Yesterday I helped some of the best people I've... →
It’s fucking awesome. Please go look at it now!
#24MAG: Some thoughts on the issue 5 overnight... →
24mag: I’ve known Sara Eileen Hames for about five years—but only Internet Explorer knows when exactly I first became aware of her presence in the world, right around the time I was 18 and first becoming aware of a lot of things. Even though I didn’t even meet her until a year ago, and didn’t even know…
If you are reading this, you deserve an update
I’m in transit a lot these days. I’m in Connecticut and Chicago and all over New York City. I’m also in the Wall Street Journal. And that’s where you’ll be able to find me until I settle down again.
Tracking the city's education policy promises
In the Atlantic’s profile of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he touted a system for tracking how well elected officials fulfill their campaign promises by the end of their terms. Then he said the news media don’t do enough of this: And the thing that I find the most frustrating is that the Fourth Estate never picks up on it. They’ll write a story about those things that you said were...
Portrait of a Manhattan high school in crisis
This GothamSchools story has everything: missing classes, mixed up schedules, poor leadership, a music room turned into a dump for thousands of unused books, and high school students wielding toilet plungers. I spent a full week visiting the school and interviewing dozens of students and staffers to get the story: Manhattan’s long-struggling High School of Graphic Communication Arts was supposed...
One morning in a OneGoal class at a Chicago high school I watched as the...– from Paul Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed.
This is what I look like without an editor
I thought I would use the summer lull in schools news to catch up on stories that didn’t make it to publication during the 2011-2012 school year. I thought there would be a summer lull in news. But the city and state Education Departments had other plans, releasing a string of announcements on Thursday and Friday afternoons when most people were on vacation or wrapping up for the day,...
[What are the mistakes you make?] First of all, nonsense characterization. The...– Junot Díaz, interviewed in the New York Times Magazine issue on inspiration.
Story: Instruction is key to new charter school’s...
When Ife Lenard and her crew first entered the third-floor classrooms that will house the Children’s Aid Society Charter School this fall, they found a dusty rotary phone, a decades-old beer can, and lockers coated with grime from years of middle-schoolers’ use. But Lenard, the founding principal, can already envision how the classrooms — now gutted — will look come September, when the school...
One of the first projects they do in math is measure the school. It causes them...– —Phil Weinberg, the principal of Brooklyn’s High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology. Like many city principals, he tries to offer a summer program to incoming ninth graders to give them a jump start on the transition from middle to high school. But funding the program is always a...
Exploring ways to write about classroom...
I wrote a story on small changes to New York State’s mathematics teaching and learning standards, and it quickly became one of our most viewed stories ever. This was a big surprise. The story is not especially sexy or political, but it is one of just a few journalistic looks at a national education policy that impacts teachers in almost every state: the adoption of the Common Core...
Life in two cities
The writer Thomas Beller knows how I feel. He splits his time between New York City, the place he calls home, and New Orleans, the place where he has a house. I split my time between Chicago—my first love, the place of dozens of friendships, loves, memories, streets and storefronts that would embrace me if they could—and New York City, ostensibly my home because it’s where I have an...
Story: Facing outcry from educators, Kenneth Cole...
I’m happy if the stories I write help readers think differently or more deeply about a subject—whether it’s a school, a neighborhood or a policy issue. But usually the impact is invisible. Less so with the piece I wrote last week about a clothing billboard ad near Harlem. The response to the billboard, and my story, from hundreds of educators, union leaders and advocates prompted the...
Story: In pursuit of college readiness, a course...
Mitch Kurz is a math teacher and a college counselor, but the lessons he teaches don’t fall neatly into either subject area. He and I spoke recently for a story I wrote for GothamSchools about the college readiness class he teaches at a small, South Bronx public school: “On a recent winter morning, Kurz asked students in his college readiness class to describe their dreams. On the board,...
Story: Software-themed school aims to replicate...
Computers are cool now, right? This is what the venture capitalist Fred Wilson asked me this last week, when I interviewed him about his ambitious plans to recreate the rigorous Stuyvesant High School computer science curriculum in a new, software engineering-themed public school opening this fall. Unlike Stuy, which is a hyper competitive specialized school, the Academy for Software Engineering...
Experimenting with Storify as archive for...
This afternoon I created a Storify account for GothamSchools to archive my live-tweets from the March 1 Panel for Educational Policy meeting. I embedded it on the GS website, and here after the jump. Share “ On my way to Brooklyn Tech to live-tweet the March 1 PEP meeting for @GothamSchools. Check our site for updates; hashtag is #nycpep Rachel Cromidas Thu, Mar...
Two pretty things
1.) I was inspired to make my first purchase on Etsy after I saw a photo on Facebook of this screenprint hanging in an acquaintance’s home: It reads “Attention Customers, An Inbound Train Toward the Loop Will Be Arriving Shortly,” over a Chicago Transit Authority El train. It’s hanging in my living room now. 2.) A friend—or rather, the loved one of a loved one—handmade...
Later in the day, my stomach [is] talking to me, and the teacher is talking to...– A senior at Paul Robeson High School in East New York, where I reported that students are served lunch after 2 p.m.
Our U.S. History textbooks stop at the Cold War. The [annual New York State]...– Top student at Samuel Gompers Career and Technical Education High School in the South Bronx, speaking at a hearing about city plans to close the school.
We’ve always been a family, we’ve always gotten through … Regardless of...– Principal Steven Demarco of Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in New York City, speaking on city plans to close and re-open the school through the federal “turnaround” reform model.
Letters in the Mail
I think a home without books gives off an upsetting vibe somewhere between nomad and serial-killer—the gaps in the bookshelves make everything else look slightly uprooted. I try to avoid betraying how uprooted I often feel, but in the early months of my move to New York City the absence of the books I had dutifully lugged from California to my college dorm room to my first and second apartments...
Feature story: Nonprofit takes aim at college...
This fall, Orlando Geigel used his hour-long D train commute from the South Bronx to Brooklyn to practice math problems from a review sheet to prepare for his first set of college finals. The answers were written on the back, but he waited until the end of each ride to check his work. Geigel, a 2011 graduate of the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice, rarely studied in high school, and...
Wedding-inspired thoughts on community
If I get married, I think I’d like to have a wedding a little bit like the one profiled in the New York Times last weekend. It describes how David Friedlander and Jacqueline Smith, two 30-somethings, married in a Dumbo loft three weeks ago surrounded by not only a cohort of friends and relatives, but also loose acquaintances and strangers united by their values—sustainable living, minimalism,...
Feature story: At Columbus, students and staff...
I wrote this after spending several days at Christopher Columbus High School in the East Bronx. It’s a large school with a long history in the community, but after years of fighting the city’s attempts to close the school, Columbus finally began the four year-long phase-out process this Fall. I’ll occasionally publish my GothamSchools stories here when I feel like the effort that...
Tweeting My Visit to Boys and Girls High School
Gassaway is off to the English Department’s holiday luncheon. His afternoon agenda will include a grievance hearing and a JV basketball gameGothamSchoolsDecember 19, 2011 1:17:40 PM ESTReplyRetweetGassaway’s late morning is filled w/ informal + formal classroom observation. In between he is shaking students’ hands, addressing conflictsGothamSchoolsDecember 19,...
Lens: Portraits of Iraqi Pride →
These photos and their stories are understated and completely inspiring: “Andrea Bruce wondered if Iraqis felt optimism as the American troops left. The answer - for those who were staying - was complicated.”
Doing meaningful work
I don’t have any idea what I want to get out of this Tumblr account, and that’s a problem for it. I created it to document my journey through graduate school. But now that I’m a beat reporter for a wonderful website and permanently on-deadline, there is no point in re-posting all of my stories. Especially when I’m writing as many as six stories a week. But I have been...
Experiment in “high-dose” tutoring takes shape in... →
How does the shape of a polygon change as one of its angles widens? What is an “acute angle”? Do you need help using a protractor? These are questions Aisha Chappell wishes she could individually ask each of her 33 tenth-grade geometry students when they split into small groups to perform a hands-on project about angles and symmetry. In the past, it would have been a challenge for Chappell to...
Walcott’s middle school plan puts new spin on old... →
To shake middle schools from mediocrity, the city is turning to school reform strategies it considers tried and true. In the next two years, the Department of Education will close low-performing middle schools, open brand-new ones, add more charter schools, and push more teachers and principals through in-house leadership programs, Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced today in a 30-minute policy...
Why New York City isn’t joining Chicago in... →
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 …
GothamSchools: Venerable social services group... →
As a Bronx elementary school principal, Drema Brown routinely encountered students who were struggling to complete schoolwork without adequate health care, a stable address, or even electricity. Challenges like those held Brown back from boosting academic achievement. Even worse, she said, she couldn’t solve the problems wrought by poverty, either. “I might take it for granted that I can...
For Mulgrew’s first school visit of the year, a... →
For his first school visit of the new year, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew chose P.S. 51, where teachers and students recently learned they were exposed to a toxic chemical. The Bronx school abruptly relocated this summer in the wake of news that high levels of a toxic chemical had been detected at its former building. The new location, chosen just three weeks ago, is...
Teachers in ATR pool get first temporary... →
The Department of Education gave out temporary assignments yesterday to nearly 2,000 teachers who are on the city payroll but who do not have permanent jobs in schools. That didn’t stop dozens of teachers from lining up outside the Brooklyn Museum yesterday afternoon for one of the last hiring fairs before school starts next week. Unlike other job fairs held by the city this summer, this fair...
The street was lined with spectators and I could hear the wave of surprise as I...– Peter Hessler, on running a race in China, in his memoir River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze
DC-37 official: Cutting school aides won’t save... →
An official for the union that represents most of the hundreds of city school staff facing layoffs this fall said the cuts would amount to mere “chump change” for the Department of Education. The vast majority of the employees are part-time and earn between $12 and $27 thousands per year with their pensions, including benefits, according to Santos Crespo, president of Local 372 for District...
Inside an enrollment office, a glimpse at... →
Parents rushing to find spots for their children in city schools at the eleventh hour can expect to confront a thick bureaucracy, strict paperwork requirements, and long waits. On a recent afternoon at a Department of Education enrollment center in Manhattan, the waiting room was crowded with harried parents juggling toddlers or trying to squeeze an enrollment consultation into a lunch ...
Dispute over who ‘real’ parents are follows DOE... →
A top Department of Education official butted heads with a parent this morning over the credibility of parent advocates, suggesting that advocacy groups do not reflect the views of “real parents.” The dispute took place during this morning’s “On Education” panel, which GothamSchools co-hosted …
Top Earthquake Tweets →
This list brightened my mood when I returned to my desk about an hour after the 5.9 earthquake made the potted plants and chairs in our 13th-floor office space shake. Out of work, I followed my editors to the DOE headquarters to see how they were handling the midday interruption.