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Archive for the 'Education' Category

Seth Low JHS will be the site of a rally against the proposed co-locations on Friday. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last Thursday that he will allow 36 public and charter schools to move into existing schools while giving the boot to other charter school co-location plans, prompting outrage from politicians and education advocates in Southern Brooklyn.

“I am very disappointed because the decision to co-locate Coney Island Prep with I.S. 281 does not square with the facts as we presented,” Councilman Vincent Gentile said in a press release that was cosigned by fellow councilmen David Greenfield and Mark Treyger. “I’ve said repeatedly that Cavallaro is already busting at the seams and there is no need for an elementary school in this area.”

Among the schools that de Blasio to see co-locations are Coney Island Prep (the charter school) with Cavallaro Intermediate School I.S. 281, and Success Academy Charter School with Seth Low Intermediate School I.S. 96.

The initiative to co-locate public schools with charter schools was created during the Bloomberg administration and according to the press release cosigned by the councilmen, many were hopeful that the co-locations would be reversed.

“Many of us who are part of the public school system were hopeful that with a new administration, we’d see a real, meaningful change that responded to the needs of the community. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case, as both I.S. 96 and I.S. 281 are still slated for charter co-locations in September 2014,” members of  Community Education Council District 20 said in a statement.

Besides the harsh words, the education council announced that they will be holding a rally this Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Seth Low I.S. 96 (99 Avenue P) in an attempt to pressure the de Blasio administration to reverse their decision. If the co-location goes through, critics argue,  schools that already have a large student body will be forced to take on more students from the charter schools, resulting in overpopulation.

“I am extremely disappointed in the decision to allow the co-location of a charter school at I.S. 96 (the Seth Low School) that our district does not need or want,” Greenfield writes in the press release. “This co-location will come at the expense of the school’s dedicated staff and hard-working students. . . This proposal does not take into account the students’ needs or the impact this will clearly have on this important school.”

Joining the ranks of critics is Assemblyman William Colton – his area covers parts of Gravesend and Bath Beach – who calls for Cavallaro Intermediate School I.S. 281 and Seth Low I.S. 96 to not co-locate with charter schools. In a press release, he said he is “extremely disappointed that Mayor De Blasio and Chancellor Farina did not reverse the decisions” to co-locate the two schools in Southern Brooklyn.

For his part, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz  is commending Mayor de Blasio and Department of Education Chancellor Carmen Farina for withdrawing the co-location plan for John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X), one of the nine locations the de Blasio administration offered a reprieve. Critics of charter schools want every school’s co-location to be withdrawn.

“I intend to work with my colleagues to fight this decision tooth and nail,” Greenfield said in the press release.

Correction: The original version of this article mistakenly identified the charter school to be co-located with I.S 96 Seth Low. The correct name of the charter school is Success Academy Charter School, and the post has been amended. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

Make Your Mark Launches January 20th


Power to Learn, the education initiative of Cablevision’s Optimum, and the Smithsonian Channel have launched a new competition to celebrate Black History Month, and give an opportunity for high school students to affect real change in their communities.

The Make Your Mark contest invites students to submit creative video proposals for projects that could “incite positive change” at their schools and communities. The winning video will be awarded $2,500 to make the project a reality.

From the press release:

As part of the contest, students will view the Smithsonian Channel documentary Breath of Freedom that details the experiences of African-American GIs who helped rebuild Germany at the end of World War II and experienced equality for the first time overseas. Just as the soldiers featured in the documentary helped ignite the Civil Rights Movement, students can document their unique “mark” for positive change in their own video.

The “Make Your Mark” contest is open to all high school students in Optimum’s footprint within the tri-state area. Students should record and submit a creative and informative video (two minutes maximum) that explains their “mark,” why it should be chosen and how their school or community could benefit from the $2500 award. They will then share this video (via Facebook or Tweets) with friends and family to earn votes for the project. Deadline for entries is February 28.

Details and application form here.

I suggest a project telling our internet service providers like Optimum how important net neutrality is. Just sayin’.


The Chinese Dance Troupe from I.S. 228 David A. Boody Junior High School (228 Avenue S) took their act on the road, visiting seniors at the Lodge Senior Center (7711 18th Avenue) on January 29.

Reviews are in: the kids did great, the seniors loved the show and have asked the troupe to return, according to a school official who sent us the accompanying photos.


Source: Old Shoe Woman/Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he hopes to create an advisory board for the implementation of the controversial Common Core curriculum and stop standardized testing for children below third grade, drawing sighs of relief from local education activists who have been critical of the rollout.

“Any progress is great progress,” said Heather Ann Fiorica, the president of the District 21′s Community Education Council. “Now more people are talking about it because of Cuomo.”

Fiorica and CEC21 challenged the curriculum’s implementation during a meeting last week, passing a resolution asking the state to slow down the rollout, relieve the testing burden on special needs students and provide more training to teachers and faculty.

In response to the news, Fiorica, who is a parent herself, also said the idea of an advisory panel was promising since it would “bring more awareness” to legislators and politicians and convince them that Common Core needs a few speed bumps.

Common Core is a new curriculum being adopted across the nation, drawing criticism from parents and teachers. It relies on more rigorous standardized testing, and teachers in New York say they have not received proper training or been informed of materials on the test.

“I support the Common Core agenda,” Cuomo said during his budget presentation on Tuesday. “But the way the Common Core has been managed by the Board of Regents is flawed. There’s too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety.”

A panel of advisers as Cuomo is now promoting would, presumably, take these things into consideration and recommend “corrective action,” as Cuomo put it, for the new curriculum.

State Senator Marty Golden is also applauding the governor’s plan to change the way Common Core is implemented, and adds that he wants to see an end to standardized testing of children below the third grade.

“I applaud and agree with the Governor’s decision to suspend testing from Kindergarten to 2nd grade, and I am glad to see the Board of Regents concurs,” Golden said in a press release. “The entirety of the Common Core Curriculum must be reviewed, but nevertheless, standardized testing for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders is unnecessary.”

Cuomo said the advisory panel will issue a report before the end of Albany’s legislative session in June.

Source: Old Shoe Woman/Flickr

The Community Education Council of School District 21 (CEC21) is challenging the state’s testing and educational policies, voting this week to request the Department of Education “re-evaluate and slow the implementation” of Common Core testing standards.

The council’s resolution argues that the tougher standardized testing requirements of the Common Core curriculum do not meet the individualized needs of students, and leave many students – especially those with special needs – in the dust.

“Each child is different and this approach is very cookie-cutter like,” said Heather Ann Fiorica, the president of CEC21.

They also say that the state bungled implementation, pushing it through too quickly without soliciting feedback or providing training.

Find out more about the issue, and read the resolution.

Students celebrated a successful march to deliver their college applications.

Students celebrated a successful march to deliver their college applications.

More than 300 students from the Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders (2630 Benson Avenue), formerly Lafayette High School, signed, sealed and delivered their college applications to a United States Post Office truck in front of their school on Friday as part of a citywide display to encourage students to pursue higher education.

“Now we’re one step closer to going to college,” student Yesenia Lopez said. “We’re excited.”

Along with these students, more than 600 students in seven other schools throughout the city also delivered their college applications to the post office. The schools are all part of the NYC Outward Bound network, a national program that creates schools with an emphasis on non-traditional techniques, like having student-led conferences instead of parent teacher conferences. The schools, including the one in Bensonhurst, also put an emphasis on college preparation by fostering solidarity between the students through groups that function like a small family unit throughout the high school journey. They’re called crews.

“We want our students to know that college is accessible no matter what your zip code is,” said Paola Vita, a representative for NYC Outward Bound.

After sending their applications, students rallied on the school steps to celebrate.

After sending their applications, students rallied on the school steps to celebrate.

Adrianna Rivera came to the Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders when she was a freshman. During the first week of school she was paired together with other students who would later become part of her crew. The school took them on a camping trip, one of the school’s methods of creating strong social bonds.

“They make us feel important,” Rivera said about Outward Bound and her group of friends. “Because of them, we know that our opinions matter.”

Rivera delivered 16 college application letters to the mail truck. Her top three schools: Trinity, Franklin & Marshall and Colby College.

After delivering their letters, students went back inside to the school’s library to eat a meal specially prepared to celebrate the event.

While Rivera waited in line for the food, she explained that having a crew is “like your little family. They’re always there for you.”

As the students settled down and the library began to resemble and sound like a cafeteria, Vita noted how far the school had come along since it changed to its current name in 2007.

In 2007, the graduation rate was 35 percent. In 2012 the school had a graduation rate of 80 percent. All of those students went on to college.

“We’re trying to bring the graduation rate to 100 percent,” Vita said.

– Eric Jankiewicz


The little ladies at David A. Boody Junior High School (I.S. 228 at 228 Avenue S) Girl Scout Troop 2717 sought to bring full stomachs and broad smiles to the faces of families in need this Thanksgiving. So, with the help of the PTA, they organized a food drive, collecting hundreds of cans and boxes of food to distribute.

The girls made their own posters and set up collection points in the school, encouraging fellow pupils to keep the less fortunate in mind this holiday.

The PTA then packed the food and the troop into cars and delivered them to Salt and Sea Mission in Coney Island (1530 Mermaid Avenue), a homeless shelter that’s been in dire straits since Superstorm Sandy.

Way to go Girl Scouts! You’ve earned those delicious, delicious cookies this Thanksgiving.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

The New York Football Giants were off to a historically lousy start this season, beginning their 2013-2014 campaign with six straight losses. Recently, things have looked up for the Eli Manning-led Giants as they have squeaked out three victories, stirring talk of an improbable run to the playoffs.

According to a report by News 12, the Giants’ recent run of success might be all thanks to the Bensonhurst-based preschoolers at Kind Start Preschool (7702 New Utrecht Avenue) and their adorable good luck dancing.

Every Friday, the children at Kind Start dress in their Giant blues and perform the infamous “Michael Strahan Stomp” a dance made popular by the Giants following their improbable Super Bowl victory in 2008. For all their hopping and stomping around, the Giants sent the children team photos and pencils, delighting the cute little tots to no end.

You can see the kids perform their hilarious little dance by clicking here.

PS 212 (Source:

A teacher at P.S. 212 Lady Deborah Moody Elementary School in Bath Beach (87 Bay 49th Street) is looking for help from the community to raise funds for a project that will help break barriers and make learning fun for dozens of school kids.

Kindergarten teacher Amy Rodriguez is seeking to bring an iPad into the classroom to help her 25 students – many of which speak English as a second language – attain the goals of the new Common Core curriculum.

Rodriguez hopes to use the iPad in her lesson plans, making reading comprehension skills more interactive. The students will film each other as they retell stories they’ve heard, showing their understanding and making it a much more fun, dynamic experience for the kids.

“I try to assure my children that they will love it here with a smile and many fun learning opportunities. My goal is to make this year fun and engaging for each and everyone of them,” Rodriguez writes on her Donors Choose webpage, where she’s raising the money.

More than just retelling the stories, the kids will be involved in their own creative endeavors using the tech tool.

Adding an iPad to our art center will provide a creative outlet for children as they learn to retell. It will also provide me with a better measurement of how well they can retell important details in a story. The iPad has a simple one-tap button that will allow my children to be the director of their own “retelling movie.”

Sounds like fun, right? What better way to assess my little ones? It will be fun and a great tool. In addition, in order to exploring with retelling, my children will need to learn how to plan and problem solve while creating their retelling movies. They will learn how to sort out what props they have and need. They will exercise problem solving skills as they use art center materials to create the needed props. Through creating a retelling movie, they will get to exercise their knowledge of retelling a story. The finished product will help build their confidence in what they can accomplish as learners.

Rodriguez has already received hundreds of dollars from 33 donors, and is looking to pick up another $306.

To help her reach that goal, you can donate here.

UPDATE: Rodriguez just informed us that donations will be matched if you enter the promotional code: M4K2013



The planned protest of a co-location proposal at I.S. 281 Joseph B. Cavallaro Junior High School (8787 24th Avenue) drew hundreds of concerned parents, students and educators to the Monday evening hearing.

The proposal is one of many last-minute attempts by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to shove charter schools into public school buildings before he leaves office, presumably to be succeeded by Bill de Blasio, who has opposed co-location efforts.

At Joseph B. Cavallaro Junior High School, Department of Education officials are hoping to win permission to co-locate Coney Island Preparatory charter school within the building, a proposal that the junior high school’s administrators say will gobble up space and resources.

The biggest bombshell during the hearing came from Councilman Domenic Recchia, who revealed that a permanent building was offered for Coney Island Prep, but that school administrators “dropped the ball” on seeing it through.

The Home Reporter reports:

“CIP parents shouldn’t be yelling at us or at the DOE. They should be yelling at this guy,” he said referring to Mnookin’s decision to drop the ball on a permanent building to house the charter school last year.

“If I was sending my child to CIP, I would be mad as hell. We shouldn’t be here tonight fighting like this and it’s all because of what you and your board decided to do,” Recchia said. “If you want to find a home, there’s a building down on West Eighth Street with the second floor available.”

If the proposal moves forward, Coney Island Prep would begin accepting 55-70 kindergartners each year until it reaches full size in 2017.

The Panel for Education Policy will vote on the proposal on October 30, at 6 p.m., in the Prospect Heights High School at 883 Classon Avenue.


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