2010 Education In Review Part 1: Klein Resignation Tops Off Contentious Year
While there was no shortage of issues affecting the city's school system in 2010, the biggest news to hit was the announcement that Schools Chancellor Joel Klein will be stepping down. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
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The Department of Education started 2010 with public hearings -- several each night in January, all over the city. It was a new process for closing schools, required under the revised state law governing the mayor's control of schools. And it didn't go very smoothly.
The new law also requires the Panel for Educational Policy to vote on the school closures, and thousands showed up for that meeting. After nine hours of public comment, the mayor-controlled panel voted to close all 19 schools. But less than a week later, the NAACP and teachers union filed a lawsuit. A judge eventually ruled the city hasn't followed the new process properly and lacks the authority to close any of the schools.
A carrot dangled by the Obama administration got New York to change several significant education policies in 2010. It was the Race to the Top competition, the largest education grant ever. New York was awarded $700 million in the second round, after Albany raised the cap on the number of charter schools and allowed test scores to be used for evaluating teachers. This cleared the way for a whole new tenure policy.
State officials finally admitted standardized test scores have become inflated in recent years, so they made it harder to pass the tests in 2010.
The passing rate in the city dropped from 69 percent to 42 percent on the English test and plunged from 82 percent to 54 percent in math.
Many of the gains the mayor touted for years disappeared overnight. And, as NY1 first reported, it meant the achievement gap between black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian classmates was back to being as wide as when the mayor first gained control of the system.
But perhaps the biggest news came near the end of the year, when longtime schools chancellor Joel Klein unexpectedly announced his resignation. But the mayor had an even bigger surprise when he chose publishing executive Cathie Black to be the next school's chancellor.
Black almost didn't get a state waiver, since she has no education experience. But she agreed to appoint a second-in-command and, despite protests and petitions, she was cleared to take over the Department of Education in the beginning of 2011. The only thing that could stand in her way are the three lawsuits filed challenging her waiver.