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.
In fact, the department selected both a Washington Fellow and a Classroom Fellow from KIPP charter schools in the city, giving the network the only city schools and the only charter schools to be represented in Washington, D.C., this year.
The fellows began their term this month and will spend the year advising Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, telling policy makers about their classroom experiences, and brokering conversations among teachers about how the Obama administration is advancing its education priorities.
Joiselle Cunningham will take the year off from teaching reading at KIPP Infinity Middle School to work full-time in Washington, focusing on teacher quality issues. Jonathan McIntosh, who coordinates special education and coaches debate at KIPP AMP Charter School in Brooklyn, will continue working at his school part-time but will also spend about 20 hours a week at the U.S. Department of Education’s New York City office.
McIntosh said he would strive to visit city schools where great teaching is happening, as well.
“My first job and responsibility is to my students, but as much as possible I want to be in classrooms because I feel that’s where the change is happening,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Education fellowship was not the first honor for either McIntosh or Cunningham. This year, Cunningham was a finalist for Teach for America’s Alumni in Teaching Award, and McIntosh participated in the Summer Principals Academy at Columbia University Teachers College that former city schools official Eric Nadelstern runs.
Josh Zoia, KIPP NYC’s superintendent, said the teachers’ selection reflected the charter network’s values, as well.
“At KIPP, we believe that great teaching happens when teachers have the freedom to innovate and the opportunity to get better every day,” he said. “When something works, we celebrate it and share it broadly among other teachers. We also provide teachers with time for professional development and personal renewal. Both Jonathan and Joiselle embody this ethos so we’re very excited and proud that they’ve been selected.”
This year’s crop of eight fellows is the smallest since the U.S. Department of Education began recruiting teacher ambassadors in 2008. Four city educators had been selected for the position in the past: Genevieve DeBose of Bronx Charter School for the Arts in 2011; Jemal Graham of Brooklyn’s M.S. 113 in Brooklyn in 2010; Jason Raymond of the High School of Law and Public Service in 2009; and Nicora Placa, a Bronx mathematics educator in the program’s first year. Teachers must have five years of experience in order to apply.
State Sen. Diane Savino accused mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio today of not understanding the legal issues behind providing universal pre-kindergarten to New York City students.
De Blasio has proposed taxing households that make more than $500,000 to fund full-day pre-K for all New York City children.
The senator, who spoke on a conference call set up by Bill Thompson’s campaign team, said creating universal pre-K in the city is not a matter of getting more money, but rather changing laws in Albany.
“Either Bill [de Blasio] doesn’t know how we fund universal pre-K or he’s just pandering. Because the fact is we don’t need to spend more money on this program,” she said.
Quoting the department’s 2011 legislative agenda, Savino noted that New York City had to send $31 million back to Albany because the funds can only be used toward half-day preschool, and working parents in the city require full-day programs.
Because of cuts to the state’s pre-K budget, the department returned $2.1 million last year, department officials said. They said the city has spent about $50 million of its funds annually on pre-K on average in recent years and has received about $225 million annually from the state in the last two years.
De Blasio’s campaign shot back and said de Blasio would work with Albany so that New York City can use half-day pre-K dollars for full day programs.
“But even if Albany agreed, it would come nowhere near providing enough funding to make full-day pre-K available to every child who needs it,” said campaign spokesman Dan Levitan.
According to de Blasio, it would cost an additional $341 million to fund full day pre-K for all city children.
But Savino disagreed.
“We have enough money,” she said. “What we don’t have is flexibility in the state’s regulations about how we spend the money we already get.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose mayoral campaign said she has long spoken about the issue, recently told Capital New York she would lobby the state to allow the city to use half-day pre-K funds for full-day pre-K, as the Bloomberg administration has done. “That will get us a step closer. And then we will work to get the rest of the resources,” she said.
Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu also brought up this issue in 2011 when his office released an audit finding that the Department of Education had failed to use all its universal pre-K funds. The audit acknowledged that the forfeiture was the result of the state’s rules.
Levitan added, “Bill Thompson has refused to call for asking the wealthy to pay anything more so that every child can get the head start they deserve.” Thompson talked about expanding pre-kindergarten when he released his education platform in May but has not provided any more specific details about how he would fund and execute his plan. He has vowed not to raise taxes on New Yorkers.
After a rocky 13-year reign as Evanston's elementary school district superintendent, Hardy Murphy abruptly resigned two weeks before the start of classes, leaving stunned supporters and detractors with questions. (Tribune)
With two years left on his contract, Murphy announced his departure last week — three days after he had already left the job — and said in a written release that he plans to "pursue consulting opportunities."
A Chicago Public Schools wrecking crew early Saturday morning finished the job it started Friday night — controversially and without warning razing a Pilsen school fieldhouse that was being used as a volunteer-run community center. Amid heated scenes at Whittier Elementary School, 10 protesters who’d camped out overnight in a failed attempt to save the run-down building were arrested when they tried to stop the demolition around 6 a.m. (Sun-Times)
ACTIVISTS ANGERED: Chicago Public Schools sidestepped a long-standing disagreement with activists over proposed renovations to a field house at Whittier Elementary School by tearing down the building early Saturday. The move angered activists, who three years ago staged a protest to prevent demolition of the building they used for after-school activities and community programming. But CPS said the building's structural problems made it unsafe and it needed to come down before the start of school. "It was important that we did it right away," said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll.
TIF TENSION: Protesters who gathered Sunday in Logan Square wanted to convey the message to Mayor Rahm Emanuel that surplus funds collected through Tax Increment Finance districts should be used to replace money cut from the Chicago Public Schools budget. (Sun-Times)
STOPPED BUSES IGNORED: A survey conducted in 29 states by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services found 85,279 school bus stop-arm violations in a one-day test conducted this spring. (Daily Herald)
IN THE NATION
GOODBYE, PHILLY: Brian Hackford is divorcing Philadelphia, citing irreconcilable differences over public education. He no longer believes the Philadelphia School District can be trusted to provide his three children with a good education. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Each weekday morning, we search websites of various media, comb through RSS feeds and peruse Google alerts to bring you a roundup of the day’s top education headlines, in Colorado and across the country, by 8 a.m. If you’d like to suggest a story we’ve missed or a source we should add to the list, please email us at email@example.com.