Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pedro Noguera Advice for Walcott

Mona Davids:
Good article from Noguera. Maybe he's starting to get it. He says:
"If he wants to reduce some of the polarization in the city he should not
allow charter schools to displace public schools that are functioning

My question: So, what about the SUNY CSI schools like HSA, Uncommon etc.
he's approving knowing full well the communities don't want them. Stop
approving charters that do not have their own space.

More comments: Ellen

There's quite a few closed Catholic Schools that the funders could rent....if they are willing to make a real commitment to education and not investment. The real secret is that these funders aren't sure that their pet charter school project will work so why invest in bricks and mortar....or kids?

Diane Ravitch:
Really, it is an outrage that funders with so much money--some are billionaires--insist on free public space, displacing other people's children, instead of buying or renting a building of their own. Piggy.

 Please watch this video--all the way to the end. It is worth it. A meeting of the LA school board, discussing charter school expansion.

Pedro Noguera

New York’s public schools don’t need a savior or a superman. We need a
leader with the maturity and vision to draw on the talent and resources in
this city.

By Pedro Noguera

Chancellor Walcott is right: we need to set a new tone to solve the
problems confronting New York City’s public schools. For the past few
months we’ve been distracted by issues that have prevented us from
addressing the complex issues that truly affect the quality of education
children in our city receive. We need a new tone and a new direction.

We’ve spent too much time debating whether or not we should layoff
teachers based on seniority or on some measure of their ability, whether
or not we have too many or not enough charter schools, and whether or not
Cathie Black is qualified to lead the largest school system in the nation.

Chancellor Walcott has started out on the right foot. His messages to
teachers have been constructive and conciliatory; he’s demonstrated that
he is knowledgeable about the budget and he’s impressed members of the
legislature with his command over the issues confronting the schools. He’s
even made waffles for schoolchildren.

Now the hard work begins and the Chancellor will need more than a positive
message. For all his strengths as a leader, Chancellor Klein left his
predecessor a host of problems, and many of the key figures from his
management team have departed. In his last year we learned that the huge
gains in test scores that we thought had been achieved were not as
impressive as originally reported. We also learned that 80% of public
school graduates were required to take remedial courses when they enrolled
at CUNY. The state of New York has identified 54 schools that must be
transformed or turned around, and Mr. Klein left behind no strategy for
providing meaningful help to these schools. The very fact that over 100
schools were closed under his leadership is the clearest evidence that
many of the reforms that he and Mayor Bloomberg promoted were not
effective in improving the schools needing the most help.

Under these circumstances Mr. Walcott cannot merely stay the course. He
will need a new approach, one that will make it possible for Mayor
Bloomberg to fulfill his promise to improve public education.

In the spirit of adopting a more constructive tone, here are a few
friendly suggestions for the new Chancellor:

Stop pitting charter schools against public schools. Charter schools were
originally intended to serve as laboratories for innovation and changes
that were more difficult to pull off in the heavily regulated public
schools. The Chancellor should actively encourage the development of
charters such as the new ones recently authorized by SUNY, which will
serve homeless children and at-risk students, including those who were
once incarcerated. He should also actively encourage schools that will
take responsibility for turning around failing schools, like Democracy
Prep did recently when it took over Harlem Day Charter School. If he wants
to reduce some of the polarization in the city he should not allow charter
schools to displace public schools that are functioning well.

Develop a team at the DOE that can intervene effectively in struggling
schools by assessing the schools’ weaknesses and strengths, and applying
interventions that research has shown are effective. Shutting a school
down should be the last resort, utilized only when other measures have

Focus on the most vulnerable students: students with learning
disabilities, English language learners (especially the long-term ELLs)
and over-age and under-credited high school students. These students have
the highest rates of failure and many of the “best” schools have avoided
serving them. Provide schools that serve these students with additional
resources and create incentives for teachers with a track record of
effectiveness to work in them.

Reach out to parents and develop strategies to include them in
decision-making on matters pertaining to school and district governance.
Schools improve when parents are involved and parents will be more likely
to play a constructive role if they are treated with respect.

Use your high performing schools (especially those that serve the most
disadvantaged students) as professional development schools, where
teachers and principals from struggling schools can see and learn from
professionals who have figured out how to generate and sustain success.

Work with the union to devise a fair system for evaluating teachers and
negotiate a process for removing those who are ineffective or uncommitted
as expeditiously as possible.

Recruit and retain experienced administrators to work with you in managing
the system. Joel Klein had trouble retaining experienced educators, in
part because he never seemed to value the experience that they bring to
the job. There’s nothing wrong with recruiting talent from a variety of
fields but you will need people who understand curriculum, assessment and
how to create conditions in schools that foster excellent teaching and
life-long learning. And don’t be afraid of hiring people who will disagree
with you or who may challenge your assumptions. That’s the only way you
will be able to solve some of the complex problems facing our schools.
There is much more that can and should be done, but this is a good place
to start. New York’s public schools don’t need a savior or a superman. We
need a leader with the maturity and vision to draw on the talent and
resources in this city to create the best urban school system in the
nation. I hope Mr. Walcott can be that leader.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the school
that Democracy Prep took over. Democracy Prep took over Harlem Day Charter
School not Harlem Village Academy.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions they will fall on deaf ears. As you have stated often, "it is Bloomberg Fredo, not Tartaglia". Happy Easter amd Passover to all.

old unionist