Administrators kick off a new year
The much-ballyhooed back-to-school kickoff conference took place yesterday, but not before the administrators union called an emergency membership meeting Monday night to gauge its members' outrage over the fact that its president, Jimmy Gittings, was not being permitted to speak. Gittings and his supporters floated the idea of withholding applause for Dr. Alonso yesterday but ultimately did not. (Gittings says Alonso was "shrewd" by having students read poems before and after he spoke, since no one would want to withhold applause from children.) Alonso did acknowledge Gittings in the audience in his introductory remarks.
Alonso gave a nearly two-hour presentation with a treasure trove of data about the city schools. The presentation is scheduled to be posted by today on the system's Web site. One slide that I found astounding detailed what's happened to the class of 2009, the students who should be incoming seniors. Of 8,031 who started as freshmen in 2005, only 5,091 are still enrolled. Of that, 3,855 will be seniors, 689 are still juniors, 405 are still sophomores, and 142 are still freshmen.
Of the 3,855 seniors, 1,653 have passed all four High School Assessments (they'll be the first class that needs to pass or complete a project to graduate), 677 have earned a high enough combined score on the exam to graduate, 177 have passed three of the four tests, 288 have passed two, 394 have passed one, and 666 haven't passed any.
As I report in my story today about the principal coaches, Alonso said at yesterday's event that he's found an extra $22 million to give to elementary and middle schools -- much of it Title 1 and Title 2 money that was distributed too late last year and therefore not spent.
Now, just as things are getting interesting... I'll be off until Labor Day. I know, it's bad timing to miss the opening of school, but my colleagues will keep up the discussion while I'm gone.
See you in September.