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Friday, December 5, 2014

Roosevelt Island PTA Approves Renaming PS/IS 217 The Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School - More Approvals Needed Including From Cornell Tech

As previously reported, the Roosevelt Island PS/IS 217 PTA announced an emergency December 4 meeting to discuss:

... What’s in a name?

We have some exciting news to announce! In partnership with Cornell Tech, we are looking to re-name our school and reap the full benefits of an association with the prestigious higher education institution that will soon be our island neighbor. Since this is just the beginning of a two-year process, we wanted to start by giving all our parents up-to-the-minute information about the latest developments. We hope you’ll be as thrilled with the news as the rest of us are!

What is the proposed new name of the school?
The Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School. The school will retain 217 as its numeric code for the Department of Education....
As part of the 2013 Cornell Tech lease agreement with New York City for the Goldwater campus property, Cornell Tech agreed to:
... Partner with New York City middle schools to create Science, Technology, Education, and Mathematics (STEM) programs, with a special focus on girls. Initial pilot programs will begin at P.S./I.S. 217 on Roosevelt Island, M.S. 406 in East Harlem, and I.S. 204 and P.S. 111 in Long Island City, Queens. Starting this summer, Cornell NYC Tech will sponsor an immersion program for girls in these schools to learn coding, web design, robotics and mobile development under the mentorship of some of the industry’s top engineers and entrepreneurs.

"Adopt" the local school on Roosevelt Island, PS/IS 217, by providing programming such as teacher training and support, after school programming, tech events, career day options, and hardware and software programming development....
but its not clear what precisely being "adopted" means for PS/IS 217.

The advocates for renaming PS/IS 217 the Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School believe:

The PS/IS 217 PTA approved the school's renaming to Cornell Tech during yesterday's meeting. Here's what happened.

PTA President Olga Shchuchinov provided a brief overview of the meeting and introduced parent Chris Warsing who gave this presentation on the matter

followed by PS/IS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman saying:
... we're looking to create that partnership with Cornell so that this word adoption really does mean something in terms of how they are supporting what's happening in this building...
and answering questions from parents.

Ms Beckman noted that Cornell Tech has not expressed a position on the renaming of PS/IS 217 yet and that discussions have just begun.

The motion to approve the PS/IS 217 renaming to Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School was approved by the PTA. If Cornell Tech also approves, the renaming process is as follows.

More on Cornell Tech and PS/IS 217 from previous posts.

There is a Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Town Hall meeting scheduled for Monday December 8.

UPDATE 2:40 PM - Cornell Tech participated in a program to get students ready for the digital age.
Was anybody from Roosevelt Island's PS/IS 217 present?


CheshireKitty said...

I don't see how Cornell can really object to the renaming of PS/IS 217. Now it's up to Cornell to put its money where its mouth is - and commit to supporting the school in concrete ways, such as with a written agreement to provide funding to further tech education, and sending faculty/grad students to PS/IS 217 to collaborate on development of tech programs, and even teach some classes.

Frank Farance said...

Can't RIOC do anything right? Their emergency msg system says Manhattan-bound F train out, but not so according to MTA and token booth clerk.

Here is the RIOC message: "Notification issued 12/5/14 at 12:23 PM. The MTA has advised
that from 11:45 PM Monday, 12/8/14 until 5 AM Friday, 12/12/14,
Manhattan-bound F Train service will not stop at Roosevelt Island. For
alternate routes and updated information, please visit or call 511 for more information."

which means there will be about 4 days of No F-Train To Manhattan. I would have thought that was a big deal since it would be very disruptive to commuting to work, school, etc.

I checked the MTA's website, the token clerk at our subway station, and the MTA flyer: RIOC got it wrong. Here's the message from the MTA's website: " F Coney Island-bound trains run via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts . Late Nights, 11:45 PM to 5 AM, Mon to Fri, Dec 8 - 12. Trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza. No Coney Island-bound F service at 21 St-Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island,Lexington Av/63 St and 57 St."

In other words, like weekend F-train one-way service, except that it is late weeknights. I've attached the MTA flyer below.

So there are mistakes at many levels in RIOC:

(1) RIOC's quality control on their emergency announcements is poor: either no one is checking the messages before they go out (bad), or more than one person is checking but all people are making the same mistakes (even worse).

(2) It seems that RIOC didn't even comprehend the message they were sending. When I read that message I thought "gee, this is a significant outage of subway service, I wonder what alternate arrangements have been made". Had someone at RIOC used as little 5th Grade Reading Comprehension, they might have thought about the consequences of such a shutdown.

(3) It's almost 4 hours after the erroneous message and no one at RIOC is letting management know There's A Booger Hanging From Your Nose? In other words, either (1) everyone at RIOC receiving the message didn't properly comprehend it, OR (2) those that did felt unable to communicate the error up the management chain, OR (3) those that did comprehend it and communication it up the management chain had no effect.

Dysfunctional at RIOC no matter how you slice it.

Anyway, could someone at RIOC issue a correction so people don't expect to look for new commuting patterns next week?

Islanderx2 said...

Thanks Frank, at least someone gets it right. When I received the RIOC Emergency blast, I thought Chicken Little was running amok. You have proved it. Can't imagaine what would happen if it was a life threatening announcement that has to be made.

CheshireKitty said...

Cuomo waited until he was re-elected to sic the train fare increase on us. State always figures out ways to squeeze dimes out of the taxpaying mass transit user - while keeping corporate tax rates low.

pixiedust8 said...

Cornell pledged to help 10k New York City students and train 200 teachers a year as part of their agreement with NYC, and so far, they have done very little and paid for one 6-week Beacon program.

Frank Farance said...

Islanderx2: Upon seeing their mistake it took 2.5 hours for RIOC to issue a correction. Agree: don't think RIOC would handle emergency well, they have the wrong methodology/attitude, already expressed that point to PSD Deputy Director Marmara, but she is closed-minded and chooses to be uninformed.

CheshireKitty said...

I'd say. Maybe they don't yet have the manpower in place to train the teachers but at least they could fork over some money to the schools they said they'd help, maybe the schools could buy some computer tablets for the kids with that money.

CheshireKitty said...

I'm surprised it took RIOC 2 1/2 hours to issue the correct announcement on their emergency notification system - even if they did receive word of their mistake at 4 PM on a Friday, when they were probably getting ready to book.

If it weren't an emergency notification system, then it wouldn't be much of an issue that a bureaucracy, even a tiny bureaucracy like RIOC, to take 2 1/2 hours to issue the correct announcement. However, given that the system is supposed to inform subscribers in a timely fashion with accurate information, it is rather appalling that it took RIOC 2 1/2 hours to issue the correct announcement..!

pixiedust8 said...

They pledged to start in fall of 2012 and have done nothing, let alone the 10k students and 200 teachers. If they didn't have the manpower, they shouldn't have gotten the contract.

CheshireKitty said...

It is a shame, and it is time for the schools to hold Cornell's feet to the fire - at least complain that Cornell has not been forthcoming, has not come through for them as it said it would.

pixiedust8 said...

I agree! Good faith is apparently not enough.

CheshireKitty said...

The schools Cornell pledged to help should not feel shy about asking for help now - two years after the help was supposed to have started.

Look at this 2013 article about MS 406 in E. Harlem:

There's nothing in the article about Cornell Tech helping the school. This school, where the majority of the students are from disadvantaged backgrounds, could certainly use the help (or at money) Cornell pledged to provide.

Westviewer said...

You don't? Just about the only connection Cornell has with P.S. 217 is that both are on the same island.

RooseveltIslander said...

To be fair, Cornell Tech did not sign lease agreement with NYC for project until Spring of 2013 so they could not have started anything in Fall of 2012.

Also, we don't know what specific support 217 requested that Cornell has not agreed to.

We always knew that Cornell would not give any direct financial support to the school or any other Roosevelt Island group. They said that from the beginning.

Here's video of Cornell Tech's K-12 education director Diane Levitt talking about their support for 217 and NYC schools in general.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Software Engineering is one facet of Information Technology. I agree that everybody working in IT needs basic programming knowledge but it is not a key factor to make a career in IT nowadays. I've been working in IT for 25 years and have never had to show software engineering skills. Problem solving skills in general are helpful and a degree in CS gives you the proper angle.

Frank Farance said...

So you don't work with operational IT systems, right? Can't think of significant IT positions that don't involve understanding business-technical-info risk yet, according to you, requires "basic programming knowledge" ... maybe you're in sales or marketing or finance? What kind of IT work do you do?

CheshireKitty said...

I agree with 99% of what you have written about the demands on a Software Engineer.

Still, since we are in the computer age, and Cornell Tech has agreed to support some programming/teacher training in the area of computer programming, I wouldn't dismiss it. I think the DOE and the school should get a commitment from Cornell in writing, however, and then the name change will reflect reality - instead of geography (the school is located on the same island as Cornell Tech).

Elementary and middle-school students have to go a long way before they qualify as software engineers. Some who take the programming classes at PS/IS 217 will go on to further study and eventual careers in software engineering. Others will not. The computer classes at 217 will be an option - not the focus of the entire school. However, given that technology is central to our society, having Cornell support computer classes/curriculum at PS/IS 217 and the schools in Queens and on Manhattan Island, makes sense.

pixiedust8 said...

Thanks for the video. The fall 2012 date was thrown out by Bloomberg from the original proposal agreed to in 2011. My question is how will they provide educational programs for 10k students/year and train 200 teachers /year without providing funding to schools? (RICC says in minutes that PS/IS 217 was included in the 10k students a year, as were the other schools.) They simply can't.

YetAnotherRIer said...

I'm in the trenches, working as UNIX system adminstrator in an operational and architectural capacity. We were talking about the importance of software engineering and I disagree that it is necessary for us to hire anybody skilled in software engineering. If you didn't mean software engineering in specific but used it as an example then I do not disagree with you that much.

Frank Farance said...

YetAnotherRIer: Sounds like you are doing interesting work. All sysadmins need to know Software Engineering, like thinking about whether or not to take that update to the XYZ module, considering making the changes the same time as changing the ABC module (would save in downtime) vs. changing XYZ and ABC separately in sequence (longer downtime, less risky taking changes separately). Lifecycle management is part of Software Engineering, but typically not taught for Computer Science. And ditto for your architectural work: that's all Software Engineering, but just earlier on in the lifecycle.

Whether you know it or not, Software Engineering is part of your work and, most likely, a necessary skill: any time you are concerned about business risk (e.g., Will The Servers Handle The Load?), technology risk (e.g., Are The Components Interoperable?), information risk (e.g., Are The Results Correct?) for IT components/artifacts, then you are involved in Software Engineering (among other disciplines).

Frank Farance said...

Change child's name to "Nike" for ads dollars from Nike? That's what the PTA did, and it's a bad Life Message to kids whether it's successful/unsuccessful. For all that messaging kids, adolescents, and teens -- don't be influenced by the trivial, glam, popular, monied things, it's your inner self and hard work that counts -- it's like watching adults act stupidly on yet another Reality TV Show where you get money if you do stupid stuff.

No hard work from Cornell, and the PS/IS 217 is hoping that they'll get a bunch of ipads by "branding" themselves as Cornell. Think of a Branding Iron on that Taxi Cow with the letters
C-O-R-N-E-L-L, or why not have the students "brand" themselves with
Cornell tattoos?

See Principal Beckman explain at 5:00 how Cornell will not be giving money, and how they (PS/IS 217) have got funding from City Council on technology for the building, but there are limitations on what DOE will allow those monies to be spent on:

Beckman> "in essence, we do want them to have a greater support for this building ... many of our conversations come back to They Don't Have Money, They Can't Give Us Money ... for example ipads are not something we can use that [City Council and DOE] funding for ... so that's the part we're trying to figure out, is there something else that Cornell can be doing for us there".

If one carefully listens to Principal Beckman, her building holds 1000 students, it has approximately 550 students, it is already a candidate for a charter school for a portion of the building. So when she says "in essence, we do want them to have a greater support for this building", is that DOE Code Words for: Cornell will create a charter school in the PS/IS 217 building? If all the obvious options are off the table for Cornell (like directly spending money on stuff), then what else is left to have "greater support for this building" ... it seems that a charter school is the only vehicle remaining, right? Note: If Cornell creates a charter school in the building, they will create a separate school in the same building that, according to DOE Chancellor, competes with the PS/IS 217 school, i.e., you might get Cornell, but not in the way that is supportive to PS/IS 217 ... or maybe PS/IS 217 disappears completely and the whole building becomes a charter school.

If you ask someone for money, as the PTA is bending over backwards for support, well they might come in and change things and exert more control than you anticipated, e.g., the newly renamed "Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island School" is now a charter-only school.

And if the rename is successful in shaking the money/support tree of Cornell, it will be a terrible life lesson: do we really want kids repeating these kinds of lessons in life?

Kids, here's the real lesson: Y'know all that talk you hear from adults about doing the right thing, staying true, and all of that? Well when it comes to money you would not believe the influencing power it has ... you'll see people who you thought were righteous, moral, and self-disciplined come up with unbelievable rationales for how to take the money pot.

Changing the name of a school should be an AFTERTHOUGHT to a long standing commitment of support, not a reality-TV-show-style plea for funds (Cornell is already clear they won't be giving funds).

Yuki Endo said...

Roosevelt Island Tramway uses MTA's turnstile, and Nassau County NICE Bus operated by Veolia Transdev and Westchester County Bee-Line Bus and Academy Bus X23/X24 buses has MTA Farebox, so they don't have control of MTA Turnstile/Farebox, only MTA.

CheshireKitty said...

Hi Yuki,

I think the comment about how much $ RIOC receives from each swipe at the tram refers to RIOC wishing to get a corresponding increase (if the transit fare is increased). RIOC currently gets $2 for every swipe at the tram.