The Big Fix

City receives $19.8 mill. for 11 schools it hopes to "transform"

The city will receive nearly $20 million in federal funds for the 11 city schools it hopes to “transform” with longer school days and experiments in teacher training.

The city has been expecting this money since April, when the federal government gave New York State $300 million to turn around the state’s “persistently lowest achieving” schools. A total of 34 of the schools on the state’s list are in New York City, and more city schools are expected to be added to the list when the state updates it in the coming weeks.

The Department of Education was eligible for $2 million for each of the schools on the state’s list, but this year the city chose to only apply for funds for 11 of them.

For these schools, the city chose the “transformation” model of school improvement, the least severe of four federally-approved strategies. The model relies on changing the schools’ leadership, bringing in extra support services and experimenting with longer school days and new teacher training.

The city is currently mulling its options for the remaining 23 schools. Many of them are on the city’s list of schools it is considering closing. City officials have already decided not to close three of the schools — Washington Irving, Boys and Girls High School, and P.S. 65 — but have not yet announced how they intend to use the federal funds those schools are eligible to receive.

The 11 transformation schools each received shares of the total grant according to their student enrollment. The smallest, Unity Center for Urban Technologies, is receiving just over $757,000; the three largest schools are each receiving $1.8 million. The two transformation schools GothamSchools and WNYC are following this year both fell somewhere in between: Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School will get $957,000 and William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School will receive $1.3 million.

Not all of the grant money will go directly into schools’ budgets; just over $6 million will be given to the DOE’s central administration. Some of that money will go to hire six “School Implementation Managers,” each of whom will work directly with two of the transformation schools. The city also plans to hire seven administrative positions to build a central team dedicated to the schools, including a Director of Turnaround and Transformation Schools

And some of the money being sent to central will go towards contracting for services that will eventually be used in the schools, a DOE spokesman said.

The city’s nearly 850-page application detailing how it plans to spend the money can be downloaded here.




New York State Commissioner of Education David Steiner today announced that the New York City Department of Education will receive $19,800,003 for the 2010-2011 school year to help turn around 11 of its Persistently Lowest Achieving schools through the federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. These funds are part of over $308 million that was made available to New York State this spring through the United States Department of Education’s (USED) School Improvement Grant Fund under Section 1003(g) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), from money set aside in the 2009 budget and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Commissioner Steiner said, “We are building upon the State’s current initiatives to intervene in low performing schools and improve student outcomes.   New federal funding allows us to work with the New York City Department of Education to go beyond incremental improvements to create truly excellent models of education, particularly in those schools where students need our help the most.  We applaud Chancellor Joel Klein and his team for developing an excellent plan that incorporates proven strategies to turnaround these schools.  The State Education Department will actively support the transformation process in these 11 schools.”

In February, the Education Department identified 57 Persistently Lowest Achieving schools, in seven school districts across the state.  In June, these districts were invited to apply for School Improvement Grants under Section 1003(g), in order to support implementation of one of four intervention models prescribed by the USDE. To receive funding for the 2010-2011 school year, districts with identified schools must implement one of the following prescribed intervention models:

  • RESTART MODEL: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.
  • TURNAROUND MODEL: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.
  • TRANSFORMATION MODEL: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time and, by the end of the 2010-11 school year, amend any existing collective bargaining agreement as necessary to require that teachers (or building principals where applicable) assigned to these schools be evaluated in the 2011-12 school year and thereafter in accordance with recently enacted legislation pertaining to principal and teacher evaluation.
  • SCHOOL CLOSURE: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.

The New York City Department of Education will receive funding in the following amounts to implement an intervention model in these schools:

School Name Grant Award for 2010-2011 Model
Unity Center for Urban Technologies Transformation $757,113
Chelsea Career and Technology Education High School Transformation $959,246
Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School Transformation $850,510
Automotive High School Transformation $1,173,716
School for Global Studies Transformation $890,934
Cobble Hill School of American Studies Transformation $994,888
Franklin D. Roosevelt High School Transformation $1,800,000
William E. Grady Vocational High School Transformation $1,365,810
Queens Vocational-Technical High School Transformation $1,300,508
Flushing High School Transformation $1,800,000
Long Island City High School Transformation $1,800,000
Central Office $6,107,378

Based on satisfactory implementation of the approved plans for these schools, the New York City Department of Education is eligible to receive two additional years of School Improvement Grant funding for model implementation in these schools.

The NYCDOE did not submit a SIG application under Section 1003(g) for 23 of their Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools.  NYCDOE will be invited to submit an application for a 2010-11 planning grant of up to $300,000 per school under Section 1003(a)r for these schools, which will receive Joint Intervention Team visits this fall. With this support, these schools will be better positioned to implement an intervention model, and NYCDOE is expected to submit applications for the 2011-12 school year to implement one of the four models in the majority of these schools.

The $19,800,003 made available to the New York City Department of Education was awarded based on a comprehensive review of their School Improvement Grant application, which included implementation plans for each school identified as Persistently Lowest Achieving, and required districts to demonstrate evidence that they had the capacity to support implementation of the models in these schools.  New York City’s application can be found here.

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.