New York City’s New Teachers’ Contract Matters—To All of Us

The Rev. John Thomas, former General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, is now a professor and administrator at Chicago Theological Seminary, where he writes a blog.  Last Thursday, the 1st of May, the Rev. Thomas posted the following:  “May Day commemorates the Haymarket uprising in Chicago in 1886 that began as a march by workers in support of the eight hour workday.  It continues to be celebrated in many places as a day to honor workers and to rally workers to the labor movement.  But these days May Day is perhaps more aptly described as a collective “Mayday!” on behalf of workers who have been under assault for decades—lost jobs, suppressed wages, broken unions, attacks on collective bargaining, reduced benefits, and on and on it goes.”

It is therefore particularly fitting that last week on Thursday, May 1, 2014, New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio and the United Federation of Teachers agreed on a contract that will end a bitter, long running dispute.  The NY Times covered the agreement, noting that “The teachers’ union has been without a contract for four and a half years…. The retroactive pay granted in the deal is the same pair of 4 percent raises that most other municipal unions received in 2009 and 2010.” In an earlier article, the NY Times reported that New York City’s 100,000 school teachers and other school employees represented by the United Federation of Teachers had been without a contract since 2009.  (Members of the United Federation of Teachers will be taking a vote soon on the agreement.)

Many of you who read this blog may live far from New York City and may wonder if New York City’s new labor agreement with its teachers is relevant to you.  Consider that New York’s previous mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was a leader in the national wave of hostility toward teachers and their unions. The NY Times editorial board, which has not always been complimentary to the new Mayor de Blasio, praised him this past Saturday in an editorial: “Dispensing with the unproductive tension that tarnished the Bloomberg administration, the two sides showed that real progress can be made—on both the fiscal and the educational sides of the contract—when there is good will instead of disdain.”  Bloomberg’s active disdain for New York’s  teachers’ union provided cover for too many leaders across the country to attack teachers and their unions. It is to be hoped that  New York’s new contract with its teachers will become a symbol of the beginning of a national change of heart about school teachers.

Four years ago, the Rev. Thomas posted another blog that seemed so significant to me that I have kept it right in the front of my clipping file of articles about school teachers.  Rev. Thomas titled his piece, It’s Not OK to Hate Teachers.  Here is what Rev. Thomas wrote on June 3, 2010: “Earlier this year Arne Duncan and Barack Obama publicly affirmed the decision of a Rhode Island school district to fire every teacher at a failing public high school.  Do we really think every teacher at that high school deserved to be fired?… This spring the governor of New Jersey, angry at the pace of negotiations with teachers’ unions, publicly urged citizens to vote down their school levies knowing full well what kind of devastating impact that would have on public school classrooms in his state.  This Sunday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a front page report on the teachers in the Cleveland Public Schools that, at least to me, seemed designed to paint teachers in the worst possible light as overpaid, underworked, intransigent about reform, and not overly competent.”

And since 2010, the attacks on teachers have only worsened.  Although the majority of  teachers’ contributions to the lives of their students can be named only with words grammarians would call abstract, non-count nouns—learning, reason, discernment, creativity, character, encouragement, support, perseverance, discipline—school teachers have now seen their work quantified with value-added-measures—econometric formulas based on students’ scores on standardized tests.  In fact to qualify for No Child Left Behind Waivers from the U.S. Department of Education, states had to promise to incorporate students’ scores on the statewide test into their teacher evaluation systems.  Teachers are being blamed for shortfalls (due to the recession and in some places mismanagement) in the public pension systems they pay into throughout their careers, even as many states do not have public employees pay into Social Security.  Now Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says he plans to institute new ratings for the Colleges of Education where teachers are trained.  We have come to accept the language of economics to discuss the “inputs” teachers contribute and the  “outcomes” teachers are thought to “produce,” and we’ve learned that the inputs don’t really matter.  What’s measurable in the outcomes is all that counts.

I frequently find myself thinking about the observation of Parker Palmer, the writer who devoted his career to helping people consider their vocation.  Palmer wrote The Courage to Teach to help exhausted teachers recover their connection to their sense of calling.  In his introduction to a companion volume, Stories of The Courage to Teach, Palmer asks us to appreciate teachers in ways that can neither be counted nor computed, nor measured, nor monetized:

“America’s teachers are the culture heroes of our time.  Daily they are asked to solve problems that baffle the rest of us.  Daily they are asked to work with resources nowhere near commensurate with the task.  And daily they are berated by politicians, the public, and the press for their alleged failures and inadequacies…  If you are not a teacher and are skeptical either about their plight or their dedication,… visit a public school near you and shadow a couple of teachers for a couple of days.  Almost certainly you will witness for yourself the challenges teachers face, their lack of resources, and the deep demoralization they feel about serving as scapegoats for our nation’s ills… Caught in an anguishing bind between the good work they do and public misperceptions that surround them, hundreds of thousands of teachers somehow keep the faith and keep going…. Every day in classrooms across the land, good people are working hard, with competency and compassion, at reweaving the tattered fabric of society on which we all depend.” (pp. xvii-xviii)

Thank you, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, for recognizing the work of New York City’s teachers with a fair contract.



NYC Scraps 3rd Grade Guarantee As Ohio Adopts It–Based on ALEC Model Law

In September of 2012, according to Ohio’s Plunderbund, Ohio’s then acting state superintendent of public instruction, Michael Sawyers claimed that Ohio’s new 3rd Grade Guarantee will help Ohio’s children.  After all, Governor John Kasich has consistently alleged that children behind in reading by third grade are more likely to drop out of school than stronger readers.

Sawyers extolled the 3rd Grade Guarantee as a dropout prevention program that will primarily support students who have fallen behind in Ohio’s poorest urban school districts.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the percentage of children projected to be held back in third grade at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year across Ohio’s urban districts is:  Youngstown, 59.8 percent; Cleveland, 57.8 percent; East Cleveland, 57.2 percent; Warren, 55 percent; Warrensville Heights, 54.1 percent; Euclid, 52.1 percent; Lorain, 51.3 percent; Columbus, 49.3 percent; and Dayton, 47.7 percent.

Contrary to Kasich’s and Sawyers’ belief that the 3rd Grade Guarantee will lower the dropout rate, this blog has covered a mass of expert research demonstrating that repeating a grade is not only unlikely to improve reading but also very likely to result in students dropping out later as they become over-age in grade during adolescence.

Expert research, however,  hasn’t stopped the American Legislative Exchange Council from developing and distributing across the legislatures of the 50 states model legislation to require that children pass the standardized reading test before they can be promoted to fourth grade.  The Ohio law taking effect in 2014 is a replica of ALEC’s model legislation.  According to Chapter 7, Section 2 (C) of the ALEC model law, “Beginning with the 20XX-20XY school year, if the student’s reading deficiency, as identified in paragraph (a), is not remedied by the end of grade 3, as demonstrated by scoring at Level 2 or higher on the state annual accountability assessment in reading for grade 3, the student must be retained.”

Norm Fruchter is a new member of New York City’s Panel for Educational Policy (New York City’s mayoral-appointed school board) and principal associate at  Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform (located in New York City).  Writing for Gotham Gazette, Fruchter reports that ten years ago, “Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced a new student promotion policy based on retention—holding students back in the 3rd grade based on their New York State test results.  Fruchter reports that Mayor Bloomberg “trumpeted this tough love approach” despite that it “generated a maelstrom of protest.”

According to Fruchter, two years ago, in June of 2012, Mayor Bloomberg and Dennis Walcott, then chancellor, quietly scrapped New York’s 3rd grade retention program by granting “principals discretion to promote 3rd through 7th graders who’d been held back multiple times or were significantly over-age for their grade—a covert admission that the get-tough policy wasn’t working.”

Fruchter celebrates the decision earlier this month by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new Chancellor, Carmen Farina, as this blog covered here, formally to rewrite grade promotion policy by considering “the integrated use of multiple criteria equivalent to an achievement portfolio,” with standardized test scores as only one factor in the decision.  “Thanks to this advance, the New York City school system now has the opportunity not only to restore sanity to promotion/retention decisions, but to tackle the core questions of how best to assess our students’ academic achievement and, most important, how to improve their outcomes.”

I wonder if it will take Ohio’s politicians ten years to recognize the error of the new 3rd Grade Guarantee now being implemented through the adoption of ALEC’s model legislation?



Portfolio School Reform: What Does It Mean in Chicago? Newark? New York City?

Controversy about charter schools has heated up this spring in New York City, over whether charter schools should be co-located into buildings shared by traditional public schools and whether charter schools ought to be charged rent; in Newark, over Governor Chris Christie and state appointed caretaker superintendent Cami Anderson’s One Newark Plan that would close traditional schools and fire teachers; and in Chicago, where traditional public schools continue to be closed because they are, supposedly, under-enrolled but at the same time new charters are permitted by the school district to open right down the block.

What’s happening in these and other cities raises questions about the theory of “portfolio school reform” that is driving school district policy in many cities these days. NYC and Chicago count themselves among the over 40 districts in what the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington calls its Portfolio School District Network; Newark is implementing the strategy as well.

Portfolio School Reform is the idea developed and promoted by the Center, which posts on its website a map of over 40 school districts that have formally adopted this strategy. When you cut through the rhetoric,”portfolio school reform” means that the district is managed like a business portfolio—sloughing off the schools whose scores are low and opening new, and it is to be hoped, more successful schools—all in a perpetual cycle.  Stability is not a virtue sought in “portfolio school reform” strategy.

If you dig a little deeper into the website, you will find that the Center’s current funders include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and the Walton Family Foundation.  These are all reliable supporters of privatization and school choice.

The Center proclaims, “The portfolio strategy gives families the freedom to attend their neighborhood schools or choose one that is the best fit for their child….  And it relies on district leadership to support and expand successful schools until every child in the district is in a great school.”  Notice that while this definition features the concepts of freedom and choice, it doesn’t really explain how this is to be accomplished—through closing public schools and opening privatized alternatives. Nor does the definition wrestle with the question about whether all children can be provided a great school through a system of school choice driven by standardized test scores. After all the portfolio strategy is a competitive strategy and all competitions have losers as well as winners.  Because test scores reflect family wealth more than any other variable, what this usually means in practice is that children in the big city neighborhoods with the most concentrated poverty will find themselves in the schools being closed.

Some of the most penetrating analysis of today’s “portfolio school reform” theory may be found in a book written by Michael Fabricant and Michelle Fine and published by Teachers College Press in 2012: Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education.  Fabricant and Fine write: “The rationing of charter education has resulted in an increasing clamor for exit, an intensifying allure of all things private, and the migration of public resources out of neighborhood schools in the poorest areas.  This intensifying disinvestment is accompanied by ever more symbolic forms of public education reform that substitute modest investments in a small number of communities…. The bottom line is that if we are serious about education reform, it will require that the 95% of students not affected by charter schooling be paid equal attention…  Ultimately charter policy hides a profound failure of political will—more specifically, a failure of business, legislative, and media leadership to support the kinds of budgets, taxation, and targeted investment necessary to revive public education as a key element of social and economic development and racial justice in the poorest communities.” (p. 87)

Two articles this week update concerns about portfolio school reform:

In Chicago: Dan Mihalopoulos who has been investigating the implications of “portfolio school reform” in Chicago for the Sun Times collaborates with Darnell Little, editor of the Medill Data Project at Northwestern University in a Sun Times front page report, A Push for Charter Schools, But Little Difference in Test Scores. Despite that “Chicago has ordered the closings of dozens of neighborhood public schools while approving a new wave of publicly financed, privately operated charter schools, in a much-touted effort to improve education,”  Mihalopoulos and Little report data to confirm that students in traditional public schools are scoring comparably to, or sometimes outscoring, their charter school counterparts on standardized tests. The Sun Times investigation quotes Terry Mazany, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Community Trust, formerly interim CEO of the Chicago schools, and longtime supporter of portfolio school reform, who expresses concern about the new  data: “The growth of charter schools is based on the hypothesis that choice drives improvement. What we’ve seen from your analysis is that choice is not sufficient…. It’s not a silver bullet.”

In Newark: Bob Braun, 50-year reporter for The Star-Ledger, posts a new investigation on his blog of the operation of Cami Anderson’s school administration and those working with her to implement the “portfolio,” One Newark Plan by which she has said she will close a mass of schools and fire one third of Newark’s teachers.  In the context of this upheaval and purported cost-cutting, Braun examines enormous raises recently granted to administrators who are charged with implementing One Newark. “A third of Newark’s public school teachers face layoffs.  The contracts of seven employee unions, including nurses, cafeteria workers, and laborers, have expired and the administration of state (appointed) superintendent Cami Anderson refuses to settle.  Counselors were laid off.  Public schools have been stripped of assets and allowed to crumble.  Cami drove the district into a $40 million budget hole but, despite all that, she has given hefty raises to the district’s top administrators…. The sizable ‘leadership’ team raises began in the summer of 2012 and continued until a few weeks ago… Of the 18 highest paid administrators in Newark, 12 have ties with Cami through the various organizations she served—New York City schools (under Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein), Teach for America, New Leaders, or charter schools.  The nine who make $175,000 or more draw as high a salary as the governor himself, sometimes higher  The Newark school administration is to Cami Anderson what the Port Authority was to Chris Christie before Bridgegate–a publicly funded home for cronies.”

In New York City:  A recent post summarizes this blog’s extensive coverage of the ongoing conflict—about portfolio reform and protection of charter schools—between Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Fabricant and Fine conclude their excellent book, Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education, with this observation: “Entering the contested terrain of public education is an essential act of citizenship precisely because it demonstrates our commitment to preserving a racially and economically just public sphere and larger democracy.  Either we are prepared to struggle for a future built on a rock-solid foundation of a well-funded education system available for all children, or we all suffer in the quicksand of shifting resources from a starved public education system to privatized alternatives.” (p. 130)

Ravitch on Charters: NY Review of Books and Bill Moyers Interview

According to the NY Times, a deal has been cut in a New York state budget bill that will stop New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio from charging rent to charter schools and also prevent his halting the practice of co-location (putting charter schools in buildings that already house a traditional public school).  The budget agreement will preserve these policies of Mayor Bloomberg that Mayor de Blasio has sought to end. “Most significantly, the legislation would require the city to find space for charter schools inside public school buildings or pay much of the cost to house them in private space. The legislation would also prohibit the city from charging rent to charter schools, an idea Mr. de Blasio had championed as a candidate for mayor.”

Mayor de Blasio had resisted New York City’s tradition of accommodating charter schools (funded with public money and in New York endowed additionally by wealthy financiers) with rent-free space in public buildings. While he approved the majority of requests for new space from charter schools in February (the charter school co-locations had been pre-approved by Mayor Bloomberg before he left office), Mayor de Blasio attempted to cancel plans for three schools affiliated with a network known as Success Academy Charter Schools.  Two of the schools would have moved very young children into high schools, a situation de Blasio believed created safety issues.  A third would have threatened space currently housing physical therapy and other special services for disabled students.

New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo is known to favor charters.  This blog has tracked his significant campaign finance support from charter operators and wealthy members of their boards here and here.  The NY Times quotes Cuomo on the new budget agreement: “We want to protect and grow and support that charter school movement, and this budget does that.”

The education historian Diane Ravitch, herself a New Yorker, has spoken twice during the past week to clarify the issues underneath the political war over privatization and charters.  In an article published by the New York Review of Books, New York Schools: The Roar of the Charters, Ravitch describes the privileged status of particular charter school chains under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the rage of their supporters when someone has the audacity to speak up for the needs of the 94 percent of NYC children in traditional public schools, and the “ardent devotion” of Governor Andrew Cuomo to the charter cause, a devotion that “may have been abetted by the $800,000 in campaign contributions he received from charter advocates in the financial industry.”  Ravitch hopes the public will begin to understand what it  means “for New York City to have two school systems, both supported with public money, with one free to choose and remove its students and the other required to accept all students.”  “That lesson may ultimately be the undoing of the stealth effort to transfer public funds to support a small number of privately-managed schools, amply endowed by billionaires and foundations, that refuse to pay rent and are devoted to competing with, not helping, the general school population.”

Then over the weekend Bill Moyers aired a half-hour interview with Diane Ravitch on PBS.  Moyers and Ravitch cover lots of ground—the money behind the movement for privatization of public education, the role of individuals such as  Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and the role of far-right organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council.   Here is part of Moyers’ introduction to the program:

“And whatever you think about the merit of charter schools versus public schools, merit is no longer driving the debate.  What’s driving the debate is money.  The charter movement is now part of the growing privatization of public education, and Wall Street sees an emerging market.  Take a look at this piece published last fall on  ‘… dozens of bankers, hedge fund types and private equity investors…’ ‘gathered to discuss… investing in for-profit education companies…’  There’s a potential gold rush here.  Public education from kindergarten through high school pulls in more than $500 billion in taxpayer revenues every year, and crony capitalists and politicians alike are cashing in.”

Ravitch declares, “I think at the rate we’re moving now, we will see places like Detroit, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and many, many other cities where public schools become, if they exist, they will be a dumping ground for the kids that the charter schools don’t want.”  Ravitch knows that the competition for test scores set up by No Child Left Behind and programs like Race to the Top puts the schools serving society’s most vulnerable children at a terrible disadvantage, and competition creates incentives for charter schools to make sure they (often subtly) screen out children whose scores are likely to be low.  “So if you’re going to make scores the be all and the end all of education, you don’t want the kids with disabilities.  You don’t want the kids who don’t speak English.  You don’t want the troublemakers.  You don’t want the kids with low scores.  You want to keep those kids out.  And the charters have gotten very good at finding out how to do that.”

Here is the full interview as it aired on PBS.   If you prefer,you’ll find  a transcript here.  And on Moyers’ Public Schools for Sale page, you’ll find additional articles and resources.

Mayor de Blasio Defends Preschool and After-School Programs with Determination

New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio made the needs of young children and pre-adolescents the centerpiece of his election campaign last fall.   A promotional website describes a well framed  “plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund universal pre-k for every four year old and after school for every middle school student in New York City.”

In New York approving even local tax requests is a state responsibility. Yesterday de Blasio traveled to Albany to ask members of the General Assembly to pass enabling legislation for the modest New York City income tax he seeks to levy on those earning over $500,000 annually.

Pressure from de Blasio has forced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to address the need for preschool as well, though the details are a little murky because his plan is also paired with the statewide tax cut he anticipates will help him get reelected next fall.  According to Bloomberg News,  Cuomo says pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds across the state will cost $2.2 billion; Mayor de Blasio says his plan for pre-kindergarten and after school programs for middle schoolers in New York City alone will cost $2.5 billion.  He has proclaimed he will not back down on a plan that is urgently needed by New York City’s families.

Asking de Blasio to accept his more modest statewide proposal, Cuomo charges de Blasio can’t possibly get a program set up to provide preschool for 54,000 four-year-olds by September.  Cuomo also suggests a more modest start-up and phase-in.  Proclaiming such programs should be a right for all children in New York City, the new mayor is unwilling to carve these programs back by making them available only to poor families who clearly demonstrate the greatest need.  According to the NY Times, the mayor told lawmakers, “The city’s right to self determination ought to be honored in Albany.”

Bloomberg News reports that deBlasio intends to reach all 4-year-olds by using half of almost 4,000 classrooms identified by officials within public school buildings along with sites in community-based organizations.  The mayor predicts an average cost at $10,239 per child, or $340 million annually, including  expansion and operational costs, with almost $100 million for start-up and infrastructure costs.

The mayor’s proposed tax would also provide optional after school programs at school, a library, or a community organization for 205,000 middle school students.  According to the Hechinger Report which is covering this part of de Blasio’s plan, the number of seats available in such programs has been significantly reduced during the lean budget years since 2008.  The mayor promotes this part of his plan by noting the need for good supervision to keep kids out of trouble in the after-school hours and for the kind of enrichment more affluent children take for granted: “After-school programs can help students find something they love to do, whether dance, theater, or sports, providing motivation that extends to the regular academic day.”

Mayor de Blasio says a primary reason he continues to push for a dedicated local funding stream rather than accepting Cuomo’s proposed compromise is to avoid the ups and downs of the state budget and appropriations process.  He emphasizes the need for reliable funding.  After all, New York is one of 34 states that has not restored public school funding to the 2008, pre-recession level.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, New York spends 5.1 percent less, in inflation adjusted dollars, on public education than it did in 2008.

The new mayor’s determination to defend his program on its merits has kept the eye of the press on the needs of young children, pre-adolescents and families in New York City.  His plan to put a program in place without a long phase-in demonstrates deBlasio’s determination to address inequality.  Children and families can’t wait and for most there is no way to afford a private program.

The Times Really Seem to be A Changin in NYC

It seems hard to believe, but 21 days into the term of a new mayor of New York City, the conversation has shifted away from “corporate” school reform—from efficiency and privatization to what children need and how the public can provide it.  New York’s new Mayor de Blasio has siezed the attention of the media.  And the focus is about children—about the need for pre-school for all NYC four-year-olds, after-school programs for students in middle school, and a tax on the super-rich to pay for it.

Here is how the gorgeous website (with a moving video) proclaims the new mayor’s agenda: “UPKNYC is a grassroots campaign to enact Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund universal pre-k for every four year old and after school for every middle school student in New York City.”

An organizing campaign has volunteers on the streets seeking signatures on petitions and motivating citizens to press their representatives in Albany to pass enabling legislation for the tax increase.  Last Friday I received tweets all day long from Zakiyah Ansari, the New York City community organizer for the Alliance for Quality Education.  “We’re proud to support @UPKNYC’s campaign for universal pre-K and after-school in NYC. Then add your name: .”  A picture posted with the caption: “This mom knows the importance of pre-K firsthand. RT if all NYC kids deserve a seat.”

That the new mayor and his people are also working with the press is clear in an editorial in this morning’s NY Times trumpeting Mayor de Blasio’s talking points.  The newspaper that followed and usually supported Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to promote choice and charters is suddenly explaining: “Full-day prekindergarten is a smart investment in growing minds, preparing children to be skilled learners at a moment when they are primed for it.  It’s better to reach them at age 4 rather than fixing their learning problems later.”

Today’s editorial credits Mayor de Blasio for his seriousness compared to Governor Cuomo’s mere nod—a quick mention of universal pre-school in his state of the state address: “While Mr. Cuomo seems content with an applause line in a wish list, Mr. de Blasio is on the hook with a deeper commitment.  He has said how he will pay for it, how much it will cost and that it will begin late this year.”  The editorial frames the proposed tax increase on those making over $5oo,000 a year in de Blasio’s populist rhetoric: “He calls this a negligible sacrifice for a transformative social good.”

In The Nation magazine, Betsy Reed has recently puzzled about the bias of news coverage in NYC.  “In recent years, as wealth has flowed upward in New York City, the media gaze has followed, fixing ever more intently on the lives of a tiny elite…  Of course, this variety of lifestyle journalism isn’t entirely new. .. But the disproportionate attention heaped on the small number of very wealthy families obscured what most New York families were up against in the Bloomberg era.”

Writing about the other strand of de Blasio’s current child-related agenda, after-school programs for students in middle school, Reed continues: “But even so, out of 1.1 million children in city schools, only 15 percent are enrolled in city-funded after-school programs.  A survey by the Campaign for Children found that most parents who rely on these programs would, without them, either quit their jobs or leave their children home alone—suggesting that a good number of parents of the 935,000 kids left out are, right now, doing just that.  This is a scandal in a prosperous city—but other than perfunctory news stories about the annual budget dance, it’s mostly gone unnoticed.”

Check Out NY Daily News Coverage of Public Education in NYC

As our local newspapers fade away (Ours in Cleveland prints every day but inexplicably delivers only on Sunday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.), many of us go to the New York Times on-line almost as if it is our own daily paper.  But we are less equipped to unpack the local biases of another city’s newspaper.  After all, we are not immersed in that city’s facts on the ground.

To learn about public education in New York City, it is important to check out another point of view in addition to the one presented in the NY Times.  The New York Daily News is far more supportive of traditional public schools than the NY Times, that has pretty much endorsed former Mayor Bloomberg’s school reform policies featuring letter grades for schools, choice, charters, and public school closures.  This is especially true since the NY Times removed Michael Winerip, who appreciates public schools and public school teachers, from the education beat.

This morning the New York Daily News features Carmen Farina’s first day on the job.  The focus is on her plans for improving the crucially important middle school years for New York City’s children.

By contrast, this week’s coverage of Farina’s appointment in the NY Times here  has an undertone of skepticism.  This article seems to ask whether anyone can or should  really try to shift from Bloomberg’s policies.

I recommend checking out the New York Daily News for a different perspective on public education in New York City.