Education News Roundup Issue #96

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Top Story

D15 Diversity Disaster
How Brooklyn’s Much-Copied Diversity Plan Helped Throw its Best Middle School Into Chaos
Reason, 1/25/2023

When then-Mayor Bill de Blasio and the entire New York City political and educational establishment unveiled in September 2018 a trailblazing new middle-school Diversity Plan that radically changed the admissions criteria for Brooklyn’s District 15 in the name of racial “equity,” they chose the most symbolic possible site for the announcement: M.S. 51, the William Alexander School, in progressive (and prosperous) Park Slope.

M.S. 51, which until that moment had screened prospective incoming students for their elementary-level grades, test scores, and attendance, was by far the most sought-after middle school in a district where enrollment was always increasing, and students were routinely moving on to the city’s eight elite high schools. William Alexander, where both De Blasio and then-City Councilman (now Comptroller) Brad Lander had already graduated their kids, was NYC’s fourth-largest feeder into the specialized high schools in 2018 with 122; a raw number it would match again in 2019, the last class before the new admissions rules went into effect.

Other Top Headlines

NYC City Council Oversight Hearing on DOE New Admissions Policies
City Council, 1/25/223

City Council Hearing Recap
Selective standards under scrutiny as NYC Council debates school admissions
NY Daily News, 1/25/2023

The New York City Council is grading a myriad of changes in how public schools admit students since the pandemic interrupted many long-standing practices.

At the core of the discussion was the question of how far districts should go in using selective criteria such as grades and test scores in deciding who gets into which school. 

…But some council members urged education officials to go back to pre-pandemic policy like considering student test scores in admissions.

Others still raised concerns about the return to so-called “academic screens” at all.

A Question of Accountability
Interpreting the Covid impact on achievement
Fordham Institute, 1/27/2023

The release of “The Nation’s Report Card” on October 24, 2022, created shock waves though out the country’s education and policy establishments…Indeed, achievement trends have been positive for most of the years that NAEP testing has been in existence, particularly after passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in 2001…These consistent patterns of achievement losses, and their failure to match up with expenditure changes, suggests other explanations for declining achievement. The other major event in education policy which matches up with these achievement losses is termination of the No Child Left Behind act in 2015. 

…The lack of relationship between spending and achievement is also seen in the race/ethnicity breakout for New York in Figure 8. Despite court orders from the adequacy cases leading to substantially higher expenditures, both Black and Hispanic achievement dropped sharply between 2015 and 2019. Since expenditures grew substantially during this time, the end of NCLB accountability provisions seems a more likely explanation for the declines in eighth grade math scores for New York Black and Hispanic students.

Advocates Corner

PLACE NYC’s Testimony to NYC City Council on Admissions Changes
PLACE NYC, 1/27/2023

Run for CEC and Help Improve Your Child’s Education

CEC applications have opened and runs through Feb 13.

PLACE NYC is holding information sessions for interested parents to learn more about CECs and ask questions.

  • February 9th, Thursday, at 7pm

Registration Link


Other Headlines

NYC 13-year-old charged with murdering teen Nyheem Wright in fight over girl
NY Post, 1/30/2023

Federal funds to combat pandemic learning loss don’t reflect need
The Hechinger Report, 1/30/2023

More Than You Know
Students Lost One-Third of a School Year to Pandemic, Study Finds
NY Times, 1/30/2023

Children experienced learning deficits during the Covid pandemic that amounted to about one-third of a school year’s worth of knowledge and skills, according to a new global analysis, and had not recovered from those losses more than two years later.

…In the United States, one study showed that the average public elementary or middle school student lost the equivalent of a half-year of learning in math, and 6 percent of students were in districts that lost more than a full year. Standardized math test scores in 2022, when compared with those in 2019, showed the largest drop ever recorded in the three decades since the exam was first administered.

The findings challenge the perceptions of many parents, almost half of whom said in 2022 surveys that they did not believe their children had suffered any achievement loss during the pandemic, and only 9 percent of whom expressed concern about whether their children would catch up.

Federal Data: Schools Have Been Adding Teachers Even as They Serve Fewer Students
The 74 Million, 1/30/2023

Sitting Low
Adams, Banks are refusing to fight for good public schools on multiple fronts
NY Post Editorial, 1/29/2023

Mayor Bill de Blasio then went to war on those schools — and the Eric Adams administration keeps blinking on undoing the damage.

…Part of Blas’ war was prolonged assault on charters. But another was an attack on selective middle and high schools in the name of “equity.” And the results are now in from one of the most controversial moves: the “Diversity Plan” imposed on Brooklyn’s District 15 in 2018.

Charters In Demand
Over 60% of NYC parents want more charter schools, state cap lifted: poll
NY Post, 1/29/2023

New York City parents strongly support charter schools — and want Gov. Kathy Hochul and Albany lawmakers to lift the state-imposed cap and open more of the publicly funded alternatives as an option for their kids, a new poll obtained by The Post reveals.

The online Morning Consult survey conducted for the pro-school choice Democrats for Education Reform (DFER-NY) found that 64% of parents have a favorable opinion of charter schools, while only 22% have an unfavorable view, with the remainder undecided or having no opinion.

NY students ‘deliberately inappropriately’ restrained 214 times in recent years, state says
Times Union, 1/29/2023

Medical Schools Bail on Academic Merit and Intellectual Rigor
Wall Street Journal Opinion, 1/29/2023

Social Media Warning
Surgeon General says 13 is ‘too early’ to join social media
CNN, 1/29/2023

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he believes 13 is too young for children to be on social media platforms, because although sites allow children of that age to join, kids are still “developing their identity.”

Meta, Twitter, and a host of other social media giants currently allow 13-year-olds to join their platforms.

“I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early … It’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children,” Murthy said on “CNN Newsroom.”

Gaggle Drops LGBTQ Keywords from Student Surveillance Tool Following Bias Concerns
The 74 Million, 1/27/2023

The Push for School Choice Is Accelerating
EdWeek, 1/27/2023

Ron DeSantis and the AP Curriculum Wars
WSJ Potomac Watch Podcast, 1/27/2023

State of the City
Eric Adams’ ‘State of the City’: Key takeaways from his 2023 NYC speech
NY Post, 1/26/2023

Hizzoner, who has acknowledged struggling with dyslexia, said he planned to expand screenings in city schools because kids with the learning disability “should not have to be part of the 30% to 40% of inmates at Rikers Island who are dyslexic.”

“They should be able to know that they just learn differently. And if we give them the tools that they need, they will go from despair, they will go from uncertainty — and they will rise up to be the mayor of the City of New York,” he said.

The Pandemic Robbed Thousands of NYC Children of Parents. Many Aren’t Getting the Help They Need.
The City, 1/26/2023

Singh Out
Brooklyn principal leaves middle school after teacher complaints mount
Chalkbeat, 1/26/2023

An embattled Brooklyn middle school principal is leaving his post following months of tensions with teachers. 

M.S. 51’s Neal Singh will be replaced on Feb. 1 by Pui-Lam (Jack) Chan, who will serve as acting interim principal as the school embarks on the formal hiring process, according to a letter District 15 Superintendent Rafael Alvarez sent on Thursday to parents. Singh will be joining the superintendent’s team. 

‘Mozart Level’ Prodigy With Autism Tries Out $15,000 Grand Piano Gifted by Tuner
Yahoo, 1/25/2023

Former college dropouts enroll in CUNY by the thousands
NY Daily News, 1/25/2023 

Medical Schools at Stanford and Columbia Pull Out of U.S. News Ranking
Wall Street Journal, 1/24/2023