PHOTO: Caroline BaumanStudents in New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. schools in a program called Teach to One made better-than-average math gains.
Students in a high-tech math program that features computer-generated student work schedules, virtual tutors and live teachers posted above average math gains last year, according to a new study.
More than 2,200 students in seven middle schools in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., that used the Teach to One learning model made an average of 1.2 years of math growth, according to the report by researchers at Teachers College at Columbia University. That was 20 percent more progress, on average, than other students made on an optional test used in school districts across the country.
But the gains varied across schools, according to the report, which follows an inconclusive study that was released last year. Students at five of the schools gained less ground than the national average in at least one grade, the report found.
Teach to One, which has expanded to 15 schools in seven cities in its second year, grew out of a city Department of Education program called School of One, which enjoyed national attention and federal funding before its co-creators left to start their own nonprofit.
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is chiming in on the mayoral race to defend his tenure.
After staying silent as mayoral candidates have taken aim at the education policies he engineered, former schools chief Joel Klein is now speaking up to defend the Bloomberg administration's school policies.
In a speech in Washington, D.C. to charter school supporters this morning, Klein plans to criticize what he calls "a complete lack of courage among most of the candidates" for statements they've made during the campaign to replace Mayor Bloomberg, according to a copy of the speech provided to GothamSchools in advance. In the speech, Klein praises the reforms that took place during his eight-year tenure at the Department of Education, listing the growth of charter schools in Harlem as a crowning achievement.
Klein has stayed mum so far on City Hall politics since he abruptly left the department at the end of 2010. He was quickly hired by Rupert Murdoch and now runs NewsCorp's education technology division, Amplify, from its Brooklyn headquarters in Dumbo not far from his former office at the Tweed Courthouse.
But as Bloomberg's third term comes to a close, the administration's legacy, which Klein helped establish, has been under attack. Klein's most divisive policies, which include closing schools and opening non-union charter schools in their place, have received the most scrutiny from leading Democratic candidates.
Department of Education Senior Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg and Shipnia Bytyqi, a graduate of the high school he founded who now teaches at a charter school in the city, took the stage last week at Teach for America New York's annual gala.
Teach For America used its annual New York City benefit last week to wade into the city's political debate. Praising the Bloomberg administration's education record, founder and board chair Wendy Kopp vowed that Teach For America and its supporters would fight to preserve the mayor's education legacy after he leaves office at the end of the year.
"No matter who takes office," Kopp said, "we are creating an unstoppable force."
The remarks reflected Teach For America's transition to playing a stronger role in public dialogue about education.
Kopp suggested that the organization would not throw its support behind a single candidate. "Progress isn't a function of one leader," Kopp said. Instead, she said, the educational change Teach For America supports requires "a constellation of committed souls."
The strength of that constellation was on display at the nonprofit's gala, held Wednesday at the glittering Waldorf Astoria hotel. In one night, the organization announced it raised $6.7 million, and speakers included Charlie Rose and Richard Parsons, the former CEO of Time Warner and Teach For America board member who also chairs Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Education Reform Commission.
Former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein speaks at iSchool's graduation on Monday. Principal Alisa Berger is on the stage to Klein's right.
In May 2009, the Department of Education launched a new initiative, NYC21C, to remake the American high school using technology. Then-Chancellor Joel Klein made the announcement at the NYC iSchool, then completing its first year, and praised its students and co-principals, Alisa Berger and Mary Moss.
Now, all of those people have moved on.
Klein left the Department of Education in November 2010 and now earns more than $4 million a year running the education division of a multinational corporation. Moss left last year when her family moved to North Carolina. Berger's family is relocating to Massachusetts this summer.
And on Monday, members of the school's inaugural class graduated in an afternoon ceremony, featuring a speech by Klein, held at the Ethical Culture Society on the Upper West Side. This fall, they'll enroll at colleges and universities up and down the East Coast.
"Our greatest hope is that you love college, that you discover something you love learning about, that what you love to do is something that makes the world better, even in small ways, and that you find fulfillment in your life," said Moss, who returned to see the school's first students graduate. Of the 100 students who entered the selective school in 2008, 94 graduated on time.
"I ask that you go and do — that you take what you've learned at the iSchool to transform the colleges you attend and create communities for yourselves the way that you have created the iSchool," Berger told the graduates.
This story has been corrected from its earlier version to clarify the positions expressed by Lasher yesterday.
Two months ago StudentsFirstNY, the New York branch of Michelle Rhee's political action committee, announced itself with a splash. But it hasn't been clear where the group will direct its financial and political might.
Micah Lasher, StudentsFirstNY's executive director, fleshed out the group's platform for the first time at a discussion hosted Monday by the DL21C, a group of young Democrats. GothamSchools' Elizabeth Green moderated the discussion.
StudentsFirstNY will also focus on organizing parents to demand policy changes around improving teacher quality and school choice, Lasher said. He also said the group might well weigh in on next year's mayoral race, whose victor will determine the next phase of the city's education reforms.
"If there comes a time where it becomes clear that there is a candidate that we think would be effective on these issues, and it makes sense according to our political judgements and the way we think we can best improve schools in the city, I would allow us to get involved in getting support of a candidate," Lasher said.
Parents of children admitted to the STEM citywide gifted program at P.S. 85 attend an open house Wednesday.
Every morning, Tim Smith and his nine-year-old son leave their Bronx home at 7:30 a.m., catch a MetroNorth train to 125th Street and then board the M60 bus into Queens — all so the third-grader can attend P.S. 85 in Astoria, home to one of New York City’s handful of citywide gifted-and-talented programs.
Even so, they brace themselves for an even more difficult journey ahead: Finding a middle school.
In 2009, when P.S. 85′s program opened as part of an effort to expand gifted education, the Department of Education pledged “to identify nearby middle schools where students in these programs can continue after fifth grade.” But last month, responding to parents’ pleas to make good on the promise, the department informed them that P.S. 85 cannot handle expansion into a middle school because it is already “operating close to 100 percent capacity.” It said students in the gifted program — called the STEM Academy (it stands for Science, Technology, Enrichment and Math) — must go to middle school elsewhere.
STEM is the only citywide gifted-and-talented elementary school program that ends with fifth grade. (It is the only citywide gifted program housed within another school.) Three of the four other citywide programs — Manhattan’s Anderson School and TAG Young Scholars, as well as the Brooklyn School of Inquiry — continue through eighth grade, and Manhattan’s NEST+M carries students through the end of high school.
“The school was meant to be a peer for the other citywide gifted programs, and admission to a middle school program was supposed to be seamless,” said Smith.
STEM parents charge that their program has been neglected because of a shift in priorities at the Department of Education.
When the Department of Education's embargo of Teacher Data Reports details lifted at noon today, news organizations across the city rushed to make the data available.
The Teacher Data Reports are “value-added” assessments of teachers’ effectiveness that were produced from 2008 to 2010 for reading and math teachers in grades 3 to 8.
This morning, department officials including Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky met with reporters to offer caution about how the data reports should be used. They emphasized the reports' wide margins of error — 35 percentage points for math teachers and 53 percentage points for reading teachers, on average — and that the reports reflect only a small portion of teachers' work.
"We would never advise anyone — parent, reporter, principal, teacher — to draw a conclusion based on this score alone," Polakow-Suransky said.
Most of the news organizations that filed Freedom of Information Law requests for the ratings plan to publish them in searchable or streamlined databases, with the teachers' names attached. GothamSchools does not plan to publish the data with teachers' names or identifying characteristics included because of concerns about the data's reliability.
At least two other news organizations that cover education are also not publishing the data: the local affiliate of Fox News, according to a representative of Fox, and the nonprofit school information website Insideschools.
Department officials are asking schools not to release the reports to parents. They issued a guide today advising principals about how to handle parents who demand that their child be removed from the class of a teacher rated ineffective.
The Department of Education's press office will be getting a new director in less than two weeks.
Natalie Ravitz, the department's communications director since June 2010, is leaving to become chief of staff to Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Corporation. Her last day at the department will be Feb. 10.
Ravitz is following a well-worn path from the department to NewsCorp: Ex-schools chief Joel Klein, who was chancellor when Ravitz was hired, now heads the company's growing education division. Last summer, Klein picked Kristen Kane, the department's former chief operating officer, to become the division's COO. He also acquired Wireless Generation, the technology company that developed and managed ARIS, the city's school data warehouse.
After years in political communications, Ravitz arrived at the department during the summer of 2010 and shepherded its press operations through two abrupt changes in departmental leadership. She succeeded David Cantor, who held the job for longer than any of his predecessors before leaving for the private sector.
If Mayor Bloomberg had his druthers, he would fire half the city's teachers and pay the remaining half more to supervise twice-as-large classes.
That's what he said during a wide-ranging speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Tuesday in which he argued that weak training, social change, and the teachers union have conspired to fill New York City's schools with less-than-ideal teachers.
"If I had the ability, which nobody does really, to just design the system and say, ex cathedra, this is what we're going to do, you would cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them, and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers, and double class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students," Bloomberg said.
Listen to the portion of the speech where Bloomberg talks schools (starting at about 5:00): 11-29-11 MIT Speech - Part 2
The comments have drawn fire from UFT President Michael Mulgrew, elected officials, and many others. But while they were provocative and unusually specific, the speech tread familiar territory for the mayor.
The same admissions processes that leave city parents scratching their heads or, worse, pulling their hair out have put New York City at the head of the pack in a new study ranking districts' school choice policies.
The report, by the nonpartisan Brookings Institution, which has long pushed for expanded school choice, compares choice policies in place in 25 urban school districts and how families took advantage of them.
New York City came in first, in part because students here are never assigned to schools based simply on where they live. Of the 25 districts, New York was the only one where students are assigned to schools based on applications that asked for families' preferences, not just their address.
The city has a labyrinthine citywide high school matching process and district-based middle and elementary school admissions processes that many believe could be improved. In a district with more than 1,600 schools (the Brookings report tallies 1,474), the processes are seen as bringing order but also as sometimes pitting schools against each other and limiting options, particularly in high school, for students who aren't happy with what they've chosen.
The Brookings report also gave New York credit for making data about school performance public and closing or restructuring low-performing schools. But its B grade would have been higher if it had more virtual school options and provided transportation when students enroll in schools outside their districts.
To tie in with the report, former city schools chancellor Joel Klein, who bolstered and expanded the city's school choice policies, is speaking at Brookings' Washington, D.C., offices today.
The city will launch 125 new bilingual programs under the terms of a required plan to improve the treatment of students who are classified as English language learners.
Test scores and high school graduation rates for ELLs lag far behind the city average, and last summer the state told then-Chancellor Joel Klein to produce a "corrective action plan" for how to serve the students better.
That plan, released today and posted below, sets out an ambitious remediation schedule — and also highlights just how much the city has lagged in providing legally mandated services to ELLs.
In the plan, the city promises to reduce the number of ELLs whose teachers are not trained to work with them and to punish schools that fail to provide services to which ELLs are entitled.
It also promises to launch 125 new bilingual programs by 2013, including 20 this school year, on top of the 397 that are already open. The new programs will open in districts with many ELLs and where parents say they prefer their children placed in classrooms where instruction takes place in two languages, rather than in English-only classes with extra help for non-native speakers. The city has hired Ernst & Young, an auditing group, to monitor whether parents' choices are honored.
Some of the new programs will open in high school campuses where no bilingual instruction currently takes place. When he approved several school closures in July, State Education Commissioner John King expressed concern about whether new high schools would serve the same students who attended the schools that closed. The plan commits to opening new programs when existing ones phase out along with their schools.
New Yorkers following Chicago’s snowballing union-district standoff over plans to extend the school day may not realize that similar conversations take place inside city schools every year.
Chicago's new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and his schools chief, former New York City deputy Jean-Claude Brizard, are pushing schools to add 90 minutes to their 5-hour-long days, among the shortest in the nation. But they have offered teachers only 2 percent more pay, raising the ire of the teachers union, whose president, Karen Lewis, has said Emanuel is creating "a nightmare" by asking union members to override their union contract.
Even though the union has filed a lawsuit over the plan, Emanuel and Brizard decided to shop the proposal school by school, and teachers at at least nine schools have voted to extend their working hours—and the instructional day. The city and the teachers union send out warring press releases each time another school takes a vote.
Staff at New York City schools routinely take similar votes, but with less fanfare. There has been no system-wide push for a longer school day in years, and educators do not foresee a Chicago-style showdown repeating in New York.
That’s in part because the average New York City school day is already much longer than Chicago’s, and slightly longer than other major cities’, with many students in school for 6.5 hours or more. In addition, the district already struck a flexible deal with the union five years ago to extend the school day by 37.5 minutes four days a week for at least 290,000 city students, mostly those who struggle academically. How that time is spent is, to a large degree, up to each school.
Researchers say it is almost impossible to make a good estimate of the length of the New York City school day—something that one Chicago columnist found last week when he tried to tally the numbers—because instructional time requirements vary by grade-level and subject, and principals and teachers can decide together how they want to structure parts of the school day.
With the city's Teacher Data Reports now in the past, the teachers union is set to move forward on negotiations that will build on a pilot program that's in place in 33 schools.
The controversial reports, which assigned ratings to about 10,000 teachers based on their students' test scores, were championed by former chancellor Joel Klein. Klein said he would release the scores to the public after news organizations filed a Freedom of Information request for them — a move that the United Federation of Teachers quickly opposed in court.
But in his first major reversal from one of Klein's policies, Chancellor Dennis Walcott has said he does not think the ratings, which the UFT agreed to in part on grounds that they would remain internal, should be made public. Yesterday, Department of Education officials told the New York Times that they would no longer calculate teachers' ratings according to the TDR algorithm because the state is rolling out a different model.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew told GothamSchools today that doing away with the TDRs wasn't necessarily a precondition for the UFT to work with the city on a new teacher evaluation model, required under state law. But he said their disappearance would clear the way for negotiations.
"I really do appreciate that Dennis has taken that position, unlike previous chancellors," Mulgrew said. "But it does help that we have a better relationship and we're working together. That helps getting to any deal."
Eva Moskowitz did not generate the idea for Harlem Success herself; Randi Weingarten has been criticizing her successor, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, to her friends; and former Chancellor Joel Klein thinks that at least two of his former deputies have gone soft on reform in their new school districts. These are among the claims in "Class Warfare," Steven Brill's new book on the education reform movement.
Much of "Class Warfare" will be familiar to GothamSchools readers. The book's main characters include, on one side, former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and, on the other, teachers unions president Randi Weingarten; many of its main plot points center on New York City, and some of the key classroom scenes take place in Harlem.
But the following insights — some of them more solidly sourced than others — were news to us. Here's a run-down of Brill's most intriguing New York-related reporting:
The war behind the war: Bloomberg v. Klein
On labor issues, Bloomberg sometimes undercut Joel Klein. Klein’s team thought they could get the UFT to sign off on a change in the teacher termination process. But Bloomberg, who was nearing reelection, told them not to push their luck. “The mayor blinked,” the DOE’s one-time labor chief, Dan Weisberg, told Brill. “The mayor just gave up.” Weisberg said he “clashed almost daily” with City Hall over back-channel contract negotiations in 2005.
Budget cuts caused principals to cut thousands of positions this year, but the total number of teachers without permanent jobs rose only slightly, the Department of Education revealed today.
The Bloomberg administration also announced plans to lay off nearly 800 school employees who do not belong to the teachers union, which negotiated a deal in June to avert layoffs. Most of those employees — 737 of 777 — belong to DC-37, which represents school aides and other auxiliary school personnel. The layoffs are set to start in October.
When the city announced in July that schools would have to cut an average of 2.43 percent from their budgets, many principals complained that they had little fat to trim. They said they would have to turn to eliminating necessary positions and sending junior teachers to the Absent Teacher Reserve, the pool of teachers whose positions were cut or lost as a result of school closures or enrollment changes.
In the end, they sent 2,186 teachers to the ATR pool this summer. More than a thousand of those teachers have already left the pool, either by finding new positions or leaving the system. A DOE spokeswoman said many of the teachers were rehired by their original schools after funding became available to keep them there.
That leaves 1,940 teachers in the ATR pool with just weeks before the start of the school year. Last year, the pool contained 1,779 teachers just before classes began.
Though small, the growth in the size of the ATR pool still places added financial stress on the department.
Rupert Murdoch takes a strong interest in his newspapers' education coverage. (Photo by WorldEconomicForum on Flickr)
How involved is Rupert Murdoch at the newspapers he owns? When the subject is education, Murdoch's views directly influence the coverage in the New York Post and, at the least, the sorts of meetings taken at the Wall Street Journal.
Azi Paybarah at the Observer reports today that at the New York Post, education stories are ordered up according to Murdoch's visits:
One former reporter said his own editor requested a week’s worth of stories about the New York City public schools because “Rupert was going to be in town.” It was coveted real estate in the paper, and the reporter reluctantly obliged.
We have previously chronicled the Post's open campaigning on behalf of the Bloomberg administration's education policies and its effort to renew mayoral control. The coverage prompted Education Secretary Arne Duncan to praise the newspaper for its "leadership" in covering mayoral control.
There are some exceptions — New York City education beat reporter Yoav Gonen is even-handed and columnist Michael Goodwin takes no prisoners. But on and off the editorial page, the newspaper often matches Murdoch's education views: aggressively dismissive of the teachers union and ridiculing of critics of the mayor.
At the Wall Street Journal, the line between news and opinion and newspaper boss seems to be thicker. But it has some holes. Last week, the New York Times reported on a meeting arranged between Joel Klein, then still the schools chancellor, and reporters:
When Mr. Klein visited The Journal last year to discuss education issues with news and opinion writers, Mr. Murdoch interrupted to lavish praise on the chancellor, much to the surprise of the writers. “Just listen to everything that Joel is saying,” Mr. Murdoch insisted, according to one person who attended the meeting.
An initiative designed to ease tension between district and charter schools in the city has moved slowly and largely under the radar this spring.
In December, then-Chancellor Joel Klein joined 88 of the city’s charter schools in signing on to a District-Charter Collaboration Compact, which mandates that charter schools “fulfill their role as laboratories of innovation” and requires the Department of Education to support city charter schools. The compact, which the Gates Foundation urged and is funding, emphasizes collaboration around issues of enrollment, space allocation, and instruction.
But after more than six months — which were bookended by Klein’s sudden departure and a contentious lawsuit over charter school co-location — little progress has been made toward fulfilling the compact’s requirements. In June, the New York City Charter School Center took a first step by hiring Cara Volpe, a former Teach for America employee, to be the city’s first district-charter collaboration manager.
Later, a not-yet-formed advisory council of district and charter school employees will help Volpe set priorities, according to city and charter school officials.
Volpe “will be expected to implement the council’s vision for identifying, establishing and implementing the partnerships, policies and programs that will help tear down the boundaries between great district and charter schools,” according to advertisement for the position, which the charter center posted online at GothamSchools’ jobs board, Idealist, and elsewhere.
Volpe’s work will come at a time when tensions around charter schools are at an all-time high.
With just weeks before students and teachers disperse for the summer, principals are still without any official word of how much money they'll be working with next year.
"No word of budget at this point. Not even summer school. I have no idea what’s going [on]," said a high school principal, who reported being told originally that the budget would arrive at the end of May, and then the first week of June. "I have no idea on what next year looks like at this point."
Every year, the city enters a budget for each school into Galaxy, the Department of Education's budgeting data system. Principals use the system to allocate those funds for the next year according to their needs and also city, state, and federal regulations.
But because of up-in-the-air negotiations over the city's budget, which are centering on Mayor Bloomberg's plan to lay off 4,100 teachers, school-level budgets haven't yet been uploaded. That means principals don't know even how many teachers they will be able to afford next year.
Last year, principals received their budget June 2 — and that was late, then-Chancellor Joel Klein told principals at the time. "Even though Albany has yet to pass its own budget, we can wait no longer to release school budgets," Klein said. "We know you need as much time as possible to decide how best to spend the dollars available to your school."
Jean-Claude Brizard, the embattled superintendent of Rochester, N.Y., and a former New York City Department of Education official, will be Chicago's next schools chief.
Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel announced his superintendent pick at a press conference today, billing Brizard as a leader who is "not afraid of tough choices." In three years as Rochester's superintendent, Brizard alienated local leaders and the teachers union with his support for charter schools, tying teacher evaluations to student test scores, and closing low-performing schools.
Picking Brizard suggests that Emanuel could be preparing to tangle with Chicago's teachers union, whose president, Karen Lewis, took an aggressive stance in her fights with Ron Huberman, the superintendent who resigned last year. The choice also signals yet again that administrators who cut their teeth under former New York City Chancellor Joel Klein remain in demand around the country.
Earlier this month, Klein told GothamSchools that Brizard was one of several New York City school officials, past and present, who were "being recruited in multiple venues right now" for big-city superintendencies. In addition to Chicago, other cities looking for leaders include Newark, Boston, Atlanta, and Providence, R.I. A current DOE deputy chancellor, John White, will become superintendent of New Orleans next month.
Brizard's departure from Rochester is not surprising.
The city's official request that Dennis Walcott be allowed to become schools chancellor even though he doesn't meet all of the state's requirements is now in Albany. Bloomberg sent the waiver request letter to outgoing State Education Commissioner David Steiner last night, city officials said.
Until the waiver is approved, Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky is legally the city's chancellor, according to city officials.
State law requires district leaders to fulfill a host of requirements, including holding a superintendent's license, which Walcott does not have. But the law also allows state officials to grant exceptions to the requirements for prospective district leaders who have "exceptional training and experience" in education.
Bloomberg's letter to Steiner emphasizes Walcott's training and experience. The deputy mayor has a master's degree in education and significant experience in city education policy, as well as a year and half of experience as a kindergarten teacher in the mid-1970s. Former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein received a waiver based, in part, on teaching experience that was shorter. Steiner approved a waiver for ex-Chancellor Cathie Black only after she agreed to make Polakow-Suransky, a longtime teacher and principal, her second-in-command.
Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told GothamSchools yesterday that the state had not yet received a waiver request for Walcott, but that she had promised Bloomberg quick approval once it did.
It would be reasonable for Schools Chancellor Cathie Black to be alarmed by the rapid exodus of the Department of Education's top deputies.
After all, when her predecessor Joel Klein handed over the reins last November, he declared, "I also am comfortable in saying I’m leaving you the best team ever assembled in education.” Mayor Bloomberg also emphasized that he was confident that Black could get past her lack of education experience by leaning on her deputies.
Now four of those deputies have left or are about to. John White, deputy chancellor for talent, labor, and innovation, is set to be named superintendent of schools in New Orleans. Santiago Taveras, deputy chancellor for community engagement, left earlier this week for the private sector. Eric Nadelstern, a top educator who had been with the department for nearly 40 years, retired abruptly n January. And Photeine Anagnastopoulos, the department's finance guru, tendered her resignation the day after Klein's.
But Klein said earlier this week that he is not worried about Black's ability to recruit new talent to the department. In fact, he said, the exodus could be a boon for Black, if she sells it right. "The message is come to New York and you’ll be on your way to a superintendency," he said.
The final installment of Joel Klein's weekly memo to principals
In a nostalgic final missive to city principals this week, outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein suggested three things to do once he's gone.
He urged lawmakers to end the last-in first-out process of teacher layoffs, pushed for an end to the Absent Teacher Reserve pool, and underlined his belief in the importance of closing struggling schools.
Klein's statement that "we have to eliminate the ATR pool" ratchets up the city's position on the pool of teachers — city teachers who lose their positions, don't find new ones, but stay on the city payroll anyway. Previously, the city has asked the union, in contract negotiations, to add a limit to the amount of time a teacher can spend in the reserve pool. That would make the pool smaller, but it would not cause it to disappear altogether.
Describing the costs of keeping those teachers on the city payroll as exceeding $100 million a year, Klein argues:
We cannot afford it, and it's wrong to keep paying this money. It amounts to supporting more than a thousand teachers who either don't care to, or can't, find a job, even though our school system hires literally thousands of teachers each year. That's money that could be spent on teachers that we desperately want and need.
Klein also describes teacher layoffs as a sure thing. "I wish it were otherwise, but the economics of our state and city make this virtually impossible to avoid," he writes.
The Bloomberg administration has a history of being bullish on layoffs in order to push for the end of the state law regulating how teachers lose their jobs. Klein reiterates that case in his letter:
If we have layoffs, it's unconscionable to use the last-hired, first-fired rule that currently governs. By definition, such a rule means that quality counts for zero. Our children cannot afford that kind of approach. They need the best teachers, not those who are longest serving. (If you had to have surgery, would you want the longest-serving surgeon or the best one?) This doesn't mean that many of our longest-serving teachers aren't among the best, but this is not an area for "group think." We need individual determinations of teacher effectiveness to decide who stays and who doesn't.
Klein also quoted his favorite T.S. Eliot poem, "Little Gidding," excerpting four cryptic lines that seem to summarize his "odyssey" as something more complex than a straight line of a progress:
We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.
Other curious lines from the poem:
... Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment. ...
Klein has sent a memo to principals every week for years. Read the full letter here and below.
Cathleen Black will receive the state waiver that lets her become the next New York City schools chancellor, following a Thanksgiving deal between the city and the state, an official familiar with the deal confirmed today.
PHOTO: GreenleeShael Polakow-Suransky, the man whose promotion allowed Cathie Black to become chancellor
The deal calls for Black to give a major promotion to Shael Polakow-Suransky, an education official who has sparred with Chancellor Joel Klein's top deputies, even while working alongside them. Suransky, currently deputy chancellor for "performance and accountability," will now hold two titles: senior deputy chancellor and chief academic officer.
Suransky engaged in especially vigorous debates with James Leibman, the official who created Klein's controversial school report cards, according to department officials. He successfully lobbied to give schools the opportunity to create their own assessments rather than follow state tests.
The disagreements didn't stop the two men from respecting each other. When Leibman left the Department of Education to return to Columbia University, Klein promoted Suransky to succeed him as head of the accountability office. An official said that Leibman promoted Suransky to the position.
Suransky is also one of a small number of top Department of Education officials who regularly refers to "instruction" as the part of education he would like to change — a trait he holds in common with Steiner and his top deputy, John King. Like King, Suransky is also a former teacher and principal. He has worked closely with state education officials on their main project, the reforms they are creating with their federal Race to the Top funding. Suransky has taken an especially prominent role in creating new assessments designed to make it harder for teachers to "teach to the test."
Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation took its second step into the education world this evening when it made a deal to buy Wireless Generation, a Brooklyn-based education technology company.
Murdoch took his first step nearly two weeks ago, when he acquired the chancellor of New York City's public schools, Joel Klein. In an announcement that took most of his staff and top advisors by surprise, Klein told reporters that he was leaving the Department of Education for a job at News Corp., where he will be an executive vice president overseeing investments in digital learning companies.
After Klein resigned, News Corp. officials told The New York Times that they planned to make "seed investments" in entrepreneurial education companies. The acquisition of Wireless Generation may be the first of these investments.
"Wireless Generation is positioned to grow aggressively, and it was the right time in the company's journey to find a home where it will have access to the resources it needs to fuel that aggressive growth," said spokeswoman Andrea Reibel in a statement.
Reibel would not comment on when talks began, but said the deal was finalized this evening. For $360 million in cash, News Corp. now owns 90 percent of Wireless Generation, a company with 400 employees.