new york city

NYC Pre-Kindergarten Program Funds Being Misused by Contractors

New York City obviously thinks that providing special education for pre-kindergarten students is very important, since the city just agreed to pay private contractors $1 billion to teach the kiddos. This amount is almost twice as much as they paid in 2006.

Around 25,000 students will benefit from this program. All of these students suffer from various developmental, learning, physical, or other disabilities. Although the number of students who benefit from these pre-k special education programs have been slowly increasing, the costs per child have been increasing more rapidly. The average cost per child is now about $40,000 each year. However, the expenses for some students can be as high as $200,000.

Where is the money going? The city pays private contractors to offer classes at day care centers, nursery schools, and even in the students’ homes. The classes consist of physical, occupational, and speech therapy sessions that last 30-minutes.

Although this is obviously an important and valuable resource for pre-kindergarten students, education and budget officials are not thrilled with the cost of these programs. Read the rest of this entry »



NYC Teachers are Paid to Migrate from School to School

new york city department of educationCan you imagine waking up every Monday morning and reporting to a different building each week to do your job? Your job might even change on a weekly basis: one week you could be working in the sciences and the next you might be filling out paperwork. However, you would still be considered a full-time employee for the DOE’s ATR and you would still receive your full salary. It sounds like the life of a super-secret-agent to me, but for the teachers who work for the Department of Education’s Absent Teacher Reserve, it is just another day at the job.

Each week, hundreds of teachers in New York City go through this routine. As a mentioned before, these nomadic teachers receive their full salaries not to teach their normal jobs, but to work as substitutes at different schools throughout the New York Public School District. Many of these teachers were “excessed” due to budget cuts, but some have escaped from the “rubber rooms,” where teachers are sent as punishment for “excessive lateness or absence, sexual misconduct with a [minor], physical abuse, incompetence or use of drugs or alcohol.”

Up until October 2011, ATR teachers would remain at one school for the entire school term. If they did a good enough job, the principal could decide to hire them. But now, the teachers move from school to school on a weekly basis because the United Federation of Teachers signed a deal with the DOE to make the change. The United Federation of Teachers claims that teachers will have a better chance of finding a job by changing schools each week because they will be meeting more new potential bosses.

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Yale Offers Class on New York’s Nightlife

Blue and white yale logoMake room for another unusual college course. One of students’ favorite pastimes has been transformed into a class at one of America’s oldest universities. Yale University is educating students in the art of painting the town red.

The class, ‘Dance Music and Nightlife Culture in New York City,’ seeks to answer the burning question: “Why do we go out at night?”

Class excursions include trips to New York’s hottest clubs and guest speakers like well-known DJ Simonez Wolf and Vibe magazine co-founder Scott Poulson-Bryant.

Teacher Madison Moore, who is also a doctoral student, assures students that this class isn’t just about getting drunk and partying.

Students will listen to lectures like ‘Studio 54 and Limelight: The Birth of the Mega Club.’ Also, students will read texts from Village Voice writer Michael Musto and 1988 winner of the Ironman Nightlife Decathlon, Anthony Haden-Guest.

“It’s about the history of it, the Harlem cabarets, understanding race, gender, sex, Prohibition and the law,” Moore said.

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Fifth Annual Quidditch World Cup to Be Held in NYC

5th Annual Quidditch World Cup LogoOver 100 college teams will gather on Randall’s Island in New York City this coming weekend to compete in the fifth International Quidditch Association World Cup. Sometimes referred to as “Muggle Quidditch,” the sport inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has continued to grow since the first non-fiction game of Quidditch was played at Middlebury College in 2005. This year, the International Quidditch Association will host 100 colleges and over 2,000 players at the two-day event, with teams representing colleges from the U.S., Canada and Finland, along with high school teams.

Currently, the top ranking teams, according to the International Quidditch Association, are Middlebury College, University of Kansas, Louisiana State University, Texas A&M and Emerson College.

In addition to ten fields of match-ups, the World Cup is accompanied by a festival and live music. The headliner of the half-time show has yet to be announced, but a public relations representative from the Quidditch Association indicated that that there will be a major musical act performing on Sunday.

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Students Voice Their Outrage at Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street Sign: "Save Our Schools"At a time when high unemployment coincides with an all-time high in student debt, it’s unsurprising that students are an important demographic at the Occupy Wall Street (#OWS) protests. According to the New York Times, over 20 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed, and of those who do have jobs nearly a third have positions that do not require a college degree. These conditions are symptoms of an ailing economy, which the protesters argue has been exacerbated–if not caused–by Wall Street institutions. Some have remarked that #OWS has galvanized young people more effectively than existing labor unions, perhaps due to the inclusive nature of the protests and its anti-leadership mentality.

On Wednesday October 5th, a major walk-out joined students with other protesters at Foley Square, followed by a march to Zuccotti park, often referred to by its former name, Liberty Square. The demonstration attracted students of all ages from a diverse range of institutions. High school students from around the city marched side-by-side with college students from the CUNY and SUNY systems, Columbia University, The New School, New York University, Cooper Union and many others.

The coordination of campuses across the city with major labor unions was not only an important moment for students expressing solidarity with each other, but also for the #OWS movement as a whole. Students at all levels have found institutional support from teachers unions and university professors. The United Federation of Teachers is supporting the movement, along with other major union groups. According to The Occupied Wall Street Journal, a crowd-funded newspaper, 137 faculty members marched from The New School alone.

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New York City Students Must Now Take Sex Ed Classes

When I was in middle school and high school, I dreaded the one week each year that was devoted to sex education. We were taught a very strict abstinence-only form of sex ed, but I do remember one year when a teacher actually told us about condoms and other forms of protection. I always thought this form of sex ed was pretty common. However, if I were currently a student in New York City’s public schools, I could be expecting a very different curriculum, which will be starting this year.

The newly instated sex ed curriculum in these public schools will be much more advanced than what has been taught for the past 20 years. This curriculum will include traditional sex ed lessons, while also teaching students how to use a condom and discussing the appropriate age for sexual activity to begin.

The new curriculum is being instated in order to help black and Latino teens improve their lives. According to the Bloomberg administration, these teens are much more likely to have unplanned pregnancies or contract a STD.

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Bard College Math Camp Helps Middle Schoolers Stay Sharp Over Summer Break

Can you imagine going to a “summer camp” only to find that the daily itinerary consists of spending six hours each day studying math? To me, this sounds absolutely awful, but for Mattie Williams and the 16 other students who are attending the Summer Program in Mathematical Problem Solving at Bard College, this is a reality they are very excited about. These 17 students view math as a competitive sport and enjoy spending their days solving complicated problems.

Williams and her fellow campers will all be starting eight grade in the NYC public school district in the fall, where 75 percent of the students receive free lunches due to financial need. So, when Williams was offered the chance to spend a few weeks of her summer studying math at Bard College, she jumped on the opportunity that might not have been available to her if it was not being financed by the Art of Problem Solving Foundation. This foundation is a nonprofit program that promotes math education for gifted students.

“These are students who have a tremendous amount of potential and are really ready for a lot more than they’re able to get in schools,” said the camp’s director, Daniel Zaharopol, who is a math teacher and has earned his master’s degree in mathematics. Zaharopol feels that this summer camp is a very valuable resources for this students. “If these students had just gone to the New York City Math Circle this summer, they would have felt like a fish out of water. They wouldn’t have the same mathematical background and experience as their peers.”

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High School Students are Spending Thousands of Dollars on Private Tutors

It is not uncommon for high school students to need a tutor to help them get through their most difficult subjects. Some parents hire tutors to help their students prepare for the SAT, while other parents hire a tutor to help their students throughout the entire semester. According to The New York Times, private tutors have been standard practice at many NYC private schools for a generation. Although this trend is certainly not new, there is something unusual about it: the cost of hiring a private tutor.

“There’s no family that gets through private school without an SAT tutor,” said Sandy Bass, the founder of the newsletter Private School Insider. “increasingly, it’s impossible to get through private school without at least one subject tutor.

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Bloomberg’s Teacher Layoffs Reduced, but Still Grim

teacher union protest

Protesters outside Brooklyn Borough Hall, May 5th

New York City still stands to lose thousands of teachers due to city budget cuts, but the number has been somewhat reduced since the February figure. The mayor originally proposed to eliminate 6,100 teaching jobs through layoffs. Yesterday, it was announced that now 4,278 teachers will be laid off, but the city hopes to reduce the total number of teachers by another 1,500 through attrition.

Reducing the number of teachers, along with other city employees, is part of an effort to reduce the city budget by an additional $400 million. The city is facing a multibillion-dollar deficit for the fiscal year starting on July 1st, despite drawing heavily from city reserves. “Even that will not be enough to avoid layoffs of some city employees, including teachers,” said Bloomberg during an online news conference.

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New York High Schools Offers Corporate Finance Classes

investing and financeMartin Luther King Jr. High School of the Arts and Technology in Manhattan’s Upper West Side is working to provide students with real-world business experience by offering a class that teaches students the fundamentals of corporate finance. The course is called “Synergy M&A,” and students are studying deals being made by the financial advisory firm from which the class takes its name. The class is taught by Christina Feng, a Teach for America veteran.

Notably, many of the students in Ms. Feng’s class have Hispanic and black backgrounds. “Finance has a lot of upper middle-class, affluent white people in it,” said Ms. Feng. “It’s a field that traditionally not a lot of my students would feel they could break into.”

Learning a real-world application seems to be a big draw for students. ”A lot of high schoolers complain about having all these classes, and it’s like, how can I relate to this?” senior Mariangely Gonzales told the New York Times. “But this class directly affects me.”

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