Archive for the 'Education' Category

Sunny Skies

Source: Sunny Skies

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the preliminary recipients of $340 million in pre-kindergarten funding yesterday, including a couple in our area - Brighton Beach’s Sarah Winner Group Family Day Care and Sunny Skies Preschool.

Provided state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli approves the awards, Sarah Winner Group Family Day Care (2997 Ocean Parkway) will land $120,000 from the state and Sunny Skies Coney Island (2585 Coney Island Avenue) will receive $300,000 as part of a program that is awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for 81 school districts and community-based organizations across the state.

The funding, which is included in the 2014-15 state budget, is the first installment in the governor’s commitment to invest $1.5 billion over the next five years to build a statewide universal full-day pre-kindergarten program.

The city Department of Education is slated to land nearly $300 million to build its universal pre-kindergarten program for all 4-year-olds in the city – which stems from Cuomo’s promise to pay for such a program in lieu of Mayor Bill de Blasio raising taxes to pay for it, as the mayor had originally aimed to do upon taking office.

The funds slated for private daycare operators are to fill the gap in the number of seats required to meet the need, which the Department of Education alone does not have the space for.

“Training and educating young minds is one of the smartest investments we can make as a state, as studies demonstrate that pre-kindergarten has a long lasting, positive influence on our children’s education and future success,” Cuomo said in his press release. “The state budget this year included a major investment in early education, putting New York state on the path to become just the fourth state in the nation to establish universal full day pre-K. The awards we are announcing today will enable tens of thousands of children to attend pre-K classes, and represent another step in the State’s work to prepare our students to compete in the 21st century economy.”

As part of state and city officials push for a full-day pre-kindergarten program, numerous lawmakers and educators, including Cuomo and de Blasio, stressed that studies have shown that children who participate in early education programs are more likely to read at grade level and graduate from high school than those who do not.

“We are proud to have Governor Cuomo as a strong partner in making pre-K for All a reality for the children of New York City,” de Blasio said in the same release. “This funding represents a powerful commitment by the State to build a new, stronger education foundation that will transform our schools. We are working tirelessly to make good on this opportunity to deliver new pre-K options, improve existing ones and build a high-quality system that lifts up every child.”

The full list of recipients of the $340 million is available here.

school classroom by Dan Nguyen

A new, more inclusionary approach to educate NYC students with special needs is proving easier said than done, says a new report by Chalkbeat. The organization spoke to students, parents, and school officials and found that schools are struggling to implement mandatory reforms to special education, while its effect on students is still unproven.

Integrating special needs students by enrolling them in general education classes, mixed classes (including typical and special needs students), or a combination of the two, was an idea first publicly introduced in 2003 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The proposal was launched as a pilot at a limited number of city schools in 2010, and launched citywide in 2012. Chalkbeat, though, found that some schools lacked the resources and the scramble to implementation is leaving some of the neediest students behind.

Students affected by this Special Education Reform and interviewed by Chalkbeat each had unique experiences, some positive, some not. They include Joseph, a middle schooler with ADHD who was placed in mixed classes as per the city’s new policies, and for whom no purely special education classes were available when attempts to mainstream proved unsuccessful; Noah, whose mother Britt Sady pushed for his inclusion in a general education class so as to set higher standards for his learning and increase his chances of graduation; Christon Solomon, a middle schooler who says small learning sessions in special education classes work better for him than general education; and Thomas, who was suspended often in special education classes, but is doing better since being introduced to mainstream and mixed classes.

The experiences of parents and kids profiled are diverse, as are the abilities of the schools discussed to see that students’ needs are met–often, says Chalkbeat, schools simply aren’t provided with adequate staffing or financial resources to abide by the 2012 reforms. This is the case with Joseph–whose transfer to another school was finally approved only near the end of the school year, and presumably because his mother Clara, who works for the Department of Education, came armed with a certain amount of knowledge regarding red tape.

“Sometimes, if the parent doesn’t question [a school's inadequate handling of a special needs child's education], it just goes under the radar,” family advocate Olga Vazquez, of mental illness and developmental disability service support agency ICL, told the publication.

Certain schools are benefitting from reforms more than others. The article says funding is disproportionately doled out to schools with integrated classrooms instead of simply general and special education ones, and parents of both typical and special needs students at Harlem’s P.S. 112, for example, have requested mixed classes to enhance their kids’ educational experiences.

However the jury is still out, quantitatively speaking, on the effectiveness of integrating kids of different abilities into the same classrooms. Chalkbeat says some test scores have increased marginally, but others have not. What does appear to be clear is a widening discrepancy in disciplinary action being handed down to special needs students in mainstream classrooms, but DOE Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi says Chancellor Carmen Fariña has no plans to overhaul the 2012 reforms.

If you’re an New York City educator or parent, what’s your take on the matter? Have you run into any of the problems stated in Chalkbeat’s article, or seen students improve under new policies? Should properly run mixed classrooms benefit all students–and what would running them properly entail of schools, teachers, and the DOE? How would funding and resources be distributed if you had it your way?

Photo by Dan Nguyen

President Farley Herzek

Herzek (Source: CUNY Newswire)

Kingsborough Community College has appointed Farley Herzek, a New York City native who has most recently been leading the largest community college district in the nation out in California.

The local school has been without a president since the retirement of Dr. Regina Peruggi last summer after nine years serving the school. Peruggi was the first woman at the helm, and oversaw a period of tremendous growth at Kingsborough.

Herzek has been serving as interim president of Los Angeles Harbor College – Los Angeles Community College, and has previously served as interim president of East Los Angeles College.

“It is a privilege to come back to Brooklyn, to serve the communities and the CUNY system that gave me my start in life. I was launched into the middle class because of open access, quality educational programs and the affordability of the CUNY system,” said Herzek in a press release. “I have had an opportunity to meet Kingsborough Community College faculty, staff, alumni and administrators during the interview process and I was very impressed with their passion for doing what is best for students. My beliefs, values and leadership qualities embrace collaboration, full participation, trust, and transparency, while valuing the greatness of our diversity. With all of us of working together, I am certain we can move Kingsborough Community College to the No. 1 position in the nation.”

From CUNY’s press release:

President Herzek’s appointment to Kingsborough is a homecoming for him as a first-generation American who grew up in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn and who was the first in his family to graduate from college. A product of New York City public schools including P.S. 115 and Isaac Bildersee I.S. 68, as well as a graduate of Canarsie High School, President Herzek began his college career at Brooklyn College and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from The City College of New York. He completed his Master of Arts degree and Teaching Credential in Technology Education at California State University, Long Beach, and his Professional Clear Administrative Services Credential from the University of La Verne. President Herzek is also the past Chair of the National Legislative Committee for the Association of Career and Technical Education.

Students attending a high school on Governor’s Island have been coming to Coney Island this winter. And it wasn’t to cut school; it was to scuba dive in the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, cleaning the tanks of the beloved critters.

The school, the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, is a public high school with a focus on marine science and technology. The program is part of an internship for nine students that allows them to scuba dive. But the waters around New York City are too cold in the winter so they use the Coney Island aquarium, according to the New York Times, where the students are tasked with cleaning the algae build-up in the tanks and general housekeeping chores.

The Times reports:

David DeNardo, the aquarium’s general curator, said that enlisting the students, who are paid minimum wage as part of the internship, was a good way to further the aquarium’s mission. Eventually, the aquarium and the school plan to develop a curriculum related to the Glover’s Reef exhibit, so that the students can better understand the species whose habitat they are keeping clean.

“It gives us an opportunity to teach these kids our conservation message,” Mr. DeNardo said. “We look at this as a chance to foster the next generation of conservationists.”

The students who dive are on the school’s professional diving track, where many of the students go on to study marine science, tourism and construction. When they first came to the school, they had no experience with diving but they learned about it, first in a classroom, then in a pool and finally in Jamaica Bay.

(Source: The Jewish Education Project)

The co-founder of the Mazel Day School (2915 Brighton 6th Street) in Brighton Beach, Chani Okonov, received the Jewish Education Project Young Pioneers Award.

The award was given due to her connection with the day school and the work she’s done for a school that primarily serves the Russian-speaking Jewish community in Southern Brooklyn.

The Jewish Education Project praised Okonov on their site and wrote:

Under Chani’s leadership, the school has grown from just three children in 2002, to 14 classes and over 170 students today.  Known for its warm environment and child-centered approach, MDS also maintains high standards in professionalism, academic achievement and engaging learning experiences.

Much of the school’s aim, Lubavitch news writes, is to reconnect Russian Jews with their religious past and help them preserve their cultural connections while assimilating into the larger American culture.

Okonov told Lubavitch news, “Russian Jews could be fully assimilated in less than one generation, unless their Jewish identity is revived.”

The article continues:

Creating a Jewish day school experience that would re-engage this demographic has been Okonov’s vision ever since. Together with her husband, Chabad emissary Rabbi Avermel Okonov, the couple established the school under the auspices of the F.R.E.E. organization (a grassroots institution founded by emigres from the Soviet Union).

Last year, the school marked the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy by cleaning up the Holocaust Memorial Park.

weinstein

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein has been visiting schools to publicize the expansion of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program and the April 23rd enrollment deadline.

The Assemblywoman fought strongly for the expansion, with $300 million in the recently enacted 2014-15 State Budget potentially allowing for all NYC children turning 4 in 2014 with free Pre-K education if enrolled in time. Half day and full day programs will be available at Public schools and Community based organizations.

The Assemblywoman read to students enrolled in the UPK program at PS 197. The administration and teachers at the school voiced excitement about the expansion.

“Studies are showing how vital Pre-K education is for the healthy growth of a child as they head on to Kindergarten and primary school,” said PS 197 Principal Rosemarie Nicoletti. “The expansion of this program will help us reach so many more children and I thank Assemblywoman Weinstein for her continued commitment to serving the needs of her youngest constituents.”

“As successful as we were in Albany in securing this funding, the real success of this program will depend on how many children enroll,” said the Assemblywoman. “I urge parents of eligible children to apply before we hit the deadline on April 23rd.”

Parents can enroll online or by calling or visiting the Brooklyn enrollment center at 131 Livingston Street (718-935-4908). The office will be open from 8 am – 7 pm on the following dates: April 8 – 9, April 15 – 16, and April 22 – 23.

School Science Poster copy

Students from I.S. 98 – also known as the Bay Academy of the Arts and Sciences – found themselves engaged with a maze of science-related activities and exploration on March 27.

The event has been held in the school for the past five years, turning the school into a Brooklyn-style science playground that invites children to not just learn about things in a school textbook but to also make these things interesting.

“It’s a really cool event,” Irena Johnson, a science teacher at the school, said. “Everything is completely free for the families and the kids. It’s for the science enthusiast in everyone.” Johnson was overlooking a stand where her students were helping children pot soil and plants.

Presenters at the event ranged from the eggheads at the Noble Maritime Museum and the Department of Environmental Conservation, to forensic detectives from the FBI and NYPD, as well as those showing the natural wonders in National Parks to the unnatural weirdness with Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Check out this video we put together at the event:

Source: NYDailyNews.com

After an extensive three-year renovation, the Edwin P. Hubble Planetarium at Edward R. Murrow High School reopened this week, featuring advanced technology developed at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium.

The planetarium now has new carpets, seating, ceilings and a new entrance to the domed facility, and is operated with a new computerized LED cove lighting system and high-end software.

It’s come a long way from the projectors that splashed simple constellation patterns of the night sky across the ceiling, with the new dome being able to recreate blue skies, theatrical “lighting chases” and other advanced schemes, aided by a new surround sound system linked to fully programmable DVD player.

The whole system is coordinated by Uniview software developed at Manhattan’s Natural History Museum using their Digital Universe data bank created by Dr. Carter Emmart, director of Astrovisualization at the Hayden Planetarium. The new software can take students on adventures through the universe, allowing them to view the galaxies and celestial bodies from any point in known space.

Murrow’s Hubble Planetarium opened in 1979, and remains one of just a few such facilities operating within a New York City public school.

The renovations were completed with the help of funding obtained by former Councilman Domenic Recchia. It cost $500,000.

The Daily News captured some of the dome’s new capabilities in the photo above.

newvisions

Kudos to the kids from the New Visions Charter School for Advanced Math & Science III, one of the publicly-funded charter schools that moved into the Sheepshead Bay High School campus (3000 Avenue X) last fall. These kids took to the streets around the school last week, cleaning sidewalks and removing several garbage bags of debris and litter.

Here’s what the school’s COO Geri Molloy wrote to us:

Last Tuesday, March 18 2014 the entire New Visions Advanced Math and Science III community left our campus and went into the neighborhood to clean up. Armed with gloves and garbage, Scholars and staff collected over 60 bags of garbage from around the neighborhood.

Way to go!

Participants took the stage as the winners were announced. (Photo by Yuval Kagan)

Participants took the stage as the winners were announced. (Photo by Yuval Kagan)

Remember that awesome SING! competition we told you about last month? Brooklyn Sings!, an inter-SING event in which students from Midwood, Madison and Murrow high schools competed against each other for best student-created stage production, took place this past Saturday and students raised more than $20,000 to donate to the American Cancer Society.

According to organizers, the event made history as the largest one-night fundraiser for the Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Marine Park Relay for Life team, with that boatload of money raised through ticket sales, raffles and direct donations.

Edward R. Murrow High School’s team won the event, with a show that brought seniors and freshman together to defeat an evil villain in “MurrowWarts.” Madison entertained with a trip to Toyland, and Midwood took the audience 10 years forward for a terrifying reunion. Every bit of the production was student-created.

A huge hurrah for the students at these three schools. They all worked hard, and for a great cause.

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