Education News Roundup Issue #105

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Top Stories

Missing the Mark
The SHSAT Discourse is Broken
Ross Barkan on Substack, 6/5/2023

Last week, the New York Times reported that just seven Black students were admitted to Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. This was the Times’ focus for a story that also noted that a mere 10 percent of students who are Black and Hispanic were admitted into city specialized high schools overall.

…What’s going on here? “The numbers — which have remained stubbornly low for years — placed a fresh spotlight on racial and ethnic disparities in the nation’s largest school system,” the Times wrote. It’s not until the bottom of the third paragraph where the full context (almost) comes into view. “Twenty Latino students were offered spots at Stuyvesant, as were 489 Asian students and 158 white students. The rest went to multiracial students and students whose race was unknown.”

There’s the subtext here that any reader could deduce rather quickly but that left-leaning news outlets and education advocates tend to bury. Asian American students, particularly those of working class and immigrant backgrounds, absolutely dominate specialized high school exams in New York. 

Up To Date
NYC’s 2023-24 school calendar is out (finally)
Chalkbeat, 6/2/2023

The wait is over: New York City’s 2023-24 school calendar is live. 

The first day of classes will be Thursday, Sept. 7, according to the calendar posted on Friday. Teachers are expected to report two days before that, education department officials said. 

The state requires a minimum of 180 instructional days, but this year’s calendar has 182 days for students since several holidays fall on weekends. Under the teachers union contract, however, the end date remains unchanged. (Next year, the last day of school is Wednesday, June 26.) Because of this, many teachers are complaining about having to work more days than usual.

You’re In!
Hochul announces all graduating seniors to be offered spots at SUNY and CUNY
NY Post, 6/1/2023

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Thursday that New York will be offering spots at SUNY and CUNY colleges for all of the state’s graduating high school seniors.

According to the governor’s office, SUNY will soon be sending out letters to roughly 125,000 senior students informing them that they have been automatically accepted to their local community colleges this fall. 

Election News

CB 2 passes vote of no confidence in Ardila
Queens Chronicle, 6/2/2023

Harlem City Council race sets up generational clash in a changing neighborhood
CrainsNY, 5/30/2023

New York lawmakers want early voting through mail
State of Politics, 5/30/2023

NYC lawmakers maintain ties with convicted child sex abuser who unleashed racist tirade at hearing
NY Post, 5/28/2023

NYC Mayor Eric Adams crushes Jumaane Williams, Brad Lander in potential primary: poll
NY Post, 5/22/2023

Other Headlines

This Year’s Spelling Bee Champion Didn’t Schweat the Schwa
NY Times, 6/2/2023

Follow the Money 
Schools Received Billions in Stimulus Funds. It May Not Be Doing Enough.
NY Times, 6/5/2023

In 2021, the Biden administration gave districts another $122 billion through its $1.9 trillion stimulus package, an amount that far surpassed previous rounds. Districts were required to spend at least 20 percent of those funds on helping students recover academically, while the rest could be used on general efforts to respond to the pandemic.

Yet, while most schools have since deployed various forms of interventions and some have spent more on academic recovery than others, there are ample signs that the money has not been spent in a way that has substantially helped all of the nation’s students lagging behind.

…Students in most states and across almost all demographic groups experienced major setbacks in math and reading after many schools closed their doors. In 2022, math scores underwent the largest declines ever recorded on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tests a broad sampling of fourth and eighth graders dating back to the early 1990s.

Periodic table, evolution cut from Indian textbooks
DW, 6/2/2023

Stuyvesant High School Admitted 762 New Students. Only 7 Are Black.
NY Times, 6/2/2023

De Blasio PreK Mismatch
New data shows unused pre-K seats, low diversity at elite NYC high schools
Gothamist, 6/2/2023

The statistics released on Thursday appeared to back up some of the Adams administration’s claims about mismanagement of his predecessor’s signature pre-K program.

Schools Chancellor David Banks has argued that the de Blasio administration failed to match supply and demand, leading to tens of thousands of empty seats. Meanwhile, plans to expand the program relied on stimulus dollars, which are running out.

NYC school admission offers are out. Here’s what the numbers show.
Chalkbeat, 6/1/2023

The Big Restart
The Student Loan Payment Pause Is Ending. Here’s How to Prepare.
NY Times, 6/2/2023

After a three-year break, student loan payments are about to come due again.

The payment pause on federal loans has been extended eight times since March 2020 as part of a pandemic relief measure.

This time, however, the big restart has been written into legislation: As part of the agreement between President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the debt ceiling, the pause button would be released “60 days after June 30,” or around Sept. 1. That isn’t much different from the timeline that Mr. Biden previously laid out, but codifying it may give him less leeway to extend the pause yet again.

Bones, plastic, metal found in chicken tenders served to NYC students: feds
NY Post, 6/1/2023

2020 Census Shows Increase in Multiracial Population in All Age Categories
US Census, 6/1/2023

Saying it Out Loud
As AI-Enabled Cheating Roils Colleges, Professors Turn to an Ancient Testing Method
Wall Street Journal, 6/1/2023

When the pandemic closed classrooms in March of 2020 and forced remote teaching, a top engineering student at the University of California, San Diego, anxiously expressed concern to a professor that her classmates would cheat, bend the class curve and lower her grade. 

Prof. Huihui Qi considered the dilemma and introduced a testing method with a 2,000-year-old record that is today largely ignored: oral exams.

“The students were nervous,” Qi said. “None of them had taken exams like this before.”

They Stood Up to NYC Schools For Their Disabled Child. Then Child Protective Services Arrived.
The 74 Million, 6/1/2023

Into Reading
NYC’s literacy mandate: Why one reading program is gaining the most traction
Chalkbeat, 5/31/2023

Under NYC’s aggressive literacy push announced earlier this month, officials are mandating all elementary schools use one of three reading curriculums.

One is proving to be far more popular than the others.

Thirteen of 15 local superintendents charged with selecting their districts’ reading curriculum in this first phase of the rollout picked Into Reading, a program published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

CUNY Law Dean applauds student’s ‘hate speech’ against Israel, NYPD, and military
NY Post, 5/30/2023

How the Teachers Union Broke Public Education
Tablet, 5/30/2023

The Oakland Education Association (OEA) put forward several “common good” proposals that included drought-resistant shrubs, a Climate Justice Day, reparations for Black students, and converting unused school and office buildings into housing for homeless kids and their families.

Most of these “common good” issues were outside the legal scope of teachers’ contracts, but as The Wall Street Journal editorial board pointed out, OEA is not a rogue branch of the teachers union. 

Boston’s Big Spending
Boston now spends more per student than any other large school district in the nation
Boston Globe, 5/30/2023

Boston Public Schools spends more per student than any other large school district in the country, according to the latest figures from the US Census Bureau, a new distinction that reflects how BPS’s budget keeps growing even as student enrollment continues to decline.

The city’s highest-in-the-nation cost, of $31,397 per student during the 2020-21 school year, represented a nearly 13 percent increase from the previous year, or about $3,600 more per student, according to the census, which examined spending in the country’s 100 largest districts.

Do math drills help children learn?
Hechinger Report, 5/30/2023

Race Proxy
The Empire of Racial Preferences Strikes Back
Wall Street Journal Editorial, 5/30/2023

Any day now, the Supreme Court will issue landmark rulings on the constitutionality and statutory compliance of using racial preferences in college admissions. And already the empire is fighting back.

No place is more institutionally invested in using race to determine outcomes than our college campuses. The betting is that the high court will come down against what the chief justice once called the “sordid business” of “divvying us up by race.” But the universities are even now planning work-arounds that will allow them to continue to do what they’ve been doing—albeit in a sneakier way.

Meet Edward Blum, the man behind the Harvard affirmative action case
The Boston Globe, 5/29/2023

California boy Clovis Hung graduates from Fullerton College with 5 degrees
NY Post, 5/28/2023

UWS school so overcrowded with migrants it can no longer provide popular programs: parents
NY Post, 5/28/2023

The city Department of Education is ignoring pleas to help an Upper West Side public school so overwhelmed by an influx of migrant kids that it can no longer provide popular programs due to a lack of space, angry parents told The Post.

With 535 students currently crammed into PS 145 – nearly 100 more than what the West 105th Street school is designed to hold – parents said all students, including newcomers from Ukraine, Russia, and Latin America, are suffering for it. Last year, the school had 393 students.

Since the fall, after the city enrolled scores of young asylum seekers – many housed in a former shelter at the nearby Park West Hotel –  rooms previously used for a music program, a TV studio where kids produced videos and a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics [STEAM] lab had to be converted into classrooms.

Texas high school postpones graduation after 85% of class fails to earn diploma
NY Post, 5/27/2023

Department of Education swamps Duke University with civil rights investigations
Washington Wxaminer, 5/27/2023

Time for Thought
The Time Billionaires
The Free Press, 5/27/2023

During the conversation, Duncan proposed a concept that changed my life: the Time Billionaire.

A million seconds is 11 days. A billion seconds is slightly over 31 years. . . . I feel like in our culture, we’re so obsessed, as a culture, with money. And we deify dollar billionaires in a way. . . . And I was thinking of time billionaires that when I see, sometimes, 20-year-olds—the thought I had was they probably have two billion seconds left. But they aren’t relating to themselves as time billionaires.

The central point: time is our most precious asset.

…I started thinking about this more with the birth of my son in May 2022. It’s scary to look at the data on the short time we get with our children. It peaks in our 30s and declines sharply thereafter.

The Illinois Scholarship Scandal
Wall Street Journal Editorial, 5/26/2023

More and More Teenagers Are Coming to School High, N.Y.C. Teachers Say
NY Times, 5/26/2023

Axing Honors Math
Troy School Board eliminates middle school honors math classes despite parent outrage
Detroit Free Press, 5/26/2023

The frustration has grown in Troy among parents in a district where 39% of the students are Asian American, many of whom are the children of immigrant parents who stress the importance of education. It’s a discussion that has taken place in other Asian American communities across the U.S. such as in Virginia and California, where there are similar debates over math instruction and tracking programs. 

…The Troy school board on May 16, after listening to speakers who pleaded with the district not to remove the honors classes, voted 6-1 to change its middle-school math curriculum by delaying until eighth grade the first opportunity for students to take advanced math.

…”Why are you stepping backwards and not challenging the kids?” Purinma Patel Gupta, a longtime math teacher in Troy, told the board. “We’re competing globally with everybody on the Earth. So why are you telling the students who have the ability to learn … we’re going to set you back? What’s wrong with you guys?”

A Texas high school had to move its graduation because only 5 students were reportedly eligible to graduate
CBS News, 5/25/2023

NYC school uses crossing guard, food workers, 5-year-olds to translate for migrant kids
NY Post, 5/25/2023

Debating Debates
At High School Debates, Debate Is No Longer Allowed: At national tournaments, judges are making their stances clear: students who argue ‘capitalism can reduce poverty’ or ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’ will lose—no questions asked.
The Free Press, 5/25/2023

My four years on a high school debate team in Broward County, Florida, taught me to challenge ideas, question assumptions, and think outside the box. It also helped me overcome a terrible childhood stutter. And I wasn’t half-bad: I placed ninth my first time at the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) nationals, sixth at the Harvard national, and was runner-up at the Emory national. 

After college, between 2017 and 2019, I coached a debate team at an underprivileged high school in Miami. There, I witnessed the pillars of high school debate start to crumble. Since then, the decline has continued, from a competition that rewards evidence and reasoning to one that punishes students for what they say and how they say it.

The Surprising Obstacle to Overhauling How Children Learn to Read
NY Times, 5/25/2023

NYPD to eliminate nearly 500 crossing guard jobs in cost-cutting move
NY Daily News, 5/25/2023

The Demise of DESSA 
What happened to the social-emotional screening tool that NYC schools began using last year?
Chalkbeat, 5/25/2023

New York City’s education department plans to ditch a controversial social skills assessment for the coming school year, Chalkbeat has learned. 

The tool’s proponents believe it’s a missed opportunity to help shift school culture to become more responsive to children’s social-emotional wellbeing, particularly at a time when needs are high. 

In many ways, however, the tool’s rollout was doomed from the start. 

University of Minnesota backtracks on program that banned white students
NY Post, 5/24/2023

Stanford Summer Math Camp Defense Doesn’t Add Up, Either
EducationNext, 5/24/2023

NYC’s Summer Rising program rejected 45,000 applicants, launching scramble for child care
Chalkbeat, 5/24/2023

What you need to know before the Supreme Court rules on the future of affirmative action
The Boston Globe, 5/22/2023

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the future of affirmative action in the college admissions process in the coming weeks, a decision that experts say could reverberate far beyond academia.

Affirmative action has been discussed and argued over for decades, in and out of court, but now the highest court will clarify if selective colleges and universities can continue considering race as one of many factors during the admissions process. Here is a look at some of the most commonly raised questions related to affirmative action.

Disturbing video shows machete-wielding NYC professor Shellyne Rodriguez chase Post staffers down street
NY Post, 5/22/2023

NAEP Results Are Often Politicized. Could Rescheduling It Help?
EdWeek, 5/22/2023

NY lawmakers pitch bill mandating Asian-American history in schools to battle racist violence
NY Post, 5/22/2023

Toddler Speech Setbacks
If Your Toddler Isn’t Talking Yet, the Pandemic Might Be to Blame
Wall Street Journal, 5/19/2023

Add delayed first words to the list of the Covid-19 pandemic’s lingering effects.

Babies and toddlers are being diagnosed with speech and language delays in greater numbers, part of developmental and academic setbacks for children of all ages after the pandemic. Children born during or slightly before the pandemic are more likely to have problems communicating compared with those born earlier, studies show. Speech therapists and doctors are struggling to meet the increased need for evaluation and treatment. 

“I have patients who have been waiting for weeks and weeks,” said Dr. Caroline Martinez, a developmental pediatrician and medical director of developmental pediatrics at Mount Sinai Health System in New York.