GeorgeOconnor 
Member since Feb 6, 2014

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Re: “Council member calls for investigation of RHA dismissal

It's troubling how easily we dismiss blatant cronyism, simply because "the other guy" has done it in the past. It wasn't right then, it's not now. The residents deserve the best candidate for the job and the Councilwoman was right to speak up on behalf of her constituents. They also deserve a board chair who has integrity.

What I want to know is: how much is the abrupt change going to cost the taxpayers? Castro's contract was recently renewed, how much do we have to pay him out? And I'd like to hear more from Moses: his explanation about needing a new director to change course rings hollow. You don't hire an interim to lead a course change, you hire an interim to caretake while you do a diligent search for a permanent director. Will there be a proper search for the permanent gig?

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by GeorgeOconnor on 10/19/2014 at 8:15 PM

Re: “Regional schools

Great piece, Tim. A couple of things missing though: for a few years, the Regents had a bill to create regional high schools. It's interesting to note that it's supporters are many of the reform-types that Cala rails against and opponent, his allies. Also, there's an example of a collaborative, regional high school in the Capital Region that is a great model, Tech Valley High.

Cala will never concede this, but the most whispered reason that this project is stuck is his leadership. Unless his plans have changed, he was simultaneously calling for the creation of a regional school and an exemption from state exams. If he wants his regional school, he needs to put aside his other pastime of lobbying against standards and accountability. You can't do both. You can't spend years personally attacking state policy makers like Cala has and then now expect them to support you. The other superintendents know this and that's why they are staying away. Cala has become toxic in Albany. Even in this interview, he can't resist attacking charter schools.

No matter how Cala wants to spin it, this Regional Academy will take funding away from other districts and will be a choice school, just like charters. Funny how noble a pursuit it is when it's your pursuit. If nothing else, Cala's project is an illustration of just how full of hypocrites and double standards the ed policy space has become.

10 likes, 13 dislikes
Posted by GeorgeOconnor on 05/21/2014 at 9:51 AM

Re: “Green light on UR plan with a warning

Susie R- Are there unicorns in your vision of UR's management of East? That is the most utopian description of school turnaround I've ever read.

It's way too simplistic to say that the failure at East is because of Central Office dysfunction. Don't get me wrong, it's bad, but it's not everything. Keep in mind that schools have had the power to opt out of CO through the Living Contract provision. They just haven't done it. It's easier to blame the CO bogey man.

This UR takeover will be a rude awakening for the ivory tower-types who've confused theory with practice. And it will be painful for the rest of us to watch.

4 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by GeorgeOconnor on 05/16/2014 at 9:56 AM

Re: “Union could run Syracuse school

A union-run charter is hardly a model. The other in NYS is just another failing school, probably shouldn't have been re-authorized.

http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2012/10/09/opened-…

0 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by GeorgeOconnor on 05/15/2014 at 7:14 PM

Re: “Green light on UR plan with a warning

I'm really disappointed in the media coverage of this UR project. Why does the UR not get the same level of scrutiny that the other bidder School Turnaround got? Double standard.

A couple of things missing from all media accounts, City's especially:
-Warner needs cash. They've been on the chopping block off and on for decades. They only produced 40 teacher a year and rely heavily on alternative revenue from federal/state grants, lucrative professional development gigs. This East project is a matter of balancing their budget w/ tax dollars, not doing anything noble for Rochester's kids.
-Despite receiving a ton of taxdollars, Warner has refused to be transparent about it's teacher prep program in a national study of teacher prep quality. http://www.nctq.org/teacherPrep/findings/p…. What the study could glean: Warner's program is not aligned with NYS's new state standards. Not promising.
-Warner has a track record of dozens of projects in the district. Has anyone done any ROI analysis? Doubtful they can point to any student gains. Patronage, yes. School improvement, no.
-Warner faculty have become increasingly active in lobbying and political activity opposing the Regents agenda. Seems relevant, no? They oppose most of the key policies: standards & accountability, teacher evals, charters. REALLY makes me wonder if state ed did their homework before Ok'ing the plan. Talk about empowering your enemies.

Mark my words: when this partnership flops, Warner won't be accountable to taxpayers, they'll blame the Regents. That's what ideologues do.

8 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by GeorgeOconnor on 05/15/2014 at 7:02 PM

Re: “Can parents save the schools?

They could sell tickets to a Remis-Urbanski debate. They're both gladiators with their own following.

Not sure I agree that Warren, Remis and Larson are all on the same page though, Tim. Did you watch the early learning council hearing last week? Larson threw a bomb at charter schools there to give testimony on their interest in starting up preKs, saying the research says they push out at-risk kids. The professor knows best, I guess. She's been lobbying the Council behind the scenes on it too, giving everyone a lot of agitae in the process.

Charters are rightly up in arms. There's been a lot of chatter about whether or not Larson's pushing her own personal agenda to block them from preK or floating the mayor's change of heart on charters, (which were central to her campaign). Both explanations seem plausible, given how cozy UR/Warner is with RCSD and how hot the charter debate has become politically.

Remis is a HARDCORE charter supporter, so either way, she's got an uphill battle. Hope she's tougher than she looks.

10 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by GeorgeOconnor on 04/23/2014 at 6:21 PM

Re: “East's problems mirror an unstable district

Easy there Mark, you can't bully anyone into talking to you.

I think the point about the contract is an interesting one, especially since it riled up a couple of you so much! A few years back, parents had a rep at the collective bargaining table. Urbanski HATED it and Rivera got rid of it, but the board should really think about reinstating it. The problem is not that the union has too much power, it's that the people have too little.

And Macaluso should FOIL those MOUs. Frankly, City should be making all the different accountability plans associated with East and all the priority schools available to the public.

Put the public back in public education! Lift the veil.

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by GeorgeOconnor on 03/24/2014 at 8:34 PM

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