2010-08-27 / Top Stories

Ed Officials Set Plans For Federal School Money

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew celebrated on Tuesday New York State’s selection and award of $700 million in the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competition. This award will provide between $250 million and $300 million to New York City schools to support the creation of a new teacher evaluation system, develop a more rigorous curriculum and State assessments based on the national Common Core Standards, and expand a range of proven reforms first introduced in New York City. The announcement of the award comes a month after Chancellor Klein traveled to Washington, D.C. with State Education Commissioner David Steiner, State Regents Chair Merryl Tisch and Michael Mulgrew to officially present the State’s application to the selection committee. The Mayor, Chancellor and Michael Mulgrew were joined at the City Hall announcement by Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, New York City Councilmember Robert Jackson, State Regents Chair Merryl Tisch and State Education Commissioner David Steiner.

“New York State’s selection is a testament to what we’ve accomplished in our City’s schools over the last eight years,” said Bloomberg. “Our students have shown tremendous improvement and now – as a Race to the Top participant – we will work with our teachers and school administrators to raise the bar once again.”

“Under Commissioner Steiner’s leadership, New York State submitted a much stronger application this time around, and today’s win affirms that we are moving in the right direction,” Klein said. “We took a hard look at where we fell short last time and made important policy changes, such as raising the cap on charter schools and introducing a strong teacher evaluation system. Race to the Top has been a tremendous catalyst for precisely the kind of education reforms we’ve supported and implemented in New York City; now it is up to all of us to live up to this commitment and continue the important work that got us here.”

“The Race to the Top funds will enable New York State to build a curriculum and an early warning data system that will help schools identify the supports that children need to succeed,” said Mulgrew. “I want to thank everyone who worked on this application, and particularly Chancellor Tisch and Commissioner Steiner, for the leadership that helped New York be a winner in this competition.”

In January, New York State submitted an application for Round One of the competition and was named one of 16 finalists in March. When the Round One winners were announced weeks later, New York was not among them. In the following months, New York State adopted a range of reforms to support its second round Race to the Top application and strengthen its schools. In May, for instance, the State legislature raised the cap on the number of charter schools from 200 to 460. During the 2009-2010 school year, there were 99 charter schools operating in New York City. An additional 27 are set to open in New York City for the 2010-2011 school year.

New York also strengthened its accountability system by adopting a comprehensive evaluation system for teachers and principals based on multiple measures, including concrete evidence of student learning. Under the proposed system, teachers and principals will receive one of four ratings: “highly effective,” “effective,” “developing,” or “ineffective.” The evaluations will play a significant role in a wide array of decisions, including tenure, selection for leadership positions, supplemental compensation based on a career ladder, and possible termination. This flexibility allows for the construction of an evaluation system that can be customized to the professional development needs of every teacher.

Finally, the State moved to adopt the more rigorous, national Common Core Standards, which will go a long way toward improving college readiness for

students in New York City and across the nation. The New York City Department of Education has already begun to introduce these standards to schools by training superintendents and principals over the summer. This fall, 1,000 teachers in 100 schools across New York City will participate in a pilot project around college readiness that will test new classroom assessments and involve targeted professional development.

New York State submitted its Round Two application on June 1, applying for $696 million in federal funds. On July 27, New York was again named a finalist, along with 18 other states around the country. New York State was named a Round Two winner, joining Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

“New York’s schools have made strong strides towards excellence and this grant will accelerate that progress, said Senator Schumer. “This is great news for parents, teachers, and taxpayers across the state. This will send a message to other states that making hard choices, as New York did, will be rewarded by the federal government.”

“This is a big win for New York,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “It took enormous effort, but New Yorkers came together and delivered for our children. This investment will improve our schools and help prepare students for college and the jobs of the future. I worked hard with my colleagues to secure this investment for New York, and I will keep fighting to make sure New York gets its fair share from Washington.”

“Today’s Race to the Top victory is a win for New York’s school children,” said John L. Sampson. “It proves what the State Legislature can accomplish through cooperation, collaboration, and compromise. The $700 million New York stands to receive will provide the resources for a world class education for our children and help train the workforce New York needs to compete in the global economic marketplace. I congratulate Chancellor Tisch and Commissioner Steiner, and applaud the extraordinary contribution of Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein for their leadership and commitment without which today’s success would not have been possible. I also want to thank Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver, Senate Education Chair Suzi Oppenheimer, Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan, as well as our partners in the education community, including NYSUT, UFT, and the charter school community for working together for the benefit of New York’s children.”

“Today’s decision to award New York State with millions in Race to the Top education funding is a clear endorsement of the commitment we have made to ensure that our public school students receive the finest education possible,” Assembly Speaker Silver said. “This funding, combined with the sweeping education reforms we enacted this year, will improve the lives of children throughout our state. I want to thank Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan, all of our Assembly colleagues, the Governor, the Senate, State Education Commissioner David Steiner, Senior Deputy Commissioner John King, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, Mayor Bloomberg and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew for their hard work and dedication in helping to craft the successful application.”

“Today’s announcement highlights what we as a State can achieve when we work to build consensus among parties with deeply held, but often conflicting viewpoints,” said Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, Chair of the Senate Education Committee. I applaud all of the educators and advocates who worked together to reform our educational system and pave the way for today’s win. This is a great victory for the students of New York.”

“As a parent of a public school student, I know how much this money is needed,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. “As Chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee, I know Race to the Top money will go a long way in helping New York renew and renovate our education system. Assembly members worked hard to come up with key legislation that would meet the test. With the leadership of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the guidance of State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, we worked together successfully to pass this complex legislation that allow us this win this money.”

“Working together the Administration, the City Council, the Department of Education, State legislature and the education unions have made enormous strides in strengthening our nation’s largest public education system,” said Speaker Quinn. “Yet there is still much work to be done. With this Race to the Top grant of more than $250 million, we can make our system even stronger and give New York City’s 1.8 million school children greater resources and opportunities they need to succeed. Thank you to Chancellor Klein, State Education Commissioner Steiner, State Regents Chair Tisch and United Federation of Teachers President Mulgrew, who worked so hard to get New York to the top of the list for this critical federal funding.”

“I am extremely pleased that New York State emerged as a winner in the nationwide Race to the Top competition for Federal funding,” said New York City Councilmember Robert Jackson. “This infusion of money should help our students meet the standard of a sound, basic education defined in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit sooner, rather than later. There can be no question that New York City is a ‘district in need’ or that supporting our children is the smartest long term social investment we can make.”

“Winning a Race to the Top grant is an important victory for the children of New York State, the principals, assistant principals and other administrators who lead their schools in these very challenging times, and the teachers who work so hard to help them live up to their potential,” said Ernest A. Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. “This Race to the Top grant should provide some of the economic wherewithal and inspiration to ignite true reform and accountability.”

The State’s second round application also proposed expanding a number of initiatives first introduced and proven successful in New York City, including but not limited to:

Leadership Academies: The State will use RTTT funds to replicate the City’s Leadership Academy, which for the past seven years has helped recruit and train outstanding principals to lead City schools. Eleven more Academies are planned, so that all regions of the State – including the remaining three large city districts – will have access to a Leadership Academy.

Data Systems: Consistent with the work New York City has done with its data system (ARIS), the State will develop a statewide Education Data Portal that will offer customized access to data and a uniform, comprehensive statewide instructional reporting and improvement system. The new system will link teacher-to-student level data and track students throughout their school careers.

Networks and Data Inquiry Teams: The State will build upon New York City’s Inquiry Team model, in which educators work within each school to examine student level data, analyze results, and make adjustments to their instruction as needed. These teams will be supported in a network structure – proven successful in New York City – made up of data experts and specialists in curriculum, assessment and instruction.

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