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New Evals Link Teacher, Student Performance

by Thomas MacMillan | Apr 27, 2010 11:02 am

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

Posted to: Schools, School Reform

Under a new evaluation system unveiled Monday, city teachers would be graded based on their students’ progress—but not just on their test scores.

Assistant Superintendent Garth Harries (pictured above) announced recommendations for the new evaluations at the Board of Education Monday evening. Under the proposal, New Haven’s 1,800 public school teachers would be ranked according to their instructional practices, their professional values, and how well their students do. That includes how well students perform on standardized tests, but it also includes whether or not students reach goals decided upon by teachers and principals at the beginning of the school year.

The recommendations were put together by a committee of teachers, administrators and parents over the past six months. The board reviewed them Monday but did not take a vote. A vote is expected at the board’s next meeting on May 10, when a system for evaluating principals will be presented.

The new evaluations are part of New Haven’s nationally recognized school reform drive. Last fall, New Haven received acclaim for a landmark contract with the teachers’ union. The contract paved the way for a new evaluation system—one that grades teachers on how their students perform.

New Haven will be among the first wave of districts in the country to incorporate student performance into teacher evaluations. It’s the kind of evaluation that has been encouraged by President Obama’s Race To The Top education initiative.

The new evaluation system would likely lead a few teachers to lose their jobs, but would also give them more resources for improvement and opportunities for leadership, said teachers union president Dave Cicarella. A survey that came out in January showed that city teachers welcome the change: They want to see truly bad teachers fired, not protected.

In past years, the idea of using student performance to evaluate teachers has been completely off the negotiating table for teachers, said union President Cicarella (pictured). What makes this system palatable for teachers is that it considers more than just test scores, Cicarella said.

On Monday evening, with the help of a PowerPoint presentation, Harries laid out the details of the proposed evaluation system, scheduled to go into effect in September.

It will use a scale from one—“Needs Improvement”—to five—“Exemplary.” Teachers will receive a preliminary score by Nov. 1. If teachers at level one have not improved by the end of the year, they will likely be fired, though that’s not an automatic outcome. Teachers at level two—“Developing”—will have to make it to level three—“Effective”—within two years or they too will face termination. Teacher scores will not be available to the public.

There will be three components to teacher scoring. Two of those, “instructional practice” and “professional values” are based on observations by administrators. For the former, teachers will have to show they are prepared for class, can manage their classrooms, and adjust their teaching based on student performance. For the latter, teachers will have to demonstrate professionalism, collegiality, and high expectations for students.

The third component is student performance. That includes standardized tests, where applicable. But it also includes other measures, including whether or not students achieve goals agreed upon by teachers and administrators at the beginning of the year.

For instance, art classes aren’t subject to standardized tests. Under the new system, an art teacher would meet with her principal at the beginning of the year. She might decide that an appropriate goal for third graders would be to have them conceive of, design, and implement an individual art project by the end of the year, Harries said after the meeting.

If at the end of the year, if the 9-year-olds haven’t made their presidential portraits out of pasta or built their toilet-paper-tube robots, their teacher would not have met her goal and would be graded accordingly.

The three evaluation components are combined into an overall score. It wouldn’t be a simple average, Harries told school board members. The instructional practice score is combined with the professional values score at a rate of 80 percent to 20 percent. The resulting number would then be combined with the student performance score according to a grid (pictured) which gives more weight to student performance ratings that are either very high or very low. The result is that evaluations are “closely tied to student achievement,” Harries said. “But with integrity.”

The new system is not just about evaluation, it’s equally about teacher development, Harries said. Evaluation and teacher support will be ongoing throughout the school year. Support will include goal-setting, classroom observation by administrators, coaching, co-teaching, and feedback sessions.

“Teachers are constantly getting feedback to improve their performance,” Harries said.

Leadership opportunities would be available for teachers who receive scores of five. Teachers with scores of one would receive “immediate and sustained support,” Harries said. That support would come from the district and from the teachers’ union. If the teacher has not improved by the end of the year, he or she would be “exited,” Harries said.

As a check on the system, a peer evaluation system would kick in for scores of one or five. Such scores would be reviewed by former teachers who would “go into the classroom and confirm the principal’s judgment,” Harries said.

Two consultants with a national consulting non-profit spoke up at Monday’s meeting to provide some perspective for how New Haven’s teacher evaluations fit into a nationwide picture. Around the country, “teacher evaluation systems are broken,” said Jennifer Mulhern (at right in photo) with the New Teacher Project.

New Haven’s system on the other hand, “sets you at the forefront of a national conversation,” said Ellen Hur (at left). New Haven’s teacher evaluations would be set apart by its collaborative nature. Teachers worked closely on the project alongside school board officials, making the system very “credible,” Hur said.

The system is also notable because it incorporates student performance measurements, Hur said. That aspect is “absolutely critical,” and very rare, she said.  It means you won’t see schools with failing students and highly rated teachers, she said.

Board member Alex Johnston (pictured) also praised the evaluation plan as putting on New Haven on the “edge” of school reform nationally.

After the meeting, Cicarella explained why his union supports the new teacher evaluations. For years, there were two things on which the teachers’ union would simply not negotiate. The first was tenure, the second was evaluating teachers based on student performance. Teachers are buying into the new evaluating system because it addresses both of those things in a fair way and it addresses two public perceptions that damage the union, Cicarella said.

People sometimes think that tenure allows unions to protect bad teachers, to simply “circle the wagons,” and make tenured teachers untouchable, he said.

Under the new system, tenured teachers are subject to the same evaluation procedures as new teachers, with the same consequences. But “we are not throwing tenured teachers to the curb,” Cicarella said. They’ll be offered “real assistance” and support, and they’ll also be fired if they don’t improve, he said.

Like new teachers, tenured teachers would be evaluated according to criteria they’ve agreed to with their supervisors. If they don’t improve, there would be a clear record of the efforts that were made by administrators to support them. That may make appeal hearings less likely for tenured teachers, Cicarella said.

The other public perception is that teachers should be fired when their students do poorly on tests, Cicarella said. “That’s what we’ve pushed back against.”

The response from teachers has always been that standardized tests are not designed to measure teacher performance, that it’s not a fair measure of how well a teacher is teaching. The new evaluation system addresses the issue by making standardized test scores just one way of measuring teacher performance.

Cicarella predicted that there may be some teacher terminations at the end of the next school year. Even if 99 percent of New Haven’s 1,800 teachers are teaching effectively, that still leaves 18 that aren’t, he said.

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posted by: Allan Brison on April 27, 2010  3:22pm

Sounds good UNLESS most of the non-test related criteria for teacher/principal evaluations turn out to be little more than fluff, leaving the standardized test scores as the de facto sole method of evaluation.

For example, I suspect the teacher will find a way to get that toilet paper robot built by hook or by crook, with both “her” (gender assumption as reported) and the principal’s careers on the line. In fact, if a combination of test scores and the above-mentioned fluff doesn’t measure up, the very existence of the school is at stake.

The disadvantages, to students, teachers, and the general public, of having TOO much ride on the standardized test scores are well known and well described. They include zeroing in on only the subjects tested to the exclusion of all others. In some states this means reading and math to the near-total exclusion of everything else.

Another disadvantage is an inordinate amount of teaching to the test. Students spend more time learning how to take tests than they do on how to learn.

Thirdly, having so much is ride on test scores is a recipe for corruption and cheating.

Bringing market based concepts into the sphere of public education is one that needs to be closely monitored. For more on the details of the potential problems see the recently published (Mar 2, 2010) book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education”, by Diane Ravitch.

Ravitch is a former Assistant Secretary of Education, author of at least 20 books, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. See her interview by Amy Goodman at http://www.democracynow.org. (After getting to the Democracy Now home page, do a search on “Ravitch” to get to the story.)

posted by: streever on April 27, 2010  3:38pm

where are the metrics for administrators?

All city employees used to be evaluated until reporters read the evals and saw how poorly they were performing. Now the city does not evaluate employees. This is the antithesis of open government.

You want to grade teachers? Great. How about you start grading the 1+ million dollars of administrators AT WILBUR CROSS ALONE who are in charge of discipline, and who only have one discipline strategy:
3 day suspensions followed by explusions

According to the flier the mayor sent to schoolchildren, I and the rest of us who feel this way are ANTI education. We are actually PRO EDUCATION, we want an accountable administration that does intelligent discipline (you know, after-school detentions!) and does not just send kids home for any manner of issue.

We want school administrators to have to EARN 120,000$ salaries, NOT JUST GET VOTES FOR THE MAYOR.

If you are outraged that YOUR CHILD is receiving a SUBSTANDARD EDUCATION and the BOE has a NON TRANSPARENT BUDGET please come to City Hall tomorrow at 6:30 to speak up. The reality is the Mayor’s hand-picked BOE is never going to increase transparency without citizens demanding it.

THE BEST PART:
After years of being criticized by many of us for having a terrible school system, the mayor finally took onboard one of his critics (Alex Johnston) and has embraced the people of New Haven’s cause (SCHOOL REFORM).

Now that we’ve questioned if he’s able to do it on his own, with no transparency and 0 accountability for his hand-picked administrators who make 120k + with no employee reviews or performance evaluations, he is sending memos to parents saying we are AGAINST school change.

SORRY DESTEFANO. WE WERE FOR SCHOOL CHANGE WHILE YOU WERE STILL AGAINST IT. You can not blatantly twist facts and lie about reality for too long. People catch on. We have caught on and we are refusing to be painted in this negative light, when many of us have supported and pushed for school reform whilst your administration was still pretending we didn’t have a problem.

posted by: Cross Teacher on April 27, 2010  4:20pm

I like the plan in theory, as described in the PowerPoint.  However, I’m skeptical that administrators have the time available to complete the reviews, meetings, and supervision that the plan describes.  According to the teacher survey quoted in their presentation, 48% of aadministratorsand 23% of teachers believe that administrators have time in their schedules to work on staff development.  There’s nothing in the plan that explores whether or not this is true, or explains how to mitigate this important part of the plan.

posted by: Yes We Can!! on April 27, 2010  5:29pm

The New Haven School Reform Model is the National Model and the School leaders, teachers and Administrators should be proud of taking the bold steps that they have taken to date.

It is too bad that some folks choose to seek the negative in everything and continue to post on this site and decry steps forward.

I do not recall any pro-education reform legislated by Alder Brisson or mentioned by Streever in his many posts over the years.

While they give no credit to the past the fact of the matter is that one of the main reasons why New Haven was the right place to make Reform work in a sustainable fashion (we hope) is because of the terrific foundation that exists here as well as the very hard work of committed individuals.

State of the Art building program, cutting edge technology and learning environments, an emphasis on professional development at all levels, data driven analysis and individualized curricular interventions, nationally recognized Food program, Nationally recognized school leaders, collaborative working relationships with unionized teachers and administrators, double digit test score gains in all schools, better sustained performance than any other urban district in the state of CT., nationally recognized district data team, etc. etc.

Folks can line up to take credit all they want but the same folks you posters decry and seek to defund are the same folks who put the necessary foundation in place to positon New Haven on the National Reform scene.

What is at stake is nothing less than our future.  Education is the civil rights issue of our time and that battle is waged inside classrooms by committed individuals every day.

It is easy to criticize from the outside without posting any solutions of your own.  For once, give credit where it is due and celebrate the efforts that have been made. 

The President of the United States has recognized the efforts, the First Lady has called New Haven to the White House to reinvent school food by learning from New Haven.  What other district in the Nation can claim that?  None!!

Still much work needs to be done to make this sustainable.  Visit http://www.schoolchange.org to find out the transparent facts for yourself or get involved at your child’s school or your neighborhood school. 

Stop hating, step away from the keyboard and make a difference.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on April 27, 2010  5:33pm

Wow, Streever, I don’t believe I have ever agreed with everything you’ve said in a post before. 

To your point about school spending, its not how MUCH we spend but HOW we spend it.  The Mayor is on the right track for reforming our schools and can probably put every nickel in the proposed budget to great use. 

But city hall needs to be more transparent about how they do it especially with administrative costs. This is tricky stuff because if the internal politics in the system is completely stirred up, it puts the entire ambitious school plan in jeopardy.  And yet the taxpayers have clearly had enough and aren’t in the mood to trust anymore…its a tough situation that needs some finesse.

As for Diane Ravitch, she shares the same goals as many reformers but she has just decided on a fundamentally different approach on how to get there.  The problem is that she is very, very wrong.

For anyone who wants to see reform in our urban public schools within our lifetime, you would take Alex Johnston over Diane Ravitch any day.

posted by: Somewhere in CT (maybe New Haven, maybe not) on April 27, 2010  6:06pm

Why start in November? Seriously. The school year is a quarter done. Shouldn’t a teacher have goals at the beginning of school? I know that teachers need to get to know their students first, but come on. November?

Oh wait. That’s because they haven’t figured out that ALL the high school students take the PSATs/SATs and that may be a starting point to chart student growth. The high schools and the rest of the schools won’t be tiered until November.

Why can’t anything start BEFORE school starts?

posted by: rocket on April 27, 2010  7:09pm

I agree that starting in November seems to allow a significant part of the school year to slip by. In all fairness to the teachers, they do need time to get to know each child and that is why a more comprehensive bridge from one school year’s teachers to the next should take place so teachers are up to speed by the end of September at the latest.

posted by: Threefifths on April 27, 2010  7:11pm

Yes We Can!! on April 27, 2010 5:29pm

The President of the United States has recognized the efforts, the First Lady has called New Haven to the White House to reinvent school food by learning from New Haven.  What other district in the Nation can claim that?  None!!

The President of the United States needs to come here and she the real deal on the New haven school system. The real deal is this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=520DAgjCHdc&feature=related

 

http://www.gregpalast.com/obamas-way-to-go-brownie-moment/

 


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-dixon/when-reforming-education_b_530799.html

 

http://www.rabble.ca/babble/international-news-and-politics/obama-picks-school-privatizing-union-buster-education-secreta

 

Second if king john and company are laying off teachers how are they going to carry out this school reform with no money? I am going to say it again and again this school reform is a take over by the corporatist vampires who can not make any money on wall street.How about a evaluation system for those at the top.

Assistant Superintendent Garth Harries is just a carbon copy of his main man King Teachers wake up and fight this like the teachers of new york and parents are doing. Take a look at what Assistant Superintendent Garth Harries main man king Klein try to do.


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/education/25seniority.html?hp

That right King Klein try to get the teachers seniority and you can bet they will try it here.Also look out for the Rubber room here.

 

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on April 27, 2010 5:33pm

As for Diane Ravitch, she shares the same goals as many reformers but she has just decided on a fundamentally different approach on how to get there.  The problem is that she is very, very wrong.

For anyone who wants to see reform in our urban public schools within our lifetime, you would take Alex Johnston over Diane Ravitch any day.

You may take Alex Johnston over Diane Ravitch. But she would in a debate mop the floor with Alex Johnston and Assistant Superintendent Garth Harries. Check out her Bio.

http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/diane_ravitch.html

 

Check out Alex Johnston Bio.


http://www.conncan.org/aboutus/staff

 

Check out Assistant Superintendent Garth Harries Bio.


http://www.nhps.net/node/568


Like MC Hammer said Can touch this.

 

P.S. Good to here from you Fix. But you still have not answerd my question. Are you a yale skull or are you a corporatist lawyer or Banker
which one fix. I think you are either the lawyer or banker come clean and tell me.I pray that it is not the banker!!!

posted by: Tom Burns on April 27, 2010  11:34pm

Come on Fix———Although I like Alex and what he brings to our BOE—-to put his name in the same sentence as Diane Ravitch is like comparing a little league ballplayer with a major leaguer—-no offense Alex (you have promise)—-——maybe someday but not today——-I will tell you this I am sure glad he is on our team now. If any of you get the chance, the book Ms. Ravitch wrote is a great read and will enlighten you as to the history of reform through the years—-Tom

posted by: @yes we can on April 28, 2010  7:41am

Hey “Yes We can”, let’s print the salaries of Mr. Mayo, Mr. Harries, and the other cronies downtown, shall we?  Hint:  Their combined salaries go well into the million$.

Meanwhile, New Haven schools are severely short-staffed.

There are many special needs students who do not receive the small group/1:1 instructional time mandated in their IEPs because there simply isn’t enough staff to meet the mandate.

Paraprofessionals are routinely pulled from their own classrooms to cover other rooms because the district does not consistently, if ever, hire substitutes.  How is that fair to the students who need the paras for their small group instruction?

In my school, a K-8 school, my special needs children haven’t even come close to receiving the hours required in their IEPs.  Teachers are told to cover those hours because the SPED teacher has a work overload.  Well, tell me, how is a head teacher supposed to cover the special needs HOURS, often requiring 1:1 work with the child, AND the other 23 students in his room?

Sorry, but this isn’t focusing on the “negative.”  It’s focusing on REALITY.  New Haven does a fine job of covering up its dirty laundry and then turning the tables back on teachers and what little support staff there truly is.

It’s sickening.

So, “Yes We Can” ...if your child was in a school like mine, with such little support, supplies and staff, you’d be the first to ensure that your child was transferred.

posted by: streever on April 28, 2010  8:08am

yes we can:

Can you explain how my request that administrators be given performance reviews quarterly is in any way against children or their education? I request that the city do performance reviews on administrators and think they are avoiding doing this. Can you please explain how my desire to end a system of political patronage is in any way an insult or slight to the children of New Haven? or, are you simply slinking off to write up one more cheerleader speech as requested by the Mayor?

I’d like accountability & transparency, and a world-class education for every child in New Haven, regardless of which school they go to or who their parents go to services with. I’d like a system where the top crust don’t get their kids into Hooker automatically through a rigged deal. I’d like a system where every school excels and has the people & the tools to do so.

You tell me who wants the best for New Haven: someone against the corrupt and crooked way that people get into Hooker who wants performance reviews for all employees, or someone who wants business as usual PLUS spending more money on it.

posted by: anon on April 28, 2010  12:40pm

Continuing to spend billions of dollars trying to “fix the schools” without addressing the underlying conditions that directly cause poor school performance is a futile effort.

Examples include truck noise, violent neighborhoods, air pollution, vibration, traffic crashes, unwalkable streets, no lighting and piles of trash on every corner (except in nice neighborhoods), and large numbers of families that can not afford to buy healthy food (who, incidentally, are not the ones coming to public meetings about school “reform”). 

These should be a much higher priority than school reform, which will go nowhere unless they are immediately addressed. 

The people pushing reform are just trying to get more of your tax money instead of having it go to things that will truly fix the problem.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on April 28, 2010  12:52pm

Anon believes that we can’t expect that urban education will improve until we can solve poverty.  But Anon, you’ve got it exactly backwards.  We will never solve poverty UNTIL we fix our schools.

posted by: Threefifths on April 28, 2010  1:20pm

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on April 28, 2010 12:52pm
Anon believes that we can’t expect that urban education will improve until we can solve poverty.  But Anon, you’ve got it exactly backwards.  We will never solve poverty UNTIL we fix our schools.

We will never solve poverty until we get rid of The proletariat System that the corporate bourgeoisie control like Goldman Sachs, Countrywide bank of american Bear Stearns.The Wharton School of business where these
corporatist bankers and lawyers come from.
...

posted by: @ FIX THE SCHOOLS on April 28, 2010  1:25pm

We can start by cutting from the top, not the bottom.  Get rid of some of the MANY, MANY bosses at Gateway and silly literacy/math coaches, and keep the paraprofessionals, who work hard and are essential to instruction and order in the trenches.  Also hire more SPED teachers.

posted by: Threefifths on April 28, 2010  5:50pm

We must also have a elected schools board of the people not with political patronage like we have now!!!!!

posted by: anon on April 28, 2010  7:06pm

Fix, you miss the point. We won’t solve either problem (schools or poverty) until we address the basic underlying environmental conditions I mentioned. You can pour billions of dollars into schools or into anti poverty programs but neither will yield ANY results without more direct interventions into things like pollution, mass litter, no transport options and truck vibration.

posted by: Hood Rebel on April 29, 2010  12:25am

To Fix the schools:  You say “this is tricky stuff because if the internal politics in the system is completely stirred up, it puts the entire ambitious school plan in jeopardy.” What the hell does that mean? Reform should mean doing what it takes to effectively educate ALL of our children. Or maybe you want to expound what you really mean by the need for “finesse.”

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on April 29, 2010  9:40am

Hood Rebel,

Of course you are right about doing whatever it takes for kids.  Unfortunately, we live in a system where that doesn’t automatically happen.  What do I mean?  I mean that less than 20% of eligible voters elect Mayor Destefano every two years.  And if I may generalize, many of these folks do not share the mayor’s vision for radical school reform - which in my opinion is the only kind of reform that will deliver the results that you describe. 

Most of the curent voters either don’t buy into this school-focused theory of change (“its all about the parents…”), or worse, they have something to lose under this new system, a job perhaps.  As a result, the mayor, if he is to retain the support of his base, cannot afford to alienate the people who vote him into office each and every year.  This is why the mayor wants to change the city charter to have a mayoral election every four years vs two.  Four years would provide him some running room to try out some unpopular but necessary measures to improve our city.

So until we see a far larger turn-out of voters who share the mayor’s vision for school change and who can dilute the concentrated power of the current electorate of about 10,000 people, he has to “finesse” the situation.

Don’t get me wrong.  I certainly don’t like it. But its better than having somebody else in office who may not share Destefano’s ambition for school reform.

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on April 29, 2010  10:14am

Tom,  Alex Johnston has done more to advance the cause for great public education NATIONALLY in five years than Ravitch has done over her career.  In fact, she seems to be devoted to the idea of becoming a sad distraction to a focus on a child-centered education system.

We are all lucky to have Alex here, Tom.  And if he sticks around, we won’t be a “little-league” district - as we have been for years under a spoils system dominated by patronage politics and stifling labor rules.

But I’m glad you’re with the program, Tom!

posted by: Threefifths on April 29, 2010  5:47pm

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on April 29, 2010 10:14am

Tom,  Alex Johnston has done more to advance the cause for great public education NATIONALLY in five years than Ravitch has done over her career.  In fact, she seems to be devoted to the idea of becoming a sad distraction to a focus on a child-centered education system.

NATIONALLY what planet are you on.Alex Johnston is a new kid on the block. In fact Your man Alex Johnston can touch Dr.James P. Comer who is right here in New Haven.

Developed by child psychiatrist Dr. James P. Comer and his colleagues at the Yale Child Study Center in collaboration with the New Haven Public Schools, the School Development Program (SDP) is a research-based, comprehensive K-12 education reform program grounded in the principles of child, adolescent, and adult development.

First introduced in two low-achieving schools in 1968, over the years the School Development Program has been implemented in hundreds of schools in more than 20 states, the District of Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, England, and Ireland.

The SDP provides the organizational, management, and communications framework for mobilizing teachers, administrators, parents, and other concerned adults to support students’ personal, social, and academic development and achievement. The SDP also helps educators make better programmatic and curriculum decisions based on students’ needs and on developmental principles.

While the School Development Program helps bring change to one school at a time, it has been used as a framework for system-wide reform, providing mechanisms by which school boards and district central administration can coordinate and support the reform work at each school.

http://medicine.yale.edu/childstudy/comer/about/index.aspx

Notice fix since 1968 before you and your man Alex was born. Notice fix Dr. Comer system is used world wide.  Also how about Dr.Jonathan Kozol’s


http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/education/blog/2009/04/jonathan_kozol_on_de_facto_sch.html

Give me a break. Again Alex Johnston could even carry there school Books.

Enjoy these you tubes on all three.


http://www.youtube.com/user/ComerSDP#p/a/u/1/iKQRknqB1W8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZwuS675L0o

 


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

posted by: Yes We Can!! on April 30, 2010  7:42am

Streever:
....

I never said I was against evaluations of any employees.  On the contrary I applaud the efforts of the BOE to tackle this issue through school reform by reworking teacher evaluation, principal evaluation and central office evaluation.  All of this is either done or in the works right now with the updates and information being discussed at public board meetings and with documents posted on the BOE website and http://www.newhavenschoolchange.org website.  These are real, concrete legitimate efforts that have been worked out collaboratively by people of good will with like goals and an absence of inflammatory rhetoric.  These efforts have been applauded by state and national education groups ..

Your summary posts of cutting administrators as the solution would actually result in harming this effort if not rendering what you claim to want impossible.  Currently you have approximately 1800 teachers, 20,000 students and 130 Administrators (about 100 building based in the approximately 50 schools or programs).

That is 200 students per administrator (or a small school each) to be responsible for on average but of course the average does not always work.  In some instances 1 Principal with no assistant is responsible for 500 students and 50 staff or more.  In other cases such as an alternative school smaller teacher-student and administrator-student ratios are warranted.  That is a lot of curriculum, special education, parent conferences etc, before your even get to the evaluations of staff which require classroom visits, meetings, etc.

Further, this is also a unionized workforce that has a contract with terms and conditions and durations defined.  Suggesting summary cuts is naive.  While the Administrators have taken 0% wage increases in the past (more than any other Union) and currently pay the highest cost sharing of any Union and have the least protection of their position than any other Union you attack them all as political hacks.  That is simply wrong.  Whatever you think of them these folks are on the front line trying their best.  Some have been honored on the state and national level.  Lumping them all together is an insult to them.

Any logical and reasonable comparison of Administrator salaries in CT would reveal to you, if you cared to look at facts, that New Haven Administrators are actually lower paid than most other districts in CT.  So, by cutting the pay of a shortage position which is tough to recruit for already when the pay is already at or below what the market will pay and you compound that with the fact that in New Haven you will be dealing with urban education, high expectations and limited resources, who exactly do you think is going to come?

These are complex issues with complex solutions.  I find it ironic that when you were challenged for your zoning board work you got very defensive and accused everyone of not understanding all of the facts and complexities.  You would think you would have some sense of humility moving forward.  ...  Anyone who expresses their opinion or support for actual real world education reform is a “cheerleader” or political shill ...

As I noted in my prior post.  Give credit where it is due and support those who are working on the front lines.  Also as I noted more work needs to be done.  I submit it can and should be done in the same manner that got us this far, by working together collaboratively without rhetoric, division or name calling.  And yes, without slashing the education budget.  Yes We Can!!

posted by: janyce murphy on April 30, 2010  11:38am

Re: “Streever” comment: “I’d like a system where the top crust can’t get their kids into Hooker automatically through a rigged deal.”

Mr. Streever: As an individual who seems deeply invested and rooted in the community, you doubtless KNOW better regarding Worthington Hooker enrollment. It is public knowledge and fact that Worthington Hooker is first a neighborhood school. Familes must live within the district lines, which are also also public knowledge. After in-district students are registered, any remaining vacant slots are given to out-of-district children.

I have heard of Superintendent Mayo giving Hooker “slots” as favors to whomever he likes. There was enormous hoopla about four years ago over this very issue, and Mayo was publicly embarrassed for it (as he should be). However, your portrayal of Hooker’s enrollment simply being a matter of “top crust” parents—and I’m curious to know the definition of “top crust”—storming the gates unchecked is disengenous and, more importantly, false.
 
My husband and I moved our family from the Bronx to New Haven (my hometown) in 2000. In 2002, we moved from Cottage Street to Orange Street specifically so our daughter could enter kindergarten at Hooker. Cottage Street was and is out of district. No connections, no top-crust actions, just thoughtful plans to ensure our child entered the school we considered best. 

I never cease to be amazed at the public resentment directed at Hooker, especially since it almost always comes from folks who have nothing to do with the place.

posted by: Allan Brison on April 30, 2010  1:59pm

Janyce,

Streever’s comment: “I’d like a system where the top crust can’t get their kids into Hooker automatically through a rigged deal.”

Streever’s comment should not be taken as pro or con Hooker school, nor should it be construed that Hooker registration is necessarily corrupt. The fact is that getting into Hooker is NOT an open, transparent, process.

As alderman I received a number of calls from constituents who lived in the Hooker district but did not know that to get one of the neighborhood slots one had to get down to the Board of Ed at the crack of dawn on registration day and stand in line. Some folks actually camp overnight.

One constituent called to say that he had bought a home in the Hooker district 5 years prior when his child was first born for the sole purpose of being able to send his children to Hooker. On registration day he took the AFTERNOON off to register his child and was shocked when he was told, “Sorry, you’re too late, you should have taken the morning off and been here before breakfast.”

Like you, he had the idea that being in the district guaranteed him a spot as it would have in virtually any other town in the state.

On his behalf I talked to the Chief Operating Officer at the Board of Ed. His first comment was that it is no secret that you must get down to the Board of Ed early on registration day.

It may be no secret but neither it is posted or publicly announced. This is a policy governed by rumour.

His next comment was that some openings would occur as families moved out or decided to send their children to a private school; and his advice to my constituent was that he should go down to the Board of Ed EVERY DAY and wait in line for an opening to occur.

If he happened to be there when an opening did occur and there was no one else in line ahead of him, then he would be able to get his child in.

I asked if there wasn’t a waiting list or some other, more orderly, and user friendly way of filling the openings that would occur.

There was not. But why? Why couldn’t they have a waiting list. The BOE does not provide an answer, leaving one to the very reasonable speculation that the process is indeed corrupt and designed for the “top crust” to get in.

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