who should rule the schools (updated x2)

Diaz, Monserrate walk out of control talks, but "it's a done deal"

Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Hiram Monserrate walked out of Senate talks about school governance this afternoon, but they signaled that their disagreement with the Democratic leadership wouldn’t kill a mayoral control deal reached with the Bloomberg administration yesterday, Anna Phillips reports from outside the Lower Manhattan building where the talks are happening.

“It’s a done deal, but we’re not all in agreement,” Diaz said in Spanish to a group of reporters. “The four amigos are divided today.”

Diaz added that he expects a final deal to be released today or tomorrow. No agreement has yet been put to paper.

The Senate’s leading Democrats, John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, are holding the meeting to try to persuade Democrats critical of mayoral control to come on board an agreement struck with the Bloomberg administration yesterday. The agreement would add extra checks to a mayoral control bill passed by the Assembly, including a citywide parent training center based out of CUNY and a new citywide arts panel.

Twelve other senators are still in the meeting, and others are participating by telephone, Anna reports.

Bloomberg administration officials are paying close attention to the talks, which they hope will put a final end to a debate that has been going on for seven months now. The debate hit a serious road bump when mayoral control expired June 30 without any new law passed to replace it, reverting the city back to the pre-2002 school governance law and forcing a hasty meeting of a reconvened Board of Education.

Even if no law is passed, administration officials are planning to move forward with enacting the plan’s major parts, including a citywide parent training center, a source said today. The idea is to send a strong signal to senators that the administration takes the agreement seriously.

UPDATE: Anna reports that Perkins just came out of the meeting looking more staid than usual. He said there will be a deal, and Senate Democratic leaders are about to make a group statement.

Asked if discussions were heated — which we heard from at least one senator who’s not in the room but was calling in for the latest — Perkins said they were “thorough.”

UPDATE 2: Sens. Espada and Sampson just walked out. “We have reached an agreement with respect to school governance,” Espada said, Anna reports. He said the “language has not been finalized,” but that he intends to return to Albany “before our children go to school in September.”

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.