The scoop

Theoretical Board of Ed that may exist tomorrow gets 1st member

Courtesy of the Bronx borough president's office
<em>Courtesy of the Bronx borough president's office</em>

No one can accuse Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. of being unprepared for the possibility that mayoral control will expire tonight. Diaz just named his potential appointee to the theoretical Board of Education.

That person is Dr. Dolores Fernandez, a professor of urban education at CUNY’s Graduate Center who retired as president of Hostos Community College in 2008.

Fernandez’s appointment will become effective at midnight tonight if the 2002 mayoral control law expires and the Senate does not pass a law to replace it.

Diaz said in a statement today that he is “a supporter of some form of mayoral control.” Asked if Diaz would recommend that his appointee to the board vote to retain Joel Klein as chancellor, John DeSio, a spokesman for the borough president, would not comment yesterday. “He has mixed opinions on the chancellor,” DeSio said.

Fernandez could not immediately be reached for comment. In a release put out by Diaz’s office, she said:

“For me, it is an honor to be thought of by Borough President Diaz to represent The Bronx on the Board of Education. I look forward to serving our borough, and its children, in an admirable and professional way.”

Between 1988 and 1990, Fernandez was deputy chancellor for instruction and development for the Board of Education. She served under chancellor Richard Green, the system’s first black chancellor, who died suddenly a year into his tenure of an asthma attack, leaving the school system in disarray. Fernandez has a Master’s in Education and a professional diploma in Educational Administration.

The full press release follows.


Dr. Dolores Fernandez will be the Bronx representative on the newly reconstituted Board of Education, effective following the sunset of mayoral control on July 1.

Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., announced the appointment of Dr. Dolores Fernandez as the Bronx representative on the newly reconstituted Board of Education, effective following the sunset of mayoral control on July 1.

A resident of City Island, Dr. Fernandez had served as the president of Hostos Community College from 1998 until her retirement this year. She currently serves as a professor of urban education at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center in Manhattan.

“Though I am a supporter of some form of mayoral control, and I am disappointed that the current law was allowed to expire, the business of our children is too important to wait for Albany to act. Dr. Fernandez is a highly qualified, well respected educator with a long resume of accomplishments, and she will be a strong voice for the over one million public school children of the City. I am proud to appoint Dr. Fernandez to the Board of Education, and I look forward to working closely with her to craft an ambitious education agenda for the students of The Bronx and all five boroughs,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

“For me, it is an honor to be thought of by Borough President Diaz to represent The Bronx on the Board of Education. I look forward to serving our borough, and its children, in an admirable and professional way,” said Dr. Fernandez.

In addition to her work at Hostos Community College, Dr. Fernandez served as deputy chancellor for instruction and development for the Board of Education under Chancellor Richard R. Green from 1988-1990. Dr. Fernandez also served as director of education and deputy commissioner for program services for the New York State Division for Youth under Governor Mario Cuomo. An educator since 1978, Dr. Fernandez has also served as a teacher in Queens District 29, as well as the Long Island communities of Long Beach and Hempstead, during her career.

Dr. Fernandez graduated cum laude from Nassau Community College, earned a B.S. in Education from The State University of New York (SUNY) at Old Westbury, and received a Master’s in Education, as well as a professional Diploma in Educational Administration, from Long Island University (LIU) – C.W. Post College. She then earned her Professional Diploma in Reading and her Ph.D., in Language and Cognition from Hofstra University.

that was weird

The D.C. school system had a pitch-perfect response after John Oliver made #DCPublicSchools trend on Twitter

Public education got some unexpected attention Sunday night when John Oliver asked viewers watching the Emmys to make #DCPublicSchools trend on Twitter.

Oliver had been inspired by comedian Dave Chappelle, who shouted out the school system he attended before he announced an award winner. Within a minute of Oliver’s request, the hashtag was officially trending.

Most of the tweets had nothing to do with schools in Washington, D.C.

Here are a few that did, starting with this pitch-perfect one from the official D.C. Public Schools account:

Oliver’s surreal challenge was far from the first time that the late-show host has made education a centerpiece of his comedy — over time, he has pilloried standardized testing, school segregation, and charter schools.

Nor was it the first education hashtag to take center stage at an awards show: #PublicSchoolProud, which emerged as a response to new U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, got a shoutout during the Oscars in February.

And it also is not the first time this year that D.C. schools have gotten a surprise burst of attention. The Oscars were just a week after DeVos drew fire for criticizing the teachers she met during her first school visit as secretary — to a D.C. public school.

Startup Support

Diverse charter schools in New York City to get boost from Walton money

PHOTO: John Bartelstone
Students at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School in 2012. The school is one of several New York City charters that aim to enroll diverse student bodies.

The Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropy governed by the family behind Walmart, pledged Tuesday to invest $2.2 million over the next two years in new charter schools in New York City that aim to be socioeconomically diverse.

Officials from the foundation expect the initiative to support the start of about seven mixed-income charter schools, which will be able to use the money to pay for anything from building space to teachers to technology.

The effort reflects a growing interest in New York and beyond in establishing charter schools that enroll students from a mix of backgrounds, which research suggests can benefit students and is considered one remedy to school segregation.

“We are excited to help educators and leaders on the front lines of solving one of today’s most pressing education challenges,” Marc Sternberg, the foundation’s K-12 education director and a former New York City education department official, said in a statement.

Walton has been a major charter school backer, pouring more than $407 million into hundreds of those schools over the past two decades. In New York, the foundation has helped fund more than 100 new charter schools. (Walton also supports Chalkbeat; read about our funding here.)

Some studies have found that black and Hispanic students in charter schools are more likely to attend predominantly nonwhite schools than their peers in traditional schools, partly because charter schools tend to be located in urban areas and are often established specifically to serve low-income students of color. In New York City, one report found that 90 percent of charter schools in 2010 were “intensely segregated,” meaning fewer than 10 percent of their students were white.

However, more recently, a small but rising number of charter schools has started to take steps to recruit and enroll a more diverse student body. Often, they do this by drawing in applicants from larger geographic areas than traditional schools can and by adjusting their admissions lotteries to reserve seats for particular groups, such as low-income students or residents of nearby housing projects.

Founded in 2014, the national Diverse Charter Schools Coalition now includes more than 100 schools in more than a dozen states. Nine New York City charter groups are part of the coalition, ranging from individual schools like Community Roots Charter School in Brooklyn to larger networks, including six Success Academy schools.

“There’s been a real shift in the charter school movement to think about how they address the issue of segregation,” said Halley Potter, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a think tank that promotes socioeconomic diversity.

The Century Foundation and researchers at Teachers College at Columbia University and Temple University will receive additional funding from Walton to study diverse charter schools, with the universities’ researchers conducting what Walton says is the first peer-reviewed study of those schools’ impact on student learning.