2014-2015 NYC School Calendar
Today, 8/21/2014
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Tomorrow, 8/22/2014
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Inside Schools

Free lunch for grades 6-8, but you must fill out forms - Read Full Article

Free lunch for grades 6-8, but you must fill out forms

Originally posted on Chalkbeat by Patrick Wall on August 20, 2014

Every year, teachers must cajole students into submitting family-income forms, which entitles needy students to subsidized lunches and many schools to federal funds.

This fall, that annual rite could become much harder for some schools. Because the city will for the first time offer free lunch to all middle-school students, the children will receive meals regardless of whether they turn in the forms—but schools could lose out on tens of thousands of dollars if they don’t.

The education department warned principals of this possibility in a memo Tuesday, which noted that completion of the household-income forms is tied to Title I grants, which help schools with disadvantaged students pay for extra teachers, computers, tutoring, and other extra services.

“Students will receive free lunch whether or not their families have completed the form, but your school might receive less funding or lose Title I eligibility altogether if very few parents complete the form,” the memo said. “In addition, the success and possible expansion of the meals program will rely on the ability of schools to collect these forms from parents.”

The message: Figure out how to get those forms completed, even if they no longer come with a clear incentive for parents.

School districts receive Title I funding based on census data, but the share of that funding that flows to an individual school depends on how many low-income students it serves. New York City, like many other districts, has traditionally calculated each school’s percentage of needy students using the number of children who meet the requirements for a free or reduced-price lunch.

That means that if few parents fill out the income forms at a particular school, that won’t reduce the federal money the whole city receives – but it could shrink the portion allotted to the school.

Schools would likely find any Title I cutbacks painful. One principal, who asked not to be named, said about 10 percent of her small Brooklyn middle school’s budget, or nearly $200,000, comes from annual Title I grants, which she uses to pay for technology, textbooks, and teachers.

Knowing the stakes, some schools have found creative ways to convince students to turn in the income forms.

Blueprint Middle School in the Bronx, for instance, awarded movie tickets last year to the class that returned its forms quickest, according to Gerard Valentin, the school’s business manager. About 180 of the school’s roughly 200 students eventually turned in their forms.

“It’s definitely a priority to have those papers in,” Valentin said.

The city is set to provide the free meals to some 170,000 middle-school students this year through a new federal program designed to boost the number of students who eat healthy school lunches. The idea is that by making lunch free for all students, the stigma is removed from those who had qualified for subsidized meals, and the burden is lifted from those who had hadn’t qualified but still struggled to pay for the food.

Advocates and members of the City Council had pushed the city education department to use the program to offer free lunch for all students, which was still expected to cost the city $24 million after it got the federal reimbursements.

However, department officials said they were concerned by part of the federal program, which prohibits participating districts from handing out traditional meal-subsidy forms. The officials worried that would interfere with the allocation of Title I money to schools, which is based on the income data on those forms.

In the end, the city lawmakers and education officials found a solution: Schools will distribute alternative forms to students that ask for family income but don’t violate the terms of the free-lunch program.

School administrators in other parts of the country have worried that parents will consider the family-income question on the new forms an invasion of privacy and not answer it without the clear incentive of free or reduced-price lunch. But the city says testing out the program in just middle schools will allow it to both try out serving more meals and to make sure that the new forms don’t result in a lower turn-in rate.

The mayor and City Council added $6.25 million to next year’s budget to pay for the city’s portion of those extra meals.

While advocates had lobbied for all students to get free meals, several said it makes sense to begin with middle schools, where students first start to feel ashamed about getting subsidized meals. Just about 60 percent of middle-school students eat school meals, compared to more than 80 percent of elementary-school students, according to Community Food Advocates.

Liz Accles, the group’s executive director, said that offering free lunch in the city’s 300 middle schools should spur more of those students to eat school meals and will hopefully spread to all city schools.

“It’s a major first step in doing universal free lunch,” she said.

 Insideschools note: Schools posting 100 percent free or reduced lunch rates on our school profile InsideStats indicates they offer "universal free lunch"  to all students 

Chalkbeat New York is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.

 

Pre-k expansion may suck life out of EarlyLearn - Read Full Article

Pre-k expansion may suck life out of EarlyLearn

It's crunch time for pre-kindergarten. In just a couple of weeks, the city will open 2,000 new, full-day classrooms in schools and community centers across the five boroughs. If the city gets it right, the pre-k expansion could set a national standard for universal, high-quality instruction for 4-year-olds. Unfortunately, it could also be the cause of death for programs serving those 4-year-olds' younger siblings.

Though it has stood alone in the political spotlight this year, universal pre-k is not New York City's only early education program. For decades, the city has held contracts with hundreds of childcare providers—ranging from home-based daycares to nationally accredited preschools—to care for low-income kids from 6 weeks through 4 years old. In its current iteration, the subsidized childcare system has the capacity to serve 37,000 children.

National studies show that early childhood programs are critical for kids. The care a child receives while she's an infant or toddler—long before she's old enough to go to school—can impact the way her brain grows, potentially changing the trajectory of the rest of her life.

Studies also show that most low-income kids receive dismal out-of-home care. In one massive dataset published by the National Center for Education Statistics, 96 percent of home-based daycare arrangements serving kids under the poverty line rated as poor or mediocre. In New York City, the quality of subsidized childcare programs has historically been all over the map: Some kids are taught by credentialed teachers in classrooms designed to foster social skills and early literacy; some spend their days watching videos.

In 2012, the city invested close to $500 million to overhaul its subsidized childcare programs. The vision was transformative: Under the newly reformed system—known as EarlyLearnNYC—every city-funded program would use a research-based curriculum, proven to support children's learnin, as we explain in a new report by the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School. Teachers would get ongoing training. Programs would work with families to help them overcome obstacles like homelessness or domestic violence, which threaten to hold their children back. By the time kids turned 5, the hope went, they'd be prepared for success in kindergarten and all the years that come after.

Two years later, the reality of EarlyLearn has fallen far short of its goals—mostly due to a list of prosaic and predictable causes. The program didn't get all the funding its planners expected. Staff are poorly paid, making it difficult for providers to find qualified teachers. There's been no money to update the city's antiquated referral system, so even very high-quality programs are left with empty seats. When families do find their way to an EarlyLearn provider, the city can take so long to approve a child's enrollment that many parents walk away.

Because child care programs (unlike public schools) are only reimbursed for the number of kids sitting in their classrooms, even a few missing children can make it impossible to meet fixed expenses like payroll and rent. Many EarlyLearn programs are struggling just to keep their doors open.

And now—in an ironic twist of political fate—the city's expanded pre-k program threatens to suck the remaining life out of subsidized childcare.

The most pressing danger is an exodus of qualified teachers. Under the new pre-k plan, teachers will start at a salary of up to $14,000 more per year than they earn in the EarlyLearn system, and many will work shorter days, with summers off and better benefits. EarlyLearn directors say that new pre-k programs are aggressively recruiting their best teachers. Who could blame them for leaving?

New pre-k classrooms will also create more competition for kids. EarlyLearn providers who already serve 4-year-olds will get some funding to adjust their programs, but they remain hobbled by the bureaucratic inefficiencies built into the subsidized childcare system. In a particularly egregious example, the city still hasn't told programs what they'll be required to charge parents for care after the school day is done. "Parents are asking basic questions and we don't have answers. We feel ridiculous," says one EarlyLearn director in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. "We could find ourselves with empty classrooms in September."

Expanded choice will undoubtedly be a good thing for 4-year-olds and their families, but the city is failing to give parents any reason to choose the EarlyLearn programs into which it has already invested so many taxpayer dollars. Without 4-year-olds to fill their classrooms, many EarlyLearn programs will sink. Who will be left to care for babies and toddlers? What will happen to the feeder system for universal pre-k?

The good news is that subsidized childcare is not beyond salvation. The city has already made a commitment to early education. Now it must broaden its focus from expanding pre-k to creating a holistic system, serving children from birth until they're old enough to go to school. With an infusion of resources and attention, EarlyLearn could work in tandem with the city's new pre-k classrooms to create one of the most sophisticated early childhood systems in the country.

Isn't that what our kids deserve?

De Blasio sees city on path to higher test scores - Read Full Article

Bill de Blasio had been mayor for less than four months when the city's elementary and middle school students took standardized tests this past April. And, according to numbers released on Thursday, more than 68 percent of students who took the tests this year failed to meet state standards in English; 64 percent fell short in math.

Still, the scores are somewhat higher than they were when de Blasio's predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, announced test results a year ago. To announce this year's numbers, de Blasio along with Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña held an ebullient press conference on Thursday, predicting that the administration's reforms would propel students towards bigger gains in the year ahead.

De Blasio made the announcement outside the Brooklyn Brownstone School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which, he said, saw the percentage of its students scoring proficient—generally regarded as a level 3 or 4 score—on the English test rise from 27.5 in 2013 to 44.1 percent in 2014. The number of students meeting state standards in math also increased substantially.


Standing with school principal Nakia Haskins, de Blasio said Brooklyn Brownstone developed a program aimed at having students "think analytically—not just take a test ... This is a deeper approach."

"This school is a trendsetter for things that are starting to happen citywide," de Blasio said. In particular, he cited improved teacher support and training. "You can see the difference it’s making when our teachers are supported in their efforts to help students get to the root of things." 

De Blasio readily conceded many students still fall short on that measure. But he said he hopes the types of programs in effect at Brooklyn Brownstone, along with more professional development for teachers, the expansion of pre-k, increasing the number of afterschool programs for middle school students and creating community schools offering a variety of services and supports to students and their families would improve academic performance across the city.

"Test scores are one indicator of progress," de Blasio said, "but tests like this are only one measure. And I'll say this when scores are good and when they're not so good."

Certainly the tests will have less clout than they once did. Indications are that the city's progress reports for individual schools will put less emphasis on test scores. The state has barred selective middle and high schools from using the scores as the sole means for determining which students they admit. In response, the Department of Education has committees working on new admissions procedures, which are expected to issue reports by the end of September, Fariña said.

Education department officials at the press conference said students will be able to access their scores the last week in August.

In light of persistently low scores among many black and Hispanic students, particularly boys, Fariña said the department would create more single-sex schools, such as a new branch of the Eagle Academy for Young Men slated to open on Staten Island, and would improve guidance services. She said an emphasis on technology, while beneficial to all students, might particularly help these low-scoring boys.

Fariña said she was encouraged by the decline in the number of students scoring at Level 1, meaning the student is "well below proficient." In 2014, 34.7 percent of children were at level 1, compared to 36.4 percent in 2013. In math, the percentage dropped to 33.9 percent from 36.8 percent. Students with a level 2 are considered approaching proficiency and are thought to be on track to graduating high school, though perhaps not to being "college and career ready."

While the sharp drop in test scores last year—the first year that the tests reflected the new Common Core standards—spurred opposition to the Common Core, de Blasio expressed strong support for the standards. "This is a new standard and a higher standard and the right standard," he said.

School Book

A Foreign Melody: Bel Kaufman Expounds on Pedagogical Concerns - Read Full Article

A few days after her death at age 103, listen to this interview with educator and writer Bel Kaufman where topics include her accent, poetry, and the classroom. 

"I feel like an impostor," Kaufman confesses in this talk given at the Overseas Press Club in 1966. The author of the classic book about teaching in a New York City public school, Up the Down Staircase, died on Friday at her home in Manhattan. 

She details her "outsider" status by recounting how at first she was repeatedly denied a teaching certificate because of her Russian accent. "Failed for foreign melody in your speech," was the euphemism of the day. When she finally overcame that hurdle, she was once again turned away for incorrectly interpreting a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Kaufman, not easily discouraged, wrote to Millay, who responded with a long letter vindicating her answer. The result was a major change in the way prospective teachers were evaluated: after this, the test cited only dead poets.

Since the success of her novel about teaching in the public schools, Up the Down Staircase, Kaufman reported, she has become "the unofficial spokesman for teachers across the country," addressing large groups as well as receiving a great deal of mail.

The picture she paints of the educational system in 1966 bears striking similarities to that of the schools today. There is an ongoing tension between the desire of teachers to teach, personally, intensely, emotionally, and the countervailing urge of the administration to make the science of instruction more quantitative and uniform. The students cry out for help, even when not saying a word. Real life intrudes.

"Lady," a policeman says, entering the classroom with handcuffs already out, "that kid, I gotta have." And even back then there is the standard lament that an ill-paying profession does not always attract the best applicants. Kaufman lists three qualifications all prospective teachers should have: a sense of humor, stamina ("physical, intellectual, moral"), and "a touch of teacherly love."  

Born in Germany in 1911, Bella Kaufman was raised in Odessa and Kiev. Her earlier memories are of scenes from the Russian Revolution. She recalls:

Dead bodies were frozen in peculiar positions on the street…People ate bread made of the shells of peas because there was no flour. But a child has no basis for comparison. Doesn’t every child step over dead bodies? I didn’t know any different.

She came to the United States at age  12. Despite not initially  speaking English, she soon excelled as a student, thanks in part to the dedicated efforts of several teachers she encountered in the public school system. This, in turn, encouraged Kaufman to consider a career in education. After the travails described above,  she taught in several New York City high schools. But writing was in her family's blood. Her grandfather was the famous Yiddish humorist Sholem Aleichem. It was while publishing articles and short stories in her spare time that she adopted the less feminine pen name "Bel" so certain editors would not dismiss her work out of hand. One of these efforts was a three-and-half-page story entitled "From a Teacher's Wastebasket." A book editor contacted Kaufman with the idea of her expanding her experiences as a teacher into a novel. This became Up the Down Staircase (1965). The Jewish Woman's Archive describes the book as:

…a portrait of a young teacher who shares much of Kaufman’s iconoclastic spirit. It chronicles the career of Sylvia Barrett, a new teacher in the public school system, and offers an incisive and humorous portrait of the interaction between teachers and students in public school. It is also a satirical look at the administrative bureaucracy teachers must overcome in order to perform their jobs. The novel…spent 64 weeks as a best-seller, of which five months were spent in the number-one position. Up the Down Staircase was translated into 16 languages and has sold over 6 million copies. 

Up the Down Staircase incited a lively national discussion about the role and direction of education in the country. It was  made into a successful 1967 movie starring Sandy Dennis. 

Although Kaufman continued to write, publishing another novel, Love, etc. (1979), the main thrust of her activities  continued to be in  education. At the age of 99, she was teaching a course at Hunter College on Jewish humor. This made her the oldest hired professor in the country. (She turned 100 during the ensuing semester.) In trying to explain the position writing occupies in her life, Kaufman has described herself as a teacher first:

In fact, she has confessed, "I do not LIKE writing; in truth, I HATE writing, and would rather do anything else. But the joy comes when, almost in spite of myself, I come close to what I want to say. A sentence or an insight leaps from the page." 

The hopeful yet somewhat bittersweet tone of her grandfather can be heard in her work, as well as the humor. She ends this talk by quoting him: "That's life, but don't worry."

 

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

PUBLIC MEETING
 OF THE PANEL FOR EDUCATIONAL POLICY

Murry Bergtraum High School

411 Pearl Street
Manhattan, NY 10038
Thursday August 21, 2014
6:00 PM

Read more...

June 11, 2014
District 3 Town Hall with Chancellor Carmen Fariña 
& Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm

Individual School’s Score
 for 2014 ELA and Math State Test Results

 Click here


District 3 schools: Pages 321-329


New York State Department of Education
 Releases 2014 State Test Scores

Click here for more information



CITY ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO THE 2013-2014 BLUE BOOK


New Blue Book Reflects Improvements Recommended by City Agencies, Public and Charter Schools, Advocacy Organizations, and Community Councils


Families, educators and interested community members can access the new Blue Book here.


Read more...

Parent-Teacher Conferences  
Below please find the dates for 4 parent teacher conferences.   
  

 

September*

November

March

May*

 

Evening 

Evening 

Afternoon

Evening 

Afternoon

Evening 

Elementary School

Sep 16

Nov 12

Nov 13

Mar 18

Mar 19

May 13

Middle School

Sep 18

Nov 19

Nov 20

Mar 11

Mar 12

May 6

High School

Sep 17

Nov 5

Nov 7

Mar 26

Mar 27

May 7

D75 School Programs

 

Nov 17

Nov 18

Mar 2

Mar 3

 


*Multi-session schools and District 75 School Programs are exempt from these additional conferences. Schools will notify families accordingly if they are holding these events at their site.

June Clerical Shortened Days
citywide June Clerical Shortened Days for elementary and intermediate/junior high schools as well as D75 schools.

  • Tuesday, June 9, 2015
  • Monday, June 15, 2015

School Admissions News

High School Directories Notice

Students applying to a NYC public high school for the 2015-2016 school year can now access the 2014-2015 High School Directory online in nine languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.

All non-native English speakers who will participate in the admissions process are encouraged to review the directories.  Visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/High/Resources/default.htm for complete information and the English directory. Questions regarding the 2014-2015 High School Directory may be directed to the High School Admissions Team at HS_Enrollment@schools.nyc.gov


Community Events


UFT Manhattan Borough-wide Parent Conference
Sat. Oct. 18, 2014
Brochure


Deadline: October 15, 2014

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Creative Curricula program provides grants to teaching artists or cultural organizations working with Manhattan public schools to provide K-12 arts education in the classroom.


Link to Complete RFP:   http://lmcc.net/program/creative-curricula/



Read more...

The fall NLI series is now accepting registrations. From pointers on neighborhood organizing to suggestions on how to navigate city government or attract local press, their workshops are designed with resident-led groups in mind; each session draws from the ideas and experiences that you bring. Complete four workshops (including 'Basics of Community Organizing') and receive a Neighborhood Leadership Institute certificate of achievement.

Workshops take place in downtown Manhattan. For more info and to RSVP, contact Arif at aullah@citizensnyc.org or 212-822-9580.   

BASICS OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZING
Saturday, September 20
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Bring your neighbors together on issues that matter to you.
GROUP STRUCTURE
Saturday, September 27
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Build and maintain an effective neighborhood association or community group. 
MEDIA TOOLS
Saturday, October 18
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Increase public support for your group by framing your message and alerting local media. 
NAVIGATING CITY GOVERNMENT
Saturday, October 25
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Learn how city government functions and how to have your community issues addressed.
GRASSROOTS FUNDRAISING
Saturday, November 15
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Support your group's work with community fundraising efforts.



Upcoming Events

Thursday, August 21
PEP
PEP Meeting
6:00 AM
The High School of Fashion Industries
225 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
Agenda
Thursday, September 4
First Day of School

Early dismissal for non-District 75 Kindergarten students.

Partial school time for Pre-K.

Tuesday, September 16
Elementary School
Parent Teacher Conferences
Evening
Wednesday, September 17
High School
Parent Teacher Conferences
Evening
Thursday, September 18
Middle School
Middle School
Evening

CEC3 News


To join the CEC3 Email List, 

please send your name and email address to

 CEC3@schools.nyc.gov


CEC3 2013-2014 Strategic Plan Document

Adopted at January Joint CSD3 Presidents' Council/CEC3 Calendar Meeting


CEC3 Vacancy! 
Applications are now being accepted to fill the vacant ELL seat on the District 3 Community Education Council

All applicants must be a parent/guardian of  an ELL student currently attending a District 3 elementary and middle school

Contact the CEC3 Office for more information at cec3@schools.nyc.gov or (212) 678-2782

CEC3 APPLICATION