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“Reform” Principals Check In

by Melissa Bailey | Mar 15, 2011 11:08 am

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

Posted to: Schools, Edgewood, The Hill, West River, School Reform

More kids are showing up to school at New Haven’s new charter experiment, though not all the adults are sticking around.

That was one result gleaned Monday as principals of four pilot schools at the center of New Haven’s school reform drive offered updates for their bosses.

Principals at Domus Academy, Edgewood Magnet School, John C. Daniels School and Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School issued five-minute progress reports at Monday’s school board meeting at 54 Meadow St.

The schools are among the first batch of seven schools that were graded last March as part of a nascent effort to close the city’s achievement gap and tackle its 27 percent dropout rate. Based largely on test scores, the seven schools were placed into three tiers. They were given more autonomy, allowed to extend staff time or were totally revamped at the start of this school year. The rest of the city’s 47 schools will follow suit in the next five years, with the next batch of 11 starting in the fall.

The pilot schools are now facing their first big test in the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs), statewide standardized exams that students started taking this month.

Before those high-stakes results come back, the principals Monday gave a more general overview of some programmatic changes they’re making this year at their pilot school. Each got special leeway to test out new rules and ideas to spark dramatic improvement.

Melissa Bailey Photo Craig Baker (pictured), the chief education officer at Domus, shared some early signs of progress as well as some challenges at the first-of-its-kind school.

Domus Academy is the city’s first charter experiment in the school reform drive. It was formed from the ashes of Urban Youth, a middle school that earned a failing grade and was dubbed a Tier III turnaround school. The district hired a private not-for-profit outfit called Domus, which runs two charter schools in Stamford, to take over management of the school with a new crew of unionized public school teachers who agreed to work extra hours.

The revamped school on Leeder Hill Road in Hamden serves about 45 kids in grades six to eight who failed in traditional school settings because of behavioral or social problems.

In its debut year, Domus Academy is relying heavily on energetic, rookie teachers to staff its high-need classrooms, where two-thirds of students fall into the special education category. The new school retained about 15-20 of the same students from Urban Youth. The rest were referred to Domus by the city school district. The school is based on a model Domus developed over 11 years at Trailblazer Academy, a Stamford middle school serving a similar population.

Baker announced a dramatic increase in attendance this year, as staff sought to instill a new culture at the school, with uniforms, nine-hour school days and extra social supports.

Average daily attendance year-to-date is 83 percent, compared to 50 percent last year, according to Baker.

Meanwhile, two classroom teachers, or 22 percent of the nine-person teaching staff, quit teaching mid-year. One administrator left the school as well.

Baker expanded on these developments in an interview after his presentation. He attributed the growth in attendance to two factors: First, the school is “building investment in the purpose of schooling.” Second, if a student doesn’t show up to school, “we will go get them.” When students miss the bus, the school dispatches a van to pick them up at home, he said.

For example, the school had one student who “never went to school” last year at Urban Youth, said Mike McGuire, Domus Academy’s principal. She was combative and got arrested last year, he said. This year, she came back to a school with a new set of rules, including a much longer school day. At first, she showed the same behavior, acting out and skipping school. But staff stayed on her case, picking her up at home, driving her to school, and dropping her off at the end of the day, according to McGuire.

“That doesn’t mean she’s the most pleasant person in the morning” after being dragged to school, McGuire said, but she has been attending class and learning. He said she has improved nearly two grade levels in literacy and math. She is now showing up four and a half days per week, and getting Bs and Cs in class, he said.

Overall, students came to Domus Academy in the fall lagging four grade levels behind in reading and three levels behind in math, according to Baker. He said in five months, the students have grown 1.1 grade levels in reading and 1.2 in math. Those stats are based on the STAR Enterprise tests, Baker said.

The Turnover

Students made the progress despite several changes in staff at the small school, which works hard to retain a strong sense of school culture, routine and structure for its kids.

Arnold Amore, a social studies teacher, resigned from the school on Nov. 22, just three months into the school year. Amore, a former lawyer, was a first-year teacher from Teach For America (TFA).

At the start of the school year, six of the nine classroom teachers at Domus were in their first year in the profession, including five from TFA. A seventh had one year’s teaching experience. The eighth and ninth were veterans.

One of the two veteran teachers, Rachel Sexton, a literacy instructor, resigned from the school on Dec. 31.

Baker said the two teachers left because the work is “very difficult.”

“The kids are challenging,” Baker said. “The kids are not used to success.”

Amore couldn’t be reached for comment. Sexton offered a very different version; see it in the comments section below.

Scott Emmerson-Pace, a longtime Domus employee who took on an administrative role at Domus Academy, also left the school mid-year. Domus Academy administrators are paid through a $807,200 annual contract Domus has with the district to run the school; their titles and salaries are not listed in the district’s new budget.

Emmerson-Pace took a job with the Child Guidance Center of Stamford.

Domus found a replacement for him, and found another first-year teacher to take Amore’s place as the school’s social studies teacher. The school has interviewed about a dozen candidates for Sexton’s literacy instruction job but has not yet found a match, Baker said.

McGuire said the change in staff brought “certain challenges” to the school’s inaugural year, but “the kids haven’t suffered.”

Other staff, including Richard Cheng, stepped in to fill the gaps. A 2008 college grad, Cheng became Domus Academy’s director of curriculum after completing two years of teaching through TFA.

Click on the play arrow at the top of this story to watch Cheng step in to help out a rookie teacher struggling with a class at the beginning of the school year.

Domus staff said the school has had eight out-of-school suspensions this year. It has seen a significant drop in the number of kids who have to be pulled out of the classroom to cool down in the “problem-solving” room.

Baker said despite signs of progress, the school needs to “improve school culture by keeping expectations high and helping students consistently meet those behavioral and academic expectations on a daily basis.”

“We’re not satisfied,” he said. “We’re further ahead than we thought we could be” this year, but “we’re not going to rest” until kids meet those expectations.

Art, Lunch & Study Skills

Over at the Barnard magnet school, students are reporting stronger bonds with adults, according to Principal Mike Crocco. On a student survey last year, 17 percent of students at the school said they did not have an adult in the school whom they trust.

After identifying that weakness, Crocco made a push this year to get teachers to establish better relationships with kids. One tactic was to have teachers eat lunch with their students. (Click on the play arrow to watch a art teacher Reginald Augustine in action in the cafeteria.)

That change has made a difference, according to Crocco: On a recent internal survey, 95 percent of students were able to name an adult in the building whom they trust, he said.

Barnard was dubbed a Tier III improvement school, meaning it scored in the bottom rung of student performance, but was not totally overhauled. The school kept its principal and most of its staff. It made more modest changes than the two turnaround schools: For example, staff now have a longer workday, but students don’t.

Barnard has 35 classroom teachers serving 580 students in grades pre-K to 8. Because of a new teacher evaluation system, those teachers are now getting a lot more support and oversight, Crocco reported. Monthly classroom visits by school leadership staff has tripled from 30 to 90 visits per month, he said.

On an internal survey, 95 percent of teachers said they find valuable a new setup where they collaborate with teachers in other grade levels in so-called “vertical teams,” said Crocco (at left in photo).

At John C. Daniels, a bilingual school in the Hill, 100 kids attended a new summer school, which got high marks from parents, reported Principal Gina Wells. After Daniels was dubbed a middle-ground Tier II school, Wells added learning time for some students and made some curricular changes . She said the school is providing more small-group instruction in math and reading with new co-teachers and math interventionists. The school also added a mandatory after-school study skills program for seventh and eighth graders to prepare them for high school. All of the eighth graders applied to magnet schools, she reported. Now, she said, the school is counseling those whose names weren’t drawn in the magnet lottery.

Over at Edgewood, a nearly 100-year-old school in Westville, Principal Bonnie Pachesa reported some benefits of having greater autonomy this year, after her top-performing school was placed in Tier I. When her school won that distinction, Pachesa said she’d use make use of her new freedom to do less teaching to a test.

Pachesa used the opportunity to expand an arts enrichment program for grades K to 2. The Visual Literacy program, run in conjunction with Yale’s Center For British Art Center, uses art get kids writing and reading. The program aims to activate kids’ senses, teach them to think critically, and make learning more fun. Pachesa said she doesn’t have a way to measure the program’s effectiveness yet; Yale is working with the school to develop a measurement tool.

Sounds Good, Now Hit The Targets

After hearing from the principals, schools Superintendent Reggie Mayo said he hopes the changes will be reflected in better scores on the reform effort’s most important measurement—the Connecticut Mastery Test. The state will release those scores this summer.

“I don’t think you’ll see the outcomes until CMTs come out,” he said.

Board member Alex Johnston, who’s also the CEO of the education watchdog group ConnCAN, echoed that emphasis. He asked the principals if they think they’re on track with the objectives the board has laid out.

The district aims to close the achievement gap between New Haven kids and their statewide peers on standardized tests by 2015. That’s a daunting task: New Haven now lags between 25 and 35 points behind the state average on the CMTs, depending on the grade level and subject. To close the gap, the district has set goals for each school, each grade level and each subject.

“If you all don’t hit those targets, then the district doesn’t hit the targets,” and students are left behind, Johnston warned.

“Your success is central to the school district,” added Mayor John DeStefano, who appoints the school board and has made school reform the main emphasis of his final years as mayor.

He said he wanted to “thank and acknowledge” the principals for their hard work—“and for the success you’re going to deliver to the district.”

“We know where you live,” he added in a tongue-in-cheek, ominous tone, eliciting laughter from the four principals standing before him.

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posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 15, 2011  11:18am

This is TOUGH work!

Congratulations to the students, school leaders, and teachers who stick it out. 

Its nice to see a district really wrestling with how to reach kids who have been left behind.

posted by: streever on March 15, 2011  1:13pm

Man, this sounds great.

I’m really glad to see accountability and reporting used in the school system—and see that it isn’t tied directly to grades.

There is a lot of pressure toward a more merit-based school system, and I think that is a great direction to go in. I am concerned, however, that test scores will become the metric, when really we should be looking at a much more holistic set of data. It appears that these principals have the right ideas (looking at student engagement, parental engagement, job fulfillment amongst teachers and administrators, measured communication increases between teacher/administrator/parent/children), but I suspect that the Superintendent does not value these ideas at the same level. To some degree, that is not only expectable but even acceptable: however, it really should be driven into his mind (and everyone else’s) that standardized test results are not the holy grail of data points.

Furthermore, teachers are NOT well-paid. While I definitely think there is a lot of room for improvement in our school systems, I’d caution anyone on expecting it to be entirely teacher-driven. At the end of the day, we can’t put more on their backs than we pay them for, and we should keep that in our minds.

Teacher salary has never been a priority in our society. We much prefer to lavishly treat bankers and “idea” people who neither execute nor create.

If we are going to demand more accountability and results from our teachers, we should also think that on the flip side, our teachers may start demanding greater respect and compensation for the increased demands.

I think there is an overall positive shift, and I will chalk it up to some of the hardest working & most talented minds at City Hall and the school system. Alex Johnston in particular should be praised for his role, as should Emily Byrne for hers. The acquisition of Mr. Harries seems like an excellent step as well. I just hope that these dynamic thinkers are allowed to stay the course they have settled on, and not held back in their work, but instead encouraged to set more standards and find more metrics to excel in than simple SAT scores. I hope that our teachers are treated more like employees and less like number producers—with principals meeting with them routinely and counseling them on job performance, taking a personal interest in their students, and helping fill the gaps.

posted by: Threefifths on March 15, 2011  1:43pm

Arnold Amore, a social studies teacher, resigned from the school on Nov. 22, just three months into the school year. Amore, a former lawyer, was a first-year teacher from Teach For America (TFA).

At the start of the school year, six of the nine classroom teachers at Domus were in their first year in the profession, including five from TFA. A seventh had one year’s teaching experience. The eighth and ninth were veterans.

One of the two veteran teachers, Rachel Sexton, a literacy instructor, resigned from the school on Dec. 31. She declined comment on her departure; Amore couldn’t be reached.

Baker said the two teachers left because the work is “very difficult.”

Difficult.Sounds like more three card monte to me.It is a fact that most of Teacher for America has a high turn over rate.


http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ngt/Donaldson.TFA.AERA.pdf


Also Check out this clip from 60 minutes.


Charter school’s $125K experiment
March 13, 2011 5:00 PM

Sounds like domus.


http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7359538n&tag=related;photovideo


I also wonder how many students are being counsel out and send back to the public school.Can the New haven Independent ask this question to Domus.

posted by: Threefifths on March 15, 2011  1:53pm

Domus staff said the school has had eight out-of-school suspensions this year. It has seen a significant drop in the number of kids who have to be pulled out of the classroom to cool down in the “problem-solving” room.

A problem-solving room.This sound like what they did to Teachers in New York and that was put them in the Rubber Room.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fc8_nkHq3do&feature=related

posted by: streever on March 15, 2011  2:44pm

3/5th,
I think you misread the story—the administrators are proud that LESS kids are going to the problem-solving room, because overall behavior has improved. Obviously, an increase of kids going to the problem-solving room would be bad—we all agree on that—and it seems like the school thinks so too.

I think that is an important metric for success in a school system. Again, I’d caution anyone before they fire a teach based on that single data point, but there are institutional changes which can be affected which will improve student behavior, and I think that should be part of the holistic consideration of school performance.

posted by: New haven teacher on March 15, 2011  3:19pm

Having worked quite closely with Rachel Sexton for the last 10 years…
one thing that I can attest to is this: SHE DOES NOT shy away from “difficult work”. She is also quite experienced working with students who are not “used to being successful”. I won’t speak on why she left Domus, but I will say mr. Baker’s comment couldn’t be farther from the truth. No one works harder than Rachel.

posted by: Threefifths on March 15, 2011  3:51pm

posted by: streever on March 15, 2011 2:44pm
3/5th,
I think you misread the story—the administrators are proud that LESS kids are going to the problem-solving room, because overall behavior has improved. Obviously, an increase of kids going to the problem-solving room would be bad—we all agree on that—and it seems like the school thinks so too.

No I didn’t misread a thing.This is just more of the corporate control of the public school system for profit.Did you know that in some states they are sponsoring H1B visa teachers from other countriesto work in the charter schools.


http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2010/07/gulen-schools-and-their-booming-h1b.html

Ask some of your teacher friends about domus and see what they tell you.I ask some of my teacher friends and they told me watch out for the trun over rate.Also you should ask how many students are sent back to the public school.But I blame the crooked two party system for this.


http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/obama-celebrates-“common-ground”-gop-education

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on March 15, 2011  4:34pm

I have to second the comment made by ‘New Haven teacher’, Ms. Sexton was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had and she is very dedicated to what she does.

Streever brings up an interesting point about teacher compensation in relation to the increased responsibilities, burdens, pressure, and work hours that are being and will be introduced as a result of school reform efforts.
I question whether this is a road we even want to go down. Where the money will come from to pay for much deserved higher salaries is a serious concern. If additional funding is not acquired for higher salaries, then we run into an issue of morality in greatly increasing the work teachers do and the pressure they feel without adequate compensation we it becomes apparent that the tax payers are squeezed dry.
Also, I have a tough time determining whether or not the teachers I had in NHPS that I considered to be “bad”, where actually bad because they were truly awful teachers or if I saw them as ineffective because I, along with other students, made their jobs (and probably lives) difficult by talking back, acting out, and other bad behavior (which I shamefully did for several years in middle school and high school). It seemed like the years I liked my teachers the most were the years that I had made decisions independent of the school environment to conduct myself in more congenial ways.
There are certainly bad teachers, but I think we sometimes overstate their perceived numbers, and we misrepresent the causes behind some of the ineffective teaching.
At some point it seems that we are going to have to seriously tackle the issue of job scarcity for unskilled, underpopulated populations in New Haven (and throughout the country). The inaccessibility to jobs for New Haven’s underclass and working class populations is the primary cause for people being on State aid, needing Section 8 rent vouchers, food stamps, and welfare because they either can’t qualify for a job, can’t get to the job they qualify for, or are impoverishing themselves with transportation costs to get to their job. It is also the primary cause of crime, the main reason why so many children grow up socially ill-adjusted and are unable to perform well in school, the main cause of New Haven’s revenue problems and our country’s productivity levels, and it is behind almost all the other problems in society as well.
Investing in this country’s unskilled and under-education populations with jobs for their skill level that are easily accessibly to them would have the combined benefits of getting people off public assistance, getting rid of the effects of having a large unemployed concentrated poor urban population, making cities attractive for the middle class, and increasing productivity in the economy by providing goods for the masses. Additionally, neighborhoods would once again become places that foster nurturing childhood development and prepare students for success in school even before they enter the building.
Teachers that choose to go the extra mile and volunteer extra time and effort are great, but we can’t expect every teacher to do this and we can’t expect the tax payers to fund this expensive efforts for the time it takes to close the achievement gap. I also question whether closing the achievement gap is even possible to do through the school system when such odds are stacked against so many children in their neighborhoods and homes.

posted by: solsbury on March 15, 2011  5:15pm

Oh DOMUS….$800,000 for 45 students… PLUS what the district pays for buses, paper, food, supplies, custodial, heat, light, testing, central office, teacher salaries, etc.. (at least another $450,000).. that’s nearly $30K per student. I think any school would be expected to grow if they had those funds…... Can we all have that much?

posted by: Anon on March 15, 2011  7:32pm

Final years as mayor…..what?

posted by: Rachel Sexton on March 15, 2011  8:58pm

While I respect Craig Baker as a professional and a colleague, his characterization of my reason for leaving Domus is inaccurate.  As I made clear to him in our exit interview and emphasized in conversations with other members of the Domus organization, my main reason for leaving was to pursue a career opportunity that arose during the fall.  Despite the timing, I couldn’t pass up the chance to grow in an entirely new direction professionally. 

Throughout my twenty-one years of teaching, I repeatedly sought opportunities to work with the most reluctant and at-risk learners, despite the challenges and difficulties of such work, because I love those students’ energy, honesty, and ability to make me a better teacher.  The students at Domus were no different and were not among my reasons for leaving. The emails I received from the executive director of Domus praising my hard work and dedication to the students attests to that. In fact, saying goodbye to the kids was the most difficult part of leaving, mitigated only by the hope that my current work will make all schools a more welcoming and supportive place for everyone, particularly such students as those at Domus Academy.

posted by: Beth on March 15, 2011  9:30pm

Oh goodie, an opportunity to bash TFA! Seriously—that’s one teacher who left a brand-new school (which, by the way, is reportedly taking the hardest kids—students who’ve been held to NO behavioral standards and have been allowed to do whatever they want prior to this school). It’s tough changing or building culture in any organization, and to suddenly expect kids to sit down and learn? Gimme a break. Of course it will be tough. Arnie was probably a nice guy who didn’t realize what he was getting into. My question is how many TFA teachers has Domus KEPT? If you want to slam them for one leaving, you should give them credit for keeping however many they’ve kept.

posted by: Threefifths on March 16, 2011  9:22am

posted by: Beth on March 15, 2011 9:30pm

My question is how many TFA teachers has Domus KEPT? If you want to slam them for one leaving, you should give them credit for keeping however many they’ve kept.

This is a good question.But I also ask this question.How many parents are keeping up there end of the contract that they signed and how many students have they send back to the public
school and for what reason did they send them back.Because I hear fron teacher friends of mine that there are being send back.


posted by: solsbury on March 15, 2011 5:15pm

Oh DOMUS….$800,000 for 45 students… PLUS what the district pays for buses, paper, food, supplies, custodial, heat, light, testing, central office, teacher salaries, etc.. (at least another $450,000).. that’s nearly $30K per student. I think any school would be expected to grow if they had those funds…... Can we all have that much

I agree with you.In fact how come they did not keep the urban youth building on dixwell ave?

posted by: Craig Baker, Ch Ed Officer, Domus on March 16, 2011  9:45am

I oversee Domus’ three schools in Stamford and New Haven. Former Domus colleague Rachel Sexton reached out to me last night after reading my comments in this article; unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to respond until 10pm last night given a work function but want to elaborate on what I said. I was asked by the reporter how I could explain the turnover in staff. I replied it is difficult work, a broad and generalized response given without having individual people in mind. I was referencing the all-consuming nature of starting a first-year school with new students and new expectations for those students. It was in no way a negative characterization of Rachel’s personal work ethic or her desire to work with students who struggle. I have made it clear to Rachel in past conversations that I believe her work ethic is beyond reproach. I feel badly my comments came across this way as I have great respect for her.

posted by: Beth on March 16, 2011  11:44am

@Threefifths: I don’t hear that (kids returning to other district schools) from the teachers *I* know—Melissa Bailey should ask that question and get the facts instead of us playing “he said, she said.” As for how much money Domus Academy gets from the district and why they are in a different building, aren’t those questions for the district? And quite frankly, with test results showing that some of those kids came in reading at pre-K and Kindergarten levels, I’m not surprised they’re having to spend more money to get them on grade level. We taxpayers wouldn’t have to if we did the job right the other six, seven, or eight years! Why do we keep promoting kids who are so far behind? How can you let a kid get to sixth grade if he reads at a pre-K level???? It’s astounding.

posted by: Threefifths on March 16, 2011  5:20pm

posted by: Beth on March 16, 2011 11:44am

@Threefifths: I don’t hear that (kids returning to other district schools) from the teachers *I* know—Melissa Bailey should ask that question and get the facts instead of us playing “he said, she said

Well that would be good if Melissa Bailey could
find out.But now that Mr. Craig Baker, Ch Ed Officer of Domus is reading these post,I will ask him the question.Mr.baker how many students
are send back to the public school system and how many parents are living up to there end of the contract that they would become more involved with there children’s school work.

As for how much money Domus Academy gets from the district and why they are in a different building, aren’t those questions for the district?

As a taxpayer I am the district,So We as taxpayers have the right to ask were are dollars are going.As far as the building,read the statement from Domus director Mike Duggan.

From the start, Domus officials were unenthused about the building they were set to inherit (pictured), a dilapidated concrete bunker at 580 Dixwell Ave. The school, built in 1968, is dark inside and has few windows. As Mayor John DeStefano’s carried out a massive, $1.5 billion school rebuilding initiative, Urban Youth was one of the few not to be rebuilt.

Domus director Mike Duggan said when he first saw the building, his reaction was, “You’re kidding me, right.Read the whole story.

http://newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/domus_gets_new_domus/

My question to you is why should they get a building,Are they paying rent on the building that they are using now.How come other public schools who have buildings that are dilapidated
have to use them.

And quite frankly, with test results showing that some of those kids came in reading at pre-K and Kindergarten levels, I’m not surprised they’re having to spend more money to get them on grade level. We taxpayers wouldn’t have to if we did the job right the other six, seven, or eight years!

They get to pick and choose who they want.Public school does not.Also I have heard that when they are send back to the public schools they are far behind even more.

Also look at Mr.Baker statement when the reporter ask him how could explain the turnover in staff and he replied it is difficult work, a broad and generalized response given without having individual people in mind. I was referencing the all-consuming nature of starting a first-year school with new students and new expectations for those students.Give me a break.Public school teachers deal with new students every day and don’t have a high turnover rate.He selling snake-oil.These schools are nothing more then for profit.And if you don’t think so,take a look at who is in this profit ponzi scheme.

http://www.indypendent.org/2010/01/29/faces-of-school-reform/

 

P.S.For the $800,000 paid to Domus.They could bring back the Dr. James Comer School Development Program that is being still used around this coutry and some parts of the world.


http://childstudycenter.yale.edu/comer/index.aspx

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 16, 2011  5:35pm

3/5,  Is the crooked two-party system responsible for your erroneous assumptions?

posted by: Beth on March 16, 2011  5:46pm

threefifths said “As a taxpayer I am the district,So We as taxpayers have the right to ask were are dollars are going”—dude, i never said you didn’t have that right. ... I’m just suggesting you actually *ask* the district instead of complaining here in the comments section. And you hear “they are far behind even more” when they go back. More he said, she said—show me the data. “Pick and choose who they want”? Let’s get that confirmed too. And as for your link to the big-money ed reformers, I called the Domus fundraising department. Not ONE of those groups is connected to or gives money to Domus (except for the federal government’s free and reduced lunch program). Sure, there are for=profit school operators. Domus has their 501 c 3—I looked it up. So seems to me you’re trying pretty hard to take them down and spread what I hope is just misinformation ...

posted by: Threefifths on March 17, 2011  9:27am

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 16, 2011 5:35pm

3/5,  Is the crooked two-party system responsible for your erroneous assumptions?

The two party system which is control by the corporate plutocracy is responsible. In fact they go hand and hand.


Obama Celebrates “Common Ground” with GOP on Education
Tue, 03/08/2011 - 17:59 — Glen Ford


http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/obama-celebrates-“common-ground”-gop-education


posted by: Beth on March 16, 2011 5:46pm

threefifths said “As a taxpayer I am the district,So We as taxpayers have the right to ask were are dollars are going”—dude, i never said you didn’t have that right. ... I’m just suggesting you actually *ask* the district instead of complaining here in the comments section

And are you not complaining here in the comments section about what I am writng about domus.You must be a teacher there?How do you know that I have not ask the district.Like I said Mr.Baker can give us the answer on how many students have been sent back to the public school.

And you hear “they are far behind even more” when they go back. More he said, she said—show me the data. “Pick and choose who they want”? Let’s get that confirmed too.

How about you calling the district for the data
to prove me wrong.Again can you disprove what I said.

So seems to me you’re trying pretty hard to take them down and spread what I hope is just misinformation

They are going to take themselves down.I bet you more teachers will be jumping the ship.And wait for the Connecticut Mastery Tests scoresto come in.

posted by: newnewhaven on March 17, 2011  9:38am

Next Season on Survivor!!

Have you heard about the next planned “Survivor” show?

Three businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped in an public school classroom for 1 school year.  Each business person will be provided with a copy of his/her school district’s curriculum, and a class of 20-25 students.

Each class will have a minimum of five learning-disabled children, three with A.D.H.D., one gifted child, and two who speak limited English. Three students will be labeled with severe behavior problems.


Each business person must complete lesson plans at least 3 days in advance, with annotations for curriculum objectives and modify, organize, or create their materials accordingly. They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, document benchmarks, communicate with parents, and arrange parent conferences. They must also stand in their doorway between class changes to monitor the hallways.

In addition, they will complete fire drills, tornado drills, and [Code Red] drills for shooting attacks each month.

They must attend workshops, faculty meetings, and attend curriculum development meetings. They must also tutor students who are behind and strive to get their 2 non-English speaking children proficient enough to take the CMT tests.  If they are sick or having a bad day they must not let it show.

Each day they must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment to motivate students at all times.  If all students do not wish to cooperate, work, or learn, the teacher will be held responsible.

The business people will only have access to the public golf course on the weekends, but with their new salary, they will not be able to afford it.  There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch, and lunch will be limited to thirty minutes, which is not counted as part of their work day.  The business people will be permitted to use a student restroom, as long as another survival candidate can supervise their class.

If the copier is operable, they may make copies of necessary materials before, or after, school. However, they cannot surpass their monthly limit of copies.  The business people must continually advance their education, at their expense, and on their own time.

The winner of this Season of Survivor will be allowed to return to their job.

posted by: Threefifths on March 17, 2011  9:41am

posted by: Beth on March 16, 2011 5:46pm

And as for your link to the big-money ed reformers, I called the Domus fundraising department. Not ONE of those groups is connected to or gives money to Domus.

How about this group. Did you look at there Board of Directors.Load with corporate vampires like GE,Pitney Bowes and they even have Bank of America,Which is now Wells Fargo.In fact here is there Board of Directors list.


http://www.domuskids.org/boardofdirectors.html

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 17, 2011  11:00am

newnewhaven,

Not even in your fantasy could your show be produced.

Why? Because business people without a degree in teaching aren’t “certified”.  Despite the efforts and desires of dozens of professionals from different walks of life and with deep skill sets, including scientists, mathematicians, physicians, and lawyers, our state law prohibits them from moving into a classroom before they must go back to “education school” and take a series of mind-numbing basic course requirements.  I guess that’s one way to narrow the field on a “Survivor” show.

There is a bill pending right now before the state legislature which would remove some of the craziest barriers to bringing new highly effective teachers to Connecticut’s classrooms. 

Makes sense to attract the best and the brightest to our toughest classes, right? Well, not to the largest teacher union in the state which at this very moment is attempting to preserve a law on the books that would effectively require a Harvard physics professor, before entering a Connecticut public school class room, to have to go back to take a basic physics course that he or she may have once taught!

NewNew- when teachers, through their union monopoly, stop attempting to block sensible reforms to a dysfunctional system, you might see that business people, or all people in general lower the volume of criticizing. 

Oh, and in public schools, there would be no Survivor series.  The unions and the politicians who do their bidding don’t think its fair for anyone to actually get voted off the island.

posted by: to FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 17, 2011  11:23am

There is more to teaching than subjects and scores, especially in low-income, high-crime areas, where students have extreme social and emotional needs.

While I agree that not all courses are worthwhile, nor do the vast number of state tests teaching candidates are required to pass, many of the education courses are very relevant.

As for your unions comment:  ...  And the fact in New Haven is, the NHFT has worked closely with NHPS to develop a reform plan that closxely scrutinizes teachers and principals.  (Unfortunately, it fails to hold the honchos at central office or parents accountable—but those are initiatives for another day, I suppose.)

posted by: Beth on March 17, 2011  10:31pm

threefifths: “And are you not complaining here in the comments section about what I am writng about domus.You must be a teacher there?How do you know that I have not ask the district.Like I said Mr.Baker can give us the answer on how many students have been sent back to the public school.” “How about you calling the district for the data to prove me wrong.Again can you disprove what I said.”—-
If you are accusing them of running a terrible school, it’s YOUR job, not my job, to back that up. You just want to dump on them and have us take your rants at face value. Lame. You must take us for fools. I guess shame on me for even bothering to engage with you. And no, I’m not a teacher there. I do not have the skill or desire to teach but am happy others have both.

When you’re ready to bring facts to this debate, let me know. I welcome a discussion on the school’s validity based on real results, not innuendo.

posted by: Threefifths on March 18, 2011  11:51am

posted by: Beth on March 17, 2011 10:31pm

If you are accusing them of running a terrible school, it’s YOUR job, not my job, to back that up. You just want to dump on them and have us take your rants at face value. Lame. You must take us for fools. I guess shame on me for even bothering to engage with you. And no, I’m not a teacher there. I do not have the skill or desire to teach but am happy others have both.

... How do you know I have not ask them for the data.You want some facts.Check this out.

Charter schools see higher teacher turnover across the nation.


http://takingnote.tcf.org/2010/11/why-do-charter-schools-have-high-teacher-turnover.html


http://gothamschools.org/2010/07/08/charter-schools-see-higher-teacher-turnover-across-the-nation/

Charter Schools Often Worse Than Public Schools - Newsweek

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/06/13/understanding-charter-schools.htm

Enjoy.Like I said doums will fail,Just like the rest of this so call school reform.

posted by: Tom Burns on March 19, 2011  1:51am

Hello Fix,
I will sponsor the show and speak out for capable people with NO degree to become teachers(heck Doctor’s sshouldn’tave to earn a degree in their specialty either)———No barriers to teaching are erected by our union(I can’t speak for all unions though) I would gladly speak out against any idiotic legislation that would hinder us from hiring great teachers from any background(here I agree with you to a point)Our progressive union is the beacon for many more to follow—its happening now all over the country—We will continue to show them how it is done—-

The “Survivor” show starts now—and all you purported superstars are welcome to live in our shoes and show us how it is done—-This should be a very interesting “Survivor” series—I can’t wait to watch——-Tom

posted by: parentforreadingsuccess on March 19, 2011  11:32am

I have been very interested to read all of your comments and believe that your best efforts would be better directed at the Teaching Institutions (aside from Teach for America) that many of our teachers graduate from.  Studies have shown that most of our state’s institutions are NOT providing a high quality education to it’s teaching students and therefore what we are seeing in our public education system is the trickle-down effect of low academic expectations for our students.  If the student can’t learn then it must be the student’s fault or maybe the parents, right?  Studies have shown that 95% of ALL children can be taught to read, but that most of our teachers are completely unaware of the best teaching practices in order to achieve this rate.  They want to everyone to believe that the State average of 60% reading efficiency is the best that they can do.  Until we begin holding the teaching colleges responsible for the product that they put out-they will NEVER redesign their teaching curriculum to include what EXPERTS in the field of reading instruction already know-Teaching Fake-it-Til-you-Make-It reading is failing 40% of our students!  How ‘bout we teach ALL students how to really read by going back to Phonics and Phonemic awareness instruction!

posted by: Threefifths on March 20, 2011  1:10pm

posted by: parentforreadingsuccess on March 19, 2011 11:32am

It reading is failing 40% of our students!  How ‘bout we teach ALL students how to really read by going back to Phonics and Phonemic awareness instruction!

How about going back to this system.

http://www.marvacollins.com/

posted by: Teach for REAL Reform on March 20, 2011  1:18pm

Threefifths and other progressives,

Connecticut Teachers and Families for Progressive (REAL!) Education Reform

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=163960816963895

posted by: parentforreadingsucess on March 20, 2011  2:20pm

How about going back to this system.

http://www.marvacollins.com/


I would have no problem with that approach AFTER you taught 95% of the K-3rd grade children how to actually read at the ‘Word level” utilizing an approach based in language.  You would no sooner take a book in Spanish and place it in front of an English speaking child to teach them to read!  This is why the Fake-it-til-you-make-it approach fails so many of our children.  You’re very much putting the cart before the horse with the approach that you referenced.

posted by: New Haven Teacher on March 20, 2011  3:46pm

to parentforreadingsuccess: who said “They want to everyone to believe that the State average of 60% reading efficiency is the best that they can do.”

Please don’t generalize about reading teachers..there are plenty of us who (because of- or in spite of our teacher prep institutions)do NOT believe that state average is the best we can do for the reading effeciency of our students. Do teacher-prep programs need improvement? Sure, I’m with you on that. But until you’ve taught struggling readers—please don’t make blanket statements (that presume to know what those of us who do teach them)think or feel regarding literacy for ALL students. Many of us have very high learning expectations for all students.

posted by: Threefifths on March 20, 2011  5:50pm

posted by: parentforreadingsucess on March 20, 2011 2:20pm

This is why the Fake-it-til-you-make-it approach fails so many of our children.  You’re very much putting the cart before the horse with the approach that you referenced.

You have to understand who are the people who are pushing the Fake-it-til-you-make-it approach and that is the people who are trying to sell this school reform pozi scheme to advances the corporatization of The American Public School system.Look at how much domus is geting paid to run this school.If it fails,They still walk away with a good profit.

posted by: Threefifths on March 20, 2011  10:47pm

Like I said.This school reform will put these students way behind.

Obama’s War on Schools
The No Child Left Behind Act has been deadly to public education. So why has the president embraced it?

by Diane RavitchMarch 20, 2011


http://www.newsweek.com/2011/03/20/obama-s-war-on-schools.html

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on March 21, 2011  11:09am

Tom,

The difference between teachers and doctors is that as a prospective patient you can choose between hundreds of doctors, small practices, and a variety of hospitals. The field is very competitive amongst providers.  But in the edu-world, prospective students MUST all enter New Haven Public Schools controlled by the BOE.  All other alternatives or options need to be marginalized or snuffed out.

Your statewide union at this very moment is trying to defend a certification law that makes no sense for kids.  There are a variety of ways to promote quality instruction in schools.  Certification is not one of them. This is yet another thinly veiled attempt to harm the operations of public charter schools like AF which draw heavily from a talent pool consisting of TFAers, alternative route instructors, and school leaders with untraditional education resumes. 

Why not leave high performing public schools alone to hire whoever they want as long as they continue to perform? Why force a certification process on a school which has demonstrated that it knows how to educate children according to state standards?  Why do the two teacher unions support mindless bureaucratic compliance over the very real success of outstanding teachers and their very fortunate students?

Tom, if you are serious about your offer to publicly stand up to the statewide leaders of the AFT-CT and the CEA on this issue, then let’s get together.

posted by: parentforreadingsuccess on March 21, 2011  4:14pm

Many of us have very high learning expectations for all students.

I apologize for offending.  It would never be my intention to insult any teacher who actually understands how to teach quality reading instruction.  I truely have the utmost respect for any teacher who would take it upon themselves to recognize the abysmal reading situation and obtain the skills needed to make a difference.  Don’t forget most teachers instructing in reading are general education teachers, not even reading teachers, such as yourself!  You ask me not to generalize and you are correct, however, if we are ever going to attain the 95% reading proficiency rate, I would argue that 100% of all teachers must receive a proper education with regard to effective literacy instruction, especially k-3 and even into 6th grade!  In our district we have some of the most well-meaning teachers in with very high expectations for the performance of our children, yet they have no idea as to how to teach quality reading instruction, in fact, I came to know more than they did!  We actually agree on a few points such as the role of teacher preparation colleges and the necessity to adopt teacher evaluation processes so that teachers can be identified and educated about what they do not know about quality reading instruction.  You are correct-I have never taught a struggling reader—I lived with one—and it was one of the most painful experiences of both of our lives!  Now I realize that it was all so unnecessary!  Most other parent do not-they blindly trust!  So i ask you—if you in your profession know that not ALL others in your profession are being trained with the most effective reading instruction, and you care about children, what are YOU doing for the Forgotten Forty who did not benefit from YOUR instruction?  Surely you could advise your teaching institutions that you will not donate as an Alumni until they rectify this injustice to these children and bring actual Reading experts in to revamp their curriculum.  Have you ever stopped to think about where the ‘Forgotten Forty’ end up?  More than likely it’s your taxpayer dollars helping to pick up the tab!
Just a thought!  Thanks for being so passionate!

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