech Students Can’t Afford Private Colleges

Friday, May 01, 2009

Binland Lee, a senior at Brooklyn Technical high school, will be going to Boston University this fall. She had wanted to attend the University of Miami to study marine biology but B.U.'s financial aid offer was much more generous.

Binland Lee, a senior at Brooklyn Technical High School, will be going to Boston University this fall. She had wanted to attend the University of Miami to study marine biology but B.U.\'s financial aid offer was much more generous.

Brooklyn Technical High School, in Fort Green, is one of the city’s specialized public high schools. Students are screened through a tough admissions exam. Many of the school’s 4,500 students plan to attend equally prestigious private colleges and universities. But the economy, and a boomlet of college-bound seniors, has made that dream more difficult to achieve.

Brooklyn Tech senior Katie Freeman is going to SUNY Buffalo this fall because she can't afford Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Brooklyn Tech senior Katie Freeman is going to SUNY Buffalo this fall because she can\'t afford Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The Ivy League schools have become more competitive and families that have seen their savings shrink because of the stock market are having a more difficult time affording college. That means more students are seeking out public universities. At Brooklyn Tech, some kids consider those their “safe schools.” But other students are grateful for the SUNY and CUNY colleges.

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D-Day for the College Bound

Friday, May 01, 2009

Today is the deadline at many colleges and universities for incoming freshmen to decide whether to accept offers of admissions. It’s been an unusually competitive year because of a boomlet in students applying to colleges, and because families hit hard by the economy have fewer ...


School Construction Not Cut in Budget

Friday, May 01, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg says his budget was able to protect school construction from additional cuts. The capital plan includes $11.3 billion over the next four years -- enough to build 25,000 seats. But 8,000 of those seats are being carried over from the current capital plan, ...


The Poetry of Mayor Bloomberg

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to supporters in his newly-opened Queens Campaign office on March 28, 2009. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Four more poetic years? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with supporters in his Queens Campaign office on March 28, 2009. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

In honor of 'Poem in Your Pocket Day,' Mayor Bloomberg has written an ode to volunteerism. Last week, the mayor joined MTV News's Sway Calloway to kick off NYC Service, the city's new volunteer project. The Upper Manhattan event was described by WNYC reporter Bob Hennelly as having 'pulsating dance music and wild exuberance from the youthful audience.'

This week, Hizzoner is taking a more low-key approach to promoting public service. His poem smells less like teen spirit and more like... well, the importance of being earnest:

By Mike Bloomberg

“Volunteer!” says our latest plan

Here's how all New Yorkers can:

Read to kids

Mentor one

Help some seniors have some fun

Serve some soup

Or plant trees

Spend some time at food pantries

Coach a team

(Always nice)

Give some legal or tax advice

Learn to do CPR


Join the NYC Civic Corps

Help in any way, kind volunteers

You'll receive New Yorkers’ cheers

But right now, to get the biggest thanks

Help the pitching on the Mets and Yanks

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St. Francis Prep Students Stay Home

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

St. Francis Preparatory School will not reopen until Monday. Seventeen-year-old junior Sarah Melore has been home with a fever and cough since the weekend, and says her doctor told her yesterday she probably DOES have the swine flu although it hasn't yet been confirmed by ...