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Raising the Grade for Teachers

Resource type: News

The Wall Street Journal | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]


Making sure that teachers are effective and that students are prepared for college are just two of the issues that a group of foundations is determined to help solve.

Kavitha Medirata

The Donors’ Education Collaborative, a fund that is administered by the New York Community Trust, supports programs that help to improve the experience of students in New York City’s public schools.

The collaborative, founded in 1995, comprises 12 partners and is currently led by Atlantic Philanthropies. All of the partners individually fund programs on education reform, but band as a collective to tackle the systemic problems.

The group has been “unique in New York City in really nurturing the research, advocacy and organizing community around education,” says Shawn Morehead, program officer for the New York Community Trust, adding, that the funding group has “helped to frame the education debate in the city.”

Recently the Donors’ Education Collaborative gave grants totaling $835,000 to seven New York City nonprofits for projects targeting research and advocacy in the issues of improving teacher effectiveness and getting students ready for college.

The group has given $14 million to date, and past accomplishments include creating better services for English language learners and providing translators or interpreters for parents who don’t read or speak English.

“We want to give voice to parents’ and students’ concerns about the city schools. And we want to focus attention on what should be the two core functions of our school system—helping teachers teach effectively and making sure children graduate from the system prepared for college or a career,” says Kavitha Mediratta, program executive for children and youth at the Atlantic Philanthropies and chairwoman of the Donors’ Education Collaborative.

Among the recipients of this year’s grants is Advocates for Children, a nonprofit that focuses on education opportunities for students of color and low-income students. The advocacy group received $60,000 for a research project that will help inform new statewide protocols in teacher evaluation. The project specifically looks at teachers of students with disabilities and students who are learning English.

The current evaluation system for those teachers is “an observation-by-principal kind of thing,” says Kim Sweet, executive director of Advocates for Children of New York.

Other grants include $150,000 to the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School for a project to develop a new type of school report card that aims to better inform everyone from parents to the Department of Education about the strengths and weaknesses of city schools.

Another grant was for $150,000 to the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative to advocate for “the city to move away from suspending children and help schools use programs that do a better job of helping to avoid conflict in schools,” says Ms. Mediratta.

Write to Melanie West at melanie.west

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