Rise & Shine: Glenda Ritz and the state board go supernova

The long simmering tension on the state board finally exploded in confrontation:

  • A debate over Common Core standards escalates until Ritz walks out. (Chalkbeat)
  • Ritz says she was trying to stop an illegal resolution from the state board. (WTHR)
  • The underlying issue is who controls education policy in Indiana. (The Statehouse File)
  • Ritz says the state board is trying to usurp her authority. (NWI)
  • Ritz: Pence is undermining the Indiana Department of Education. (StateImpact)
  • Communication breakdown is part of the state board story. (WIBC)
  • This feud has been long running. (Indy Star)

Before the meeting went south, the state board actually approved a limited plan on A to F grades:

  • The A to F plan defers most of the tough issues. (Chalkbeat)
  • Schools would be graded on a 100-point scale. (Journal Courier)
  • The new A to F plan cleared its first hurdle. (NWI)
  • Categories are set for A to F but the data is not ready. (The Statehouse File)
  • The state board was leery, but they approved the concept for a new A to F system. (StateImpact)
  • After a moment of unity, chaos erupts. (AP)

There were dueling newspaper columns by Pence and Ritz, along with a pretty harsh editorial:

  • Gov. Mike Pence called for Ritz to join him in a “civil, respectful,” debate over education policy in a newspaper column. (Indy Star)
  • See also Ritz’s Tuesday newspaper column assailing Pence’s “complete education takeover.” (Journal Courier)
  • Editorial: Ritz’s actions were an embarrassment and a disservice. (Indy Star)

In other education news:

  • A deer breaks into an Indiana school and there’s video. (WTHR)
  • Amos Brown interviews robot-making IPS students. (WTLC)
  • Erika Smith: Robot competition is good for kids. (Indy Star)
  • Patrick Riccards: Both sides are to blame for vitriol in education debates. (Eduflack)
  • New York City may have issued its last A to F grades Wednesday. (Gotham Schools)
  • A handful of states are actively trying to save cursive writing. (AP)
  • Struggling to understand a young person’s suicide. (Indy Star)

on the run

‘Sex and the City’ star and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon launches bid for N.Y. governor

Cynthia Nixon on Monday announced her long-anticipated run for New York governor.

Actress and public schools advocate Cynthia Nixon announced Monday that she’s running for governor of New York, ending months of speculation and launching a campaign that will likely spotlight education.

Nixon, who starred as Miranda in the TV series “Sex and the City,” will face New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary.

Nixon has been active in New York education circles for more than a decade. She served as a  longtime spokeswoman for the Alliance for Quality Education, a union-backed advocacy organization. Though Nixon will step down from that role, according to a campaign spokeswoman, education promises to be a centerpiece of her campaign.

In a campaign kickoff video posted to Twitter, Nixon calls herself “a proud public school graduate, and a prouder public school parent.” Nixon has three children.

“I was given chances I just don’t see for most of New York’s kids today,” she says.

Nixon’s advocacy began when her oldest child started school, which was around the same time the recession wreaked havoc on education budgets. She has slammed Gov. Cuomo for his spending on education during his two terms in office, and she has campaigned for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In 2008, she stepped into an emotional fight on the Upper West Side over a plan to deal with overcrowding and segregation that would have impacted her daughter’s school. In a video of brief remarks during a public meeting where the plan was discussed, Nixon is shouted down as she claims the proposal would lead to a “de facto segregated” school building.

Nixon faces steep competition in her first run for office. She is up against an incumbent governor who has amassed a $30 million war chest, according to the New York Times. If elected, she would be the first woman and the first openly gay governor in the state.

parting ways

No fireworks in Houston as school board bids farewell to Carranza

PHOTO: Houston Independent School District
Houston school board members and elected officials discussed the departure of their superintendent Richard Carranza, who will be New York City's next schools chief.

Houston’s school board didn’t put up a fight Tuesday while ironing out the details of superintendent Richard Carranza’s departure to become New York City schools chancellor.

The Houston Independent School District board will have to negotiate the terms of Carranza’s leave since his contract runs through August 2019. But the board’s response to his move lacked the theatrics of last week’s Miami-Dade County school board emergency meeting to discuss the city’s first pick for chancellor, Alberto Carvalho.

That emergency meeting stretched on for hours with tearful pleas from students and board members who begged Carvalho to stay. In the end, Carvalho rejected the New York City job on live television.

At a press conference, Houston leaders put up no such fight for Carranza, who has only been in office there less than two years. Board trustee Sergio Lira said he expects the negotiations to end Carranza’s contract will go smoothly.

“We’re going to release him from his contract with the least harm,” Lira told Chalkbeat.  “We want to wish him the best and don’t want to impede his departure.”

On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Carranza would replace retiring Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who is expected to step down at the end of March. The mayor’s pick came as a surprise in both New York City and Houston, as Carranza’s name had not surfaced publicly during the months-long search for a successor.

At Tuesday’s press conference, the president of Houston’s board of trustees, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, said Carranza had given his two weeks notice — “give or take.” He is expected to continue working during that time, rather than take leave.

Houston appears stoic, even though Carrzanza’s abrupt departures adds to an already long list of challenges. The school system faces a $115 million budget gap, the threat of state takeover and ongoing recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

“We are aware of our challenges and we each have our own responsibility in solving our challenges,” Skillern-Jones said at the press conference.

Peppered with questions about how Carranza’s departure could add to the list of difficulties, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner interjected:

“Enough on Carranza. I wish him well,” Turner said. “But now the focus is on the 215,000 kids who are still here, depending on the rest of us to come together.”

Monica Disare contribute reporting.