New Your State School Boards Association
On Board Online February 25 2013
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Educators feel ‘initiative fatigue’

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Eric Randall

The flu isn’t the only thing going around schools these days. There’s another malady: initiative fatigue.

Okay, it isn’t a real disease. It’s a business term that may capture the zeitgeist in schools today as they strive, with resources at hand, to implement various kinds of reform.

Changes include the Common Core curriculum, student learning objective assessments, data-driven instruction and a new approach to teacher and principal evaluations.


The elephant in the classroom One in five students in poverty

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Paul Heiser

Anyone who has taken a psychology class is probably familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  In 1943, while on the faculty of Brooklyn College, psychologist Abraham Maslow published his theory that a person’s basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter, have to be met before higher order psychological and social needs can be met, including the need for esteem and feelings of accomplishment.

Cohoes Superintendent Robert Libby invoked Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when describing the problem of youth poverty in his Albany County school district.


Reinventing APPR

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Timothy G. Kremer

No law is immutable.  Laws are explicated by regulators, interpreted by the courts, and, sometimes, revised by legislatures. Since New York’s Legislature passed a law that made Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR) one of the cornerstones of New York’s education reform agenda, it’s become obvious that some tweaks are needed.

The fact that APPR agreements are collectively bargained makes the process quite onerous and complicated. That is unlikely to change. However, here are three suggestions that could improve the current system:


Tax cap law unconstitutional: NYSUT

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Jay Worona

New York State United Teachers has brought a legal challenge in state court in Albany seeking to declare unconstitutional New York State’s 2011 so-called “tax cap” legislation as it applies to school district budget votes.

According to NYSUT, the tax cap “places an undemocratic and unconstitutional supermajority requirement on votes for school budgets seeking to increase the school funding tax levy by more than 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less” thus violating the one-person, one-vote protections guaranteed under federal law.


Cuomo acts on NYC deadlock

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Cathy Woodruff

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is acting to empower state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. to resolve a dispute on teacher and principal evaluations in New York City if the current stalemate continues.

Cuomo has proposed an amendment to his executive budget that would direct King to impose an Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan for New York City if union and administration leaders there do not agree on an acceptable plan by June 1.


How 19 minutes cost one district $46,000

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Eric Randall

The Harrison district in Westchester County was 19 minutes late in submitting the required signature of its board president with its Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan. Although the plan won approval five days later, the district lost $46,000 in state aid.

Blame brinksmanship. When state officials refused to approve one of Harrison’s metrics, Superintendent Louis Wool insisted they get a second opinion. Wool altered the plan at the 11th hour under protest, but a crucial signature was missing.

“I find it sadly ironic that the reason for our so-called late application was my unwillingness to relent to lowering our standards for evaluating the high school principal,” said Wool, who was state superintendent of the year in 2010.


Lawsuit could end King’s power to withhold state aid increases

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Eric Randall

Litigation over the amount of funding that the state provides to urban schools could derail the state’s new policy of making individual districts’ state aid increases contingent on accountability compliance.

New York City attorney Michael Rebell filed a lawsuit this month on behalf of New York City parents in an effort to release $250 million for city schools. Commissioner of Education John B. King Jr. withheld that money after New York failed to submit an Annual Professional Performance Review Program to the state before a Jan. 17 approval deadline.

Changes include the Common Core curriculum, student learning objective assessments, data-driven instruction and a new approach to teacher and principal evaluations.


Time to end schools’ GEA cut, lawmakers say

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Cathy Woodruff

 A coalition of Capital Region lawmakers is urging the governor and legislative leaders to reform the school aid formula in the upcoming state budget and end the annual practice of withholding  billions in aid through the so-called Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).

"It was supposed to be a one-time cut,” Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, a Schenectady County Democrat and former Duanesburg school board member, said of the GEA.

An across-the-board state spending rollback that began in 2010, the GEA has continued. The amount withheld from schools through the GEA is $2.15 billion this year, she said, down only moderately from the previous $2.7 billion level.


Common Core implementation on pace

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Paul Heiser

New York is one of 21 states that have fully developed plans for implementing the Common Core State Standards in the three key areas of teacher professional development, curriculum guides, and teacher-evaluation systems, according to a survey of state education agencies done by Education First and the Editorial Projects in Education, Inc. The 21 states with fully developed plans represent a substantial increase from only seven states reporting this level of progress one year ago.


A good guy with a gun? SRO’s relationships seen as real weapon for school safety

On Board Online • February 25, 2013

By Cathy Woodruff

The first voice Sgt. Mark Spain heard when he checked telephone messages was shaky. “I’m just a little overwhelmed by everything right now,” the man said. His son had been charged with drug possession.

A few moments later, a school social worker dropped by Spain’s office at Watervliet Jr./Sr. High School to let him know about a possible sex abuse case. “I’m pretty sure (the student) is going to want to talk with you,” she said.

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