Education News Roundup #49: TJ’s Admissions Changes Discriminate Against Asians, 700+ Parents Sign HS Petition, NYC Schools End Outdoor Masks, CDC Calls to Ditch Indoor Masks

Top Story
Judge calls Thomas Jefferson High admissions changes illegal
Washington Post, 2/25/2022

A federal judge ruled Friday that a new admissions system for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a prestigious magnet program in Fairfax, discriminates against Asian American applicants and must end.

…Fairfax school board members and the superintendent made clear that their goal was “to have TJ reflect the demographics of the surrounding area, described primarily in racial terms.” Hilton wrote that this aim amounts to “racial balancing for its own sake,” and as such is “patently unconstitutional.”

He pointed to text messages and emails exchanged between school board members and some of the highest-ranking school officials in the Fairfax district. These communications, he wrote, prove that the school system’s goal was always to decrease the percentage of Asian American students enrolled at TJ — to increase the number of Black and Hispanic students.

“The discussion of TJ admissions was infected with talk of racial balancing from its inception,” Hilton wrote.

He also criticized the revisions process more broadly, writing that the changes were rushed and that the decision-making process lacked transparency. School officials, he charged, did not properly engage the public.

Other Top Stories 
Parents Demand HS Admission Changes
700 parents sign petition for DOE
Queens Chronicle, 2/25/2022

More than 700 signatures have been gathered for an online petition by the group Queens Parents United entitled “Demand Fair and Transparent High School Admissions from Chancellor Banks and NYC.”

“There was no engagement with school communities or parent leaders on this policy,” the petition reads.

The petition makes five demands: that the four subject grades are averaged and ranked from top to bottom as done in previous years, that the top tier lottery “bucket” be more narrow, that schools be able to add supplemental screens such as essays and interviews, that all lottery numbers be provided before the application closes and that “real parent engagement” takes place.

“We need schools that match our children’s skills, talents and interests,” commented one parent on the petition. “Accelerated learning must be by merit only.”

San Francisco Shows Democrats Have a Seismic Challenge Ahead
Bloomberg, Opinion by Michael Bloomberg, 2/22/2022

I am deeply concerned that, absent an immediate course correction, the party is headed for a wipeout in November, up and down the ballot.

Three months after Republicans scored major election upsets in Virginia and New Jersey, largely because of the frustration parents felt with Democratic officials who catered to teachers’ unions and culture warriors at the expense of children, voters in San Francisco recalled three school board members by margins of nearly three to one. Coming from America’s most liberal city, those results should translate into a 7 to 8 on the Richter scale, because the three main factors that drove the recall are not unique to the Bay Area.

Take Action
 Sign A Petition on HS Admissions
Demand Fair and Transparent High School Admissions from Chancellor Banks and NYC
Queens Parents United

…it is readily apparent that the DOE constructed a fancy lottery masquerading as a screen designed to mislead parents into thinking merit remains the guiding standard .

…Dropping the academic bar in a heavily majority minority city signals a deeper issue – the DOE is concealing lapses in educating students consistently rather than correcting the real issue which is that ALL students need better schools and curriculum to begin with

Send an Email
Send an email to Chancellor Banks

If parents don’t push back (even if your child is not applying to High School this year), it will send a signal to Chancellor Banks that this will acceptable in future years. Safeguard your child’s education by emailing the Chancellor today.
Other Headlines

Ditching Masks
NYC to ditch schools’ outdoor mask requirement Monday; end to indoor mandate could be ‘around the corner’
NY Daily News, 2/25/2022

“You know, I am so tired of wearing these masks,” Adams said. “I walk past friends every day, I almost forgot what they look like. So yes, I want to get back to a maskless city. But we don’t want to do it and be reckless.”

52% of NYC public school students are fully vaccinated. Check your school’s rate here.
Chalkbeat, 2/25/2022

Back to Normal?
CDC eases masking recommendations for 70% of country, including inside schools
ABC News, 2/25/2022

More than 70% of Americans should be able to remove their masks indoors, including inside schools, under new metrics outlined Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that represent a seismic shift in how the public health agency plans to measure COVID risk.

Time to move past mask and vaccine mandates, Gov. Kathy Hochul
NY Post Opinion, 2/24/2022

More Fallout
The School Shutdowns and Lost Literacy
Wall Street Journal Opinion, 2/24/2022

Amplify, the curriculum and assessment provider, examined its test data for some 400,000 elementary school students across 37 states. It found a spike in students not reading at grade level, with the literacy losses “disproportionately concentrated in the early elementary grades (K-2).”

Like other recent studies, Amplify reports that minority children suffered disproportionate learning loss. During the last normal school year, only 34% of black and 29% of Hispanic second graders needed intensive intervention to help catch up. This school year 47% of black and 39% of Hispanic second graders have fallen this far behind on literacy, compared to 26% of white peers.

Catholic schools see first enrollment hike in two decades
NY Post, 2/24/2022

6th Grader Speaks Out
A Chance To Fix Schools
Queens Chronicle, Opinion by Kristina Raevsky, 2/24/2022

By dismantling the merit-based system, you are simply putting a Band-Aid on a wound and not solving the underlying problem. There shouldn’t be “bad” schools because the education system should be teaching and preparing students from kindergarten so that they will be able to do well in every school. All schools should be “good” schools because our students should be well prepared to succeed not just in school but in the real world. 

NYC mayor calls student weapons busts an ‘indictment’ of the city
NY Post, 2/23/2022

Study finds children release fewer respiratory droplets and aerosols, a clue to understanding Covid-19 transmission
CNN, 2/23/2022

Weapons Surge in Schools
NYC school weapons recoveries have skyrocketed by 80 percent this academic year
NY Post, 2/22/2022

A Queens principal said the surge is a reflection of the city as a whole. “If it’s more dangerous out on the street then this is what you are going to see,” he said. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone.”

A total of 3,315 weapons were recovered in Department of Education schools from July 1 to February 20 of this academic year. Over that same stretch in the last pre-pandemic year in 2019-2020, the figure was 1,845 — an increase of 80 percent, according to the NYPD.

Parents find NYC’s high school application process as confusing as ever
Chalkbeat, 2/22/2022

Debating Mayoral Control
Virtual hearing set for March 4 on fate of ‘mayoral control’ of New York City public schools
amNY, 2/21/2022

Currently, mayoral accountability is set to expire on June 30, so the state Senate and Assembly must determine whether or not to renew, amend or disapprove mayoral accountability by April 1, the deadline of the state budget or through legislation on or before the June 30 expiration.  Without approval of this legislation, control of the New York City public school system would revert back to the state.

Foul Play
NYC Department of Education investigating middle school COVID play
NY Post, 2/15/2022

An Upper West Side middle school is facing a tempest from parents after staging a play which warned unvaccinated kids would not have friends.

…“How is it acceptable for a teacher, or teachers, to promote an agenda which encourages some children to turn against other children at the same school,” she asked.

…“Every student deserves to feel welcomed in their school and this incident was immediately referred for investigation,” said spokesman Nathaniel Styer.