Education News Roundup Issue #90

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Top Story

G&T Admissions Chaos
NYC parents scramble for kindergarten Gifted & Talented entry
NY Post, 12/10/2022

Families vying for kindergarten spots in New York City’s “gifted and talented” program next fall will submit applications and receive admissions decisions earlier than in previous years, under changes announced Wednesday by the education department.

…This year, every student in public or private pre-K can apply to all G&T programs in their district or a citywide program — with the teacher’s evaluation of whether a child is eligible coming afterward.

…“Families will need to rank G&T schools before they know whether their child even qualifies,” Adams said. “If not, all of the G&T programs listed on their application will be wasted slots that could have been filled with other options.”

Other Headlines

Revealing SHS Discovery Data
“Equity” and Excellence, Four Years Later: New data from two of New York City’s specialized high schools show the costs of the war on meritocracy.
City Journal, 12/9/2022

Four years ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed that New York City’s renowned specialized high schools didn’t “look like” the city and declared war on their meritocratic admissions processes. In his announcement, de Blasio cited the familiar woke mantra that achieving the all-important goal of “equity” would not compromise excellence. Four years later, how has excellence fared? Thanks to data recently obtained by parents who used Freedom of Information requests on perhaps the two best-known specialized high schools—Bronx Science and Stuyvesant—we now have answers.

Dropping Accountability
School leaders envision high school without mandatory Regents exams
Times Union, 12/4/2022

A 144-year-old rite of passage for New York high school students may be coming to an end, and superintendents can hardly wait. 

Many school leaders statewide are envisioning a brighter future without mandatory Regents exams, now that the state Board of Regents has said it is willing to consider changing high school graduation requirements. A committee is expected to make a recommendation next year, potentially upending a New York tradition for college-bound students that began in 1878.

Advocates Corner

Run for CEC and Help Improve Your Child’s Education
CEC elections will be held in mid-Spring (exact dates to be announced).

We are encouraging common sense parents who are committed to advocating for all students across the entire learning and socioeconomic spectrum a high-quality, rigorous education starting in elementary school to run. This includes improving elementary school curriculum, setting higher expectations, expanding access and opportunity to G&T and other accelerated educational opportunities, improving our schools and academic outcomes, and holding the DOE accountable. 

Come learn how the CEC elections work, and how you can join this movement:

  • January 18th, Wednesday, at 7pm
  • February 9th, Thursday, at 7pm

Learn what is required from you as a CEC member, how you will be part of a city-wide coalition of parent representatives, and how you can hold the DOE accountable to provide a great education to all of our kids.

Registration Link

*PLEASE SIGN* Petition to Reject Cuts to Defund SHS
Chancellor Banks and PEP Members: Please REJECT the Working Group Recommendation to Defund Specialized High Schools
PLACE NYC, 11/14/2022

A Department of Education Working Group recommended permanently cutting funding for 13 high schools that serve some of New York City’s highest achieving students. The Working Group targeted these 13 schools out of the 1,800+ public schools in the system. These 13 are known as the portfolio academic high schools and include the eight SHSAT Schools and five other academically selective schools: 

 Other Headlines

Dominican teachers block NYC DOE staffer knocking at 11 pm for rent cash
NY Post, 12/10/2022

Substitute teacher at College Point middle school busted for assaulting 12-year-old boy during dispute: NYPD
QNS, 12/9/2022

Why Spending Time With Kids Might Actually Help Protect You From COVID
NY Magazine, 12/9/2022

A “Choice” Question
Rural Public School Systems Aren’t Threatened by Choices, Study Says
Reason, 12/9/2022

With education choice gaining popularity across the country, given a huge boost by public schools’ massive face-plant during the COVID-19 pandemic, its opponents have switched-up their tactics. They might concede people want options for their kids, but they argue that it’s often unjust or impractical to allow people to redirect funding and resources from government institutions to alternatives that families prefer. Among those exceptions, they insist, are rural areas where choice does more harm than good.

But research says that school choice works just fine well outside city limits, no matter what critics claim.

NYC teen student beaten during attempted stabbing in smackdown video
NY Post, 12/10/2022

Pickleball players banned from NYC park after turf war with kids
NY Post, 12/9/2022

Interested in attending an NYC specialized high school? Free test prep available to eligible Staten Island students., 12/8/2022

A Call for More Rigor
Make American education rigorous again
The Hill, op-ed by Elizabeth Matthew, 12/8/2022

Now that school choice is being touted not only by Republicans but also by Democrats, after public school students’ test scores took a nosedive as a result of school districts’ COVID-19 policies, it is a good moment to reintroduce rigor to American education writ large.  

I have been a college-level writing instructor at several universities, ranging from an elite ivy league institution to middling state schools, for more than a decade. Most of my students have been bright, hard-working and ambitious. But most of them could not reliably construct grammatical sentences.

This inability to write at what was once considered a fifth-grade level is now the norm among students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and ethnicities. It is also the predictable result of the overemphasis on self-expression at the expense of excellence that has been driving the decline of American K-12 and higher education for decades.

Standardized Tests Are Racist. So Are You
Philly’s 7th Ward Blog, 12/9/2022

Public School Failed Her Kids. She’s on a Mission to Save Yours
NY Times Opinion, 12/8/2022

NYC Schools Postpone Vote on $31.7M, 7-Year McGraw Hill Contract
EdWeek Market Brief, 12/8/2022

New Queens HS
College Point to get a new high school
Queens Chronicle, 12/8/2022

College Point is slated to get a new public high school, the School Construction Authority announced last week.

The high school would house 659 students at the site of the former St. Agnes Academic High School on 14th Avenue and 124th Street, the SCA said.

The Catholic school, which closed at the end of the 2020-21 school year due to financial difficulties, had served less than 300 students by its final days.

AI bot that can do schoolwork could ‘blow up’ US education system, with youngest at most risk: former teacher
Fox News, 12/8/2022

The Hijacking of Pediatric Medicine
The Free Press, 12/7/2022

Half of NYC students are behind in reading. Hundreds of CUNY tutors aim to change that.
Chalkbeat, 12/7/2022

AI Takeover?
The College Essay Is Dead
The Atlantic, 12/6/2022

Suppose you are a professor of pedagogy, and you assign an essay on learning styles. A student hands in an essay with the following opening paragraph:

The construct of “learning styles” is problematic because it fails to account for the processes through which learning styles are shaped. Some students might develop a particular learning style because they have had particular experiences. Others might develop a particular learning style by trying to accommodate to a learning environment that was not well suited to their learning needs. Ultimately, we need to understand the interactions among learning styles and environmental and personal factors, and how these shape how we learn and the kinds of learning we experience.

Pass or fail? A- or B+? And how would your grade change if you knew a human student hadn’t written it at all? 

Loudoun County Situation Is Probably Worse Than You Thought – Certainly Worse Than You Were Told.
Eduwonk Substack, 12/6/2022

Holding Back The Gifted
The case for gifted education
Fordham Institute, 12/6/2022

We have ample evidence that a number of education programs targeted at advanced students significantly improve their learning outcomes. Because of that, high-quality gifted education—or what would be better labeled “advanced education”—has two primary benefits. One, it helps maximize the potential of participating students, which is something every child deserves. And two, in better developing the talent of these advanced students, it supports America’s economic, scientific, and technological prowess in an increasingly competitive global market. It’s therefore important that more school leaders adopt these policies and implement them well.

…The problem, of course, is not that the United States lacks smart children. It’s that such kids aren’t getting the education they need to realize their potential, allowing other countries like China to forge ahead. Using other international test data, for example, economists Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann estimate that a “10 percentage point increase in the share of top-performing students” within a country “is associated with 1.3 percentage points higher annual growth” of that country’s economy, as measured in per-capita GDP. Which is to say, if the U.S. propelled more of its young people into the ranks of high achievers, it would be markedly more prosperous—with faster growth, higher employment, better wages, and all that comes with these. 

Former Obama, NY education chief John King named new SUNY boss
NY Post, 12/5/2022

It’s Worse Than You Think
The crisis of student mental health is much vaster than we realize
Washington Post, 12/5/2022

The change was gradual. At first, Riana Alexander was always tired. Then she began missing classes. She had been an honors student at her Arizona high school, just outside Phoenix. But last winter, after the isolation of remote learning, then the overload of a full-on return to school, her grades were slipping. She wasn’t eating a lot. She avoided friends.

Her worried mother searched for mental health treatment. Finally, in the spring, a three-day-a-week intensive program for depression helped the teenager steady herself and “want to get better,” Alexander said. Then, as she was finding her way, a girl at her school took her own life. Then a teen elsewhere in the district did the same. Then another.

58% of NYC charter schools shrank during COVID, even as the sector grew overall
Chalkbeat, 12/5/2022

Targeted by Lawsuit, Ed Dept. Abruptly Scraps Parent Council
The 74 Million, 12/5/2022

The U.S. Department of Education on Monday abruptly disbanded a parent council created to include families in federal decisions about pandemic recovery efforts.

That action led conservative parent groups to drop a contentious lawsuit filed in July against Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, arguing members he picked to serve on the council only represented liberal-leaning organizations.

The department “has decided to not move forward with the National Parents and Families Engagement Council,” according to a statement.

Most Colleges Give Inaccurate Price Details in Financial-Aid Letters, Federal Report Finds
Wall Street Journal, 12/5/2022

“Growth Mindset” Debate
Does growth mindset matter? The debate heats up
The Hechinger Report, 12/5/2022

…Critics also question whether improvements in growth mindset are really driving the academic gains that are seen in studies. That’s because many experiments have found that students’ grades can improve after an intervention even when their mindsets haven’t changed. 

The confounding issue is that mindset interventions rarely focus on mindset alone, but combine it with other helpful tips, such as encouraging students to work hard, set goals and use strategies when facing challenges. Maybe it’s all the other things that are included in a mindset intervention, but not growth mindset in and of itself, that are effective. 

Parents, You Need Narcan
Slate, 12/4/2022

Young Americans increasingly end their own lives: Suicide is now the second-biggest killer of ten- to 18-year-olds
The Economist, 12/3/2022

An Unclear Forecast
How a Divided Congress Will Influence K-12 Education Policy
EdWeek, 12/2/2022

A reshuffling of leadership in congressional education committees will mean shifting priorities for education policy with a potential focus on career and technical education, universal pre-kindergarten, parents’ rights policies, and student loan forgiveness.

The two chambers’ priorities could differ markedly because Republicans seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives, while Democrats maintained a hold on the U.S. Senate.

Teen Brains Aged Prematurely During the Pandemic. Schools Should Take Note
EdWeek, 12/2/2022