Friday, April 10, 2015

NYS Anti-Teacher Law Section Concedes Student Mental and Physical Health Importance

 *NYS Legislature law S2006 requires wrap-around social services for "failing" schools placed in receivership. *Clause could open role for charter schools.

Progressive education activists and organizations, such as New York City's Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) have been recognizing that there is a need for wrap-around mental and physical health services at the schools.
And some activists take this a step further, recognizing that students' socioeconomic conditions factor into performance. Class, home language and race matters.
As some have said, "Our students' living conditions are their learning conditions."

It is highly ironic that tagged into Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature's breathtaking attack on teachers last week, in the teacher evaluation law, coupled with new procedures for state takeover of schools via receivership placement in the budget bill, S2006B / A3006B, was a lengthy statement that stipulated the implementation of several important social services. Why would these services be included? They would be included because many students do not have these on their own outside of school and they vitally need those services, and their lacking these services would negatively impact their scholastic performance.
And it is bitterly ironic that once the school goes into the status the State Education Department deems "failing," and that only then the school gets these services.

Here is what the new law says about receivership and its power.

-adds a new section, section 211-f, to the education law regarding the takeover and restructuring of failing schools by external receivers. It allows the Commissioner, under given circumstances, to place a school into receivership where a receiver will manage and operate the school, subject to annual review by the Commissioner, until such time as the school has improved sufficiently.

-allows for the state takeover in schools;

-27 “priority” schools that have been struggling for more than 10 years would have only one year to dramatically turnaround,

and -other “priority” schools would have two years to turn around, until an outside receiver is appointed to control the school.

-New priority schools in 2016-17 are automatically eligible for receivership.

Charter role?

Note that the law has a vague aspect "non-profit" as potential taking the receivership role. Note that the charter school industry makes hefty use of the "non-profit" mantle.
Appointment of a Receiver:

Upon determination by the Commissioner that the school will be placed in receivership, the school district shall appoint an independent receiver, subject to approval of the Commissioner.

The receiver will manage and operate all aspects of the school and develop and implement a school intervention plan, considering recommendations of a community engagement team.

The receiver may be a non-profit, another school district, or an individual.

The receiver will have the power to supersede any decision, policy or regulation of the district that conflicts with the school intervention plan.

The receiver will have authority to review proposed school district budgets and modify them to conform to the school intervention plan.

The receiver will contract with the Commissioner and be paid by SED, unless there is an open administrative staffing line at the district and the receiver will be taking on the responsibilities of that position, in which case the receiver will be paid by the district.
Yet, under the School Improvement Plan we see that the state is clearly calling for attention to serving unmet health needs of students.
Why is it that the state inherently recognizes the worth of these needs, yet it will only attend to those needs once a school falls into "failing" status?
School Intervention Plan:

The receiver will create a school intervention plan. Before developing plan, the receive shall “consult with” local stakeholders including the board of education, the superintendent, the principal, teachers assigned to the school and their collective bargaining representation, administrators assigned to the school and their collective bargaining representative, parents, social service and mental health agencies, students as appropriate, career and workforce development programs as appropriate, pre-k programs as appropriate, representatives of local higher ed as appropriate and the “school takeover team.”

 In creating the plan, the receiver shall consider the recommendations of the “community enragement team,” include provisions intended to maximize the rapid academic achievement of students at the school, ensure the plan addresses school leadership and capacity, school leader practices and decisions, curriculum development and support, teacher practices and decisions, student social and emotional developmental health, and family and community engagement. The receiver shall base the plan on the findings of any recent diagnostic review or assessment and student outcome data including, student achievement growth data based on state measures, other measures of student achievements, student promotion and graduation rates, achievement and growth data for subgroups, and long-term and short-term suspension rates.

 The receiver must include the following in the plan: measures to address social service, health and mental health needs of students in the school and their families in order to help students arrive and remain at school ready to learn, provided that this may include mental health and substance abuse screening; measures to improve or expand access to child welfare services and, as appropriate, services in the school community to promote a safe and secure learning environment; measures to provide greater access to career and technical education and workforce development services provided to students in the school and their families, in order to provide students and families with meaningful employment skills and opportunities; measures to address achievement gaps for English language learners, students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students; measures to address school climate and positive behavior support, including mentoring and other youth development programs; and a budget for the school intervention plan.
  .   .   .

 The plan must include measurable annual goals with respect to student attendance, student discipline including short-term and long-term suspension, student safety, student promotion and graduation and drop-out rates, student achievement and growth on state measures, progress in areas of academic underperformance, progress among subgroups, reduction of achievement gaps, development of college and career readiness, parent and family engagement, building a culture of academic success among students, building a culture of student support and success among faculty and staff, using developmentally appropriate child assessments from Pre-K to 3, and measures of student learning.
The receiver “shall” convert schools to “community schools” to provide expanded health, mental health and other services to the students.
So, in closing, it is very interesting and disturbing that the state will recognize the importance of, and take action to provide for these needs, only when a school falls into "failing" status. Until that point, the state will use the schools and their children and staff as political footballs.

*April 1 typo by the legislature? Note in the paragraph under "Considerations," the law calls for creation of a "community enragement team." Did the bill's authors mean "engagement"?