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Thursday, September 16, 2010

PEP Update: State Ed Reprimand on ELL Education

Update: Letter from SED on ELL deficiencies provided.

Highlights of the September, 2010 Panel for Educational Policy meeting held on Staten Island:


State Ed Reprimand

I asked the Chancellor to release the letter from the NYS Education Department reprimanding the DOE for failures in providing services to English language learners. Meredith Kolodner had reported on the existence of the letter in the Daily News Wednesday. The Chancellor responded that he did not know if legally it was appropriate to release the letter. I then asked DOE General Counsel Mike Best what the legal issues preventing the release of the letter might be. He said he would review the issues with SED to see if the letter could be released. Click here for the letter.

Chancellor's Reg C-30

The regulation governing the process to appoint principals and assistant principals was up for approval. I was not comfortable with the outsized role of the Children's First Network and its "cluster" leader on the committee to review the candidates and select the best one. Principals choose their network and cluster in the current arrangement established by DOE. The network provides services to the school. There is an incentive for the network leadership to select principals who will, in turn, select their network to provide services. In effect, we have a vendor running the process to select the principal. I abstained on the vote. Anna Santos representing the Bronx voted against the regulation citing the diminished parent influence in the process.

Contracts

All contracts were approved. I voted to reject a consulting contract for "virtual learning". The Panel has been asked to approve large expenditures for a virtual learning platform, content and now consulting services to assemble it and deploy it to schools. We've added 18,000 students this year and lost 2,000 teaching positions. Instead of spending real money on virtual learning we need real teachers to provide real instruction.

Cuts to Busing on Staten Island & Queens.

In the public comment session Sam Pirozzolo, president of Community Education Council 31, led Staten Islanders in a spirited attack on the DOE decision to eliminate the policy of granting variances to 7th and 8th graders who would face hazardous commutes without yellow busing.

The public raised a number of important points:
  • No one in DOE appears to have considered the fact that one set of busing decisions was made many years ago as a part of a racial integration plan.
  • The DOE has not proposed rezoning for Staten Island and none has been done in over twenty years.
  • The decision to eliminate the entire policy of granting variances would itself require a full Panel vote along with proper notification. No process has been followed to do so.
I explained to the Panel and audience that I've asked three times to be provided by DOE with data on yellow bus routes by school. The Panel needs to be able to understand where routes are being added and subtracted in order to assess whether the budget is being appropriately allocated and if elimination of variances is the appropriate policy. The chancellor and assorted deputy chancellors repeatedly asserted that their management of the busing procurement and routing was exemplary. I responded simply that if DOE is increasing the transportation budget yet forcing children into hazardous commutes, then they need to provide more transparency into these decisions.

9 comments:

Leonie Haimson said...

how much was the virtual learning contract Patrick? And how many millions do you think we are wasting on this, while kids are suffering in ever larger classes?

Patrick J. Sullivan said...

1.75 million over one year for this consulting contract. The sources of funds are listed as Tax Levy, ARRA IID and C4E.

Lisa Donlan said...

C4E is paying for virtual learning?

But I thought that Art.7 had not been passed and that essentially we had no C4E?

And that as foundation aid from NYS has been reduced so will the C4E budget pro rated.

Is there a C4E contract?

What are the allocations?
Where can we see these?

How does this contract differ from the past two years' contracts?

Lisa Donlan said...

C4E is paying for virtual learning?

But I thought that Art.7 had not been passed and that essentially we had no C4E?

And that as foundation aid from NYS has been reduced so will the C4E budget pro rated.

Is there a C4E contract?

What are the allocations?
Where can we see these?

How does this contract differ from the past two years' contracts?

Lisa Donlan said...

C4E is paying for virtual learning?

But I thought that Art.7 had not been passed and that essentially we had no C4E?

And that as foundation aid from NYS has been reduced so will the C4E budget pro rated.

Is there a C4E contract?

What are the allocations?
Where can we see these?

How does this contract differ from the past two years' contracts?

Paola de Kock said...

Thank you, Patrick, for being persistent. The letter you posted (dated August 31st) refers to two other documents: a March 3, 2010 letter from the State that lists the issues found during their review, and an April 29 response from DOE; it also refers to a “productive meeting” between DOE and NYSED on July 8. Based on these last two items, says the State, “it is evident that NYC DOE has taken critical steps to address many of the outstanding issues.” The effect of those “critical steps” must have been minimal because the State is now requesting DOE develop a "Corrective Action Plan" -- most gingerly, under the guise of "additional clarification needed" (is this all NYSED can manage by way of reprimand?). This plan “should include, at a minimum, a detailed timeline demonstrating how NYC DOE will keep track of progress, the consequences expected from a proposed action and the submission of regular reports to NYSED.”
DOE had six months to do something about the problems noted in the State’s August 31 letter before schools opened on September 8. Inquiring minds would like to know what steps were and will be taken beyond the predictable PowerPoint presentation(s).

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Anonymous said...

Hmm according to NY1 tornado was the worst in Park Slope and Bayside. Must be god's wrath for a lack of equity in education.

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