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Wednesday, 13 June 2012 15:04

No after-school? What's a family to do?

Laurie Crutcher is a parent and a program officer at TASC (The After School Corporation). Her story originally appeared on the TASC blog.

My daughter Emilie, who just turned 11 years old, will be attending JHS 190 Russell Sage in the fall. One of the deciding factors in my family's decision to send her there was the fact that the school has a Beacon after-school program.

I myself, upon moving to New York City in 1999, worked in a Beacon program in Sunnyside, and know the great service they provide to working parents and their kids. The JHS 190 Beacon is a place where my daughter feels safe and supported. She attended a Saturday program here and has fond memories of playing handball in the gym. The organization that runs the program, Queens Community House, has strong roots in the community and in youth programming, which makes me comfortable sending her there.

Now, we learn our Beacon is slated for closure, as are six other Beacons around New York City. If this happens, where will Emilie go after her school dismisses at 2:30? Will she walk home and stay alone until my husband and I get home from work? Every day, I walk past flowers left in memory of a middle school girl who was hit by a car in my neighborhood as she walked home from school.

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Friday, 11 May 2012 14:13

Poll: Should teachers be paid more?

It’s the end of teacher appreciation week: the DOE's number two guy, Shael Suransky, taught a class, Chancellor Walcott has been visiting schoolsMayor Bloomberg and countless others shared some #thankateacher love on Twitter, and maybe a few students brought apples to their teachers. We wonder, how can we best show our teachers appreciation all year round?

There are several politically charged answers to the that question that have been highlighted in the news lately. But, what about better pay? It’s no secret that teachers aren’t in it for the money. Teaching can be a highly rewarding job but it is not a career path paved with financial gold. A public school teacher in New York City with a BA can expect to earn $45,530 his first year, according to the UFT’s salary schedule.

Still, that’s almost 10K more than the national average: $36,502, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s most recent survey of education from around the world. But the high cost of living in the Big Apple, eats up much, if not all, of the difference.

After three decades on the job NYC teachers with a Master's degree can make over $100,000. Of course if you luck out and get a job at TEP, The Equity Project Charter School, you'll make $125,000 your first year there. But that's the exception.

Average starting pay for teachers in Finland, Diane Ravitch’s favorite place to learn, is actually lower, $32,692 (of course, the Socialist country has much better government benefits, but that’s a blogpost for another day). Teachers in Japan make $27,995 starting out and $30,522 is first-year pay for teachers in Korea. In Poland, on the other hand, starting salary is $9,186 on average. Luxemborg is one of the best places to teach if you’re after some green, starting teachers there make $51,799. (All these numbers are from OECD.) 

With that perspective, maybe New York’s not so bad! Then again, teachers are some of the most valuable members of society, should we pay them more? What do you think is a fair starting salary? Take our poll!

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Tuesday, 03 January 2012 17:28

Poll: Many schools skimp on art, does yours?

Close to half of city elementary schools do not meet state standards for arts instruction, even as the number of certified arts teachers in the schools has grown, according to the 2010-11 fifth annual Arts in the Schools Report released just before the holidays.

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Tuesday, 13 December 2011 10:19

After-school programs to be cut?

City funding for hundreds of free after school progams that serve 53,000 students may be slashed by the Bloomberg administration in an upcoming round of budget cuts, the Center for New York City Affairs reports.

Two years ago the Out of School Time programs got $117 million from city, allowing 87,000 kids to attend free after school and vacation programs. City support was reduced to $90 million this year and now, a proposed contract for 2013 anticipates that the city would provide less than $70 million for the OST programs. The cuts mean that fewer than half the current number of students would be served, advocates predict.

A representative for the Department of Youth and Community Development which distributes the funding says the cost of providing  services is rising because in the future all programs will be required to provide both after school and summer programs.

Advocates voice concern about the impact of such cuts on families with the loss of affordable child care for working parents.

Read the full story here: Mayor's Axe to After School?

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Monday, 14 November 2011 12:58

Grants to improve your school

Budgets are tight and schools need all the help they can get to bring in outside resources. Applying for grants is one way to help ensure that extra funds become available to your school community.

Here's one source of small grants that Insideschools just learned about. (We'll share others as we hear of them.) Citizens Committee for New York City awards grants of $500 to $3,000 to volunteer-led groups to work on projects that "bring people together and that have a positive impact on the community." The group also offers project planning assistance and skills-building workshops.

Recent awards have enabled students, parents and teachers to come together to make healthy food available in their communities, transform school lawns into community gardens, and start school recycling programs. Citizens Committee is especially looking to reach out to schools in high-poverty neighborhoods .

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Tuesday, 08 November 2011 17:58

Parents to Cuomo: No more budget cuts!

"Millionaires have got to pay!" chanted public school children, parents, and teachers, who gathered for a protest outside of Gov. Andrew  Cuomo's Manhattan office on Tuesday and called for an extension of the so-called millionaire's tax.

 

Police kept the sidewalks clear for afternoon commuters on Third Avenue near Grand Central Terminal while dozens of protestors took turns at the mic—both real mic and the trademark Occupy Wall Street "human mic"—and aired concerns about budget cuts. Complaints included over-crowding, co-locations, cuts to after-school programs and lack of arts programs.

 

"The government is more interested in campaign contributions for future elections than for the welfare of New York City kids," said Ben Wides, a father and public school teacher.

 

"If we're going to put the energy into fundraising, we can put it into protesting, too," said Yong Lapage, whose 10-year-old daughter attends Brooklyn New School. His daughter Simone walked on stilts and carried a sign: "stand tall for education." He said his PTA raised tens of thousands of dollars to offset budget cuts last year.

 

Cuomo did not make an appearance, but but City Council member Brad Lander of Park Slope and his daughter showed up to support the protestors.

Published in News and views
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 11:54

Parents say: "Make millionaires pay"

"The fact that everybody wants it, that doesn't mean all that much."

So said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Oct. 17, explaining why he had decided not to extend the "millionaire's tax."

Some public school parents disagree, and they're taking their demand to Cuomo's doorstep on Election Day. They want the tax, which would generate $2.8 billion in the next fiscal year, to help offset a projected $1.4 billion budget cut aimed at city schools next year.

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Wednesday, 26 October 2011 10:44

What you can do for your school

I am a lousy PA parent. I watch in awe as my peers chair meetings, organize bake sales, get street permits for carnivals, and write grants for enrichment programs, all the while juggling jobs and multiple children and various and sundry overwhelming challenges and responsibilities. I honestly don't know how they do it.

Although I manage to attend some meetings and sell my appropriate quota of raffle tickets, I am fully aware of my shortcomings in this area. And as education budgets continue to get cut, this kind of grassroots organizing is becoming more important than ever. I love the idea of supporting my school—I'm simply not very good at much of the above.

Luckily, I have an excellent role model in my house who has been compensating for his weaknesses and leveraging his strengths for as long as I can remember: Brooks. Taking a page from his play book, I try to contribute in less traditional ways. What I am good at is building websites, so my husband and I started ShopForCharityNow.com back in 2007 which raises money for charities, including schools.

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Friday, 21 October 2011 14:22

Parents plan election day occupation

While some families are occupying Wall Street Friday night (Oct. 21) with a sleepover, other public school parents are looking ahead to  a Nov. 8 election day occupation of Governor Cuomo's office where they will rally in favor of the millionaire's tax and against school cutbacks. Parents from a half dozen public schools in brownstone Brooklyn and Manhattan are planning the event and are inviting others to sign on.

The initiative is not sponsored by schools or PTAs but is being organized by one or more parent at the participating schools

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Tuesday, 18 October 2011 12:57

C4E hearings begin in all districts

The Department of Education is holding public hearings for parents, educators and others to comment on this year’s Contracts for Excellence plan. The C4E, as it is known, contains plans to provide help to the neediest students in seven areas: class size reduction, time on task, teacher and principal quality initiatives, middle school and high school restructuring, full-day pre-Kindergarten, and model programs for English Language Learners.

The Contract for Excellence process was established by the legislature after the State Court of Appeals agreed that the city and 20 other urban districts had been shortchanged for years by the state’s education funding formula. Additional funds are due to the city provided the DOE comes up with plans for their use. According to the State Education Department,…the allocation of funds must continue to be for one of the seven C4E-allowable programs and must continue to predominantly benefit pupils with the greatest needs: i.e., (i) students with limited English proficiency and/or English language learners; (ii) students in poverty; (iii) students with disabilities; and (iv) students with low academic achievement.”

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