New York

Speakers set for NYC’s Senate hearing on school issues

Senator John Flanagan’s office released a final roster of speakers who will testify tomorrow at a New York State Senate hearing in New York City. 

New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch will be on the hot seat to start off the hearing, the fourth event that Flanagan convened this fall to probe the merits of sweeping policies ushered by Tisch and the State Education Department in recent years. Tisch will be joined by SED Legislative Director Nicolas Storelli-Castro. 

The next two spots go to United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and city schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, respectively. 

In all, 27 speakers are scheduled to testify. They include parents, advocates, researchers and teachers. The hearing is expected to cover a variety of issues facing schools, from state testing policies, to teacher evaluations, to privacy issues around student data. It will also include John Owens, a publishing executive who taught in a Bronx high schools for a year and wrote a book, Confessions of a Bad Teacher, about the experience.  

Tomorrow’s hearing will take place tomorrow in the Senate Hearing Room at 250 Broadway in downtown Manhattan.

Two rival advocacy groups are planning simultaneous rallies before the hearing gets started at 10:00 a.m. The first is being organized by New York City-based parent groups Class Size Matters and Change the Stakes, which have been critical of the state’s reforms. Starting at around the same time — and not too far away — will be advocates and parents from StudentsFirstNY, which lobbied for tougher state teacher evaluations, and Families for Excellent Schools, which organized a pro-charter school march across the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month. 

Here is the list of those expected to testify tomorrow, according to Sen. Flanagan’s office: 

New York State Education Department/New York State Board of Regents
        Chancellor Merryl Tisch, New York State Board of Regents
        Nicholas – Storelli-Castro, Governmental Affairs, NYSED

United Federation of Teachers
        Michael Mulgrew, President

NYC Board of Education
      Chancellor Dennis Walcott

Parents
        Lisa Shaw
        Nancy Cauthen
        Karen Sprowal
        Jan Johnson

Specialists
      Deborah Rayow, Vice-President, Core Curriculum and Credit Recovery,
      Edgenuity
        Ms. Nathalie Elivert, StudentsFirstNY
        Ms. Tenicka Boyd, StudentsFirstNY

Advocacy
        Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters
        Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education

Testing
        Dr. Monty Neill, Ed.D., Executive Director, FairTest
        Marco Battistella, Member of the Steering Committee of Time Out From
Testing

NYC Charter Schools
        James Merriman, CEO of the NYC Charter School Center

Student Privacy
        Sheila Kaplan

Council of School Administrators
        Ernest Logan, President
        Mark Cannizzaro, Executive Vice-President

NY Alliance for Public Education/Save Our Schools
        Tracy Pyper, Co-Chair, NY Alliance for Public Education
        Rosalie Friend, NYS Information Coordinator, Save Our Schools

Teachers/Principals
        John Owens, Teacher and Author
        Fred Smith, Retired Member of NYC Department of Education, Testing
Department
        Nicholas Lawrence, 8th Grade Teacher and Educators 4 Excellence
Member

Special Education
        Stephen Boese, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Association
of NYS
        Ellen McHugh, Citywide Council on Special Education

Higher Education
      Dr. Ruth Powers Silverberg, Ed.D Associate Professor, Coordinator,
      Post Master’s Advanced Certificate Program for Leadership in
      Education, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.