Monday, September 22, 2014

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The Call Blog: Reflections On The School Year; New Chancellor, Teacher Contract, Pre-K Program

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We've probably talked about education more than other topic this year. Carmen Farina named Schools Chancellor. A new contact for teachers. The fight to start pre-Kindergarten. Keeping school open during two snowstorms. Mayor de Blasio's attempt to limit charter schools. Free lunches for middle school students. Protests over the State English and math tests. I could go on and on, but I'd rather you did.

Public school students were dismissed yesterday for summer recess, bringing an eventful school year to a close. There were several notable developments, starting with Mayor de Blasio appointing Carmen Farina as Schools Chancellor. While many parents and educators welcomed the change, their debut got off to a rough start when school wasn't closed during two snowstorms.

Much of the immediate focus from Mayor de Blasio centered around raising taxes on the rich to pay for free pre-Kindergarten. Albany voted down that idea, but did provide funding from existing tax dollars. The Mayor also lost a fight to force charter schools to pay rent to use DOE buildings. Finally, as the school year wound down, teachers approved a nine-year, $9 billion contract deal, their first in years.

What are your reflections on the school year? What is the most significant development? Is the teachers' contract a good one? Do you give Chancellor Farina a passing grade so far? Is your attempt to sign-up for pre-Kindergarten going smoothly? What changes would you like to see made for the upcoming school year?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

More half days for Pre-K & Kgn. to ease them into the beginning of the year.
Less Common Core.
More principals who have been teachers.
Fewer children in each class.
More developmentally appropriate curricula.
Fewer co-locations.
More balanced literacy.
Less testing, less testing, less testing!
Call snow days when they should be called.
A new Governor.

Upper West Side

Universal prek for all SOUNDS great. But, what happens after prek? Since the DOE still implements school zoning, these prek kids will be out if luck she they start kindergarten & 1st grade & parents realize that their kids are going to be kicked out bcus that great prek school is not their zone school & they don't have a seat for their little ones for kindergarten & 1st grade. The entire school system must be revamped & charter & public must be required to work together & share resources....especially if they share residents.


- I am impressed with the Chancellor and glad to see the DOE re-evaluating school space & eliminating trailers.
- Community schools and an emphasis on PK and middle seem like great ideas.
- I hope to see a further reduction in high stakes testing wherever possible. (I remember when we took them in 4th and 7th or 8th only!)
- Class sizes do need to come down though, and the construction of new buildings/seats needs to catch up to and anticipate demand.
- I have no problem with the SHSAT being used for specialized high school admissions, but I do think that money needs to be spent on outreach and support in neighborhoods that historically send the fewest kids to take the test.

I AM DISGUSTED, however, with the governor, the Regents, and our state legislature for their usurping of NYC's control of its schools by giving a golden ticket to charter schools. Hey, charters: All the space you ever! (Actually, not free - NYC taxpayers will be forced to cover it for you.) It makes me sick. They can basically open wherever they want. (And, boo to you on that one, too, SUNY - you approve their charters without asking/caring if and where there is even space for them.) I hated that we were prevented from adjusting our own city taxes to cover PK, too. I hate when politics gets in the way of good ideas and I can't wait NOT to vote for Cuomo in the primary.


Hi John,

If anything the teachers are pleased with their contract and so that is a start. I still have the feeling that this administration is just not with it. They seem to just want to be able to propose laws just to serve their own purpose. We still have to find out how many graduated and what changes are going to take place for the better. This incident that happened in the winter with the storms was a very serious incident. They showed that they were not considering the children they were worried about the funds taken away from them. I still believe that the Pre-K numbers were to high an estimate according to the mayors figures. Is they mayor in charge of the schools? I'm just wondering. I do feel that the charter schools should be compelled to show their books.

Thank you John,

The seniors at Curtis High School were not allowed to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. The BOE and the principal offered no apology or even an excuse. These people are brazen, uncaring, and have no decency. They should be fired....

Park Hill


My attempt to sign up for PreK didn't go so well. They said, as an adult, I was ineligible. Should I sue for discrimination?

The best thing that has happened relating to the schools is that DeFlunkie's ideas were almost all shot down. Another piece of good news wasn't reported, but apparently DeFarina's broom, lost somewhere in the snow storm, has been found. Let's hope that she rides it into oblivion before the next school term.

Port Richmond, SI

Hi John

For the up coming school year i would like to see more parents get involved in their kids education, i know some parents are because their kids are very intelligent but most parents don't give a dam or are to busy to check on their kids schoolwork and that's not right all parents should want their child to succeed and stay in school and go to college. Mayor Diblasio and chancellor Farina made a judgment call in closing the schools during the snowstorms because some kids might of been stranded at school. The most significant development was the start of UPK this year it'll give the students a early start to school, i hope they include more bilingual classes in the cirrculum because everyone should know english. Chancellor Farina is a awesome Chancellor she's dioing a excellent job she understands the needs of the teachers because she was one

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