visions and revisions

State’s timeline would have New York-specific standards replace Common Core in 2017

PHOTO: Susan Gonzalez

New York’s transition from the Common Core to its own, modified set of learning standards will take the next 18 months, and won’t affect state tests until spring 2019, according to a timeline officials presented Monday.

The timeline indicates that the state will move deliberately as it adjusts the standards, which the state adopted in 2010 and implemented quickly over the next few years. Education officials faced criticism for not preparing schools and teachers well enough before introducing the standards, which have come under fire more recently as a widespread opt-out movement raised new concerns about state tests.

“We don’t want this to be so fast that we lose people and leave them behind,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said Monday of the state’s plan to re-examine the standards. “This has to be a fluid schedule, I will tell you, because it would not pay for us to push something through if in fact we felt like we were putting people in positions where they couldn’t possibly handle it.”

The state’s proposal would have most of 2016 spent appointing committees to further review the Common Core, soliciting public comment, and then revising the standards, which offer benchmarks for what students should learn in each grade in English and math.

The committees will include parents, teachers, and business representatives, officials said, and the public comment period will include regional forums. State officials abruptly canceled (and then rescheduled) a series of Common Core-focused forums in 2013, saying that disruptive attendees made it impossible to have productive discussions.

The Board of Regents would vote on the changes to the standards in November 2016, giving school districts the spring and summer of 2017 to revise their curriculums and train teachers.

The new standards wouldn’t be incorporated into state tests until the following school year, which begins in 2018.


Aurora’s superintendent will get a contract extension

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The Aurora school board is offering superintendent Rico Munn a contract extension.

Marques Ivey, the school board president, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“The board of education believes we are headed in the right direction,” Ivey said. Munn can keep the district going in the right direction, he added.

The contract extension has not been approved yet. Munn said Tuesday night that it had been sent to his lawyer, but he had not had time to review it.

Munn took the leadership position in Aurora Public Schools in 2013. His current contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Munn indicated he intends to sign the new contract after he has time to review it. If he does so, district leaders expect the contract to be on the agenda of the board’s next meeting, April 3, for a first review, and then for a vote at the following meeting.

Details about the new offer, including the length of the extension or any salary increases, have not been made public.

Four of the seven members currently on the board were elected in November as part of a union-supported slate. Many voiced disapproval of some of the superintendent’s reform strategies such as his invitation to charter school network DSST to open in Aurora.

In their first major vote as a new board, the board also voted against the superintendent’s recommendation for the turnaround of an elementary school, signaling a disagreement with the district’s turnaround strategies.

But while several Aurora schools remain low performing, last year the district earned a high enough rating from the state to avoid a path toward state action.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”