human capital

Mayor Bloomberg's budget preserves cut of 6,100 teaching jobs

Bloomberg announced his budget today, which continues to propose thousands of teacher layoffs.

Mayor Bloomberg reaffirmed his plans to cut 6,000 teaching jobs in his budget address today and said that even if the state restores some funding, he will not promise use it to avoid teacher layoffs.

The budget for 2012 includes 4,100 teacher layoffs and the loss of an additional 2,000 teaching jobs through attrition. These job losses would amount to an eight percent decrease in the size of the teaching force — from 75,000 teachers down to about 69,000.

If the layoffs become a reality — threats in the last two years never bore fruit — it will be the first time since the 1970s that the city has laid off public school teachers. City officials have previously estimated that these layoffs will save the city roughly $300 million.

In his budget presentation today, the mayor blamed cuts to school spending from the city and state for the impending layoffs. In 2002, the city and state each covered roughly 50 percent of the city’s education costs. Next fiscal year, the state will contribute 39 percent and the city will fund the remainder. This year, the city has also lost $850 million in federal stimulus funding for schools.

The latest estimate of how many teacher layoffs are needed is down from projections released several months ago. In February, the city estimated that 4,675 potential layoffs would be distributed across its nearly 1,600 schools and the city’s different neighborhoods. Under this plan, more than half of all teacher layoffs would affect elementary school teachers.

A spokesman for the mayor, Marc LaVorgna, said the layoff estimates had changed because the city is now projecting that a greater number of teachers will leave the city through attrition.

“It’s based on all the available data we have at this time, such what information we’re getting from schools,” LaVorgna said.

He said that in light of the new layoff and attrition estimates, the city will have to recalculate how many teachers each school stands to lose under the “last in, first out” layoff law. The projections the city released in February are no longer accurate.

Today’s budget also includes planned job cuts to the Department of Education’s central office, all of which are through attrition rather than layoffs. In total, the job cuts in the central office as well as in the field services — people who help schools with things like budgeting and special education compliance — comes to 155 positions.

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.