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Teachers Don’t “Recommend” 11 Schools

by Melissa Bailey | Jun 23, 2010 6:47 am

(19) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Schools, School Reform

In a newly released survey, New Haven teachers recommended some schools, but not others. The district won’t yet say which schools are which.

That news emerged Tuesday, as the district released some results of a new school survey at a press conference at the John C. Daniels School in the Hill. The anonymous surveys, taken by parents, teachers and students in grades 5 to 12, gave feedback on the “climate” inside each of the city’s 47 public schools. Click here for a sample of the parent survey.

The surveys were part of a new emphasis on accountability ushered in by the city’s school reform drive. Top bosses in the district’s office were the first to receive feedback; click here to read about that.

Melissa Bailey Photo The “school climate” surveys gave public school parents the chance to report back on how they’re treated at their school buildings. Kids said whether they feel safe in school. And teachers answered a range of questions, including whether they feel supported by their bosses, and whether they’d recommend their schools.

Teachers diverged widely on the latter question.

In 10 elementary/middle and five high schools, at least 75 percent of teachers said they would “recommend my school to a friend or colleague.”
In one school, over 95 percent of teachers recommended their school.

On the other side of the spectrum, there were 11 elementary/middle schools where at least 65 percent of teachers said they would not make that recommendation.

Which schools were which?

Principals were scheduled to learn that information Tuesday night, when they were to receive the results of the surveys for their particular schools.

However, those school-by-school results will not be made public until July 19, said schools spokeswoman Michelle Wade.

Wade said the district is delaying releasing that information in order to give principals a chance “to see it and review it first.”

“It’s a courtesy,” she said.

In lieu of the specific information, officials shared overall return rates and aggregate responses for the district.

Click here to read the district-wide results.

Dirk Hightower (pictured), executive director of the Children’s Institute, shared the results. The district paid his Rochester, N.Y.-based group for $71,000 to execute the survey. Hightower said he has worked at the institute for 28 years, and has run surveys for “hundreds” of U.S. school districts. He framed the results in the context of his professional experience.

Hightower gave the public schools high marks for participation in the survey. The New Haven Federation of Teachers pitched in $5,000 to promote the surveys through ads on city buses, in the newspaper, and postcards in the mail. The city also hired CT Parent Power, a parent advocacy group run by former city traffic chief Paul Wessell, to train PTOs on how to boost participation in the survey.

The result was an impressive outreach effort, Hightower concluded. He gave the city an “A” for teacher and student participation: 82 percent of teachers and 88 percent of students filled out the surveys.

Hightower gave the district a “C+” for parent participation. Results varied widely by school, from 3 percent to 72 percent. District-wide, 23 percent of parents responded, according to the district’s calculations. 

Click here for a school-by-school breakdown of how many parents responded.

Principal Gina Wells (pictured) came out on top, with 72 percent of her parents responding. She ran down her strategy.

When the district sent out the surveys, Wells knew a lot would come back undeliverable. Usually, when she sends mail home, she gets “buckets” of letters back, she said. The district sent out 15,000 surveys, and 1,000 came back undeliverable, school officials said.

So Wells ran a backup plan. It involved phone calls, a special note home to parents—and an ice cream bribe. For six weeks, her secretary called every parent two to three times. For the parents who hadn’t updated their addresses with the school, she devised a special supplemental survey: She sent a note home with students, in Spanish and English, asking parents if they got the school climate survey, if they filled it out, and if their address had changed. If 100 percent of kids in a classroom brought home that mini-survey, they all got ice cream sandwiches.

“Ice cream sandwiches are healthy—don’t worry,” Wells told the crowd of school officials gathered in folding chairs in her hallway Tuesday. The bribe did the trick, she said; all the kids got a sweet treat, and parents poured in with their feedback.

Reaping in so much feedback may prove a “double-edged sword,” she noted: Now, if parents have a problem with the school, their complaints will be made public—when the results are released on July 19.

Overall, the parents who responded to the surveys said they are generally satisfied with their kid’s teacher and the education they’ve received.

Students gave the district high marks: 76 percent said they feel “at least one adult in their school knows them well”—a key, officials said, to keeping kids from dropping out. About 90 percent of kids said their teachers “encourage me to be successful in school” and “believe I am capable of learning.”

“Parents Can Do Better”

Melissa Bailey Photo Teachers union President Dave Cicarella said teachers heard an affirmation that they’re doing good work.

“Students feel safe in school, they feel challenged—we feel good about that,” he said.

Parental involvement in schools was one big weakness highlighted by the surveys. Most parents—78 percent—said they are satisfied with “your opportunities to be involved in your child’s education.”

But a whopping 47 percent of parents said they visit their child’s school “never” or only “once or twice” per year. A total 76 percent never or seldom volunteer at the school. And 80 percent never or seldom call parents to inform them about school events.

That finding, combined with the low number of parents who responded to the survey, sent a signal to top school officials that more needs to be done to engage parents.

“We’re not satisfied with the parent results,” said school reform czar Garth Harries. “This is a big priority in reform. It’s a cultural change. Clearly, this is an area where we have significant room to grow.”

The surveys will be used next year when the district grades all 47 schools. Next year, the school district plans to give parents more time to fill out the survey, and will use parent report card night to boost parent response, said schools Superintendent Reggie Mayo.

“I think parents can do better,” Mayo said. “I think parents need to step up to the plate.”
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posted by: cedarhillresident on June 23, 2010  6:56am

Yeah I guess that billions of dollars in school construction and debt did not work, nor did 15,000 dollars a year per student! What a joke!! On my dime!

posted by: Moira on June 23, 2010  7:42am

RE: “Parental involvement in schools was one big weakness highlighted by the surveys. A whopping 47 percent of parents said they visit their child’s school “never” or only “once or twice” per year. A total 76 percent never or seldom volunteer at the school. And 80 percent never or seldom call parents to inform them about school events.

That finding, combined with the low number of parents who responded to the survey, sent a signal to top school officials that more needs to be done to engage parents.”

Absolutely! And that’s why all the school construction amounts to zero if nothing is done to address the real issue: Kids—and schools—succeed when parents are involved. My children are at Nathan Hale, where we have a lot of parental involvement, but we can still improve. Nathan Hale follows the Comer method, and parental involvement is an essential component of that model.

It’s a shame more parents aren’t involved. To be fair, many of them have jobs that prevent them from making it to most events. But all parents can, and should, be more involved at some level. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to make cupcakes for bake sales. For starters, how about making an effort to show up for report card conferences?

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on June 23, 2010  10:06am

A high level of parental involvement is not a pre-requisite to developing a successful school, nor is low parental involvement an excuse for a having a failing school. 

A high level of meaningful parental involvement develops over time, and can be viewed as a very positive outcome of building a successful school.

posted by: Threefifths on June 23, 2010  10:50am

Dirk Hightower (pictured), executive director of the Children’s Institute, shared the results. The district paid his Rochester, N.Y.-based group for $71,000 to execute the survey. Hightower said he has worked at the institute for 28 years, and has run surveys for “hundreds” of U.S. school districts. He framed the results in the context of his professional experience.

I like this guy’s Board of Directors.No Bankers or Corporate Wall Street Vampires!!!!!

http://www.childrensinstitute.net/about-us/board-of-directors

http://www.childrensinstitute.net/about-us/history-and-mission

How come the charter schools don’t do this.

posted by: Tom Burns on June 23, 2010  11:13pm

Thanks three-fifths—-cause you know non-profits aren’t really non-profits—-their leaders make a lot of money—-Now it seems childrens institute is a REAL non-profit whose mission is to benefit kids—-Achievement First and Amistad as well as KIPP—Green Dot and many more are there to fool the public sector while enriching themselves——
I beg the leaders of those schools to get a real job and work for free, for what they purportedly believe in——
I know what they believe in—MONEY—for themselves at the expense of our children——do you really think that Fix the schools is not benefitting from the this horrible charade as well as many other incompetent academics who have never had a real job like you or I. We work they steal—-what has any one of them ever accomplished—please ask them that? You will find out what phonies they truly are——I am sure that these thieves can’t even drive a bus—for if they did they would be worthy in my eyes——Tom

posted by: Amused on June 24, 2010  3:07am

While I am dissapointed in the parent participation levels, I was somewhat expecting them. What I wasn’t expecting is that every school doesn’t have 100% participation by their teachers. Where is that at? If you are not involved enough to be bothered filling out the form , I know of several recently laid-off Teachers who will be more than eager to take your place. I don’t want you teaching my kids.

posted by: Jimmy Lee Moore on June 24, 2010  5:46am

Here we go again!  “Everyone” (teachers, students and parents)was asked to do the survey at the same time, but who gets the results first?

The message that is sent to parents, teachers and students (yet again) says: You really don’t matter.  In a true effort of fairness, “ALL” should have received the results at the same time.  Damage Control to the rescue! as the fragrant scent of ordure fills the air…

posted by: Black Ivy League on June 24, 2010  8:19am

I dare not say it’s a matter of damage control. Principals were given their school level reports first for an OBVIOUS reason. They need time to sit with and digest the data. The numbers aren’t going to change and neither are the reports that will be made public on July 19th. As the principal is the leader of the school and much of the information will be a direct reflection on their leadership style, accomplishments, faults and in some cases mismanagement. I think the BOE is doing the right thing by allowing principals to reveiew their data first. Plus it will give them time to plan for improvement over the summer…

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on June 24, 2010  9:58am

Tom, 

Thanks for the shout-out! 

Judging by the recent article below I guess the folks at the Leo Nevas Fund don’t share your opinion of Achievement First.  Or maybe you think that Newman’s Own is one of those Not-for-Profits that doesn’t do anything for kids. 

Whatever your opinion, I’d be willing to bet that the parents of the children mentioned below believe that AF-Bridgeport has probably “accomplished” a lot for them.

————————————————————
BRIDGEPORT, June 16, 2010 – The far-reaching legacy of Leo Nevas, international human rights advocate, philanthropist, community leader and attorney, now includes an annual grant from Newman’s Own Foundation to support Achievement First Bridgeport Academy.

Mr. Nevas, a 71-year Westport resident and attorney, passed away in 2009 at age 97.

On June 11, family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Nevas presented Achievement First with the inaugural grant from the Leo Nevas Memorial Fund. The fund was established at the Fairfield County Community Foundation by Newman’s Own Foundation. Mr. Nevas helped his longtime friend Paul Newman launch Newman’s Own and the Hole in the Wall camps.

Mr. Nevas was committed to equal educational opportunities for all, and advised and supported Achievement First since its inception. The grant provides scholarships to 10 Achievement First students, and book purchases for the library.

The students include 5th graders Anthony Maldonado, Michael Martinez, Cyrus Medas; 6th graders Israel Martell, Erika Pettway, Anabell Pichardo-Mercado; and 7th graders Desiar Badgett, Monica Collazo, Terrell Saunders, and Nathaniel Torres.

“Leo Nevas worked tirelessly to promote philanthropy both at home and abroad,” said Bob Forrester, president of Newman’s Own Foundation. “He was particularly invested in educational opportunities for all students. Today we honor his legacy with the Leo Nevas Memorial Fund that recognizes extraordinary academic achievement and the spirit of excellence, which he embodied.”

Among Mr. Nevas’s numerous leadership positions, he served as Chairman of the Five Town Community Foundation, and remained a board member through mergers with other foundations to become the Fairfield County Community Foundation.

Secure, online gifts to the Leo Nevas Memorial Fund can be made at the Fairfield County Community Foundation website, http://www.fccfoundation.org

Paul Newman was committed to helping make the world a better place. To carry on his philanthropic legacy, Newman’s Own Foundation donates all net royalties and profits after taxes it receives from the sale of Newman’s Own products to charity. To date, Paul Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation have given over $295 million to thousands of charities around the world. http://www.newmansownfoundation.org

The Fairfield County Community Foundation promotes the growth of community and regional philanthropy to improve the quality of life throughout Fairfield County. Individuals, families, corporations and organizations can establish charitable funds or contribute to existing funds. The Foundation also provides philanthropic advisory services, and develops and leads initiatives to tackle critical community issues. It is in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ national standards for community foundations. The Foundation has awarded over $110 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond. http://www.fccfoundation.org

Founded in 2003 by the leaders of the nationally acclaimed Amistad Academy that opened in New Haven, Conn., in 1999, the mission of Achievement First is to close the achievement gap and deliver on the promise of equal educational opportunity for all children, regardless of race, economic status or zip code. With its college-preparatory focus, the Achievement First approach is attaining breakthrough academic gains throughout its network of 17 public charter schools. In the 2009-10 academic year, Achievement First is educating nearly 4,600 children in historically low-performing and underserved neighborhoods in Connecticut and New York. For more information about Achievement First, please visit http://www.achievementfirst.org.

posted by: Threefifths on June 24, 2010  12:40pm

FIX THE SCHOOLS on June 24, 2010 10:58am
Tom, 

Thanks for the shout-out! 

Judging by the recent article below I guess the folks at the Leo Nevas Fund don’t share your opinion of Achievement First.  Or maybe you think that Newman’s Own is one of those Not-for-Profits that doesn’t do anything for kids. 

Whatever your opinion, I’d be willing to bet that the parents of the children mentioned below believe that AF-Bridgeport has probably “accomplished” a lot for them.

The real reason why the rich give to the charities is the the tax write off benfits that they get.Take a look at walmart.

http://reclaimdemocracy.org/walmart/2005-06/charity.php

And take a look at this also.

http://www.usataxaid.com/ustaxaid-blog/diane-kennedy-ustaxaid-blog/10-secrets-the-super-rich-use-to-write-off-more-tax-deductions-than-you-do/

The Fairfield County Community Foundation promotes the growth of community and regional philanthropy to improve the quality of life throughout Fairfield County. Individuals, families, corporations and organizations can establish charitable funds or contribute to existing funds. The Foundation also provides philanthropic advisory services, and develops and leads initiatives to tackle critical community issues. It is in compliance with the Council on Foundations’ national standards for community foundations. The Foundation has awarded over $110 million in grants to nonprofits in Fairfield County and beyond.

Take a look at there board of directors and you will see were the money is coming from.The Board is load with Corporate Vampire Lawyers.I would love to see the hedge fund bank accounts.

http://www.fccfoundation.org/cm/about_us/Our_Leadership.html


Founded in 2003 by the leaders of the nationally acclaimed Amistad Academy that opened in New Haven, Conn., in 1999, the mission of Achievement First is to close the achievement gap and deliver on the promise of equal educational opportunity for all children, regardless of race, economic status or zip code. With its college-preparatory focus, the Achievement First approach is attaining breakthrough academic gains throughout its network of 17 public charter schools. In the 2009-10 academic year, Achievement First is educating nearly 4,600 children in historically low-performing and underserved neighborhoods in Connecticut and New York.

And look at there ties with King Bloomberg and king Joel Klein of new york.

http://www.achievementfirst.org/schools/new-york-schools/

And check out Achievement First Board of Directors. You can smell that corporate Mackeral.

http://www.achievementfirst.org/about-us/board/


As I said it is just a tax write off for the rich. And to line the pockets of these vampires.


http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/obama-and-charter-school-sugar-daddies

And look what happent to the public school system after Corporatist like Achievement First gets the money.


http://www.aolnews.com/brooklyn-school/article/metropolitan-corporate-academy-did-failing-brooklyn-school-get-failed-by-the-system/19522399

 

 


http://www.aolnews.com/brooklyn-school/article/metropolitan-corporate-academy-proponents-look-beyond-numbers-to-judge-schools-success/19522987?icid=main|htmlws-main-w|dl1|link3|http://www.aolnews.com/brooklyn-school/article/metropolitan-corporate-academy-proponents-look-beyond-numbers-to-judge-schools-success/19522987

posted by: Somewhere in CT (maybe New Haven, maybe not) on June 24, 2010  2:28pm

>What I wasn’t expecting is that every school doesn’t have 100% participation by their teachers.

Hooker-Worthington beat the entire district with 114% of all teachers participating. Yes. Over 100%!

posted by: Teacher Gal on June 25, 2010  7:33am

I filled out the survey but was surprisesd to hear from some colleagues that they were afraid to fill it out because their responses would be shared with the building principal. I reminded them that it was anonymous but some were adamant this was not the case and their comments would be used against them. So sad.

Unfortunately, this new reform movement has many good teachers afraid that they will loose their jobs based on something said that may not be agreed upon by the administration. As a result, they keep their mouths closed and heads down and generally transfer out of NH as soon as they can OR leave teaching permanently.

As a veteran teacher, I share with my young colleagues that it is ok to agree to disagree as long as it is done respectively. Be proactice and don’t become reactive is my philosophy and it works for me most of the time. But most of the time I hear that it is a waste of time to share their beliefs because no one listens and it is generally true.

That being said, i am curious about how this survey information is going to be used to improve the leadership of those schools where it is weak or abusive. We need leaders who are respectful of students, teachers and parents. Everyone should be expected to enter a building each day and be treated with respect…..RESPECT!!! Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere which i am sure the surveys have shown.

Gina Wells, well the fact that she is doing so well at John Daniels does not surprise me. She is a leader that leads by example. I had the pleasure of being her student teacher many years ago and she inspired me to achieve my goals in so many ways. She modeled, coached, and encouraged me every step of the way. I believe she is probably doing that with her own teachers and students now. I doubt she is a yeller and screamer and disciplines students/teachers in a respectful manner. Urban students, all students, need to have respect modeled for them.

posted by: lincolnlog on June 25, 2010  9:58am

Respect? We aren’t even said “good morning” to when we walk in the building. We are afraid to even make eye contact with some people. I know my principal is going to be pissed.

posted by: Teacher Gal on June 25, 2010  11:05am

Lincolnlog:  We must work in the same building, lol. It’s like walking into a lion’s den. I’ve learned to walk in, put on my invisible armor, avoid eye contact and get to my classroom asap!

Whoever thought that teachers/students/parents would have to work or participate in such environments. I really feel sorry for some of the parents that have no idea what they are walking into. And what are they modeling for students? Disrespect, impatience, indifference….. it’s so wrong on so many levels!

And our superintendent, he’s another piece of work. Smiling in front of the camera and media, but an ... behind the seens. Sorry Doc, but your rudeness is unacceptable and so is yours King John! You should be the key “modeler” but of course that is only for the cameras as we can see in this article.

posted by: Rose Jackson on June 26, 2010  2:49pm

I beleive it is not only the responsiblity of the Principals but more so the Teachers, this is a tough job and the right people are required to deal with today’s ever increasing demands. Developing curriculum will not solve the problem, addressing behavior will. The Principals are not able to do that and the Teachers are not trained in Behavior Management. Another concern are the parents who are not education about their owns child’s devleopment and all that they go through. One thing is certain something and someone has to step up. It take a village to address each individual component ( Teachers, Parents,then Students) just in that order…There need to be a clear well thought out plan…! And you can better believe that someone will lose…and at this point it is the students…Where are the ADULTS!

posted by: anon on June 28, 2010  12:48am

How can the survey be representative if only 3% participated at some schools? 

Also, if safety is cited by so many parents as the top issue and a reason why they won’t send their kids to certain schools, how come NHPS’s survey didn’t ask about safety around the school, only safety within it?

posted by: anon on July 12, 2010  2:19pm

it’s almost the 19th. i’ll have to remember to come back for the school-by-school breakdown

posted by: newhavenparent on July 19, 2010  3:10pm

It is the 19th. Where are the results?

posted by: anon on July 19, 2010  3:46pm

http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/uploads/Climate Survey Results.pdf

here they are, right on time.

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