Tag Archives: public schools

NYC public schools remain open Wednesday


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The Department of Education will keep all public schools open Wednesday, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina  announced, as the city expects icy conditions from its second snowstorm this week.

All school field trips are canceled, however, Fariña said about 2 a.m. Wednesday. Families with busing issues are asked to call 718-392-8855.

Parents, as always, should exercise their own judgment with regard to their children,” the schools chancellor said. “Safety is a top priority for the department.”

Though the city has been slammed with snowstorms since the start of the year, public schools have only closed once on Jan. 3, during the year’s first major snowstorm.

They were kept open Jan. 22, during the next storm that left the city with almost a foot of snow.

The decision angered parents and students, especially at Bayside High School, where a shortage of teachers forced students to waste the day in the auditorium, The Courier reported.

Two to four inches of snow is predicted for the area, as well as about one third of an inch of ice, the National Weather Service said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio warned city residents of a “difficult morning commute.”

A “hazardous travel advisory” is in effect for the area Wednesday, the New York City Office of Emergency Management said. The Department of Sanitation  issued a ‘snow alert’ for Tuesday, starting at 10 p.m.

About eight inches were already dumped on the area Monday. Another storm is expected this weekend.

 

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Decision to keep NYC public schools open upsets parents


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Updated at 11:40 a.m.

MELISSA CHAN AND MAGGIE HAYES

All New York City public schools will remain open Wednesday, education officials announced, dashing hopes city students might have about getting a second snow day this month, and angering parents who had to send their kids off.

“Keeping my kids home. Unsafe and crazy to keep school open. Guarantee plenty are doing the same as well as teachers having a hard time getting in,” Margaret Gomez said on The Courier’s Facebook page.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña made the call  Tuesday night at about 11:20 p.m., but warned “travel conditions may be difficult.”

“Families should exercise their own judgment when taking their children to school,” the notice said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he participated in the decision to keep schools open and that it was “the right thing to do.”

“We only close schools when it’s absolutely necessary,” he said. “We judged that we could go forward with school effectively today.”

School buses and mass transit are functioning “not perfectly, but well enough,” as of Wednesday morning, de Blasio said.

All after-school programs, field trips and PSAL games are also back to operating on a normal schedule, the schools chancellor announced.

The city closed public schools just a little more than two weeks ago on Jan. 3, during “Hercules,” the first major snowstorm of 2014.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday’s snow storm – with its predicted 10 to 14 inches of flakes and freezing temperatures – was on pace to be larger than the first.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter storm warning from 12 p.m. Tuesday until 6 a.m. Wednesday. The snow was not expected to taper off until 3 or 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Queens accumulated up to 11 inches of snow in some neighborhoods, according to the NWS.

 

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Teacher evaluations shed light on effectiveness


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Grades given by the Department of Education (DOE) show more than 500 teachers may have failed to effectively educate their students.

According to published accounts, the DOE’s Teacher Data Reports have identified 521 English and math teachers who produced the smallest student gains between 2007 and 2010.

The reports, which use a value-added approach to illustrate how much progress individual teachers helped students make in reading and math over the course of a year, also classify 696 instructors as aiding children towards the biggest achievement gains over the same four-year period.

Roughly 12,000 teachers in grades four through eight were assigned ratings during the 2009-2010 school year – some based on their performances dating as far back as 2007.

In an op-ed piece, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott called the reports “valuable tools” in identifying teachers’ strengths and weaknesses, but warned against using the data as the sole instrument by which to measure an educator.

“The data is now two years old, and it would be irresponsible for anyone to use this information to render judgments about individual teachers,” wrote Walcott. “Teacher Data Reports were created primarily as a tool to help teachers improve, and not to be used in isolation.”

Walcott continued by stating that the reports “don’t tell the full story about a teacher’s performance,” and they include instructors “who don’t even work in our schools anymore.” The chancellor also acknowledged that many teachers’ performances may have changed since the data was assembled.

While the rating system is no longer utilized by the DOE, similar calculations will account for 20 percent of a teacher’s rating – with the remaining grade composed of other measures, such as classroom observations – in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently-established statewide teacher evaluation program.

Despite the protests of hundreds of school faculty and parents, the data reports were released after several media outlets filed Freedom of Information Law requests and the state’s courts ruled the DOE was “obligated” to make them available.

United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew, who was against the release of the Teacher Data Reports, believes the ratings to be highly inaccurate.

“The Teacher Data Reports are based on bad data and an unproven methodology with a huge margin of error,” Mulgrew said. “They are not an accurate reflection of the work of any teacher. Their release is particularly inappropriate in view of the fact that the DOE has already announced that they will be discontinued and replaced with a statewide program.”

The UFT noted the rating system has error margins as high as 54 out of 100 points – meaning a top scoring teacher may be below average or an educator deemed subpar could be among the best. The federation also said some teachers were rated on subjects or students they did not teach, and one educator was given a score for a year she was on maternity leave.

Many teachers have objected to the release of the reports, claiming they will be unfairly judged based on inaccurate statistics.

“If the public wants to see what we do in the classrooms, then an outside agency – not the UFT, not the city – should come in and observe and rate the teachers,” said one Queens educator. “There are a lot of factors that go into education, and these ratings aren’t enough to judge a teacher by.”

Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, a citywide advocacy group campaigning for smaller classes, believes the reports could be disastrous for the teaching profession as a whole.

“I think the releasing of the data is indefensible,” said Haimson. “I think it has the potential of wrecking the teaching profession. I don’t think anyone would go into teaching knowing this kind of data could be released, that is both unfair and unreliable and could put them at the mercy of the tabloids for being publicly shamed and denounced.”

Based on the data, media reports have also suggested the best ranked schools have the highest percentage of top rated teachers, while the struggling institutions have many instructors with below average marks.