Education News Roundup Issue #99

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Top Stories

Equity vs Honors Debate
To Increase Equity, School Districts Eliminate Honors Classes
Wall Street Journal, 2/17/2023

A group of parents stepped to the lectern Tuesday night at a school board meeting in this middle-class, Los Angeles-area city to push back against a racial-equity initiative. The high school, they argued, should reinstate honors English classes that were eliminated because they didn’t enroll enough Black and Latino students.

The district earlier this school year replaced the honors classes at Culver City High School with uniform courses that officials say will ensure students of all races receive an equal, rigorous education. 

These parents disagreed.

Remedial Grads
Nearly half of NYC DOE grads at CUNY need remedial classes
NY Post, 2/25/2023

New York City’s public schools are continuing their long track record of failure — with nearly half of all graduates who head to local community colleges forced into remedial classes to survive their first semester.

Amid chronic absenteeism, widespread grade inflation, and a failure to prepare students for higher education, city school kids are being shoved through an educational revolving door without truly learning, experts told The Post.

“Most of the kids we get from New York City schools are underprepared for college,”  said Mohammad Alam, assistant dean of enrollment at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

In Fall 2022 across the City University of New York’s seven community colleges, 5,046 former Department of Education students were enrolled in a remedial math course, while 4,250 had to take remedial English — 47% of all new DOE high school graduates, a CUNY spokesperson said.

Record Absences
Chronic absenteeism climbs to record numbers in NYC schools
NY Daily News, 2/20/2023

An unprecedented 350,000 public school students in New York City repeatedly missed school last year, a harrowing sign of learning loss that is hitting the city’s most vulnerable children especially hard.

The lost classroom time, revealed in new data obtained by the Daily News, disproportionately affected children without a stable place to call home, who are not native English speakers or who have a disability. Children living in poverty were also hit hard, with a 45% rate of chronic absenteeism — tens of thousands more kids since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

…“A year and a half of school was online, and I got used to online,” said a former Queens student with autism, dyslexia and anxiety, whose name is being withheld to protect his privacy. “Going back was stressful, and it was just a matter of time until I collapsed on myself and decided I didn’t want to do this anymore.”

On the Calendar

School Funding Conversation with Professor Dr Marguerite Roza
Dr. Roza is a Research Professor and Director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. She leads the Certificate in Education Finance at the McCourt School of Public Policy. Her research focuses on financial policy and the implications for resources at the school and classroom levels. And she was recently a member of the NYC Fair Student Funding working group.

Date: Tuesday, 2/28/2023, 6pm


Hosted by:
● Citywide Council on High Schools
● Community Education Council 2 – Zoning & Capital Planning Committee
● Community Education Council 3
● Community Education Council 20
● Community Education Council 24
● Community Education Council 25
● Community Education Council 26

Bill Watch

Senate Bill S1675
Requires the New York city department of education to create more gifted and talented programs and classes

Senate Bill S1399
Requires any public school located in a city with a population of one million or more to provide a remote learning option when community transmission of COVID-19 is at a substantial or high level

Senate Bill S1402
Requires that instruction in public schools aligned to the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework

Election News

Top aide to NYC Councilman Christopher Marte accused of berating reporter with sexist slurs
NY Daily News, 2/26/2023

‘The Democratic Party in New York Is a Disaster’
NY Times, 2/23/2023 

What voters should know about 2023 elections in NYC
Queens Chronicle, 2/23/2023

What Does It Mean to Be a Progressive in New York City?
NY Times, 2/17/2023

City Council Progressive Caucus Loses Fifteen Members Over Police Reduction Plank
Gotham Gazette, 2/13/2023

Other Headlines

Student loans: Will law or politics win in Biden’s loan forgiveness lawsuits?
Yahoo Finance, 2/26/2023

As the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments this week on legality of the president’s student loan forgiveness plan, the Education Department (ED), borrower advocates, and supporters of cancellation remain confident the law is on their side and litigation should result in a victory.

“If the U.S. Supreme Court applies the law, then student loan debt will be canceled,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said in a town hall sponsored by the Student Debt Crisis Center (SDCC). “What I’m afraid of is a Supreme Court that applies politics.”

However, opponents also argue politics on Biden’s administration.

Teachers union cash to Heastie, Stewart-Cousins could doom Hochul charter plan: critics
NY Post, 2/25/2023

NYC DOE opens 24/7 ‘emergency operations center’ for school safety threats
NY Post, 2/25/2023

NYC’s largest charter networks enrolled fewer students this year, complicating push to open new schools
Chalkbeat, 2/24/2023

Sensitivity Revision Walkback
Roald Dahl publisher backtracks, will also print ‘un-woke’ versions of books
NY Post, 2/24/2023 

The publisher of Roald Dahl books said Friday it will still publish uncensored versions of the author’s classic children books without scrubbing un-woke language from them after a firestorm erupted over changing the works.

Puffin Books partially walked back its plan to remove “insensitive” words such as “fat,” “ugly,” “crazy” and even “female” from the author’s pages.

“We recognize the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print,” the British publisher said in a press release. “We are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.”

The publisher’s announcement came after backlash over its move to cut and alter references to gender, race and physical appearance in newer editions of Dahl’s books.

Stanford Faculty Say Anonymous Student Bias Reports Threaten Free Speech
Wall Street Journal, 2/23/2023

Schools to receive safety upgrades
Queens Chronicle, 2/23/2023

Even Ancient Children Did Homework
Wall Street Journal, 2/23/2023

Anti-Charter Private School Pols
Anti-charter NY pols send kids to $60K private schools: ‘Pure hypocrisy’
NY Post, 2/23/2023 

Elitist Democrats who’ve waged war against charter schools in New York are opting to send their own kids to private institutions — a move critics have blasted as hypocritical, The Post has learned.

Politicians, including Sens. Robert Jackson and Jabari Brisport and upstate Assemblymen Phil Steck and John McDonald, or their children have benefited from alternative schools, even as they fight to prevent economically disadvantaged parents from doing the same.

Jackson (D-Manhattan) — who opposes Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to lift the charter school cap in the five boroughs — recently admitted he sends his daughter to the $56,250-a-year Dwight School on the Upper West Side.

…“But everyone knows I’m fighting for public schools.”

Hunter College High School adds entrance exam date following outrage from Jewish families over conflict with Passover
NY Daily News, 2/22/2023

The Mask Mandates Did Nothing. Will Any Lessons Be Learned?
NY Times op-ed by Bret Stephens, 2/21/2023

New higher ed data by race and ethnicity
The Hechinger Report, 2/20/2023

China’s spy balloon should be a wake-up call — about US schools
NY Post op-ed by W. Chin, 2/19/2023

Two recent news stories converge into one urgent plea. One is the alarming and well-covered story of the Chinese spy balloon. The other: At 23 Baltimore public schools (out of 150), zero students tested proficient in math. That includes 10 high schools. Not surprisingly, this story received far less coverage, including none in The New York Times.

Also ignored was the follow-up news: 77% of Baltimore high-school students read only at elementary-school grade levels. Ignored too was the copy-cat story for Chicago: that of 649 Windy City public schools, 22 have zero students grade-level proficient in reading, and 33 have zero grade-level proficient in math.

Yet the appallingly bad performance stats are not the full horror, because “grade-level proficiency” in America is itself a scam.

It’s insane that colleges still mandate vaccines
NY Post op-ed by Y. Palumbo and L. Sinatra, 2/18/2023

Academic Rigor In Demand
Why Oakland Parents Are Flocking to a Chinese-Immersion School
The New Yorker, 2/18/2023

Immigrant parents who feel alienated from or squeamish about public schools still send their kids to parochial schools. But, in many of America’s largest cities, another option, which has none of the religious hangups of the Catholic school nor the price of private schools, has presented itself: the Chinese-language-immersion school.

…In the 2018-19 school year, ninety-four per cent of Yu Ming’s third through eighth graders met or exceeded standards on the English language and literacy section of California’s main standardized test, compared with just a fifty-per-cent pass rate statewide. In the Oakland Unified School District (O.U.S.D.), only forty-five per cent of students passed. The disparities in math were even more stark, with ninety-four per cent of Yu Ming students exceeding standards, compared with O.U.S.D.’s thirty-six-per-cent pass rate. U.S. News & World Report ranked Yu Ming the seventh-best elementary school in California—and it was the only entry in the top ten that is not a magnet school or situated in a wealthy suburb.

Violence near NYC schools surges with shootings, stabbings
NY Post, 2/18/2023

SEL Crossroads
The Dangers of a Sentimental Education
Tablet, 2/16/2023

In an elementary school textbook, a math problem is framed by the cryptic question, “How can you understand your feelings?” Another asks students to write “math biographies” to soothe “math anxiety.” Controversy erupted last April when this textbook and 19 others were excluded from the Florida Department of Education’s recommendations. Amid ongoing furor over the role of race and sexuality in America’s classrooms, Florida cited an obscure justification: “the unsolicited addition of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics.”

But what exactly is social-emotional learning?

NYC bought 725K devices for remote learning. Now they’re trying to count them — and all school tech.
Chalkbeat, 2/16/2023

The Algebra Divide
Equity Builder or Racial Barrier: Debate Rages Over Role of 8th-Grade Algebra
The 74 Million, 2/16/2023

It’s critical for student success in college and beyond. 

It’s an unnecessary barrier meant to keep students of color from higher education. 

That’s the argument on both sides of a long-standing debate about algebra. 

There is, however, consensus on a few key issues: Race and wealth play a role in how and when the course is offered in K-12 and students’ failure to pass the course by high school or college has long kept them from graduating — and qualifying for high-paying jobs.

Mayor Lightfoot: Chicago Teachers Union ‘Brought Chaos’ to Education
RealClear Education, 2/16/2023

Screen Time
Alarming Findings From a New Study on Kids’ Screen Time During *and After* School Interruptions
Substack, David Zweig, 2/16/2022

Beginning in the spring of 2020, some 60 million American kids began each day not by hopping on a bus or walking to school, but by parking themselves in front of an electronic device. And there they sat, hour after hour, day after day.

…A new study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, quantifies this dismal truth that so many parents observed. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, and Columbia, among other institutions, found that, during the period of December 2020 through April 2021, screen time for kids aged 4 to 12 increased by nearly fifty percent, from 4.4 to 6.6 hours per day, versus pre-pandemic levels.

I Wanted to Attend a Specialized High School. Imposter Syndrome Almost Stopped Me.
The Nation, 2/15/2023

NYU names Linda Mills next university president
NY Daily News, 2/13/2023

Hearing on Child Tech Safety 
Lawmakers Hash Out Ways to Protect Kids From Internet Bullies, Predators
MedPage Today, 2/15/2023

Lawmakers questioned experts and advocates about the best ways to keep children safe from the dangers lurking on the internet during a hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Tuesday.

“Child safety is a top priority. We lock the door and teach our kids not to talk to strangers,” said Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “But in the virtual world, criminals and bullies don’t need to pick a lock or wait outside the playground to hurt our kids. They only have to lurk in the shadows online of Facebook and Snapchat. In those shadows, they can bully, intimidate, addict, or sexually exploit our kids. Right in our own homes.”

During the hearing, witnesses shared horror stories recounting the dangers of social media and called on lawmakers to take action.

NYC principals to meet weekly with NYPD in latest effort to address rash of youth violence
Chalkbeat, 2/14/2023

Kids’ BMIs Dropped After Federal School Lunch Overhaul
MedPage Today, 2/13/2023

Two-Thirds of Kids Struggle to Read, and We Know How to Fix It
NY Times, 2/11/2023

A New Low
Collapse in NYC Schools Pulls NY School Enrollment To Modern Low 
Empire Center, 2/10/2023

Led by a massive decline in New York City, enrollment in New York’s public schools continued falling last year and has sunk to its lowest level since the mid-1950s.

New York public schools enrolled an estimated 2.38 million students during the 2022-23 school year, new state data show, down from 2.42 million last year. Enrollment was down 10 percent from a decade prior, when enrollment was 2.66 million in 2013-14

Every county had fewer public school students in 2022-23 than it did in 2013-14.* The biggest decline was in the Bronx, where enrollment fell 23 percent, almost entirely since the pandemic. The smallest drop was on Staten Island, where enrollment declined just under 1 percent.

The Equity Delusion and Its Marxist Roots
Real Clear Education, 2/10/2023

Family Ties
Payoff-based College Admissions
National Affairs, Winter 2023 

As many are aware, wealthy parents can donate large sums to elite universities and significantly raise the odds that their child will be admitted. At Harvard, being connected to a wealthy donor boosts an applicant’s chances of admission by a factor of nine. At Duke in recent years, up to 5% of the student body owed its admission to connections to deep-pocketed donors. Between 2013 and 2019, the state-supported University of California system admitted at least 60 students (and probably well over 400) due to family connections. As state auditors put it, “under normal circumstances” these applicants would otherwise have had “virtually no chance of admission.”

This is all unfolding at colleges that avow themselves bastions of equal opportunity and access. These same institutions are all too content to sell seats to the wealthy and connected and to reap the rewards. In so doing, even private universities are not acting as private actors making private decisions; their actions are effectively subsidized by the federal tax code.

Testing for Diversity
A Leader Who’s Busting Down Barriers to Gifted Education
EdWeek, 2/6/2023

Under Vargas’ watch, Manassas has been dismantling the barriers to entry into gifted programming, revamping screening methods, and training teachers to spot talent and academic promise in students from historically marginalized groups. It’s also increased the number of teachers—and the budget—to support the new mission.

…Vargas oversaw several changes in how the district assessed giftedness. It moved away from solely using strict scores from standardized tests; began administering to all incoming English learners the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, a nonverbal skills assessment; and adopted Scales for Identifying Gifted Students, or SIG-2, which provides teachers with a nationally-normed checklist of traits to use to identify gifted potential in students.

…Before Vargas took up his position, the district relied on parents and teachers to refer students into gifted programming. But parents aren’t always objective about their children’s abilities and teachers weren’t necessarily trained in how to spot gifted students.