Rise & Shine: Closing HS awarded diploma to no-show student

News from New York City:

  • Through credit recovery, closing Lafayette HS graduated an overage student who rarely attended. (Post)
  • Summer school started yesterday in blistering heat but mostly with air conditioning. (NY1, Times)
  • A city schools superintendent, Cami Anderson, is applying to open three charter schools. (Post)
  • City schools are suspending students 40 percent more than they did four years ago. (Daily News)
  • They’re also reporting much less major crime, and spending more on school safety. (Daily News, NY1)
  • Investigators found that the principal of PS 50 in the Bronx helped himself with contracts. (Daily News)
  • School construction workers held a boozy end-of-year party on a high school campus. (Post)
  • Nicole Suriel’s drowning death is a lot like another field trip drowning that happened in 1994. (Post)
  • Fearing repercussions, Suriel’s Harlem school, is rallying to keep its administrators. (Times)
  • Economics is a central part of the curriculum at MS 223 in the South Bronx. (Wall Street Journal)
  • More on the city’s controversial move to consolidate two programs for Rikers Island students. (Times)
  • Queens high schools make up a large proportion of those on the city’s restructuring list. (Daily News)
  • The New Teacher Project’s head says Randi Weingarten deserves credit for backing reform. (Daily News)
  • Mayor Bloomberg said the UFT is like a bad lawyer because it defended weak schools. (Daily News)
  • But recent history suggests that teachers unions are even less popular than lawyers. (NY Magazine)
  • A Democracy Prep charter school teacher says he prefers his 403B to his old pension plan. (Daily News)

And beyond:

  • Suburban Princeton, N.J., is grappling with the charter school question. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The rigorous International Baccalaureate program is a growing alternative for advanced students. (Times)
  • Fearing heckling, the Obama administration is staying away from teachers union conventions. (Times)
  • More parents are trying to avoid vaccinating their children. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A bid for mayoral control in Rochester is on the rocks without Albany’s support. (Democrat and Chronicle)
  • Kansas City schools are set to start arranging classes by ability instead of age. (AP)
  • A D.C. principal who has boosted performance has also made some enemies. (Washington Post)
  • A Los Angeles school opened yesterday under the mostly-new-staff turnaround model. (L.A. Times)

weekend update

How the education world is reacting to racist violence in Charlottesville — and to Trump’s muted response

PHOTO: Andrew Dallos/Flickr
A rally against hate in Tarrytown, New York, responds to the violence in Charlottesville.

For educators across the country, this weekend’s eruption of racism and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, offered yet another painful opportunity to communicate their values to families, colleagues, and community members.

Many decried the white supremacists who convened in the college town and clashed with protesters who had come to oppose their message. Some used social media to outline ideas about how to turn the distressing news into a teaching moment.

And others took issue with President Donald Trump’s statement criticizing violence “on many sides,” largely interpreted as an unwillingness to condemn white supremacists.

One leading education official, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, followed Trump’s approach, criticizing what happened but not placing blame on anyone in particular:

DeVos’s two most recent predecessors were unequivocal, both about what unfolded in Charlottesville and whom to blame:

Leaders of the nation’s two largest teachers unions responded directly to Trump:

The American Federation of Teachers, Weingarten’s union, is supporting vigils across the country Sunday night organized by chapters of Indivisible, a coalition that emerged to resist the Trump administration. The union also promoted resources from Share My Lesson, its lesson-plan site, that deal with civil rights and related issues.

“As educators, we will continue to fulfill our responsibility to make sure our students feel safe and protected and valued for who they are,” Weingarten said in a statement with other AFT officials.

Local education officials took stands as well, often emotionally. Here’s what the superintendent in Memphis, which is engaged in the same debate about whether Confederate memorials should continue to stand that drew white supremacists to Charlottesville, said on Twitter:

Teachers in Hopson’s district return for the second week of classes on Monday. They’ve helped students process difficult moments before, such as a spate of police killings of black men in 2016; here’s advice they shared then and advice that teachers across the country offered up.

We want to hear from educators who are tackling this tough moment in their classrooms. Share your experiences and ideas here or in the form below. 

Betsy DeVos

‘Underperformer,’ ‘bully,’ and a ‘mermaid with legs’: NYMag story slams Betsy DeVos

PHOTO: New York Magazine
A drawing of DeVos commissioned by an 8-year-old starts the New York Magazine article.

A new article detailing Betsy DeVos’s first six months as U.S. education secretary concludes that she’s “a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”

That’s just one of several brutal critiques of DeVos’s leadership and effectiveness in the New York Magazine story, by Lisa Miller, who has previously covered efforts to overhaul high schools, New York City’s pre-kindergarten push, and the apocalypse. Here are some highlights:

  • Bipartisan befuddlement: The story summarizes the left’s well known opposition to DeVos’s school choice agenda. But her political allies also say she’s making unnecessary mistakes: “Most mystifying to those invested in her success is why DeVos hasn’t found herself some better help.”
  • A friend’s defense: DeVos is “muzzled” by the Trump administration, said her friend and frequent defender Kevin Chavous, a school choice activist.
  • The department reacts: “More often than not press statements are being written by career staff,” a spokesperson told Miller, rejecting claims that politics are trumping policy concerns.
  • D.C. colleagues speak: “When you talk to her, it’s a blank stare,” said Charles Doolittle, who quit the Department of Education in June. A current education department employee says: “It’s not clear that the secretary is making decisions or really capable of understanding the elements of a good decision.”
  • Kids critique: The magazine commissioned six portraits of DeVos drawn by grade-schoolers.
  • Special Olympics flip-flop: DeVos started out saying she was proud to partner with the athletics competition for people with disabilities — and quickly turned to defending a budget that cuts the program’s funding.
  • In conclusion: DeVos is an underperformer,” a “bully” and “ineffective,” Miller found based on her reporting.

Updated (July 31, 2017): A U.S. Education Department spokesperson responded to our request for comment, calling the New York Magazine story “nothing more than a hit piece.” Said Liz Hill: “The magazine clearly displayed its agenda by writing a story based on largely disputed claims and then leaving out of the article the many voices of those who are excited by the Secretary’s leadership and determination to improve education in America.”