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Story: Facing outcry from educators, Kenneth Cole to remove billboard

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 clothing company to remove the ad

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Story: Software-themed school aims to replicate Stuy curriculum for all

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 will be “limited unscreened” which is basically education jargon for “open to any student, regardless of their academic performance.”

In Room 307 of Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School, 23 students spent a recent afternoon copying tables and number trees representing a mathematical problem-solving technique used in graphic design computer software.

The students, who all won admission to Stuyvesant by posting top scores on an entrance exam, listened raptly as their teacher, Mike Zamansky, walked them through the complex algorithm behind “seam-carving,” a process used in resizing images. Then Zamansky checked to make sure they understood.

“No problem? Seems reasonable? or ‘Huh’?” he asked, offering students the chance to signal by a show of thumbs whether they understood or needed more help. No one pointed a thumb down.

Zamansky has been teaching computer science since 1995, through a program he designed for students to follow from sophomore to senior year. Stuyvesant’s program is the only rigorous computer science sequence in the city’s public schools and one of the few in the country.

Now it is the inspiration behind a new city high school that aims to change that.

Founded by an influential venture capitalist with deep ties to the technology industry and a young principal fresh from the city’s training program, the Academy for Software Engineering will be the city’s first school to focus on software engineering. The goal is to extend the approach of Zamansky’s classes — which teach problem-solving, network communications, and programming language literacy — to any student in the city, even if they can’t make the cut for Stuyvesant or don’t even have a computer at home.

Read the rest here.

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Experimenting with Storify as archive for live-tweets

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.

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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 circle her classroom at the Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School and address each of her students’ needs during individual or group work time. But this year Chappell has three teaching assistants to navigate the room with her. Read More…

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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 speech, the first of his six-month tenure. Read More…

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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 …

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jayrosen:

Could we please see this sentence in the New York Times more often?
It’s the one that goes, “This is false.” 
Somebody on Twitter sent the link to me. They knew I would appreciate it.
Here it is in context, in an article on Ray’s Pizza (the real one) closing down in Soho. Some guy who opened another, fake Ray’s says (well, actually he said it in 1991…) that no one ever heard of the founder of the original Ray’s, Ralph Cuomo.
That’s when it happened. The New York Times reporter, Michael Wilson, actually typed into the Times system, “This is false.” And the editors? Why, they let it stand! Fit to print! Then the Internets lit up…
Don’t you wish you saw those three little words a little more often?  Some suit on the TV goes, “Every time we’ve cut taxes, revenues have gone up!” and the next day the New York Times calmly reports it, followed by the three little words… This is false.
Don’t be cynical. Don’t say never. It just happened with a random quote by a pizza guy from twenty years ago. 

jayrosen:

Could we please see this sentence in the New York Times more often?

It’s the one that goes, “This is false.”

Somebody on Twitter sent the link to me. They knew I would appreciate it.

Here it is in context, in an article on Ray’s Pizza (the real one) closing down in Soho. Some guy who opened another, fake Ray’s says (well, actually he said it in 1991…) that no one ever heard of the founder of the original Ray’s, Ralph Cuomo.

That’s when it happened. The New York Times reporter, Michael Wilson, actually typed into the Times system, “This is false.” And the editors? Why, they let it stand! Fit to print! Then the Internets lit up…

Don’t you wish you saw those three little words a little more often?  Some suit on the TV goes, “Every time we’ve cut taxes, revenues have gone up!” and the next day the New York Times calmly reports it, followed by the three little words… This is false.

Don’t be cynical. Don’t say never. It just happened with a random quote by a pizza guy from twenty years ago. 

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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 just take my daughter to an eye doctor’s appointment and I have insurance that is going to get her that $300, $400 pair of glasses. But sometimes in a school something as simple as that could languish for an entire school year,” said Brown, who headed P.S. 230 in the South Bronx’s District 9 from 2003 to 2007.

Now a top official at the Children’s Aid Society, the 158-year-old social services provider, Brown is leading an experiment in integrating health and social services into a school setting. Children’s Aid is set to open its charter school in the Morrisania section of the Bronx next fall. The Board of Regents formally approved the school’s charter earlier today. Read more…

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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 a stone building that until June housed a Catholic school. Now a sign for P.S. 51 sits atop a freshly-painted red front door. Read more…

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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 Council-37, which represents the workers. He made the comments this evening on WBAI, 99.5 FM Radio. Read More…

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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 break; large families of recent immigrants from China, the Dominican Republic, and Bosnia; and students seeking to reenroll after leaving the system.

Khemenec Pantin, the receptionist, is patient with all of them. “You need two proofs of address and a passport or birth certificate,” he rattles off in one breath as families approach his desk. … Go to GothamSchools to read more.

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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 …

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I just got home from an exhausting but fun evening at my first Department of Education Panel for Education Policy meeting. I’ll be writing about that experience tomorrow morning, but here’s a link to how my day started (and yesterday ended): a story on teachers trying to find jobs three weeks before school starts. Sounds kind of like what I did …