Chalkbeat projects

Editorial work

PBS NewsHour/Chalkbeat: Grade levels could be a thing of the past in schools focused on competency

Competency-based education goes by many names — mastery-based, proficiency-based and performance-based education — but the idea is the same: Students are measured by what they’ve learned, not the amount of time they’ve spent in the classroom.

Chalkbeat New York: Exit strategy for students at closing schools hard to navigate

An escape route from the city’s most struggling schools that Department of Education officials touted as a significant innovation is unlikely to be an option for many eligible families, parents and advocates say.

Chalkbeat New York: More students given transfers, but many are left in weak schools

Far more New York City students were offered pathways out of low-performing schools this year under a new policy that gave priority to students who wanted to leave schools that are being closed. But few students who were eligible to transfer even tried, and most students who did apply were told they must stay at their original school.

Chalkbeat New York: A teacher’s crusade to bring competitive sports to small schools

What David Garcia-Rosen started as a single-column spreadsheet has turned into a 17-page report and a mission to provide more team sports opportunities to New York City students at small high schools. Garcia-Rosen, the dean of International Community High School, released a report this week that criticizes the way the Public School Athletic League funds schools’ sports teams. He is recommending that the Department of Education overhaul the way it funds school sports so that schools can decide whether to join the PSAL, a private league, or the Small Schools Athletic League, a counterpart to PSAL that he himself created to meet the needs of small schools’ athletics.

Chalkbeat New York: Close reading one seventh grade state English question

This year’s state English language arts exams required more “close-reading” than ever before, in keeping with the priorities of the Common Core learning standards. We asked three English teachers to apply the same reading strategies that they teach their students to questions that appeared on the state’s reading exams. Zeroing in on the “Earth and Water and Sky” passage on the seventh-grade exam, the educators — Victoria Dedaj, Mark Anderson, and Jen Murtha — said some questions required more than literacy skills, used complex language, and sometimes had no clear answer.

Chalkbeat New York: On SLOs: the teacher evaluations element you don’t know about

Student Learning Objectives will count for 20 percent of most teachers’ evaluations next year, and yet many city educators know little about them. SLOs, a goal-setting tool, were written into the state’s teacher evaluation law in 2010, when legislators first revised it to require student achievement to factor into teachers’ ratings. The tool would be used to generate the state’s portion of each teacher’s student achievement score once districts adopted evaluations that conformed to the new law.

Chalkbeat New York: Graduating senior battled obstacles to achieve independence 

Blanca Melendez used to hate school. Then she watched her sister, then a high school senior, win awards, graduate and go off to Sarah Lawrence College on nearly a full-ride scholarship. “I was kind of like, what the heck am I doing?” Melendez said. Four years since having that epiphany, Melendez graduated from the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology with an Advanced Regents diploma and top honors in English and Spanish. She has a full ride to Brown University and an internship at The New York Times book reviews section this summer.

Chalkbeat New York: In her own words, a graduate who aims to use the arts to help

In a one-bedroom apartment in the West Bronx where Diamond Walker lives with her younger brother and mother, she talks about how it was sometimes difficult to get her work done. There’s violence on her block, neighbors doing drugs in her hallway, and, with the library an unsafe walk away, nowhere quiet to study. “It’s just really distracting and sometimes it’s discouraging,” said Walker, who graduated last month from the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics. “You’re trying to do so much to make it better and it seems like nothing is going the right way.”

Minyanville: Why Is Taking Part of Its Business Off-Line With ‘The Stir’

In May, launched “The Stir” — a program of local dating events that bring together Match members for activities like cooking classes, bowling nights, and happy hours. The company, owned by Internet giant InterActive Corporation, wants to attract new members who might not otherwise try online dating. At stake is the growth of Match, which is IAC’s second most profitable division, bringing in about 24% of fourth-quarter revenue from 2.8 million paid subscribers, according to the most recent quarterly report. The Stir could help Match grab a larger share of the 102 million singles in the U.S.

Leaving Maternity: My master’s thesis project for the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, which was picked up by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in this segment on paid family leave

There are three countries in the world that do not legally offer paid maternity leave: Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and the United States. In 2011, only 11 percent of private sector workers and 17 percent of public sector employees in the U.S. had the option of taking paid family leave. What is it like for those who don’t have paid maternity leave? This is one story.

California Watch (Center for Investigative Reporting): Berkeley Unified’s total spending on harassment case unknown 

After a Berkeley High School student complained of sexual harassment by her guidance counselor, the Berkeley Unified School District spent $94,000 on lawyers to fight her claim. Then in February, school officials made a $57,500 insurance payout to settle the girl’s lawsuit, according to court records and interviews. The financially strapped school district’s spending on the controversial harassment case probably was greater. But for the past year, school district officials have refused to disclose how much they spent on the case, ignoring information requests filed under the state’s Public Records Act by California Watch and by a legal watchdog group, the First Amendment Coalition.

California Watch (Center for Investigative Reporting): Berkeley Unified reveals spending on sexual harassment case

The Berkeley Unified School District spent $172,697.15 on a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a high school student against her guidance counselor, according to records provided by district officials more than a year after they were first requested by California Watch. All but $46,281.25 of the cost of investigating, defending and settling the case involving Berkeley High School counselor Anthony Smith was paid by the district’s insurance carrier, Deputy Superintendent Javetta Cleveland said in a telephone interview. Cleveland revealed the information after California Watch reported that since July 2011, district officials had not responded to repeated requests for a breakdown of their spending on the controversial case.

Narratively: Freak Show 101: Preserving a lost art along the Coney Island Boardwalk

Coney Island has seen many changes since it opened its first sideshow in 1880. Theme parks have been developed, bulldozed and redeveloped; newer vendors have replaced old businesses; real estate has been bought and sold—the list goes on. But there are some places, and people, in Coney Island that are determined to keep the old traditions alive. The Coney Island Sideshow School, and Adam Rinn, are among them.

DNAInfo: Subway Dancer Stays on Right Track with Train Acrobatics

It’s time to hit. That’s what Andrew Saunders thinks every morning he wakes up. That’s what he lives for. Saunders, 18, hits the Q train almost every day. He rides the train and performs a dance called “litefeet” with his friends.

MSNBC.comLaw grads going solo and loving it 

The number of recent law graduates going solo increased from 3.5 percent in 2008 to 5.5 percent in 2009, the biggest one year jump since 1982, the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) reports. That percentage increased to 5.7 percent of all private practice jobs for the class of 2010, the highest it’s been since 1997. For Indian-American pols, the “What are you?” test 

Indian-Americans, the fastest growing Asian group in the United States, make up a little over three million of the country’s population. But only two — Jindal and Dalip Singh Saund, A Democrat who represented a California district from 1957 to 1963 — have ever served in Congress. This year, though, there are an unprecedented six Indian-American candidates, all Democrats, are running for the House. And with Jindal and Haley generating national attention, the prominence of Indian-American politicians has never been greater.

Mott Haven Herald: Entrepreneurs start young at M.S. 223

Brittni Ortiz, 12, arranged fliers neatly on the table as her business partner, Brittany Tirado, 13, pulled out a chocolate frosted cupcake and set it by a poster board. “Brittany, this is it,” Ortiz said. After weeks of preparation, students at M.S. 223 in Mott Haven pitched more than 20 different business ideas to their peers, teachers and business people, who acted as judges. The one-day competition gauged which start-ups had the best chance of succeeding. Since the beginning of the school year, all the seventh-graders have been learning about different career options, what their interests are and how to start their own businesses.

Mott Haven Herald: Occupy the Bronx

A large crowd of people gathered at Fordham Plaza on Saturday to participate in the second weekly meeting of the Bronx’s own contingent of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Bronxites came together to join the global conversation that was started by a few hundred protesters in Zuccotti Park, a block-square plaza in Manhattan’s financial district, a month ago.

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