Archive for the 'Education' Category

Seth Low JHS will be the site of a rally against the proposed co-locations on Friday. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last Thursday that he will allow 36 public and charter schools to move into existing schools while giving the boot to other charter school co-location plans, prompting outrage from politicians and education advocates in Southern Brooklyn.

“I am very disappointed because the decision to co-locate Coney Island Prep with I.S. 281 does not square with the facts as we presented,” Councilman Vincent Gentile said in a press release that was cosigned by fellow councilmen David Greenfield and Mark Treyger. “I’ve said repeatedly that Cavallaro is already busting at the seams and there is no need for an elementary school in this area.”

Among the schools that de Blasio to see co-locations are Coney Island Prep (the charter school) with Cavallaro Intermediate School I.S. 281, and Success Academy Charter School with Seth Low Intermediate School I.S. 96.

The initiative to co-locate public schools with charter schools was created during the Bloomberg administration and according to the press release cosigned by the councilmen, many were hopeful that the co-locations would be reversed.

“Many of us who are part of the public school system were hopeful that with a new administration, we’d see a real, meaningful change that responded to the needs of the community. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case, as both I.S. 96 and I.S. 281 are still slated for charter co-locations in September 2014,” members of  Community Education Council District 20 said in a statement.

Besides the harsh words, the education council announced that they will be holding a rally this Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Seth Low I.S. 96 (99 Avenue P) in an attempt to pressure the de Blasio administration to reverse their decision. If the co-location goes through, critics argue,  schools that already have a large student body will be forced to take on more students from the charter schools, resulting in overpopulation.

“I am extremely disappointed in the decision to allow the co-location of a charter school at I.S. 96 (the Seth Low School) that our district does not need or want,” Greenfield writes in the press release. “This co-location will come at the expense of the school’s dedicated staff and hard-working students. . . This proposal does not take into account the students’ needs or the impact this will clearly have on this important school.”

Joining the ranks of critics is Assemblyman William Colton – his area covers parts of Gravesend and Bath Beach – who calls for Cavallaro Intermediate School I.S. 281 and Seth Low I.S. 96 to not co-locate with charter schools. In a press release, he said he is “extremely disappointed that Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Farina did not reverse the decisions” to co-locate the two schools in Southern Brooklyn.

For his part, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz  is commending Mayor de Blasio and Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina for withdrawing the co-location plan for John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X), one of the nine locations the de Blasio administration offered a reprieve. Critics of charter schools want every school’s co-location to be withdrawn.

“I intend to work with my colleagues to fight this decision tooth and nail,” Greenfield said in the press release.

Correction: The original version of this article mistakenly identified the charter school to be co-located with I.S 96 Seth Low. The correct name of the charter school is Success Academy Charter School, and the post has been amended. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Security officials at Edward R. Murrow, James Madison and Midwood high schools were on high alert Thursday and are again today, after threats to shoot students emerged on social media.

Parents at the schools were notified yesterday morning by robocalls from the schools’ principals. A recording of the call made by Murrow’s acting principal obtained by PIX11 announced the following:

I wanted to take this opportunity to address some of the concerns you may have regarding some recent posts on Facebook that were reported to the administration. Here at Murrow, your child’s safety is our top priority. We’re working with DOE officials and NYPD that all appropriate actions have been taken to ensure your child’s safety. Please know that we will do everything to ensure your child’s safety.

The NYPD’s Intelligence Division is looking into the post, and PIX11 notes that it may have been “an old one that was reposted.”

The threat is not believed to be credible, but administrators took additional security precautions nonetheless, placing additional school safety agents and police officers in all three schools.

Make Your Mark Launches January 20th

Source: smithsonianchannelmakeyourmark.com

Power to Learn, the education initiative of Cablevision’s Optimum, and the Smithsonian Channel have launched a new competition to celebrate Black History Month, and give an opportunity for high school students to affect real change in their communities.

The Make Your Mark contest invites students to submit creative video proposals for projects that could “incite positive change” at their schools and communities. The winning video will be awarded $2,500 to make the project a reality.

From the press release:

As part of the contest, students will view the Smithsonian Channel documentary Breath of Freedom that details the experiences of African-American GIs who helped rebuild Germany at the end of World War II and experienced equality for the first time overseas. Just as the soldiers featured in the documentary helped ignite the Civil Rights Movement, students can document their unique “mark” for positive change in their own video.

The “Make Your Mark” contest is open to all high school students in Optimum’s footprint within the tri-state area. Students should record and submit a creative and informative video (two minutes maximum) that explains their “mark,” why it should be chosen and how their school or community could benefit from the $2500 award. They will then share this video (via Facebook or Tweets) with friends and family to earn votes for the project. Deadline for entries is February 28.

Details and application form here.

I suggest a project telling our internet service providers like Optimum how important net neutrality is. Just sayin’.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Three major Southern Brooklyn high schools are banding together to hold the first-ever inter-SING! competition, called Brooklyn Sings!, to benefit the American Cancer Society.

As any Brooklyn public high school graduate knows, SING! competitions can dominate school culture, bringing in students at every level to plan and produce a musical-production based on a different theme each year. The grades compete against each other for bragging rights.

What many may not know is that SING!, now a phenomenon at high schools across the greater New York City area, is a distinctly Southern Brooklyn creation, first established at Midwood High School in 1947 by music teacher Bella Tillis. The 1989 film Sing is based on the Brooklyn traditions, and SING! alumni include Barbra Streisand, Paul Simon, Tim Robbins, Paul Reiser and Neil Diamond.

Midwood, Madison and Murrow are all well-known for their grandiose productions that can involve hundreds of students.

Brooklyn Sings!, the inter-school event, is being created to benefit the American Cancer Society. It was conceived by the Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Marine Park Relay for Life team and one of its organizers, Joe Gillette.

“Our Relay for Life team is so thankful to each of these amazing schools for taking on BROOKLYN SINGS!  We know this event will be great for all the talented students, the schools and the community as a whole as we all unite and give of ourselves for a worthy cause,” Gillete said in a press release. “We encourage anyone who wants to get involved with our Relay for Life organization to join us as we strive to make a difference in our schools and community.”

“SING began in Midwood in 1947.  Mrs. Belle Tillis (who passed away last year 15 days shy of her 100th birthday) is credited with bringing SING to Midwood,” said Midwood Principal Michael McDonnell. “For the last 60 + years, our student body has sung, danced and acted their way towards winning the annual SING competition.  In fact the organizers of all the schools’ SINGs were Midwood students who had participated in Midwood SING.  So it is with great honor and responsibility that along with the help of Relay for Life, we get to “throw down the gauntlet” to our neighboring schools.”

Anyone interested in supporting one of the school’s fundraising efforts for the ACS can make a tax deductible donation by visiting the team page of their favorite school.

For Midwood visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/midwoodsings;
For Madison visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/madisonsings
For Murrow visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/murrowsings

The event will be held March 8 at 6 p.m. at Edward R. Murrow High School (1600 Avenue L). Tickets will be sold through each school, and go one sale February 24.

Source: Old Shoe Woman/Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he hopes to create an advisory board for the implementation of the controversial Common Core curriculum and stop standardized testing for children below third grade, drawing sighs of relief from local education activists who have been critical of the rollout.

“Any progress is great progress,” said Heather Ann Fiorica, the president of the District 21′s Community Education Council. “Now more people are talking about it because of Cuomo.”

Fiorica and CEC21 challenged the curriculum’s implementation during a meeting last week, passing a resolution asking the state to slow down the rollout, relieve the testing burden on special needs students and provide more training to teachers and faculty.

In response to the news, Fiorica, who is a parent herself, also said the idea of an advisory panel was promising since it would “bring more awareness” to legislators and politicians and convince them that Common Core needs a few speed bumps.

Common Core is a new curriculum being adopted across the nation, drawing criticism from parents and teachers. It relies on more rigorous standardized testing, and teachers in New York say they have not received proper training or been informed of materials on the test.

“I support the Common Core agenda,” Cuomo said during his budget presentation on Tuesday. “But the way the Common Core has been managed by the Board of Regents is flawed. There’s too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety.”

A panel of advisers as Cuomo is now promoting would, presumably, take these things into consideration and recommend “corrective action,” as Cuomo put it, for the new curriculum.

State Senator Marty Golden is also applauding the governor’s plan to change the way Common Core is implemented, and adds that he wants to see an end to standardized testing of children below the third grade.

“I applaud and agree with the Governor’s decision to suspend testing from Kindergarten to 2nd grade, and I am glad to see the Board of Regents concurs,” Golden said in a press release. “The entirety of the Common Core Curriculum must be reviewed, but nevertheless, standardized testing for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders is unnecessary.”

Cuomo said the advisory panel will issue a report before the end of Albany’s legislative session in June.

Source: Old Shoe Woman/Flickr

The Community Education Council of School District 21 (CEC21) is challenging the state’s testing and educational policies, voting this week to request the Department of Education “re-evaluate and slow the implementation” of Common Core testing standards.

The council’s resolution argues that the tougher standardized testing requirements of the Common Core curriculum do not meet the individualized needs of students, and leave many students – especially those with special needs – in the dust.

“Each child is different and this approach is very cookie-cutter like,” said Heather Ann Fiorica, the president of CEC21.

They also say that the state bungled implementation, pushing it through too quickly without soliciting feedback or providing training.

Find out more about the issue, and read the resolution.

Source: newyorksportstawk.blogspot.com

Lincoln High School’s football team, the Railsplitters (an awesome name, by the way), snagged their second title in three years with a 28 to 27 win at the PSAL City Conference championship at Yankee Stadium last week.

The team bested Tottenville Pirates for the title, despite suffering its own setback: senior quarterback Javon Moore sprained his ankle during their first offensive play. He muscled through the game before heading to the hospital after the match.

“He was a warrior and battled through and made a play when he had to,” Lincoln coach Shawn O’Connor told the Daily News.

It was a tight game, in which Lincoln pulled ahead by one point with less than five minutes on the clock. We urge you to check out the Daily News article for the dramatic play by play.

Congratulations to Lincoln High School (2800 Ocean Parkway) and the Railsplitters!

Andre Civil

Andre Civil (Source: ScarletKnights.com)

Way, way back in the halycon days of May 2008, when Sheepshead Bites had just launched, the fourth story ever published on this site was about the recruitment of Sheepshead Bay High School (3000 Avenue X) football’s defensive end Andre Civil to Rutgers University‘s Scarlet Knights (also, my alma mater.)

Back then, the team was just beginning to rise after years of pitiful performance, and started making a name for itself. Fast forward three and a half years, and Rutgers University joined the Big Ten Conference, helping solidify its athletic excellence.

Civil, who took on the role of right-tackle after the NFL picked off a few of his colleagues, played a prominent role in the team’s surge in rankings, and he’s been embraced by the students and alumni, who’ve started packing the football stadium (during my years there, the school literally bribed students to go to games. On some days, it was the only place you could get a meal using the meal plan).

That spirit is a whole lot different than Civil is used to. A native of the Sheepshead Bay – Nostrand Houses, Civil notes that New York City dwellers’ indifference towards high school and college football spurred him to work harder.

The Trentonian profiled Civil, writing:

“First off, I think a lot of people don’t look at New York high school football as much,” said Civil, who mostly ran a Wing-T offense in high school. “You just kind of have a chip on your shoulder and want to show people you can play ball and compete with other states, especially New Jersey because New Jersey is known for football.”

Civil grew up right across the street from Sheepshead Bay and played football at the adjoining field. Some schools, like Flatbush’s Erasmus Hall, would have to commute through the borough just to get to practice.

He played games at noon every Saturday, like clockwork. Sheepshead Bay never played night games, despite having lights. Civil did not need them to turn on.

Check out the full profile here.

From a rally to save the school when it faced closure in 2010.

Sheepshead Bay High School, which the city decided to “phase out” at the end of last semester due to poor performance, had the deck stacked against them by Department of Education policies that overloaded them with difficult students.

A new study by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform confirms the departments policies of dumping high-needs kids in struggling schools, worsening their chances at success.

The New York Post reports:

The students who don’t participate in the regular high-school selection process — known as “over the counter,” or OTC, students — are likelier to be new immigrants, have special needs, be homeless or have a prior history of behavioral issues.

Yet the DOE knowingly assigned huge numbers of them to dozens of schools that were either already being shuttered for poor performance or that were subsequently approved for closure, the study found.

“Compelling evidence suggests that the DOE’s inequitable assignment of OTC students to struggling high schools reduces the opportunities for success for both the students and their schools,” said Norm Fruchter, an Annenberg associate and one of the study’s authors.

At Sheepshead Bay HS in Brooklyn, the percentage of OTC kids assigned each year grew from 18 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2011 — well above the average for large high schools. After the school’s performance began to suffer, it was approved for closure earlier this year.

The report confirms claims made by Sheepshead Bay High School (3000 Avenue X) supporters that gains they had made in recent years were rapidly undermined by a growing student body of high-needs students, a claim the fell on deaf ears at public hearings over the school closure.

Even with the high rate of OTC students, Sheepshead Bay High School administrators had claimed they had a tremendous success rate at converting those low-performers into achievers, through less traditional means like extra-curricular activities and special programs.

Still, their graduation rates weighed on the rest of the student body, leading to the closure of Sheepshead Bay High School.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Photo by Erica Sherman

Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard) was rewarded with millions of federal dollars today thanks to the efforts of Senator Charles Schumer. According to a press release, Schumer secured $3.8 million for the award-winning institution for the purposes of helping the college continue its mission to train students for the jobs of tomorrow.

This isn’t the first time that KCC has been on the winning end of a financial windfall. In March, we reported that the college was awarded $100,000 by the Aspen Institute after being named the one of the top three community colleges in the nation. The praise also came from the 2012 Digital Community Colleges Survey, which in October, named KCC as one of the top community colleges to implement technology.

Schumer’s release described where the grant money came from:

The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program, which promotes skills development and employment opportunities in fields such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and healthcare as well as science, technology, engineering and math careers through partnerships between training providers and local employers.

In his comments, Schumer reflected on the importance of funding institutions like KCC and Laguardia Community College, which also received $3.1 million:

“Training our young people today for the jobs of tomorrow will pave the path to keeping New York City at the top of the heap for generations to come. These grants are a game-changer for Kingsborough Community College and LaGuardia Community College because the funds will now provide much-needed career training programs for our New York City students,” said Schumer. “New York City’s Silicon Alley is in need of individuals who excel in math, science, engineering and technology and I am confident that this $7 million investment will be beneficial to New York’s economy and the future of these students.”

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