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Schools Seek Donors' Money

When the New York State Department of Education needs money to follow federal rules, it knows where its friends are: hedge funds, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, James S. & Merryl H. Tisch Philanthropic Fund.

Unmentioned in this story is the $50,000 from the National Association of Charter School Administrators and $50,000 from the Carnegie Corporation.

You can see the scope of the work here [pdf file]. Lots of professional development money, meaning New York State teachers in participating districts will be trained to deliver what the Business Roundtable wants.

From the 449-page application phase 2 [pdf file]:

The Department understands that in order for New York Stateâs RTTT plans to have maximum impact for all students in all schools,
we must assist our LEA and charter school partners in making systemic, sustainable changes through an implementation structure that
includes consistent, coherent, and focused guidance and supports.

[T]he state will use the bulk of the money to hire 13 fellows--experts in curriculum, student testing and teacher evaluation--to help implement the projects that were promised in federal application:


Regents Research Fellows Program ANNOUNCED;
Will Aid New York State Education Reform Agenda

The New York State Board of Regents today announced the selection of the first four recipients of Regents Research Fellowships. Funded entirely by private philanthropy through the Regents Research Fund, the Fellows will advise the Commissioner and the Board of Regents on the implementation of the school reform agenda laid out in New York's successful Race to the Top grant application.

ââ¬ÅThe Fellows program will bring together bold thinkers who are passionate about reform and deeply committed to ensuring that all of our children receive the education they deserve. With the help of these talented thought leaders, we can make New York's reform agenda a reality," said Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch.

The program will ultimately grow to 13 Fellows focused on the following strands of the Regents Reform Agenda: developing a K-12 statewide curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards in ELA and Math, then Science and Social Studies; redesigning the Stateââ¬â¢s K-12 assessment system; implementing the Stateââ¬â¢s new teacher and principal evaluation systems, developing teacher performance assessments, and building online educator effectiveness resources; building a virtual schools platform; and transforming the Stateââ¬â¢s General Education Development (GED) Program.

Today the Regents announced the selection of the following Fellows:

Kristen Huff, Senior Fellow for Assessment, spent seven years directing assessment design, research, and development programs at the College Board. Huff played a senior leadership role in the redesign of Advanced Placement courses and exams and the design of new SkillInsight reports for SAT.

Amy McIntosh, Senior Fellow for Teacher and Principal Effectiveness, served for six years in senior roles at the NYC Department of Education helping shape successful reforms for the largest US public school system. McIntosh previously worked in the information, telecommunications and financial service areas before chairing the Board of Teach for America NYC.

Item: Amy McIntosh, the Education Department's chief
talent officer, who helped develop the system,
said that her team would continue to explore
ways to monitor the effectiveness of the city's
nearly 60,000 other public school teachers, but
that for now the state tests were the only data
on which to reliably base evaluations of them.

Peter Swerdzewski, Fellow for Assessment, was most recently an assessment consultant to the NYC DOE and previously was an Assistant Research Scientist at the College Board.

Julia Rafal, Fellow for Teacher and Principal Effectiveness, is an education policy researcher and was most recently the Manager for New Profit, a non-profit venture philanthropy fund involved with education and other critical social issues. Rafal began her career in Teach For America as a special education teacher in New York City.

On Twitter, they promote Teach for America.

Matthew Gross will serve as Executive Director of the Regents Research Fund to administer the program as well as other philanthropic initiatives of the Board. Previously Gross served as VP, Planning & Resource Development at PENCIL, which improves public schools by leveraging the skills and expertise of the business community. Gross began his career in Teach For America, as a teacher in the South Bronx and also developed an entrepreneurial media venture.

Co-founder of PENCIL on what Cathie Black will bring to New York City schools.

"In these individuals, New York has found a team of education researchers to identify innovative solutions and meet our commitment to improve education around the State. They bring to the table years of research experience and involvement in education that should benefit our ongoing reform work," said Regents Vice-Chancellor Milton Cofield.

About the Regents Research Fund

The Regents Research Fund has a history of leveraging philanthropic support to improve public education in New York. In recent years, the Fund has received significant support from The Wallace Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support SEDââ¬â¢s work in training and developing school leaders.

The Fund has secured initial commitments of approximately $3.5 million for the Fellows program, including $892,500 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, $1 million from the James S. & Merryl H. Tisch Philanthropic Fund, $1.5 million from the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, $50,000 from the National Association of Charter School Administrators and $50,000 from the Carnegie Corporation.

Officially an office of the University of the State of New York (USNY), the Regents Research Fund provides the State Education Department and Board of Regents with supplemental research, expertise and capacity. USNY is a corporation organized under the laws and Constitution of the State of New York, and registered as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation in 1993. The New York State Board of Regents is the governing board of USNY, and the Commissioner of Education is the President of USNY.

By Barbara Martinez

Months after winning $700 million in the federal Race to the Top competition, New York state's education department says it needs another $18 million, and is turning to foundations, hedge fund managers and other private donors for the money.

The $18 million will pay for systems, technology and research that will help ensure that the state spends the $700 million effectively, education department officials said. As part of its initiative, the state will use the bulk of the money to hire 13 fellowsâexperts in curriculum, student testing and teacher evaluationâto help implement the projects that were promised in federal application.

The Race to the Top competition was a nationwide contest by the Obama administration that offered states hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for adopting certain education changes, such as holding teachers more accountable for student progress. New York made promises about tying teacher evaluations to student test scores, overhauling a lackluster statewide curriculum and developing a reliable state-test system.

"We need really superb expertise to make sure that the reforms are extremely well crafted and pragmatic at a time when we're facing cuts in public funding," said David Steiner, the state's education commissioner, in an interview.

He noted that the state's education department's funding has been cut by 30% in the past three years.

Those cuts make it even harder for the state to implement the big changes that are needed. Not only has the department lost employees over the past several years, but it lacks the expertise on figuring out the most effective ways to overhaul systems that have been neglected or dysfunctional for decades. Just this summer, the state acknowledged that its state tests for third graders through eighth graders had become so easy over the years that its definition of "proficiency" became deeply flawed. In correcting that, it caused hundreds of thousands of children to suddenly go from proficient to failing in math and English.

So far, potential donors have been receptive, Mr. Steiner said. "They understand that this is a very challenging moment for us and we have to move forward with our reforms. To develop this private-public partnership is a way to respond to a severe fiscal crisis."

The state has already raised $3.5 million for the program, which is being collected under the Regents Research Fund. The fund has in the past sought philanthropic support to improve public education, but its goal to raise $18 million over four years is its largest effort to date. In recent days it received a commitment for $1.5 million from the Leona M. & Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. It has also received a $900,000 commitment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In addition, it received $1 million from the James S. & Merryl H. Tisch Philanthropic Fund; Ms. Tisch is the chancellor of the state Regents. The department already has hired four fellows.

Of the $18 million, $12 million is for the fellows and the associated costs, and $6 million for systems and technology.

— Barbara Martinez
Wall Street Journal


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