Tag Archives: Chancellor Carranza

Census 2020: Political Clout and Dollars at Stake: A Lot of Dollars: How is New York City and State Responding?

Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution requires an “enumeration,” a census every ten years,

Representatives … shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons (meaning slaves). The actual Enumeration shall be made …  every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct

 On April 1, Census Day (minus one year) the Bureau of Census rolled out the plans for the 2020 census. An upbeat presentation by the Bureau of Census, the major change is that the bureau expects a significant percentage of census takers will respond online. The Bureau acknowledges the problem of an undercount, indigenous peoples, the poor, immigrants, hard-to-reach areas all present issues. Watch the presentation here .

The press conference was a lot less upbeat.

The administration budgeted one billion dollars less than requested, and, the major point of contention, a question dealing with citizenship status which could discourage participating in the census.

The citizenship question was challenged in the federal courts and, in a scathing decision the courts sustained the appellants and ruled the question inappropriate,

Plaintiffs proved at trial that, if the citizenship question is added to the 2020 census questionnaire, they will suffer serious harm in the form of lost political representation, lost federal funding, and degradation of information that is an important tool of state sovereignty.  And at least two of those injuries, the loss of political representation and the degradation of information would be irreparable, without any adequate remedy at law.

 Measured against these standards, Secretary Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census —even if it did not violate the Constitution itself —was unlawful for a multitude of independent reasons and must be set aside. To conclude otherwise and let Secretary Ross’s decision stand would undermine the proposition —central to the rule of law —that ours is a government of law and not of men” (John Adams, Novanglus Papers, No. 7 (1775).  And it would do so with respect to what Congress itself has described as “one of the most critical constitutional functions our Federal Government perform” (Read entire decision here.

The question may be decided by the Supreme Court later in the spring.

The Census will determine representation in the House of Representatives, New York State could lose two seats if the undercount is the same as in 2010, and, 55 federal programs are determined by population, New York State could lose a hundred  million in federal dollars. New York State receives 1.6 billion in federal education dollars.

Maya Wiley, an MSNBC contributor and a Professor at the New York School University made a troubling presentation.

,The 2020 Census will be the first on-line Census. It is grossly underfunded and the federal administration in Washington has raised significant concerns for immigrants, legal residents and other vulnerable people. The New School’s Digital Equity Laboratory has been working on a project to support greater collaborative work between libraries, community leaders and city governments in the New York region to support a fair and safe Census.

 The CUNY Mapping Service  lays out the data and the challenges: “low response scores,” population groups with increased risks of being undercounted,” “households with no computer or inadequate internet access,” by neighborhood.

The Bureau of Census, the advocates and the newly appointed New York City Census Director, Julie Menin are planning to work with libraries, and community organization, an excellent plan; however, why aren’t schools at the center of the plan?

I e-communicated with Julie Menin, and did receive a thumbs up.

There are 1800 schools, 1.1 million kids and over 100,000 highly motivated teachers and paraprofessionals. Schools have staff members to match the language of their students, and close relationships with families.

Why isn’t the Department of Education at the center of a census outreach plan?

The teacher union is enthusiastic and understands the vital importance; an undercount means loss of jobs and vital services to children and families.

In addition every high school senior must take a course entitled, “Participation in Government,”

This course aims to provide students with opportunities to become engaged in the political process by acquiring the knowledge and practicing the skills necessary for active citizenship. Content specifications are not included, so that the course can adapt to present local, national, and global circumstances, allowing teachers to select flexibly from current events to illuminate key ideas and conceptual understandings. Participation in government and in our communities is fundamental to the success of American democracy.

 The course can engage students in census field work across the city, a powerful tool to maximize participation in the census, a powerful activity to involve students in civics, in real, live activities.

While the census is a year away now is the time to create an inclusive plan.

The Specialized High Schools and the admittance test dominate the news cycle while the census is barely acknowledged.

I hope that State Commissioner Elia instructs her staff to post Census lessons on EngageNY as well as instruct school district leaders to provide census outreach in each and every school in the state.

I expect that Chancellor Carranza will appoint a census coordinator, a vital position considering what’s at stake.

Does the Specialized High School Admitance Test (SHSAT) Discriminate Against Black Students? or, Does the Discovery Program Discriminate Against Asian Students?

The Manhattan Institute hosted a panel, “Diversity by Decree: Is NYC’s New Policy for Elite High Schools Constitutional? The panel moderated by Troy Senik the Vice President for Policy and Programs at MI, John Yoo, Pacific Legal Foundation and the John Heller Professor of Law at U. C. Berkeley School of Law, Wai Wah Chin, President, Chinese American Citizen’s Alliance of Greater New York and Ray Dominico, Director of Education Policy at MI.

The Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging the de Blasio-Carranza use of the Discovery Program section of the Hecht-Calandra Law (1971) that embedded the Specialized High School Admittance Test (SHSAT) in statute.

The Discovery Program section of the law establishes a “second chance,” to gain acceptance for “disadvantaged students” to the Specialized High Schools,

(d) The special schools shall be permitted to maintain a Discovery Program to give disadvantaged students of demonstrated high potential an opportunity to try the special high school program without in any manner interfering with the academic level of those schools. A student may be considered for the Discovery Program provided the student: (1) be one of those who takes the regular entrance examination but scores below the cut-of score (2) is certified by his local school as disadvantaged (3) is recommended by his local school as having high potential for the special high school program and (4) attends and then passes a summer preparatory program administered by the special high school…..  A candidate reached for consideration on the basis of this examination score will be accepted for admission to the Discovery Program only if his previous school record is satisfactory. Any discovery program admissions to a special high school shall not exceed fourteen (14) per cent of the number of students scoring above the cut-off score and admitted under the regular examination procedure of (b) and (c) above.

 The Discovery Program faded as the Specialized High Schools failed to support the program; additionally the “disadvantaged students” who were accepted into the program were primarily white and Asian.

It is the changes in the Discovery Program that is the basis of the legal challenge.

New York City is expanding this alternative admissions process — known as the Discovery program — as a way to increase the diversity of the specialized high schools, where black and Hispanic students are underrepresented. Though the effort has received less attention than the mayor’s ambitious proposal to get rid of the test entirely, it has an advantage because — unlike eliminating the test — it does not require the approval of the State Legislature.

By 2020, 20 percent of the ninth-grade seats in every specialized high school will be set aside for Discovery students, according to city education officials. Currently, only 5 percent of the 4,000 ninth-grade seats are filled through Discovery.

And who makes it into the program will also change. Students are currently eligible if they meet the city Education Department’s criteria for being disadvantaged. But under the new plan, only students who attended high-poverty middle schools will be accepted. Changing to high-poverty schools means that those accepted will be more likely to be black or Hispanic, since they dominate at those schools.

John Yoo is a controversial figure;  he authored memos during the Bush administration supporting “enhanced interrogation” (aka, torture), and, recently has been critical of the Trump border wall.

Yoo was almost giddy in his presentation, quoted Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza as clear evidence that the new iteration of the Discovery Program was designed to discriminate against Asian students unconstitutionally depriving more qualified Asian students of seats in the elite schools and referenced challenges to college admissions.

Whether the current debate over the use of race in the admittance of students to college is equivalent to the elite high schools admittance is open to question.

SCOTUS, in Fisher v The University of Texas (2016), by 4-3 decision, upheld the racial elements used,

The Court held that the University of Texas’ use of race as a factor in the holistic review used to fill the spots remaining after the Top Ten Percent Plan was narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest. Previous precedent had established that educational diversity is a compelling interest as long as it is expressed as a concrete and precise goal that is neither a quota of minority students nor an amorphous idea of diversity

Yoo reminded us that the Supreme Court has changed, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, according to Yoo, are likely not to support the Fischer when issue comes before the highest court again.

The Harvard Admissions case, alleging a quota restricting the admission of Asian students is awaiting a decision at the Circuit Court; the case will be appealed regardless of the prevailing side and could move towards the highest court, although it could take a  few years. There are similar law suits perking through courts in other areas of the country.

Yoo did not address the issue of “disparate impact;” if a test is used as a requirement of employment and adversely impacts a “protected group” the test is discriminatory absent evidence that the test is “job related.”  In Duke Power Company,

Court held that Duke’s standardized testing requirement prevented a disproportionate number of African-American employees from being hired by, and advancing to higher-paying departments within, the company. Neither the high school graduation requirement nor the two aptitude tests was directed or intended to measure an employee’s ability to learn or perform a particular job or category of jobs within the company. The Court concluded that the subtle, illegal, purpose of these requirements was to safeguard Duke’s long-standing policy of giving job preferences to its white employees.

Griggs v Duke Power Co (1971)

There are parallels to the use of tests to admit students to educational programs.

Students accepted into the elite high schools through the Discovery programs did as well as student’s accepted through the testing process: does the “disparate impact” concept challenge the use of the SHSAT?

In the early 70’s a class of Black and Puerto Rican teachers challenged the use of a qualifying examination for positions of assistant principals and principal, the court held,

[T]he examinations prepared and administered by the Board of Examiners for the licensing of supervisory personnel, such as Principals and Assistant Principals, have the de facto effect of discriminating significantly and substantially against Black and Puerto Rican applicants.

  Such a discriminatory impact is constitutionally suspect and places the burden on the Board to show that the examinations can be justified as necessary to obtain Principals, Assistant Principals and supervisors possessing the skills and qualifications required for successful performance of the duties of these positions. The Board has failed to meet this burden. Chance v Board of Examiners 1972

The litigants, represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation chose to equate the Discovery program with the foundational decisions of the court; Justice Harlen’s dissent in Plessy v Ferguson (1896).

  Our Constitution in color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.  In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.   The humblest is the peer of the most powerful.  The law regards man as man and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved….

On one hand only a handful of Black students passed the test, the entering class at Stuyvesant is over 70% Asian: is the test discriminatory, or, is the use of the new Discovery Program, that will result in Asian students having higher grades and not accepted, discriminatory?

While one can argue that the Discovery Program is part of the law, the term “disadvantaged students” is not defined, the Department has simply more narrowly defined the relvant section of the statute; clearly to achieve the intent of the law.

The issue is both emotional and controversial.

Black scholars, electeds, as well as white progressives argue that any test that advantages one racial/ethnic group over another is discriminatory, and, with a long history of racial discrimination the SHSAT is especially distasteful.  I was at a Midwestern university a few days ago and a professor of Afro-American history was appalled by the vigorous defense of the test. During the same visit I sat in on a class that discussed the many, many, centuries-old use of examinations in China to select the government ruling class,

The examination based civil service thus promoted stability and social mobility. The Confucian-based examinations meant that the local elites and ambitious would-be members of those elites across the whole of China were taught with similar values. Even though only a small fraction (about 5 percent) of those who attempted the examinations actually passed them and even fewer received titles, the hope of eventual success sustained their commitment. Those who failed to pass did not lose wealth or local social standing; as dedicated believers in Confucian orthodoxy, they served, without the benefit of state appointments, as teachers, patrons of the arts, and managers of local projects, such as irrigation works, schools, or charitable foundations

Examinations are at the core of Chinese cultural values.

I suspect the court will not sustain the Pacific Legal Foundation.

Interestingly, Afro-Americans were the largest supporters of Hillary Clinton in 2016; Asians were the second largest supporting group. While “testing” is an important value in the Asian community; the discriminatory impact of the test is of concern to younger Asians.

By the time the court challenges are resolved de Blasio and Carranza may have moved on to other careers.

UPDATE: The court refused to halt the de Blasio-Carranza revised Discovery Programwhile the case proceeds through the courts

The UFT Contract Proposal: Can a Teacher Contract Rebuild Trust in Public Schools: An Aggressive Agreement Confronts Teacher Shortages, Teacher Collaboration and High Poverty/At Risk Schools

As Hurricane Michael whistled by the city the Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carranza and Union President Mulgrew announced a proposed union contract months before the mid February contract expiration, and, none too soon for a chancellor faced with one inherited crisis after another.

This afternoon hundreds of union delegates will convene  to hear details, ask questions, and, after what I expect will be vigorous debate vote on the contract. If approved, as I expect, it will move to the members, who, in a secret ballot, will vote to approve or reject the agreement. As with every contract there will be naysayers: not enough money, class size should have been addressed, etc., I expect an overwhelming approval by members. In 1995 the members did vote to reject a contract, a five year contract with no raises in the first two years, months later virtually the same contract was approved.

Public employee negotiations are guided by the Public Employees Relation Board (PERB) regulations, and salary is governed by the principles of “Ability to Pay” and “Pattern Bargaining;” (see an earlier blog for more detailed discussion).

The tentative 43-month contract provides a 2 percent salary increase on Feb. 14, 2019, followed by an increase of 2.5 percent on May 14, 2020, and 3 percent on May 14, 2021.  After the May, 2021 increase, the maximum teacher salary will jump to $128,657 from today’s high of $119,472. Starting teacher salaries will go from the current $56,711 to $61,070.

UFT-represented employees will still receive the lump-sum payments scheduled for this October and the following two Octobers that were negotiated in the 2014 contract.

For the chancellor the contract proposed contract settlement is crucial, he was drowning in inherited crises that have been bubbling for years.

The education headlines: thousands of students left stranded as school buses failed to arrive, a $100,000 rabbi with the $50,000 driver, working for the Department, to supervise publicly funded buses for Yeshivas , staggering numbers of special education qualified students without services (Read NYTimes story here), and, of course, the lingering and contentious specialized schools segregation conundrum.pitting students of color against Asian students.

The contract is complex and the implementation difficult, it attempts to blend the needs of the union and the needs of the school system.

 Teaching shortages and teacher retention: enrollment in teacher education programs is sharply down, and, teacher retention in high needs schools, more than half the teachers leave within five years, creates a cycle of constant teacher shortages. Are we selecting the “proper” candidates?   The department will begin to pre-screen potential candidates. When I worked as a consultant in the Chancellor’s District in the late 90’s we pre-screened candidates before we sent possible candidates on to be interviewed by principals, a similar model will be implemented for selective schools.

A subset of high needs schools, mostly in the Bronx, will have the opportunity to participate in a carefully structured local decision-making model.

 The tentative contract establishes a Bronx Collaborative Schools Model for up to 120 high-needs schools, mostly in the Bronx. Schools will be identified based on staff turnover, student achievement and other criteria, but the chapter leader and the principal must both agree to participate. These schools will form joint labor-management committees and be provided with support to make significant changes in school operations. Each school will make its own decisions on how to improve school climate, reduce teacher turnover and increase academic achievement. The changes could include an additional $5,000 to $8,000 per year for teachers in a hard-to-staff license or title.

  A continuing frustration has been obdurate school leaders who cannot/will not engage staff in the school decision-making process. The contract addresses the issue,

The agreement will expand the authority of school-based UFT consultation committees, empowering them to raise and address issues of professional development, basic instructional supplies, curriculum, inadequate space and workload. Those issues will be raised first at the school, but the chapter leader can escalate them to the district and central levels if resolution isn’t reached. The contract also provides stronger protection for members who voice concerns from attempts by a supervisor to retaliate against or harass them.

The tentative settlement includes a major victory for paraprofessionals,  due process rights not previously in the agreement.

In a major victory for paras, the tentative contract provides due-process rights for paras that are similar to those of teachers. You remain on the payroll while the case is adjudicated.

ATRs, teachers who were excessed from their schools into a pool of teachers without a permanent placement will be placed by local superintendents into vacancies from day one of the school year.

The number and length of teachers observations will be reduced for “effective” and “highly effective” rated teachers.

Read a Contract at a Glance here and full text of the Memorandum here.

In Los Angeles, a city with an elected central board, teachers have voted to strike and are currently in state-directed mediation, the central board hired a hedge fund despoiler as superintendent who wants to turn all of Los Angeles into a portfolio model; driven by charter school choice. Chicago, a mayoral control city has been battling their mayor and their governor for years, with very limited success as schools continue to be closed.

Elections have consequences, huge consequences for teachers and schools; negotiating a contract in a nation led by Trump and Betsy DeVoss is beyond challenging.

Both leaders, Mulgrew and Carranza have taken risks: can they create a truly collaborative climate at the school level; can they build a culture of trust?

Marc Tucker, in Education Week, explores the loss of trust in our schools and how we can rebuild trust,

… the distrust of school administrators by teachers, the distrust of teachers unions by governors and legislators, the distrust of state government by school district administrations, the distrust of parents by school professionals and vice-versa…well it seems to go on and on.

Where did trust go?  How can we get it back?

A union leader and a school district leader have used the vehicle of a collective bargaining agreement to address issues that hopefully will begin to rebuild trust in our public schools.

Can the de Blasio Specialized High School Schools Admissions Plan Avert the Disastrous City University Open Admissions Program? Or, Was Open Admission a Success?

The de Blasio plan to replace the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT)  with an admissions based on class standing in middle schools and state test scores was introduced in the Assembly and pushed into the next session, beginning in January, 2019.

Legislation sponsored by Assembly member Charles Barron to create a new admissions system for New York City’s specialized high schools (A.10427a) was today reported out of the Assembly Education Committee. This is a first step in addressing this issue, and I will be having conversations with Assembly members and various stakeholders to determine how to proceed in order to best serve New York City’s school children. The Assembly Majority will work deliberatively, speaking with all the affected communities, so that together we can find a resolution that benefits all of New York City’s students.

I am told that legislators have been flooded with messages opposing the bill, and, controversial bills rarely come to the floor. No legislator likes to create enemies, especially enemies who are well-organized and well-funded; the Assembly Speaker, wisely, decided to push the bill down the road (Read Speaker Heastie’s comments here).

The bill, which I believe is poorly crafted, replaces the SHSAT admissions test with a process as follows,

… students attending public schools located in the city of New York  who are in the top three percent of their eighth grade class, as  calculated  based  on  multiple  measures  of student achievement …  … and  who  achieve  a  composite  score above  or  at  the  cut-off composite score for the school such students have committed themselves to attend, …  provided  that  such students shall also rank in the top quarter of public school students in the eighth grade citywide based  on   such multiple measures of student achievement, and provided further that   openings  shall  be  reserved for such students at each specialized high   school as set forth in subdivision seven of this section; 

Yes, the bill leaves many questions unanswered, the bottom line, top students within individual schools across the city will have access to the specialized high schools and students with higher achievement in high achieving middle school will not achieve a spot.

I’m not going to muse on the fairness/unfairness of the current SHSAT process or the fairness/unfairness of the new proposal; the bill, as I read it, would increase numbers of students of color and reduce numbers of Asian students.  The proposal is reminiscent of the late sixties battle over the admission process to the four-year CUNY schools. For those of us of a certain age the sixties is burned in our memory, for some, sex, drugs and rock and roll, maybe not in that order, for others a free education at a CUNY school.

Today #blacklivematter and #metoo dominate the landscape, football players knelling during the national anthem, Trump’s blatantly racist tweets and comments, the criminalization of immigrants, the nation appears divided and reminiscent of the angst of the sixties..

The very survival of the nation seemed at risk in the sixties.

Riots in Detroit, Newark and Los Angeles, scores of deaths, National Guard troops in the streets, massive ant-war demonstrations, civil rights marches, the assassination of JFK, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and, in September 1968 a two month racially toxic teachers strike.

Student sit-ins broke out at Queens College, Brooklyn College and Columbia protesting the absence of minority students. The New York State budget made drastic cuts in the CUNY budget, the president of City College and department heads announced their resignation, the CUNY chancellor announced the colleges would not accept an opening class in September. Students and community activists occupied City College to protest the overwhelmingly white student body; classes were suspended, the occupiers and the college commenced negotiations and at the end of May, 1969 announced a new policy: open admissions. (Read a contemporary account here).

Students would no longer have to pass rigorous entrance exams; graduates of high schools could gain admittance to the four-year city colleges.

Did Open Admissions open opportunity at the four year colleges to students of color or turn the colleges into remedial institutions filled with student without college level skills?

Almost a half century later Open Admissions is still an emotional topic.

I was at an art gallery out on the end of Long Island wearing my CCNY baseball cap. A gentleman pointed to the cap, “What year?” The topic immediately turned to, from the point of view of the gentleman, how Open Admissions ruined his beloved alma mater.

A recent book, “Changing the Odds: Open Admissions and the Life Chances of the Disadvantaged,” by David Lavin and David Hyllegard,

… examines the impact of what they call the most ambitious effort ever made to promote equality of opportunity in American higher education, the open-admissions experiment at the City University of New York (CUNY). From 1970 through 1976, the seventeen-campus, two hundred thousand student CUNY system guaranteed admission to all high school graduates. Test scores were not considered in the admissions process. All those with at least an 80 average in college preparatory courses or who ranked in the top half of their high school classes were deemed qualified for a four-year college. Everyone else was eligible for community college enrollment.

The initial results of the new policy were not surprising: the size of the CUNY freshman class grew by 75%, and the number of Black and Hispanic enrollees quadrupled at the system s four-year colleges.

I spoke with a CCNY graduate from the mid-seventies about Open Admissions, he laughed, “If wasn’t only for minority kids, I would never have gotten in, I’m a big fan.”

The Clarion, the newsletter of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the CUNY union, in a February 2018 article  argues,

The deleterious consequences of dismantling open admissions were brought to light in The Atlantic: “Since it went through an aggressive, system-wide overhaul that began in 2000, the City University of New York’s top five colleges – Baruch, Hunter, Brooklyn, Queens and City – have been raising admission standards and enrolling fewer freshmen from New York City high schools. Among the results has been the emergence of a progressively starker two-tier system: CUNY’s most prestigious colleges now increasingly favor Asian and white freshmen, while the system’s black and Latino students end up more and more in its overcrowded two-year community colleges.”

According to the 2010 census data the black plus Hispanic population in New
York City was 50% and the black plus Hispanic population at CCNY  (2017-18) is 57%.  The diversity numbers at the college mirror NYC numbers; however, how do we measure school success?

In a major research study, Raj Chetty and his team reviewed millions of data sets to analyze rates of social mobility: colleges moving students from the bottom 40 percent by income to the top 40 percent. Of the many hundreds of colleges examined the City College of New York, my beloved CCNY has the second highest student social mobility rate (Check out the research as parsed by the NY Times here) in the nation. Pretty impressive!!

Was Open Admissions a success or a failure? Was Open Admissions sabotaged through budget cuts and a lack of supports with the colleges?  Does the Chetty study tell us that in spite of budget cuts the CUNY colleges have been extraordinarily effective in carrying out their mission?

I attended the CCNY graduation last week, the salutatorian, a woman who arrived from China in 2008 without knowing a word of English graduating at the top of her class ten years later with a degree in bio-medical engineering.

After the November election democrats may be a majority in the Senate; however the democratic side of the aisle in the Senate has always been fractious. The last two democratic leaders were convicted of crimes and left in disgrace and the former Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) members, while in the democratic conference will vote as they please on controversial issues.

Next year is also the year that Mayoral Control has to be reauthorized in the legislature and Corey Johnson, the speaker of the Council and Mark Tryger, the chair of the City Council education committee have voiced dissatisfaction with the current shape of mayoral control in the city.

Our new chancellor, six weeks on the job, has been a spectator who has made a number of “feel good” speeches and a few, very few comments that he rapidly backed away from: can he become a major voice? While the “ink” has been all around the Specialized High Schools there are well over a hundred screened schools: will the mayor or the chancellor take any action to change test-score based enrollment policies at the screened schools, or, the zones of the schools that limit applications from students across the city? (See an excellent Chalkbeat article here ).

The leader of the teacher union, Michael Mulgrew, made an interesting proposal in regard to admission at screened schools that has not received any discussion, use the 16-66-16 Education Option guidelines for high school admissions. (66% of kids within one standard deviation of the mean, 16% above and 16% below).

We should work towards a solution that permits all high achieving kids, BTW, that term requires a more nuanced definition, to receive the education that is appropriate to their skills, ideally in an integrated setting. We can’t set kids against each other by race, ethnicity, language or gender.

Any ideas?

Chancellor Carranza’s Theory of Change: Create a New Research-Based Urban Education Paradigm or Implement Proven Education Programs?

The new chancellor has been skipping from school to school for a month: the obligatory meet and greet new chancellor tour; heavily scripted trips around the city, the Sherpas arranging carefully controlled media availability, meetings with community and political leaders, lots of pictures with kids and the smiling chancellor. I had an opportunity to tag along on one these tours in the past: you could sniff the aroma of fresh paint, the custodian touched up the school the day before the visit, the student work on the bulletin boards all dated the day before the visit, the obligatory walk-through the day before by the superintendent to make sure everyone was on their best behavior as the chancellor smiles and shakes hands his inbox piles up with folder after folder.

Inbox folders: Specialized HS Options, Diversity (Note: NEVER use the words integration, or, heavens forbid, segregation), Suspensions, Renewal Schools, Fair Student Funding formula, UFT contract negotiations, ATRs, Management structure, Political relationships, Media relationships and more.

Will the chancellor’s management style be to respond to criticism, or, create his own agenda? His predecessor responded to criticism by creating a “program,” with dollars and a press release attached and move on to the next issue. The one initiative that she created, Renewal Schools, has been subject to constant criticism.

Many school and school district leaders follow a triage management philosophy; running from school to school, from problem to problem pouring water on the flames; unfortunately, they sometimes pour from the wrong bucket, pouring gasoline on the problem

After a raucous meeting at an Upper West Side white parents spoke out against a school integration plan, the chancellor, at 1 am retweeted, 

,”WATCH: Wealthy white Manhattan parents angrily rant against plan to bring more black kids to their schools,”

The next day the mayor was asked to respond,

“I don’t think he at all intends to vilify anyone — he’s not that type of person,” said de Blasio. “This was his own personal voice … I might phrase it differently.”

At a school visit the next day the chancellor responded to reporters,

“The criticism of my predecessor Chancellor Fariña was that she didn’t do anything about this,” he said. “And here I am in my first month actually engaging in this conversation.”

“Let’s all take a breath,” Carranza said. “Let’s let communities come forward with what their solutions could be. Let’s give the space to our CECs to lead those conversations.”

The following day  the chancellor called the plan “very modest, quite frankly,” and a few days later,  “Nowhere in there (the District Three Middle School Integration Plan) are they talking about some of the very drastic things like busing or like rezoning or any of those things. I think it’s a modest conversation to be had.”

Welcome to the Big Apple.

A heartfelt comment tweeted out results in a few days of scrambling and back pedaling.

I was on a review team visiting a low performing middle school; we arrived at the school bright and early, the secretary apologized, the principal was busy assigning coverages for absent teachers. The principal walked into the meeting, somewhat disheveled, “Had to find teachers for coverages, we can never find enough substitutes.” The team leader began the meeting with a soft question, “How would you describe the qualities of an effective teacher?” The principal, replied immediately, “They come every day and blood doesn’t run out from under the door”

Triage management, advance planning is the crisis of the moment and the norm becomes constant triage: a description of the job of the NYC Chancellors of the past?

Does the new guy have a theory of action?  Guiding principles?

Marc Tucker, President of the National Center on Education and the Economy, in a paper entitled, “The Problem with the ‘What Works’ Approach to Education Research and the Case for Focusing on the Determinants of Highly Successful Education Systems” is sharply critical of focusing on programs, which he sees as commonplace, as the reason for mediocre student outcomes decade after decade. Tucker urges research leading to systemic change.

In my judgment … what the “proven program” research paradigm actually does is identify programs that produce marginal results in a dysfunctional system, when the real issue is how to fix the system, a problem that cannot be addressed with this paradigm.

 The underlying logic is simple. Start with the problem – say, a large proportion of students leave elementary school two or more years behind in reading. Come up with a theory about the cause of the problem and, to test the theory, use the theory to develop … a program. Administer the program with statistical controls … Then, put all the programs whose effect size crosses a certain threshold and meet certain criteria for research quality on a list of proven programs. Then stand back and watch the policymakers implement them in great numbers, replicating everywhere the results the researchers observed. Except, of course, they don’t. They never have, and when they do, we don’t see much improvement at scale.

 What researchers in the United States are doing is identifying programs that are at least making a little difference in a highly dysfunctional system. They tell you nothing whatsoever about how to build a highly effective system. They are a prescription for assembling a house of Band-Aids, when we could be building a great house.

 And that bring us to the main point, which is that effective schools, districts and states are not compilations of effective programs. They are effective systems. You may have a great way to teach reading, but, if you have lousy teachers, it won’t produce great reading results. You may have great teachers, but, if the school leader is a petty tyrant and does not support good teaching, the good teachers will either leave or give up while going through the motions of teaching.

Tucker concludes,

I am advocating for is a large program of research on the most successful education systems in the world, organized to help American states understand what combination of features of their systems account for their success, or, put another way, what the common principles are that underlie the different approaches they have taken. What is needed is a design orientation, which is to say that the purpose of this research should be to facilitate the redesign of our current state systems of education for high performance.

  Robert E. Slavin Director, Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University in “Using What Works [is the] Best Way Forward,” sharply disagrees with Tucker, he avers there are specific interventions that work.

 The only programs known from research that routinely add the equivalent of 20 or more PARCC points involve tutoring. This is particularly true when tutoring exists in a response-to-intervention format, in which students receive only the services they need. Tutoring is expensive. However, its costs can be greatly reduced by hiring high-quality paraprofessionals (teacher assistants), such as ones who have a B.A. Also, effective tutoring is likely to reduce special education costs in the long term. The Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE), which I lead, recently completed a research review and found that tutoring from high-quality paraprofessionals exercised substantially positive outcomes on student achievement, averaging the equivalent of 26 PARCC points for one-to-one tutoring in reading or math, and 14 points for one-to-small group tutoring. If continued with integrity and care across multiple years, a growing number of students would reach “proficient” each year … students eventually could advance far beyond those in Massachusetts and “top-performing” countries. And there would be additional benefits: the apprenticeship model of hiring and training high quality tutors could bring talented, eager, recent college graduates into the teaching profession.

 The most important problem in America’s schools is not our middling PISA scores. It is the persistent gaps in achievement according to social class and ethnicity. Middle-class, White, and Asian students do not present major achievement challenges for our country. It is African American, Hispanic, and Native American students, and disadvantaged students of all ethnicities, whose learning demands our full attention … My proposal goes to the heart of this problem.  There is nothing wrong with struggling learners that tutoring and other proven programs cannot substantially improve. 

Is Carranza the “firefighter” chancellor, responding to blazes, hopefully quelling the jibes of critics and the media? Or, as per Tucker, will be spend months analyzing and researching the system and move forward with sweeping systemic change? Or, as per Slavin, will he select well-researched programs, for example, tutors, and put the programs at the core of the teaching/learning process?

In the meantime those inbox folders continue to grow as advocates and critics lose patience, remember the new journalism mantra: if it bleeds, it leads.

My recommendation for Richard: exercise, meditation and lots of mariachi practice – you picked one stressful job!!