Education

News, trends, and analysis related to higher education and grade school districts.

Wally Gobetz / Flickr

 

New York’s Board of Regents meets Monday and Tuesday to finalize controversial new teacher evaluation laws ahead of a June 30 deadline.

When legislators mandated the evaluation system in the state budget, they left out some details. Now the state Education Department is writing those rules, and the Regents will vote on them.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Syracuse City School district reached a contract agreement with its teachers, which district officials are calling historic. 

The deal offers teachers pay raises over the next five years, ranging from three to five percent.  It marks the biggest raises the teachers have received in a decade, and makes them among the highest paid teachers in the region. 

Alberto G. / Flickr

Le Moyne College announced this week that it is going test optional. They’re joining a growing movement that includes other New York schools that are not requiring SAT or ACT test scores in their admission process. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

What goes up must come down, and luckily for researchers at SUNY ESF in Syracuse, a weather balloon they launched just over a month ago from their Syracuse campus, was finally discovered along a remote area in Cortland County.

The project was part of the Global Space Balloon Challenge, and engineering students, led by professor Giorgos Mountrakis, fashioned the high-altitude balloon so it could carry information-gathering electronics thousands of miles high.

SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego is expanding to Syracuse.

The state university has had an extension site on Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse for a little over six years. Now the New York State Board of Regents just approved designating SUNY Oswego's Metro Center a "branch campus." That means starting in fall 2016, SUNY Oswego student will now be able to complete degree and certificate programs in Syracuse. Currently, students are required to take a course at the main campus.

Questions remain about teacher evaluation timeline

Jun 2, 2015
Colleen / via Flickr

While ethics reform may be dominating much of the conversation in Albany, education advocates are hoping the public and lawmakers don't forget there's much work to be done regarding teacher evaluations. Last month, the Assembly passed legislation to push back the deadline for local school districts to implement their teacher evaluation system. But final action has not been taken on that legislation.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Part-time faculty at Ithaca College voted to unionize on Thursday after a four-month effort. Union “yes” votes prevailed by a margin of 119.

“I’m feeling pretty good about that,” says Ithaca College adjunct lecturer Rachel Kaufman. She helped organize the effort.

“A lot of people really want this union,” she says. “It’s something we had a strong sense of before, but it’s great to have it confirmed. I’m really looking forward to negotiations and making things better.”

Shinichi Sugiyama / Flickr

Sharing -- it’s one of the first lessons kids learn in school. And now New York is telling schools that they have to share, too. The state wants schools to come together and save money.

“In our case the 15 districts in Broome-Tioga BOCES have to realize an annual savings of $2.7 million,” says Windsor Central School District superintendent Jason Andrews.

Melinda Shelton / Flickr

Efforts to raise expectations for New York’s teachers have stalled. In 2014, the state rolled out four new, tougher teacher certification tests. But last week the state delayed the requirement.

The Board of Regents cited low pass rates on the new tests as reason for the delay. So they created a “safety net.” Until next June, teachers who fail to pass the new exams can get certified in other ways. The state wants to give would-be teachers more time to adjust.

But SUNY Cortland School of Education dean Andrea LaChance doesn't want to adjust.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, gave the commencement speech at Le Moyne College on Sunday. Dolan's visit has been marked with controversy.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston / Flickr

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of New York, is expected to speak at LeMoyne College's graduation ceremony Sunday, but some students won't be listening. They aren't happy with the choice of Dolan as commencement speaker. 

Sarah Harris / NCPR

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said it again and again, universal pre-kindergarten is a big priority. Last year, the legislature approved a $340 million program to increase public, full-day pre-K access. But only one school district in the North Country received the grant for pre-K funding.

Canton Elementary School principal Joe McDonough says pre-K isn’t just fun. It’s essential for kids’ development.

"People come to school even at the ripe old age of four with a variety of experiences and levels of knowledge and skills," McDonough said. 

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls universal pre-kindergarten one of his big priorities, and last year state lawmakers approved a big grant program to increase full-day pre-K slots. It’s $340 million a year for five years. That grant just got approved for its second round, but the first year brought mixed results.

Sean MacEntee / Flicr

 

A bill introduced this week in Congress tackles student privacy online. It would limit how educational technology companies can use the data they collect. In New York, similar rules are already in place, and they’re at work every day at one upstate school where technology is everywhere.

Sarah Latimer directs technology at Chenango Valley schools, and she thinks about privacy a lot.

“We’ve kind of had that conversation ongoing in New York for a little while now,” she says. “It’s been a very hot topic.”

SUNY ESF

Some SUNY ESF students are hoping neighbors in the eastern portion of Cortland County can help them find a balloon that was part of a science experiment that went awry. 

Students launched a high altitude balloon for a nationwide contest on Wednesday.

Alyssa Endres, a student in the Environmental Resource Engineering Department, said it was supposed to explode when it got high enough.

www.urmc.rochester.edu

Without additional state funding, New York medical school officials say they won’t be able to attract or keep world class researchers. Albany lawmakers have rejected their $50 million request to fund recruitment and retention efforts. 

New York’s medical research institutions say they can’t compete with the funds out-of-state universities are using to lure the nation’s top research talent.

JECO photo / via Flickr

College graduation season is nearing and along with finding a job, student debt is also on grad’s minds. One program New York is hoping will help and keep those grads in the state.

Upstate New York is known for its idyllic college campuses, but its towns and cities struggle to keep those young people around once they graduate, as they’re drawn away by jobs and more trendy cities.

timlewisnm / Flickr

The move to refuse the state standardized tests scheduled for later this week is getting more vocal, as test dates approach for children in third through eighth grades. Teachers unions, and some parent organizations are organizing opt out sessions and email blasts meant to let families know how to refuse the tests that start Tuesday. For one Central New York family, keeping their children from taking the test sends a message to Albany about a complicated issue they say, goes deeper than using tests to measure teachers performance. 

Ed and Eddie / Flickr

Education reforms were one of the most contentious parts of this year's state budget. But while most of the attention went to negotiations about teacher evaluations and standardized tests, new policies also were put in place for dealing with failing schools. 

New York State Reporting Project

For more than twenty years, the Young Scholars Liberty Partnership Program has taken kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and given them a fighting chance to earn a high school diploma and more. Of the 40 Liberty Partnerships located in the state of New York, Utica is one the largest with about 350 students enrolled a year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

This budget season in Albany has further eroded the relationship between teachers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

When Cuomo linked school reform to school spending in this year’s budget process, it ratcheted up the rancor from teachers, school districts and some parents across the state.   

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling the education reforms he was able to get into the just-passed state budget part of an ever-evolving process.

In an interview with The Capitol Pressroom, the Democratic governor says change can be traumatic, but it is necessary. Cuomo was able to convince lawmakers to change the teacher evaluation system, putting more emphasis on testing rather than classroom observations. 

"The only standard metric is going to be the test. The other side, the classroom observations, are going to be different in each classroom," he told host Susan Arbetter.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The secretary of defense says Syracuse University’s veterans and military families program is doing "path-breaking" work not being replicated anywhere in the country.

A visit to Syracuse University and its Institute for Veterans and Military Families was the final stop on Secretary Carter’s first domestic trip since taking over the Defense Department in February. He visited Fort Drum on Monday, where he said the base isn't going anywhere.

timlewisnm / Flickr

A parents organization in the Westhill School District in Onondaga County is asking families to consider having their third through eighth graders refuse to take the next round of state english and math tests.  The group called Westhill Elementary Schools Together, or "WEST," is concerned about the way the tests are constructed and potentially used by the state in connection with teacher evaluations.  

Cyndi Hynes' two children took the state English language arts and math tests last spring.  This year they are opting out.

Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank/City of Syracuse

There is disagreement between the Syracuse city council and its school district over just how much of an impact the land bank is having on the district's budget.

The Syracuse public school system projects it will collect nearly a $1 million less this year because of properties acquired by the city’s land bank.

Four new members join NY Board Of Regents

Mar 11, 2015
New York City Department of Education/via Facebook

New York’s Board of Regents has four new members, after an election Tuesday by the state Assembly and Senate.

Beverly Ouderkirk, Catherine Collins, Judith Johnson and Judith Chin are joining the board, which oversees education policy at New York state public schools and colleges.

Six regents were up for reelection this year, but only three of them kept their seats. That’s unlike last year when all but one of the incumbents got reelected. This year there was also an empty seat on the board, so in all, there are four new members.

State education boards: Who's got the power?

Mar 9, 2015

When New York legislators vote on seven new Board of Regents members on March 10, they’ll act out a vision that dates back to 1784. That’s when the state formed its Board of Regents, which supervises almost every facet of school instruction.

New York chose an unusual method for selecting new regents: a vote by both houses of the legislature, with no input from the governor.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) stopped at college campuses across upstate New York Monday, continuing her push to get support for a bill that would combat sexual violence on college campuses. Her last stop was at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School.

When Meaghan Greeley was sexually assaulted on a college campus six years ago, there wasn’t much help for her.

"There were no confidential advocates to turn to for support. The administrators or staff members I sought guidance from had never received any training in how to advise me or support me,” said Greeley.

Gillibrand targets college sexual assault

Feb 27, 2015
Credit Andrew Dallos / via Flickr

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced a bipartisan bill on Thursday that would hold colleges accountable for sexual assaults.

She says that under the current system, colleges have incentives to hush up assaults. They’re bad publicity and scare away prospective students. Her bill aims to change that. It creates a national anonymous survey for students to report sexual assaults. Results for each college would be public online.

The State University of New York is among those making a pitch to get some of the state’s $5 billion windfall from the bank settlements.

Presidents from SUNY schools across the state say they are asking the New York State Legislature to “step up and invest in SUNY.”  

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