NY-GPS Mayoral Debate, School Discipline, New Teacher Eval System

Quote of the Week: “We need to take a pause before a suspension, before arrest, before writing a ticket because the consequences are huge and we need to be bringing every force we have to address the student needs in ways other than kicking them out of school and down the road toward prison.” Judge Judith Kaye of the Commission on Justice for Children Task Force on MSNBC talking about their new report 

NY-GPS Mayoral Debate A Success!
New Yorkers for Great Public Schools hosted the first major education debate among Democratic mayoral candidates,Anthony Weiner, Bill Thompson, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, and Sal Albanese. NY-GPS spokesperson and parent leader Zakiyah Ansari, moderated the debate, and a panel of parents and students asked the questions. The room was packed, and over 60 reporters were there, click here to read some coverage.

Anthony Weiner said he wants co-locations that are on a leveled playing field, to create competition for the “best ideas to win.” Bill Thompson spoke about a Chancellor’s District to drive more money into struggling schools, instead of closing them. Bill DeBlasio talked about raising taxes on the wealthy to fund Pre-K and other education initiatives. John Liu wants to bring real teaching and learning back, and thinks testing is out of hand, with schools “as corporate subsidiaries of the Bloomberg administration.” Sal Albanese said tackling issues of poverty is at the heart of improving schools. All the candidates said they would go to Albany to fight for more funding, all of them think Eva Moskowitz gets special treatment, all said they would reduce the city’s excessive testing, and all think specialized high schools should stop accepting students based solely on the results of a single test.

Share the video and join the “Education Election” debate on Twitter, @NY_GPS and #EduElection

School Discipline Must Be Addressed by Next Mayor
The NY Times recently published an editorial, 'School-to-Prison Pipeline,' blasting Bloomberg's overly harsh school discipline policies that have resulted in huge racial disparities. The paper's editorial board advocated instead for fairer and more effective solutions under NYC's next mayor. The editorial comes at a crucial moment when school discipline has become a major flash-point in the mayoral debate over education policy. Last week, at the NYGPS mayoral debate, Weiner reiterated his desire to make it easier to remove “disruptive” students from classrooms, and Bill De Blasio fired back that "school suspensions are the cheap way out."
Students and advocates are calling on the next mayor to reform the system, after Bloomberg’s failed policies. A 45-member task force, convened in 2011 to examine this issue, released a report called Keeping Kids In School and Out of Court. The report recommends training school leaders to use positive interventions, like restorative justice, as well as more oversight to ensure that all students can learn in a safe and secure environment. The report calls on the next mayor to bring together community groups, law enforcement and city agencies to create a “leadership team” to tackle this crisis and put students on a better pathway to success, not a pipeline to prison.

New Teacher Evaluation System for NYC
After three years of unsuccessful negotiations between the city and the UFT, the State Education Commission broke the impasse with a new teacher evaluation system. In this new system 20-25% of a teacher’s score will be based on their students’ state test scores, with 15% based on school factors and 60% will be from administrative observations of their teaching in the classroom. Chancellor Walcott who has recently become Mayor Bloomberg’s #1 Defender, warned that if the next mayor wants to change any aspect of the evaluation system, the will “do it at their own peril.” However, as the next mayor implements this new system they should work to improve teaching and learning in the classroom and engage stakeholders to find the best solutions to improve the quality of teaching in our schools. Read the A+ Policy Hub, with recommendations for best practices for teacher evaluation.

90% of NYC Schools Have Building Violations
Yesterday, the Daily News reported that a study by Local 32BJ found more than 90% of city schools have at least one outstanding building code violation, with hazardous problems that “include loose wires, stuck doors and inadequate ventilation.” A few weeks ago, Local 32BJ released a report titled, “Falling Further Apart: Decaying Schools in New York City’s Poorest Neighborhoods” which dealt a serious blow to Mayor Bloomberg, as it found students from NYC’s poorest families and neighborhoods attend some of the most neglected and decaying school buildings. Too many NYC schools are in disrepair and hazardous conditions, our next mayor must overhaul how the city funds the infrastructure and maintenance of our schools so that students can learn in a safe environment conducive to learning.

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