Monday, August 20

Lots of spin at PEP meeting

Despite the rain and cool weather, a healthy crowd gathered outside Tweed for the rally in support of Khalil Gibran International Academy, apparently split pretty evenly between the school's supporters and journalists.

Inside, a much smaller group of people assembled for the August meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy. Marcia Lyles, deputy chancellor for teaching and learning, gave an overview of the new middle school reform initiative. In selecting which remedies to put in place for struggling middle schools, Lyles said the task force and the DOE "looked at what the schools that were performing well had and what the schools that were not performing well didn't have" — and came up with Regents-level courses and good professional development. Lyles continued the pattern established last week of the DOE taking credit for the City Council's work; Lyles called it "my first initiative" as deputy chancellor, even though work on the task force was underway long before she moved into the position, and began her presentation by detailing how the DOE's Children First program has supported middle schools.

PEP member Patrick Sullivan asked why the DOE didn't adopt the task force's recommendation to lower class size in middle schools. Lyles didn't rule out more aggressive class size reduction for the future but said that principals "recognize that that is not the sole ingredient" in getting kids to achieve.

Julia Levy from the press office showed off the new version of the DOE's website, due to launch "hopefully later this week." Many of the improvements in navigation, search, and content reflect the priorities behind Insideschools' own redesign, which we're working on now. But I don't think the DOE is going to put us out of business — Levy said the redesign will not replace all of the old, outdated content on the DOE's site, just "sit on top" of the existing site.

Finally, Elayna Konstan, the CEO of the Office of School and Youth Development, reviewed changes to the discipline code and announced that preliminary data shows a "dramatic decrease" in violent and major crime in schools last year. She said at least a couple of the nine schools currently designated as Impact Schools will likely come off the list soon. But schools will continue to discipline kids who bring cell phones to school — in response to Sullivan's question about whether the City Council's recent cell phone bill conflicts with the discipline code, Konstan said, "We have to wait for the litigation," signaling that the cell phone ban is headed to court.

No comments: