Education News Roundup Issue #93

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Top Story

On the Edge
With Schools Ditching Merit for Diversity, Families of High Achievers Head for the Door
RealClearInvestigations, 1/1/2023

Alex Shilkrut has deep roots in Manhattan, where he has lived for 16 years, works as a physician, and sends his daughter to a public elementary school for gifted students in coveted District 2. 

It’s a good life. But Shilkrut regretfully says he may leave the city, as well as a job he likes in a Manhattan hospital, because of sweeping changes in October that ended selective admissions in most New York City middle schools. 

…Shilkrut is one of many parents who are dismayed by the city’s dismantling of competitive education. He says he values diversity but is concerned that the expectation that academic rigor will be scaled back to accommodate a broad range of students in a lottery is what’s driving him and other parents to seek alternatives.

Other Top Headlines

Losing the Gold Standard
Goodbye, Regents? A NY commission mulls graduation requirements
Chalkbeat, 1/4/2023

New York’s high school students have taken Regents exams since the 1870s. But they could become a relic of the past, as state officials start the final leg of a lengthy process to rethink the state’s graduation requirements. 

In New York, students are generally required to earn 22 course credits in high school and take five Regents exams, including one each in English, math, science, and social studies. A 64-person commission charged with reviewing those requirements first met in October, and it is expected to present its recommendations to the New York State Board of Regents in the spring or summer of 2024.

Education issues to watch in Albany: School funding, mental health, future of mayoral control
Chalkbeat, 1/3/2023

As districts continue to recover from the academic and social-emotional impacts of the pandemic, New York state lawmakers will be pressed to address several issues facing schools during the new legislative session.

Inflation has driven up the cost of finishing the long-awaited process of fully funding Foundation Aid, the state’s main school aid formula. As the country faces the risk of a recession, advocates worry about whether lawmakers will fulfill their promise to finish funding the formula.

Advocates also say they will push for solutions to issues that have become more pressing during the pandemic, including hiring challenges and student mental health, while others will continue a yearslong push for the state to raise the charter school cap. 

Advocates Corner

Run for CEC and Help Improve Your Child’s Education

CEC applications open on Jan 9 through Feb 13.
PLACE NYC is holding information sessions for interested parents to learn more about CECs and ask questions.

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

Registration Link

Other Headlines
New research review questions the evidence for special education inclusion
Hechinger Report, 1/9/2023

Seattle public schools sue Big Tech for ‘creating’ youth mental health crisis
NY Post, 1/8/2023

“The goal is equal outcomes”
Area principals admit to withholding National Merit Awards from students
Fairfax County Times, 1/7/2023

While Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid claims the principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology withheld National Merit awards from students in a “one-time human error,” parents at two local high schools got a Friday and Saturday night surprise. 

The revelations are emerging after school district principals scrambled to a meeting Wednesday afternoon with the superintendent, after Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a civil rights investigation into the controversy. Just like at TJHSST, the new revelations appear to impact many Asian American students – one focus of the investigation. 

Principal Victoria Najera branded ‘cruel’ after posting test scores to embarrass low achievers
NY Post, 1/7/2023

Growing Divide?
Why is partisan education conflict on the rise? Blame ‘political sorting.’
Chalkbeat, 1/6/2023

Once a bastion of bipartisanship, education policy now divides most Americans along party lines.

Democrats and Republicans are diverging on issues, such as school choice, where they once shared common ground. And new debates over school COVID policies and curriculum have driven the parties even further apart.

What explains the widening rifts over education? A new study indicates that it’s largely due to political sorting, or individuals bringing their views in line with their parties’.

Public Schools Lost More Than One Million Students During Pandemic
Wall Street Journal, 1/5/2023

Not So Fast
Teachers Are Absolutely Loving The Student Who Made A Tool That Shows If Your Essay Was Written By AI
Buzzfeed, 1/5/2022

High school English students who were hoping to use artificial intelligence to write their homework have a new enemy: Edward Tian, a 22-year-old senior at Princeton University, who created a website that can detect if a piece of writing has been created using the AI tool ChatGPT.

Meanwhile, instructors everywhere are rejoicing. “So many teachers have reached out to me,” said Tian, whose recent tweet about his tool, GPTZero, went viral. “From Switzerland, France, all over the world.”

Teen violence spiraling out of control in NYC, Eric Adams and NYPD warn
NY Post, 1/5/2023

Quarantines, Not School Closures, Led to Devastating Losses in Math and Reading
The 74 Million, 1/4/2023

Caring, not Sharing
Startling 96% of School Tech Exposes Student Data, Research Finds: Tech used in schools routinely pass student data to advertisers and other third parties
The 74 Million, 1/4/2023

More than three-quarters of the apps accessed users’ location information, researchers found, and more than half tapped into students’ calendars and contacts. The analysis found that school utility apps, which allow schools to share with students and parents information like lunch schedules and other announcements, were the most likely to pass student data to the Big Tech giants. Districts often contract with Blackboard and Apptegy for the apps. Neither company responded to requests for comment.

More Teens High
Marijuana use spills into NYC classrooms as educators grapple with new cannabis landscape
Chalkbeat, 1/4/2023

The Manhattan 16-year-old started smoking weed to get over a bad breakup, initially keeping the habit outside school hours.

Soon, though, he was using marijuana to address other mental health issues, like depression that suppressed his appetite and anxiety that made it difficult to go to class. He began getting high between classes.

“At first it was edibles, but then it went to a weed pen,” said the teen, whose name is being withheld to protect his privacy. “Bathrooms, blind spots in cameras … in this school, since so many people do it, people know spots.”

ChatGPT Banned in New York City Public Schools Over Concerns About Cheating, Learning Development
Wall Street Journal, 1/6/2023

New York City public schools banned access to ChatGPT, an artificial-intelligence chatbot, on its internet networks and school devices after officials raised concerns that students could use the AI program to answer questions, do homework or write essays.

ChatGPT quickly drew attention from the public and students after its November release, with some industry observers calling it one of the most intelligent AI applications ever created. The program crossed a million users a few days after its launch. And its popularity has been a boon to its developer, OpenAI, which the Journal reported this week is in talks to sell shares at a $29 billion valuation. That would make it one of the most valuable U.S. startups, on paper. 

‘No Room for Error’: Why Senate’s 50-50 Political Split Was Bittersweet for Schools
The 74 Million, 1/3/2023

New Data: Female College Enrollment Drops at Twice the Rate of Male Students
The 74 Million, 1/2/2023

Success Story
Son of Ecuadorian immigrant, who beat the odds to get into Stuyvesant HS, accepted by elite college
NY Post, 12/31/2022

A Stuyvesant High School senior who was once told getting into the elite institution was “practically impossible,” just beat the odds again — landing a spot at the top college in the world.

Sebastian Acevedo — who grew up with an Ecuadorian immigrant mom and a supermarket manager dad, neither of whom went to college — started “crying and screaming” when he learned he’d been accepted early to Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“He’s the true definition of the American dream,” said Kweller Prep founder Frances Kweller, who worked with him on college coaching, including his college essay about his passion for boxing. ”He was determined to beat the odds stacked against him.”

NYC Council caucus wants unvaxxed parents allowed at school events
NY Post, 12/31/2022

Inside the new middle school math crisis
Hechinger Report, 12/30/2022