changing of the guard

Michael Mulgrew is elected president of teachers union

(via GothamSchools Flickr)
(via GothamSchools Flickr)

The executive board of New York City’s teachers union elected Michael Mulgrew its new president today, an event that has been widely expected since Randi Weingarten said she would resign to focus on national issues.

Union members will get a chance to vote in a formal presidential election in 2010, when Mulgrew will run for the position he now holds. Weingarten nominated Mulgrew for the position and, with the backing of the union’s largest party, the Unity caucus, he is likely to be elected next year.

Formerly the union’s chief operating officer, Mulgrew was the only candidate nominated for the presidency. Union rules prevent regular members from offering their own nominations. Mulgrew will become president on August 1.

The UFT press release follows:


The Executive Board of the United Federation of Teachers tonight voted to elect Michael Mulgrew as the UFT’s new President effective August 1. Mulgrew, who has been serving as the union’s Vice President for Career and Technical Education (CTE) High Schools since 2005 and its Chief Operating Officer since 2008, replaces outgoing president Randi Weingarten.

Mulgrew, 44, was nominated at a special meeting of the union’s Executive Board on July 9th, after Weingarten announced in late June that she would be devoting herself full time to leading the Washington DC-based American Federation of Teachers.

Michael is the fifth president of the UFT in its storied 49-year history, following Charles Cogan (1960 to 1964), Albert Shanker (1964 to 1986), Sandra Feldman (1986 to 1998) and Randi Weingarten (1998 to 2009).

“The UFT has a long and renowned history of advocacy on behalf of our city’s public school students and educators, and I am very proud and humbled to be the union’s new president,” said Mulgrew after the vote. “There are huge challenges ahead, and our team and I will work hard to continue that important work.”

“Michael is a fantastic choice,” said Weingarten. “The role of president requires tremendous strength, judiciousness, caring and savvy, and Michael has all of those qualities. His strong determination and hard work, first as a teacher, then as a chapter leader and later as a union vice president have been first-rate, and I know first-hand his intense desire to create more opportunities for children and improve the professional lives of educators. He will continue the great work this union has done for many years, and our public schools will be better and stronger for it.”

The United Federation of Teachers represents more than 200,000 active and retired members, including teachers, classroom paraprofessionals, school secretaries, attendance teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, education evaluators, nurses, laboratory technicians, adult education teachers and home child-care providers. The UFT also runs more than 300 teacher training centers around the five boroughs as well as two charter schools.

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.