New York is among 45 states that signed on to teaching a new, more rigorous curriculum called the Common Core. The general idea is two-fold: raise the standard of information that students must know, and create consistency across the public education landscape to help the US remain competitive in a global economy.
Seventh-grade students learning math in Chicago’s schools, for example, should be able to come to the Greece schools with the same level of understanding because they've been taught the same curriculum.
But many educators have concerns about whether the Common Core is being implemented properly, and if it is being implemented too soon.
A recent study by the University of Rochester, Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, and Washington State University Tri-Cities indicates that some of those concerns are warranted.
The researchers found that more support and resources are needed in order for educators to put the state standards for the math portion of the core curriculum into practice. After surveying 403 middle school math teachers in 43 states, the researchers found that while the teachers are familiar with the new math curriculum and they perceived it to be more rigorous than the state standards it replaces, the teachers needed more help and preparation to teach it to their students.
Many of the teachers are still using textbooks and other materials created before the new curriculum was developed. Many teachers, according to the research, also would benefit from more professional development so they can be more effective in the classroom.
The research is especially important to educators, since teachers and principals in many states — including New York— will receive professional evaluations linked to test results.
Educators and their unions say that it’s too early to begin evaluating teachers when the Common Core curriculum is still being implemented, and some have sought delays in the evaluations.
“The teachers are feeling this is a big deal and it’s going to be hard to do, and they haven’t been fully prepared,” says Jeffrey Choppin, associate professor at the UR’s Warner School of Education.
Kim Dyce Faucette, a former top administrator with the Rochester school district, has resigned as superintendent of the North Syracuse Central School District, according to a report on the Syracuse Post-Standard’s website.
The district’s school board voted 9-0 in favor of accepting Dyce Faucette’s resignation. Her resignation follows a tough budget fight for the 2013-2014 school year that reduced athletic and extracurricular activities.
The budget called for Dyce Faucette to receive a $182,000 annual salary, according to the report, and her three-year contract was scheduled to end next summer.
The report mentions several controversial events that occurred under Dyce Faucette's supervision, but there are few details of her direct involvement. The decision to leave the Syracuse position was mutual, according to statements made by Dyce Faucette.
Dyce Faucette left the RCSD in 2011. She was chief of staff and a long-time employee.
“The proposed project calls to address safety concerns on Monroe Avenue west of Clover Street with the following measures:By Jeremy Moule
- Constructing a westbound right-turn-only lane for westbound traffic approaching the I-590 northbound on-ramp;
- Eliminate the eastbound right lane on Monroe Avenue serving traffic from the I-590 southbound off ramp toward Clover Street. This would leave two through lanes for eastbound traffic.
- Retain the eastbound, dedicated right turn lane closer to the Clover Street intersection;
- Reconfigure the intersection of Monroe Avenue and the I-590 northbound off ramps to tie into upgraded Monroe Avenue to serve exiting traffic;
- Reconfigure the intersection of Monroe Avenue and the I-590 southbound on/off ramps west of the I-590 bridges with a new traffic signal. Introduce a new left turn access from Monroe Avenue westbound to I-590 southbound to ease congestion;
- Provide sidewalk on south side of the roadway;
- Provide sidewalk on the north side of the roadway under a future contract;
- Provide 5-foot wide bike lane or improved shared use lanes where possible;
- The project will also include resurfacing of the existing pavement, new curbs, upgrading drainage and signals, and installing new landscaping, signs, and pavement markings.”
If the Rochester school district doesn’t start improving soon, charter schools will become the dominant force in the district, city schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas said in a recent interview.
“We can no longer continue to say that we are the district of choice if we’re not being chosen,” he said.
The district lost about 1,000 students in the last school year, Vargas said — most of them to charter schools.
“We have to prove that their kids can do better here,” he said. While charters have some momentum, he said, the district is responding.
“We have better teachers, better buildings, and better resources,” Vargas said. “I have the most highly educated work force in the county. There are 4,000 people here, most with advanced degrees. If we fail to provide parents with a better choice than charter schools, it’s not because of a lack of resources.”
Instead of meeting his goal of having 10 schools open with expanded hours in the coming school year, Vargas said he is aiming for 14. He cites insufficient instruction time as the biggest hindrance to improving student outcomes in city schools.
But he said he's also working on improving management and the overall operation of the school district.
“We continue to do some irrational things,” he said. And he said that the district’s culture has to change, so parents and families are treated as welcomed customers. He recently reserved parking spaces up close to the central office building for families.
“These are simple things, but they’re not simplistic,” Vargas said. “Just look at how Wegmans treats their customers.”
But Vargas is banking on conversion charters as a game-changer for the district. He has proposed creating charter schools within the district. The conversion requires a majority agreement among teachers, but Vargas says he wants parents in the schools selected to have a voice, too.
“The type of school I’m proposing has never been done successfully in New York State,” he said. “It would be a first.” Vargas says he wants the schools to operate fully autonomously from the district’s central office. There would be a two-year grace period, he said, and during that time, if parents feel they've made a mistake, they can transfer their children out of the schools. The schools would have five years, similar to most charters, to prove their viability.
“We have advantages over the charters," Vargas said. "I have building space available and I can give them administrative support if they want it. I believe this could save the district.”
The national anti-abortion-rights group Operation Save America, formerly Operation Rescue, is in Rochester this week. The city was chosen for the group's 2013 national profile event.
The group, which is often characterized as a Christian fundamentalist organization that also opposes gay rights and Islam, has been holding events throughout the city. Today, members are expected to be at Ontario Beach Park, Planned Parenthood, and at Bethel Christian Fellowship at 321 East Avenue at 6:30 tonight.
So far, attendance at OSA's Rochester events has been low, says a spokesperson for the Rochester Police Department. The RPD is keeping a close eye on the situation, the spokesperson says, and is in daily contact with leaders of the OSA.
"They assure us they're going to be careful and peaceful," says Sgt. Elena Correia, the RPD's public information officer. "We are keeping an eye on that and making sure everybody's safe."
Police have a strategic plan ready to go if things get out of hand, Correia says, but there have been no incidents so far. Anyone experiencing problems should call 911, she says.
An OSA opposition group is also in Rochester this week. Women's Equality, Liberation & Defense is holding events through July 31. (See a full list below)
WELD formed in May "to support women's right and to protect women in the Rochester area and New York State from defamation and harassment."
WELD's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RochesterWELD
Nearly a year ago, Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas ended his comments in a public meeting with an ominous statement. “We’re running out of time,” he said, referring to the need to improve student performance.
In an interview earlier today, Vargas said that all the community has to do is look west at the Buffalo school system to better understand his warning.
State Education Commissioner John King recently sent a letter to the superintendent of Buffalo’s schools requiring students from two high schools—East and Lafayette—to take classes outside of the district. In a highly unprecedented move, King put Erie 1 BOCES in charge of the reform of the administration of the schools and denied the district millions of dollars in support.
This morning, the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency's board approved a package of property and sales tax incentives for Xerox.
Xerox sought the incentive for a potential expansion of its Webster toner production plant. Under the package, Xerox would get approximately $441,500 worth of tax breaks over a 10-year period. The company says it'll create 25 positions if it expands the toner plant.
But Xerox hasn't yet decided whether it will expand the facility. The company needs to increase its global toner production, but it's also considering expansions at facilities in Canada, Japan, and the Netherlands, COMIDA executive director Judy Seil said during this morning's meeting.