The Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently featured a blog post by our very own Superintendent Kathleen Porter-Magee as she reflects on year five of the Partnership network and our “aim not for comfortable conversations about the decline of Catholic education in America but…” rather the “possibility for a thriving system of schools in this new century.”
Growth through exploration: Asha Lawrence recounts her journey both geographically and academically as the Class of 2017 Valedictorian of Our Lady Queen of Angels School.
When Valedictorian Elizabeth Alatishe talks about the highlights of her nine years at Sacred Heart School, she begins at the end and then looks back fondly.
“We are here to have a conversation and to go through a process of discovery… your story represents literally thousands of others.”
In his address to a joint session of Congress last month, President Trump suggested a national tax credit for education that would allow individuals and corporations to make deductible donations to funds that offer scholarships to low-income K–12 students.
Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent of Montana Catholic Schools, features Partnership Executive Director Jill Kafka in his latest podcast, exploring whats needed in urban education.
Here’s a suggestion for America’s new secretary of education: Forget about federal education policy.
Upcoming Events at Partnership Schools
One of the odd features of education policy is that while a plethora of research exists on the effects of systemic reforms (e.g., class size, charter schools, teacher and school accountability mechanisms), on student achievement there is very little data on whether curriculum – what kids are actually being taught – makes a difference.
In his October 25th podcast, Travis Pillow sits down with Partnership Schools Executive Director Jill Kafka and discusses why Catholic schools belong in the national education reform dialogue.
Nationally recognized education leader Doug Lamov’s group, Teach Like A Champion writes a glowing and insightful review of their second year working with our “feisty band of educators.”
For six Catholic schools in Harlem and the South Bronx, a remarkable school year that began with a visit from Pope Francis has finished with double-digit test-score increases, far outpacing the gains made by New York’s district schools and charters.
Rounding out a week filled with great news about the NY state test results for Partnership Schools, Saturday saw a NY Post editorial board piece which noted that our schools are exactly the type New York City needs. To quote, “In short, Partnership has produced a template that could transform parochial education — a huge plus for the city.” Then editor of redefinED Travis Pillows, also posted another piece celebrating the work of the Partnership Schools referencing the fact that we are part of a “national Catholic school renaissance.” Our leaders, teachers and students deserve all the positive attention and you deserve to know. Thank you for your continued support.
Results for network of six urban Catholic schools are capstone to remarkable year that began with visit from Pope Francis
This week marks the end of the school year – and what a year it was! From the Papal Visit in September to the 8th grade graduations of the past week, the year was one for the records books. We are proud of the academic rigor and content-driven instruction, the warm and values-based culture and the commitment and talent of our teachers and leaders that make the six schools in the Partnership network such unique and special places.
In a strongly worded, thoughtful blog post, Partnership Schools’ Superintendent, Kathleen Porter-Magee went on record with the 74Million education web site, stating loudly and clearly that, “We are unapologetic supporters of the Common Core standards… in an age when people are opting out, we are unapologetically opting-in.”
When it was announced that hip-hop mogul Sean Combs as he is known to his mother (and Diddy or Puff Daddy to fans) was opening a charter school in Harlem, it was welcomed as more good news for the neighborhood. But in the Friday online edition of U.S. News & World Report, Robert Pondiscio, senior fellow and vice president for external affairs at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, wrote a compelling piece encouraging Mr. Combs to consider his and his family’s own Catholic school education and support inner-city Catholic education generally and the Partnership for Inner-City Education specifically.
It’s hard to believe that six months have passed since Pope Francis visited Partnership school, Our Lady Queen of Angels, on September 25th. His visit is still very much on the minds and in the hearts of all who were present and even those who were not. Indeed, his message of service exists in our own mission and is celebrated each and every day in all six of our schools.
We don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Education Tax Credit is back in the NY State budget. (As a side note, the Senate passed their version of the bill 47-15.)
Launched as a non-profit, non-partisan on-line news site by award-winning journalist Campbell Brown, the 74Million’s states its mission to “lead an honest, fact-based conversation about how to give America’s 74 million children under the age of 18 the education they deserve.” With that in mind, journalist Mareesa Nicosia spent time with the Partnership team at St. Athanasius. The result is a thoughtful, engaging piece that gets to the heart of the work of the Partnership.
The Wall Street Journal features Partnership Schools in an op-ed about religious education borrowing lessons—and leaders—from successful charters.
In today’s New York Daily News, Kathleen Porter-Magee, our Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer, discusses the renaissance in urban Catholic education and how our network, Partnership Schools, is leading the way.
During his time in the United States, Pope Francis will make a quiet stop at East Harlem’s Our Lady Queen of Angels. His visit to this humble, 120-year-old elementary school, which to this day educates an overwhelmingly low-income and minority student body, underscores the Catholic Church’s centuries-long commitment to the disadvantaged. But it will also shine light on an unreported good-news story in urban education: the budding renaissance of Catholic schools.
Errol Louis discussed education reform in New York City with a special panel: Kathleen Porter-Magee of the Partnership for Inner-City Education, Morty Ballen from Explore Schools and Bill Baccaglini, of the New York Foundling.
NY1 Online: Panel Talks Education Reform in NYC
As part of Superintendent Kathleen Porter-Magee’s academic plan, a partnership has been forged with nationally recognized educator, Doug Lemov and his organization, Teach Like a Champion. Below is the article written by his colleague. Enjoy.
“Highlights of Our Work with NYC’s Partnership Schools”
It is a sweltering August day, and Joanne Walsh is apologizing for not keeping her office cool.
She is living the principles of Pope Francis’ message of caring for our common earthly home, she said, so she’s keeping the air conditioning to a minimum. Also, if she runs two air conditioners on the same circuit at the same time, she will blow a fuse.
On Pope Francis’ itinerary when he visits the U.S. in September is a tour of a Partnership for Inner-City Education’s (the Partnership) school called Our Lady Queen of Angels in East Harlem, NYC. It is part of a network of 6 schools managed by the Partnership that is doing a great job combining the venerable Catholic K-12 school system with the innovation and enterprising spirit of the best charter schools.
Catholic schools enroll roughly four of every ten private-school students in the country, making them the largest and farthest-reaching segment of American private education. And while they’ve seen their enrollment decline for decades, a growing number of initiatives is pushing against the tide, looking to attract new students and revitalize their academics.
For years, I worried that I was auditioning to be the Edward Gibbon of urban Catholic schooling, chronicling the decline and fall of an invaluable, sprawling institution. Inner-city Catholic schools have long provided an incomparable education to millions of low-income kids. But a confluence of factors have caused fifty years of enrollment losses in the millions and school closures in the thousands.
Last week, Eliza Shapiro published an article at Capitol New York that explored the “charter-like” approach the Partnership for Inner-City Education is bringing to its Catholic schools. In many ways, that characterization is true. We are, after all, partnering with some pioneers from the charter world. And we’re implementing many of the best practices that so many of us have learned from the most successful CMOs.
At the same time, though, there is a lot that it misses. We are much more than “charter-like schools”; we’re Catholic schools. And our rich history is the foundation of what we do.
Our Lady Queen of Angels, a 123-year-old Catholic school in East Harlem, is starting to look a lot like the Success Academy charter school around the corner.
At Queen of Angels, an intricately decorated bulletin board—a fixture of charter school hallways—promoting the reading prowess of the school’s kindergarten classes hangs next to framed photographs of Pope Francis and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
There has been so much good news and progress this year and there is so much to look forward to in the next academic year, I am delighted to share some of the highlights.
I naturally have to begin with the amazing news that Pope Francis has chosen Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, a Partnership School, as his only school to visit during his brief stay in the States.
New York City is perhaps the most competitive market for qualified, high-potential teachers and school leaders. There are dozens of high-performing charter schools, big name private schools, and innovative traditional public schools. Additionally, many schools and Charter Management Organizations have well-established recruitment efforts, generous salary and benefits packages, and strong name recognition.
When Antwan Allen stepped down as principal of St. Mark the Evangelist school earlier this year, the Partnership launched an intensive, nationwide search for an outstanding leader. After interviewing dozens of candidates with experience in Catholic, charter, and traditional public schools, the Partnership was thrilled to hire its top candidate, Aaron Dukes.
The Partnership Schools took the national stage when they became one of only two districts selected for Student Achievement Partners’ first ever Materials Adaptation Pilot Project. This program was designed to address curricular gaps and alignment with our newly adopted math curriculum, Math in Focus.
Who better to get the word out about the Partnership on the Thomas B. Fordham’s website “Common Core Watch” than our very own Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer, Kathleen Porter-Magee.
Through snow-lined streets Joanne Walsh, principal of Our Lady Queen of Angels, and her entire faculty, made their way into the warm, welcoming environs of Partnership Trustee board member Jose Fernandez’s home for a holiday drinks party. The soiree was a culminating event after a year of visits between Jose and Joanne, which according to Jose, “Just seemed like the right thing to do.”
“Grass! Trees! Sun!” exclaimed an excited Sacred Heart middle-schooler as she and her classmates exited the row of 22 buses lining the fields at Randall’s Island and prepared for a day of fitness, fun, and friendly competition. She was one of nearly 700 5th-7th grade students who participated in the first annual Partnership Network Field Day on Friday, May 29th.
The Partnership is thrilled to announce that Pope Francis will visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School on September 25th at 4:00pm during his visit to the US.
As Executive Director of the Partnership Schools Jill Kafka noted, “We appreciate how little time His Holiness has in the States, which makes the papal visit to one of our six Partnership schools even more remarkable. We are so honored that our school was selected.”
On Thursday, June11th from 8:00-9:00am parents, friends, and administrators from all six Partnership schools will be meeting at Assembly Speaker Heastie’s office in the Bronx to support the Education Tax Credit bill.
On April 15th long-term supporter, The Louis Calder Foundation, agreed to allow the Partnership for Inner-City Education to release and spend their $1 Million endowment gift originally awarded for annual capital improvements. This $1 Million gift would fund a massive classroom renovation project in our six Partnership network schools.
The Education Investment Tax Credit legislation is up for debate and hopefully soon a vote. Please be part of our new social media campaign by taking part in our “Thunderclap”. It is a simple way to let our elected officials in New York state know that we are watching and we want them to vote YES!
Over the past week, the Partnership schools have played a large role generating support for passage of the Education Investment Tax Credit.
We are excited to announce that our recruiting season for the 2015-2016 school year has begun!
With Partnership students wearing the signature yellow scarves and our Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer’s blog placing our Catholic schools squarely in the midst of the school choice conversation, National School Choice week is getting the full support of all six Partnership schools.
Columbia University isn’t just for college students anymore. Starting this fall, twenty seven 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders from Our Lady Queen of Angels (OLQA) have been visiting the campus each week as part of the College Mentors for Kids program.
Selected by Kathleen Porter-Magee to join the Partnership’s academic team, Lauren DelFavero serves the crucial role of Director of Math Achievement. Ms. DelFavero comes to the Partnership most recently from the charter school, Success Academy. Last year, 100% of her 5th graders passed the NY State Math test with 96% of students scoring “fours” – the highest level. A self-described teacher from the word go, Ms. DelFavero looks forward to achieving the same results for all 2,113 students in the network.
With little fanfare, but great passion, Andrew Cardone, the newest Immaculate Conception School board member, had over one hundred 4th – 8th graders spellbound as the honors award assembly guest speaker, Friday, November 21st.
Friday, December 12th saw the Partnership’s second ever Chess Open take place at Sacred Heart School in the South Bronx. Represented were all six schools for an all out Kindergarten through eighth grade competition where, according to Michael Propper of Chess NYC, the tournament’s sponsor, “Some very high level chess matches took place.” With over 140 players in attendance and over 15 parents watching, it was a packed house.
December is the perfect month to pause and appreciate all we have set out to accomplish during our academic year and all that is still to come. This year is no different.
With His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan in attendance, the Partnership for Inner-City Education’s December 3rd holiday party at Burden Mansion was a warm, wonderful celebration.
Eight guests were treated to a small and personal discussion regarding the network’s academic plan led by the Partnership’s Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer Kathleen Porter-Magee. The event was held at Our Lady Queen of Angels (OLQA) in East Harlem.
The Partnership’s Junior Advisory Board is excited to announce a fundraising campaign featuring singer/songwriter Andrew Cole. Cole has generously offered to donate initial proceeds of his new album “Out of the Sunshine” to the Partnership.
With a lead that asks, “What can be done about all the Catholic schools that are closing? And, “What can the schools do for themselves?” journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley continues on to cite a survey that illustrates a well-established fact that “Catholic students, particularly urban ones, are much more likely to graduate high school than their public school peers.” But Schaefer Riley doesn’t stop there. She goes on to use the Partnership for Inner-City Education as the exemplar of an organization that has “stepped up to find ways to run Catholic schools better.” To read her entire Op-Ed which appears in today’s NY Post click here. http://nypost.com/2014/10/09/helping-good-schools-save-themselves/
Catholic schools work miracles — but they’re closing left and right. What can we do about it? And what can they do?
We are delighted to share with you a link to an eight-minute PBS NewsHour segment featuring our very own superintendent and Chief Academic Officer Kathleen Porter-Magee. Kathleen offered an eloquent and well-founded defense of the use of testing aligned to the Common Core State Standards as a means of increasing student achievement.
Is there too much testing today in the public schools? It’s a question more parents, teachers and school officials are asking around the country. This is the first year scores on new tests tied to the Common Core standards will be published in many states. Some early adopters like New York State have already seen students’ scores dive on the new exams.
While August 18th may have been my first official day at the Partnership, my work with the Partnership team and the school principals began last spring in conversations about how we can build on the rich history of urban Catholic schools, learn lessons from our charter school peers, and drive outstanding, life-changing outcomes for the students in our care.
What do a math specialist, a world-class debater, and a corporate leader all have in common? They are the three new key academic team members at the Partnership for Inner-City Education.
It all began with a story. When long-time Partnership supporter and artist, John van Rens stopped by the offices on a sunny winter’s day, he told a charming story about a group of squirming teenagers he managed to get comfortable enough with during one of his Saturday religion classes so they “really started talking”. In that moment, a light went off.
From June 23rd until September 4th when classes resume, the Partnership schools are filled with painters, carpenters, contractors, technology specialists, and even volunteers who are tackling projects, large and small. Working in concert with Kwame Millar, COO and each school’s Operations Manager, George Grenier, our Director of Facilities, mobilized crews with military precision so the bulk of the capital improvements, including the all important, year-end clear outs are completed before the first student arrives. This summer was no different as the Partnership dedicated over $2 million to this effort.
Bill Sales and his wife Suzanne had already been scholarship angels through Be A Student’s Friend program for 8th grader Emely during her whole time at the school, and Bill was a long-term board member at St. Athanasius when he raised his eye brows at the possibility of mentoring four, sixth grade boys. Meeting after school from 4:15-5:30 Bill had his hands full as Emanual J., Albieri B., Edward S., and Jonathon O., all vied for his attention.
When Bob Lyons came to the Partnership just to meet Jill Kafka and see what we were up to, he never thought within the week he would be in the South Bronx with Sr. Patrice at Immaculate Conception School talking about teaching a course on Personal Finance to a group of 6th and 7th graders. But that’s exactly what happened. Already a volunteer at two other Catholic schools – one in Bridgeport and another in the Bronx – Bob explained he was really looking for a place to make his home.
The year’s accelerated pace has not slowed a bit, inspiring me to re-write my summer letter to you as events continue to overtake the written word.
Our biggest, most recent news is the hiring of the Partnership Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer, Kathleen Porter-Magee.
Two dozen city Catholic schools shut their doors last year, including Blessed Sacrament in the Bronx. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, valedictorian of the Class of 1968, lamented her alma mater’s closing: “Do you know how important those eight years were? It was a road of opportunity for kids with no other alternative.”
After a thorough search, Executive Director, Jill Kafka today announced the hiring of Ms. Kathleen Porter-Magee, a 17-year veteran with experience in education and policy, in both Catholic and charter schools, with nearly a decade spent working directly in and with schools.
The Partnership for Inner-City Education today announced that it has completed its search with the hire of Kathleen Porter-Magee as the Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer of its network of inner-city Catholic elementary schools in Harlem and the South Bronx.
Last night saw the launch of the Partnership for Inner-City Education’s first ever Jr. Advisory Committee bash. As over 100 friends of the 8-member Executive Committee vied for entrance to the Public House event on the East Side, it was a success even beyond the hopes of the group. Bill Fritz one of the founding members noted, “We thought it would be a good night. We never realized just how big it would be.”
April showers brought more than May flowers at the Partnership for Inner-City Education. They brought a very generous $2 million grant from the Louis V. Gerstner Family Foundation to be used for scholarships across all six network schools. The grant will be provided in four equal installments over four years and impact approximately 350 students each year.
A group of seventh- and eighth-graders ventured out to photograph the neighborhood around their Bronx school and returned with pictures of marigolds and food carts, men at a barbershop and a majestic church.There were no photos of guns or gangs. And graffiti doesn’t appear menacing, but instead acts as a vibrant background for a couple with a baby carriage.
Last week, Tom Hill, Vice-Chairman of Blackstone and CEO of Blackstone Alternative Asset Management, led a tour at the Frick Museum for 8th grade students from Our Lady Queen of Angels School.
Friday, April 11, established yet another ground-breaking first for the Partnership for Inner-City Education as 115 students representing all six network schools, from Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade, participated in the 2014 Partnership Chess Open. This is the first year the Partnership introduced the after-school chess program in all six schools.
We are making headlines and garnering very positive news coverage.
Late yesterday afternoon, NY 1 contacted us for a story about the closing of Bishop Ford High School in Brooklyn. And to quote the reporter, she was “looking for a bright spot” to include in her story when she came upon the Partnership.
It’s a silly day to celebrate, but there is so much love at each of our six schools, from our principals, teachers, students and families, it seemed wrong not to let you know how much we all appreciate you — our greatest supporters.
You know you’re doing well when others celebrate your work. Here is a perfect example of that fact. The attached link has The New York Hall of Science featuring Parminne Pitamber as she makes science come alive for our kids at Sacred Heart & Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary Schools.
… And a very happy new year, from all of us here at the Partnership for Inner-City Education. As the year comes to a close and the New Year dawns, we continue to feel blessed for the opportunity to work with our six Partnership schools, our principals, teachers, students, family, donors, board members and friends. Our new year’s resolution is the same one we promised ourselves when we began our school year, to provide the over 2,100 children entrusted in our care with a high caliber academic program along with the values and life skills necessary to lead productive lives. Here’s to a healthy, successful, and bountiful 2014 filled with joy.
It’s hard to believe that the Partnership for Inner-City Education launched its network of six Catholic PreK-8th grade schools just 15 weeks ago. To prepare for this, last spring the Partnership set in motion several initiatives designed to advance its network goals to raise achievement levels and strengthen school operations and finances. You will learn more about our efforts in this newsletter.
Because communications are integral to raising the visibility of the Partnership network and its six schools, we have created or updated logos and launched websites for all of the Partnership schools. The distinctive logos project aspirational and forward looking images of our schools. We have also started a series of broadly distributed monthly email blasts. They highlight how the Partnership is advancing its network goals to raise achievement levels and strengthen school operations and finances.
The Partnership welcomed three new members to our leadership team — Dr. Rosetta A. Wilson – Chief Academic Officer, Kwame Millar – Chief Operations Officer, and Cee Greene – Director of Development and Communications.
On September 3rd we celebrated the launch of the Partnership network with our first professional development day for the principals, teachers and staff. This exciting event included a presentation from Executive Director, Jill Kafka. She discussed the network’s mission and goals, introduced the Partnership team, and explained the crucial role of school professionals in helping inner-city students break the cycle of poverty.
The push to increase enrollment at our schools has succeeded: in September we welcomed 684 new students, raising enrollment from the previous school year by 132 students to 2,168. Thanks to the targeted and sustained marketing efforts of our Admissions and Development Associates (formerly known as “Fellows”), five of the six schools grew and Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary held steady, maintaining its enrollment numbers from last year.
In March 2013, the Partnership signed a historic agreement with the Archdiocese of New York granting us broad management authority over a network of six preK-8th grade, inner-city schools. The Partnership was thrilled with the opportunity to operate its own network of schools.
An extended academic day is integral to the Partnership’s academic strategy. Having students spend more time on task in language arts and math raises achievement levels. Our extended academic day will run from Monday through Thursday and provide 1.5 additional instructional hours daily.
Students, faculty and parents of the Partnership for Inner-City Education network schools returned in September to buildings that had high priority capital and life safety needs addressed and their public spaces transformed. This was the first phase of the Partnership’s expected $9 million in capital investments over the next three to five years for our six PreK – 8th grade school buildings.
Every first day of school is a new beginning. Students enter their school buildings with an extra bounce in their step in anticipation of the upcoming year.
The Partnership for Inner-City Education (the Partnership) is thrilled to announce that it has signed a historic agreement with the Archdiocese of New York. This agreement grants the Partnership broad authority to offer educational, administrative and operational services on behalf of six inner-city pre-k through 8th grade Catholic schools.
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