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October 23, 2017
Gates Foundation: Before we spend $1 billion on school ‘networks,’ tell us how they should work
The foundation wants existing “networks” to explain how they spend their money, and what's already worked for them.
September 9, 2015
Five big questions facing New York City schools as a new year begins
Will the “Renewal” program make inroads? What will come of the push for more family engagement? And how will the de Blasio administration campaign for mayoral control?
A league of their own
May 8, 2015
Exclusive: Fariña to let some high schools opt out of her reorganization
Schools in those groups will be affiliated with like-minded high schools from across the city, while most schools are bound by their geographic districts.
March 9, 2015
Fariña names seven powerful new leaders of borough support centers
The new hires include leaders of the old support networks, current education department officials, a Brooklyn principal, and a Boston school official.
February 17, 2015
Immigrant groups see chance to improve language services in chancellor’s reorganization
With changes coming to the city's school-support structure, immigrant groups are asking the Department of Education to improve translation services for parents with limited English proficiency.
February 13, 2015
How a few school-support groups created under Bloomberg survived Fariña’s overhaul
Several privately run school-support groups will continue under Fariña, but some are poised to play a bigger role than others.
February 2, 2015
Fariña’s new regional directors will have expansive roles, job posting shows
The directors will have a lot to oversee: Besides helping schools with a myriad of operational and instructional issues, the centers will also assist with school safety, after-school and summer programs, educational technology, and even dealing with “inappropriate behaviors and legal issues."
into the weeds
January 22, 2015
Six things we don’t yet know about Fariña’s system overhaul
How will the new borough support centers work? Who pays for what? And what will happen to the nonprofits that help manage schools?
January 22, 2015
With system shake-up, Fariña aims for clear line of command
In a speech Thursday, Chancellor Carmen Fariña formally shifted power back to district superintendents, and promised to disband the school-support networks that had eclipsed them.
a new plan
January 22, 2015
It’s official: Networks dead, regional support to return, sups to exert more control at struggling schools
School-support networks are dead and regional support centers are back, Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced Thursday in her biggest reversal of Bloomberg-era education policy yet.
January 21, 2015
Report: School support networks had little impact on student achievement
The city’s school-support networks have had little overall impact on student achievement, failing to overcome the powerful link between students’ backgrounds and their academic performance, according to a new report. The report comes as Chancellor Carmen Fariña is set to overhaul the school-support system.
January 16, 2015
Network staffers jumping ship ahead of Fariña’s system overhaul
The Bloomberg-era school-support networks are already shedding leaders and staffers ahead of an overhaul of the city’s school governance system.
December 23, 2014
To some principals, rise of superintendents signals decline of networks
As Chancellor Carmen Fariña re-empowers superintendents, many principals believe this means that school-support networks are on the way out. For principals who value their networks, that is an alarming prospect.
October 21, 2014
As she boosts superintendents, Fariña says networks still have a role
At an event for the city's newly empowered superintendents, Chancellor Fariña implied that anyone looking for a full return to old systems in which district superintendents oversaw large staffs might be disappointed.
September 30, 2014
To raise graduation rates, the de Blasio administration needs a comprehensive strategy
Former deputy chancellor Eric Nadelstern: So far, Chancellor Fariña's initiatives have not globally addressed the entire school system, and they have not made student performance their central ambition.
Let's Make Plans
July 29, 2014
During summer break, teachers find coveted collaboration time
With harder standards and higher stakes, lesson planning may be more challenging than ever, yet many teachers do it alone. So when some had a chance to plan together last week, they jumped at it.
changes at the top
July 8, 2014
Fariña to require more experienced superintendents who play stronger role in schools
Current school superintendents will soon have to reapply for their jobs and undergo new training, while new applicants will need several extra years of school-based experience to be eligible for the role, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced Tuesday.
April 9, 2014
Fariña to principals, 100 days in: No news on networks
Changes to the network structure are coming, Chancellor Carmen Fariña repeated in her latest message to principals—but don’t expect them just yet. “You and…
November 22, 2013
Fearing change, principals lobby de Blasio to protect networks
Facing an incoming mayor who wants to shake up the city school system, a coalition of principals is lobbying to hold on to one Bloomberg policy they say is crucial to running their schools. A group of 120 school leaders say they're concerned with Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's campaign pledge to restructure the city's support networks, which manages school operations around professional development, curriculum and budgeting. De Blasio has said he wants some decision-making authority restored to district superintendents, who oversaw support before Mayor Bloomberg won control of the school system. The principals said they felt compelled to respond publicly to a chorus of criticism that the networks have received recently. "Our feeling is that there has been a lot of talk, that people are dissatisfied with networks and the new mayor should eliminate them," said P.S. 321 Principal Liz Phillips, who is leading the coalition. "But we felt that the voice of a lot of principals who are very satisfied haven't been heard."
November 11, 2013
Report that city sought finds room for improvement in networks
A study that the city Department of Education commissioned to boost the chances of having the next mayor continue the "network" school support structure concluded that while the theory is sound, the execution has not been. Struggling schools have gotten too little support and communities and schools have had too weak of a connection under the networks, according to the report, released today by the Parthenon Group. One solution, the consulting firm suggests, is restoring some authority to district superintendents — whom the Bloomberg administration stripped of most power in 2007. Networks replaced a system of school support that was linked to schools' geographic districts. Instead of coaches and advisors giving professional development, curriculum, and budget help to all of the schools in a single area, they currently work with schools that choose their brand of support, no matter where the schools are located. The new report comes at a time Mayor Bloomberg's successor, Bill de Blasio, is deep into planning for his transition to City Hall. De Blasio has said he thinks districts should play a stronger role in school support, but he has so far offered few details about how he plans to change the way schools get help. The report contains several ideas for de Blasio and his transition team. Before it got the contract to study networks, Parthenon secretly told the department that it would seek to identify "low-hanging fruit" that could be changed without overhauling the network structure entirely.
November 6, 2013
UFT president wants to renegotiate evaluations with de Blasio
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said Wednesday he wants the next mayor to focus on fixing teacher evaluations. As mayor-elect Bill de Blasio hashes out his administration’s education to-do list, teachers union chief Michael Mulgrew was ready Wednesday to suggest a top priority – revise the new teacher-evaluation system that the state imposed this June to break a long city-union impasse. “I've got to get evals straightened out quickly, because it’s an unmitigated disaster,” said Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which filed 17 formal grievances last month over the evaluation system’s rollout. Mulgrew also suggested that the de Blasio administration reconsider the structure of the school system, which groups schools into multi-borough support networks. “We've got to restructure,” Mulgrew said, adding that the networks do more to enforce school compliance with department regulations than to assist them with instruction. The DOE “designed a system that’s not about supporting schools,” he said. “They designed a system that’s about accountability.”
October 29, 2013
Top state education official criticizes city’s school networks
During a panel discussion Monday, Merryl Tisch said that "networks have basically failed children" who are English-language learners or who have special needs. The next mayor should “reconsider” the current system of school-support networks, State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said Monday, adding her voice to a chorus of critics – including mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio – who have questioned the signature Bloomberg education policy. “Me, if I were going to take over the school system, I would look heavily to change the networks,” Tisch said during a panel discussion hosted by the nonprofit group, PENCIL. “I think the networks have basically failed children who are [English-language learners],” added Tisch, who is due to defend the state's education policies at a state senate hearing Tuesday. “They have failed children who have special needs.” Under the $90 million network system, principals choose from about 55 Department of Education or nonprofit-run support providers, which assist schools with teacher training, budgeting and more. The networks emerged as part of a major school-system overhaul under Mayor Michael Bloomberg that shifted power from district superintendents to individual principals, who became more accountable for student performance. Proponents argue that the network system enables principals to partner with like-minded leaders, regardless of geography, in the process eliminating the patronage system that thrived when superintendents held sway. But critics charge that some networks do little to aid their member schools, while separating schools from their communities and cutting locals out of the decision-making.
June 11, 2013
DOE secretly enlisted Parthenon to devise plan to save networks
Our latest scoop: Intent on preserving the Bloomberg administration’s education legacy, the Department of Education has hired a favored consulting firm to craft…
June 10, 2013
DOE secretly enlisted Parthenon to devise plan to save networks
Intent on preserving the Bloomberg administration's education legacy, the Department of Education has hired a favored consulting firm to craft a plan that would safeguard a signature policy. The city has hired the Parthenon Group to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the system through which principals choose support organizations to provide professional development, curriculum, and budgeting help. The consulting firm, which has previously studied school closures and small schools for the department, is charged with crafting a strategic vision to ensure that Children First Networks are preserved when another mayor takes over next year. “While there is no set of actions that can perfectly ensure ‘sustainability’ of the network model, the goal of the project will be to identify a series of steps that can bolster the odds of sustaining those elements the DOE views as most essential,” the firm wrote in its bid for the project. The confidential bid was submitted in April and obtained by GothamSchools.
April 25, 2013
Liu audit questions department's ability to tell networks' value
An audit by Comptroller John Liu into one of the Department of Education's school support networks found that it was doing its job — but concluded that the department can't know just how much networks help schools in them. Since 2007, the department has required principals to select support networks based on their philosophies and services, rather than grouping schools by geography. The shift means that support organizations, some run by the department and some by external nonprofits, essentially compete with each other for contracts to offer schools help with teacher training and administrative tasks, in a controversial arrangement that could potentially end when the Bloomberg administration does. Scrutinizing just one of the city's 55 networks, Children's First Network 406, Liu's office found that evidence that it was providing solid support for its schools. Principals in the network said they were satisfied with it, according to the report, released today. But Liu concluded that the department cannot show how much networks cause schools to thrive or struggle. The report recommends that the department solicit more feedback on network performance and also develop "quantifiable criteria and standards" to isolate the impact of the network on a school's performance.
January 23, 2013
Ethics board ruling highlights tension in DOE "network" system
A Department of Education official broke ethics rules when he told the principals he worked with that he planned to join a different organization that also supports city schools, according to a ruling out today from the city's Conflicts of Interests Board. The ruling highlights a fundamental tension in the Department of Education's controversial "network" structure for providing support to schools. Under the five-year-old structure, dozens of networks compete against each other for schools to hire them to provide instructional and operational support. Nonprofit groups outside of the Department of Education are allowed to compete, in an arrangement that is meant to keep networks mean and lean — and also lays a minefield of potential ethical violations. Robert Cohen was leading a department-run network, Children First Network 104, last year when he got a job offer from CEI-PEA, a nonprofit group that works with dozens of schools through five networks of its own, according to the report. After he told the principals he supervised about the offer, they all applied to switch from the department-run network to CEI-PEA's. That meant they would give their schools' network fees to CEI-PEA, instead of keeping the funding within the department.
October 26, 2012
Conversation of the week: Participating in a controversial policy
Some of our most thought-provoking comments this week came in response to a first person account of starting a new school in the GothamSchools Community section. In his post, teacher Stephen Lazar described his inner conflict over helping to start Harvest Collegiate High School this year. He believed in the new school, he wrote, but he knew that it would occupy space vacated by a school that was being closed. That school is Legacy High School, a struggling small school that will share its building space with Harvest in Union Square until it finished phasing out. Lazar chose to join Harvest's founding team, but still, he said, the question stymied him: Should a teacher help create a new school if he objects to the policy that led to its creation? Commenters were divided in their answers. "Former Turnaround Teacher" said that Lazar's discomfort about his participation in the city's reform effort is a common among educators at new schools and phase-out schools: When I was looking to transfer at the end of the past school year I often faced a similar decision. I could not bring myself to apply to certain schools that I know where in current phase out buildings. However I did apply to some schools in buildings that had finished phasing out. When it comes down to it, in the current system unless you are lucky enough to get into the 20% or so of High Schools that are either specilized or the DOE for whatever...
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