Now that this public school year is over, there is much anticipation about the next one (which starts on Thursday, Sept. 6 for students, by the way).
One of the many big changes coming to the city schools next year is the revamping of the special education program, which calls for more inclusion classrooms, with special education classes reserved for only the most severely disabled students.
City officials have promised to provide more information to the parents of special education students. The New York Post reported on Friday that the city was also creating a hot line so that parents can easily reach education officials if they have questions or problems with their child’s placement or services that can’t be addressed by their child’s school.
Yoav Gonen reports in The Post that the hot line was prompted by the City Council, which has expressed concerns about the city’s special education plans — so much so that some advocates have suggested the implementation should be slowed down:
Critics have charged that the initiative’s funding encourages principals to provide fewer services to students — with little recourse for parents to fight back.
In addition to launching the hot line, which will be answered through the parents’ part of the 311 call center, education officials have also agreed to create “office hours” at borough enrollment centers during which moms and dads can appeal school decisions.
SchoolBook asked earlier this month whether parents had been informed about the new special education program — both those with children in special ed and those in classrooms in which special education students will now be enrolled. Have you been informed? Answer the query below.
For parents and students concerned about the school choice process, Inside Schools is presenting a major expansion of its already-extensive catalog of information on high schools that should make the process less daunting.
The Web site, which has data, reviews and information on every school in the city, is beefing up its pages devoted to high schools — not just providing information on test scores and graduation rates, but also including information related to quality of experience: For example, does the school require uniforms? Does it have metal detectors? Are students allowed to leave campus for lunch?
Gotham Schools reports on the expansion, which Inside Schools is calling Inside Stats, and provides a screen shot of what the new high school pages look like. They’re not just informative, they’re also quite smart-looking. Take a look.
They’re certainly a great improvement over the thick catalog of high schools that the Department of Education puts out — which, by the way, is available now to students and parents embarking on the application process.
And Gotham Schools also reported on Thursday that the City Council has scraped together a few dollars to help reimburse teachers for their purchase of school supplies. Gotham reports that the restoration of the Teachers Choice money — which was eliminated last year, as part of a larger deal to save teachers’ jobs — is small:
The size of that allocation comes nowhere close to what the program received even in the lean years before it was zeroed out. Two years ago, Teacher’s Choice got $9.25 million, and it received $13 million in council funds the year before that.
That means individual teachers are set to receive only a pittance. In 2007, before the annual cuts began, each teacher got about $220, and the last time the funds were allocated, teachers took home about $110. This year, teachers are likely to receive just over a third of that, or about $40.
But it’s something.
Is anyone looking at how much parents are now paying every year for school supplies and fund-raising initiatives for the public schools? SchoolBook has been reporting extensively on this recent development. You can find the series of reports, Paying for Public School, here.
On this final Friday in June:
A widely anticipated decision by the arbitrator assigned to decide on the city’s hiring practices related to the revamping of 24 so-called turnaround schools is expected.
Class Size Matters will update its figures on school discharges.
And starting on Monday, SchoolBook will be publishing First Bell occasionally, as news warrants, as part of a streamlined summer schedule.