It’s often noted that the original vision for charter schools, championed by legendary teachers union leader Al Shanker and others, was that they’d be “laboratories of innovation” whose lessons could inform the broader system. It hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, the relationship between charters and district schools has been acrimonious and competitive. But in Newark, New Jersey, quietly, with little fanfare, a course is being charted back to that original vision.
I serve as superintendent of the Newark Public Schools and previously served as the state commissioner of education. In both capacities, I have defined my goal in precisely the same way: to do everything possible to assure that every child, regardless of birth circumstances, has access to a free, high-quality public education that launches him or her into adulthood prepared for success.
As budget season hits its stride, and the political war between charter and regular public schools is at high pitch, it is refreshing to find there are instances where the two sides get together for the betterment of the city’s students.
District and charter partners in Camden, NJ, have implemented a new enrollment process designed to give families equal access to schools across the city through a neutral, unified system, while also guaranteeing a spot at their neighborhood school. “Camden Enrollment” replaces a patchwork system of 17 different application forms with a wide range of deadlines.
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — In central Brooklyn’s District 16, superintendent Rahesha Amon hopes to foster links between district and charter schools. “There is real power when we come together and the best interest is in the children that we serve,” Amon said.
Despite his fraught political history with charter schools, on the first day of class today Mayor Bill de Blasio said he wants to see charter and traditional public schools sharing ideas with each other more often.
When America's first charter school law was passed in Minnesota 25 years ago, charters were envisioned as laboratories of innovation that would help inform practices in the broader public education system. It hasn't worked out that way, however, and the relationship between charters and district schools has instead been one of competition and acrimony.
The air conditioning was droning through a hot, drowsy day of summer school this week at Rochester Prep Elementary School on Jay Street, where teacher-in-training Shanise Williams was working on a math problem. What's $7 less than half of $62? The students were practicing keeping their terms and operators straight. Williams, a rising senior at the College at Brockport who hopes to become a health teacher, was practicing skills of her own: how long to hold a pause; when to praise, what to ignore.
The state Education department is giving seven city charter schools $500,000 each to help them share best practices with traditional Big Apple public schools, department officials said Wednesday. The group of high-performing charters includes Manhattan's Broome Street Academy Charter School, which targets homeless kids, and Leadership Prep Ocean Hill in Brooklyn, where kids from the underserved community of Brownsville achieve some of the highest test scores in Brooklyn.
Anthony Pirro has a vision for what discipline could look like at P.S. 54, the elementary school he runs in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Students who misbehave would be pulled aside to analyze their decisions. If they had disrupted class, they would apologize to others. Suspensions would be used only as a last resort.
The city least likely to produce a fruitful collaboration between a traditional public school and a top charter school surely must be New York. After all, the mayor is famously anti-charter; his schools chief hands out public hugs to the teachers’ union president.
In an attempt to make good on its promise to work more collaboratively with the local charter sector, the city Department of Education announced the first batch of schools participating in a new "charter district partnership program" on Thursday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and city schools chancellor Carmen Fariña are facing increased pressure to address widespread segregation in New York City public schools, as evidenced by controversy around two rezonings and a growing chorus of critics in the City Council and education advocacy sector.
Race has long been a tough topic. Segregation in schools is no different. What are the benefits of socio-economic and racial diversity in schools? And how should we prioritize when we look at learning environments? These were some of the questions being asked by school integration advocates at an event at Brooklyn Law School.
As the summer winds down and those of us who educate children prepare for another school year, we — two district-school principals — are proud to say that we are going into this new year alongside teachers who have been preparing and planning this summer in ways we have not in the past.
Inside a six-story Bronx building last spring, 10 students served on a student council to dream up ways their building could be improved. The bathrooms could be better stocked, they decided, and the playground needed to be revamped.
Only three of the four low-performing middle schools that share a Bronx building are a part of the city's school-turnaround program, but the "Renewal" principals say they're determined to share their resources.
Naomi Smith and her team at Central Park East II knew that their early-education methods worked. To demonstrate, they opened their doors to visitors from other schools last year, pointing out how time spent playing with blocks and Play-Doh helped the school’s youngest students learn and develop.
“Is there a building that houses many schools that are working particularly well together? How are the schools collaborating?” Kate Del Priore, executive director of Schools That Can NYC, has had that question on her mind as she checked in with schools this week.
I was disappointed to read in a recent news article Mayor de Blasio’s pronouncement that, “…district schools will share where charters will not.” I commend the mayor for opening up more PROSE schools and allowing a percentage of district schools more freedom and flexibility, but his statement that charters are not sharing is simply untrue.
Since 2006, the first Thursday of June has been a mandatory training day for teachers, principals and staff members. This time, “Renewal” schools are meeting to decide what performance benchmarks they want to hit in the coming years, others are planning field trips across the city, and — at Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s urging — many others will check out a TED Talk about the importance of connections between teachers and students.
Fostering a genuine two-way street of inter-school collaboration was central to recommendations for improving the co-location process, released last year by a working group formed by the de Blasio administration. Given the ongoing controversy around co-locating public schools, particularly those involving public charters, there is no better time to act on this call for collaboration than now. Indeed, expanding these practices is precisely the approach policymakers should take to reduce tensions surrounding co-locations and to create new opportunities to support teachers and serve all city students.
City schools chancellor Carmen Fariña pushed for more collaboration between district and charter schools during a professional development day for district teachers and principals held at an Uncommon charter school in Brooklyn on Saturday.
We have gotten more schools to change practices not by mandating, but by collaborating,” [Fariña] said in an interview Monday. “I could have said across the board, ‘Every middle school needs to do X, Y and Z.’ And we didn’t do that.”
This is the second edition of the Learning Partners Program (LPP) newsletter, highlighting the work and teams of LPP.
P.S. 15 is among the 45 schools named by the city on Monday that will pair up with one of 25 different support groups, including the Children’s Aid Society, Good Shepherd Services, and Teachers College.
A year ago, there was a lot of attention given to co-locating charter schools in New York City. Based on our early experiences collaborating with the leaders, teachers and students at M.S. 113 and P.S. 372, we would like to share our perspective on how co-locations can enhance learning experiences for children across the city.
“I do think it’s easy to forget where we were in this country 20 years ago, 25 years ago, when the basic debate was, can our children actually learn? Can children with my skin color in places like Brooklyn, like the Bronx or Houston, can they actually be taught? I think because of the movement that Dave [Levin] has been a part of — we still have plenty of debates in education, but that’s not one of them.”
While clashes between New York City district schools and charters get a lot of attention, a quiet effort is under way to help district teachers and principals learn from high-performing charters. More than 200 teachers from 17 district schools spent Tuesday at a training run by Uncommon Schools, which has 21 charters citywide. And last week, 20 district principals visited Harlem charters run by Success Academy, whose founder, Eva Moskowitz , fought with Mayor Bill de Blasio last spring over co-located space for her expanding network.
The national charter network Uncommon Schools held a day-long professional development session for 200 district school teachers in Brooklyn on Tuesday, the second of four yearly training sessions in New York City.
At Success Academy Harlem 5, students were under a microscope on Thursday — though that wasn’t out of the ordinary for its elementary schoolers. In most of the school’s classrooms, clipboard-toting assistants make sure students stay on task. Standing off to the side as students work, they praise and critique at a near-constant clip.
It is clear to me that the achievement of charter schools like the Success Academy schools is in large part due to their recognition of the importance of letting people do the things at which they are best. Let’s follow their example. Let’s free more teachers from the burden of planning, and see what happens when they can focus on their most important job: teaching and connecting with students.
One of the first educational leaders to call for autonomous, self-governed “schools of choice” was Al Shanker, the late president of the American Federation of Teachers. This fact is often forgotten in the contentious debate around charter schools today.
Barbara Niederhoffer and Eddie Abdenour, both math teachers at College of Staten Island High School, helped each other fine tune their course plans during a summer workshop. They said such collaboration is frustratingly rare.
James Madison High School Principal Jodie Cohen wins the 2014 Teaching Matters Elizabeth Rohatyn prize.
When I was named principal of St. Mark the Evangelist School three years ago, I didn’t expect that my students would end up learning to write using a model borrowed from a charter school in Brooklyn.
The eight schools housed in the massive John F. Kennedy campus in the Bronx get along. Schools share floors of the building, administrators meet regularly, and teachers often stop to chat while passing in the hallways.
“There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be that type of cooperation and collegiality,” he said. “It will give our kids an opportunity to show they are certainly no different from the kids upstairs, that they have the same promise and the same potential.”
The chancellor said she is particularly interested in finding ways for schools to share space and resources more effectively.
This week, the Department of Education and the New York City Charter School Center, via NYC Collaborates, brought a group of principals together to talk about how to share nicely, or nicer anyway. Here are their top four lessons...
Compact Threatened: New Mayor’s Proposed Policies Could Set Back Efforts to Improve District-Charter Collaboration and Equity
Over the course of the mayoral race, if you listened to the candidates discuss public education, one of the most pressing issues facing our education system today is whether schools should be able to share space, or co-locate, in public school buildings.
Director of NYC Collaborates testified October 2 at a City Council hearing where three resolutions related to co-location were discussed.
In her new capacity, Jaclyn Leffel will guide NYC Collaborates through its mission to encourage public conversation and on-the-ground partnerships between district and charter schools.
Of the eight teachers that the U.S. Department of Education picked from across the country this year to bridge the gap between policy and practice, two come from New York City schools.
Co-located schools don’t always get along, but these two are of a different color. Neon yellow, to be exact.
Girls from charter school, The Young Women's Leadership School of the Bronx, recently became filmmakers. Last month, they trotted down a red carpet into a Manhattan theater to see the premier of their documentary, called “Co-Located…And Loving It?”
A song by rapper Jay-Z, a poem by Joyce Kilmer, and an essay by Elizabeth Alexander all got a close reading by sixth-graders at KIPP Infinity Middle School on Tuesday ...
A conversation between Karen E. Cox, Fulton County Public Schools, and David Jernigan, KIPP Metro Atlanta. Karen: How did you feel about Fulton County Public Schools participating?
With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and math in almost every state, we are raising the bar on what students must master to be prepared in an increasingly competitive world...
In an effort to encourage collaboration between charter schools and traditional neighborhood schools, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $25 million in grants to seven cities...
The city Department of Education hopes to ease long-existing tensions between district and charter schools with a new collaboration set to kick off in the Bronx. The District-Charter Compact is...
NYC Collaborates will include a series of on-the-ground partnerships, events and collaborations between all New York City public schools, regardless of type, and kicks off with a Bronx School Study Tour Program...
On Saturday, more than 200 volunteers from across Bedford-Stuyvesant and beyond came together to build a playground from scratch for the elementary school children of 800 Gates Avenue...
Central Falls, R.I., is a speck of a city, one square mile of triple-decker houses and tired storefronts a few miles up the road from the state capital, Providence. It is the poorest city in Rhode Island, with 27 percent of its residents below the poverty line, according to the Census Bureau...
An initiative designed to ease tension between district and charter schools in the city has moved slowly and largely under the radar this spring. In December, then-Chancellor Joel Klein joined 88 of the city’s...