Education News Roundup Issue #106

To get this in your inbox: Subscribe to the Education News Roundup

Top Stories

Parents who back merit, higher standards dominate NYC school council elections
NY Post, 6/18/2023

City parent education-council candidates endorsed by a group that supports controversial merit-based admissions and rigorous academic standards dominated recent school-board elections, results show.

Nearly three-quarters of the parent hopefuls backed by Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education won school-council seats and will now make up a significant 40% of all elected reps on the Citywide & Community Education Councils — the city’s version of school boards — for the 2023-2025 term.

PLACE NYC candidates swept all the elected seats on the Citywide Council on High Schools (CCHS), which represents about 300,000 families, as well as some of the city’s top-performing school districts, including District 20 in southern Brooklyn and District 26 in northeast Queens.

PLACE-endorsed candidates also romped in Manhattan’s Districts 2 and 3 and Queens’ Districts 25 and 28.

Rallying for Fair Admissions
NYC parents demand fair, democratic admissions on school applications
NY Post, 6/17/2023

Brooklyn public school parents pushed for merit over mediocrity this week, calling for grades and test scores to matter again on middle school applications in one of the city’s highest performing districts.

District 20, which includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Height and parts of Bensonhurst, Borough Park and Sunset Park, had eight screened programs known for generating high test scores and sending kids off to specialized high schools. In 2020, they were slashed under Mayor Bill de Blasio and in 2022, just three were reinstated when the new administration left it up to superintendents.

“Taking away screening is depriving those talented children. It’s just very unfair to these kids,” said Maya Rozenblat, a Sunset Park mom who attended a rally Wednesday at PS 170 in Bay Ridge.

The Immigrant Holdouts
The Last Holdouts of American Meritocracy
Tablet Magazine, 6/6/2023

The common thread that linked students of all stripes was the immigrant experience. During a social studies class one day, the teacher asked us to raise our hands if we had at least one grandparent born outside the U.S. Every single hand shot up.

…One example of such a story is Tenzin (first name withheld for privacy reasons), a rising senior at Bronx Science who was voted vice president of her school’s National Honor Society…Like many other students at specialized high schools, Tenzin comes from a working-class family. Her mother is a hotel housekeeper and her father drives a taxi. Though her parents were not well educated themselves, they raised their children to value hard work and academic success.

As a rising senior, Tenzin expressed anxiety over her college prospects. She has heard horror stories from other Bronx Science students about Asian applicants with stellar academic records being rejected from schools that they thought were on their level. This scenario is playing out in high schools and at kitchen tables across America…

Election News

PLACE NYC Announces June 2023 NYC Primary Election Endorsements
PLACE NYC, 6/8/2023

How to watch Spectrum News NY1 City Council debates
NY1, 6/15/2023

Here’s what to expect in NYC Council primaries as early voting opens Saturday
NY Post, 6/11/2023

Most interesting 2023 New York City Council primary races to watch
City & State, 6/7/2023

NYC Council Primaries: District 43
Brklyner, 6/7/2023

Who’s Running for District Attorney in The Bronx and Queens in 2023?
The City, 6/6/2023

Other Headlines

Overwhelming Complacency and Inertia
Can America’s Students Recover What They Lost During the Pandemic?
Propublica, 6/19/2023

Many of the students lived in an adjoining public-housing development, also called Fairfield Court. But Wright, in her first year, could offer guidance only at a remove. She dropped in on virtual classrooms, where students logged on from their beds or from crowded kitchen tables; often, they were not able to log on at all, because the concrete walls of their home interfered with a Wi-Fi signal. “Sometimes it was just, ‘Oh, it’s not working today,’” she told me.

When the students returned to the school building, Wright found that their needs were far greater than she could have imagined. Research released by Harvard and Stanford last fall found that Richmond’s fourth through eighth graders had lost two full years of ground in math and nearly a year and a half in reading. Even more apparent was their difficulty with basic interactions — fifth graders hadn’t been in person since third grade; second graders, since kinder­garten.

Shocking CDC statistics reveal extent of mental health crisis among children in US
NY Post, 6/18/2023

Dispelling the Myths
Three Big Myths of a Public School Education
The Free Press, 6/15/2023

When Terry Grier became the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District in 2009, one of his top priorities was to reform the admissions process for the district’s highly coveted magnet schools. 

….“There was little to no oversight,” Grier remembers. “The principals simply determined who got in and who didn’t.” 

Grier proposed reforms that would require any magnet school to reserve 15 to 20 percent of the seats for kids from outside of the attendance zone, and the school would have to hold a lottery to determine which kids got those seats. Failure to comply meant a magnet school wouldn’t qualify for generous supplemental funding. (Two schools—the performing arts magnet and the gifted magnet—would be allowed to continue using selective admissions in order to stay true to their mission.)

Universities Shouldn’t Be Ideological Churches
The Atlantic, 6/15/2023

Harvard Medical School morgue manager accused of stealing, selling human body parts as part of ‘nationwide network’
WBUR, 6/14/2023

Discovery Disparities
Black and Latino enrollment in NYC specialized high school integration program still lags
Chalkbeat, 6/14/2023

The share of Black and Latino students in the program, however, is slightly lower than the first year after the program’s expansion. In 2020, nearly 35% of the offers in the Discovery program went to Black and Latino students, which was about 3 percentage points higher than this year’s offers. 

That year saw 50% of the offers go to Asian American students, nearly 10 percentage points lower than this year’s offers. 

The percent of white students, however, has dropped nearly in half from 14% in 2020 to about 7% this year.

Soon We Won’t Have Enough Kids to Fill Our Schools. That’s a Problem.
NY Times, op-ed by Jessica Grose, 6/14/2023

DEI programs in universities are being cut across the country. What does this mean for higher education?
CNN 6/14/2023

Hitting Pay Dirt
NYC teachers get fat 20% pay hike in new, 5-year, $6.4 billion deal
NY Post, 6/13/2023

New York City educators will get fat pay hikes and bonuses of up to 20% under a new five-year, $6.4 billion labor contract announced Tuesday by Mayor Eric Adams and the United Federation of Teachers.

The top teacher salaries for the longest serving teachers will exceed $150,000 for the first time.

The proposed contract also cuts in half — from 15 to eight years — the length of time it takes most teachers to reach a salary of $100,000.

NY pols should leave our kids alone — and not keep transitions from parents
NY Post, op-ed by N. Murakhver and D. Hensley, 6/13/2023

Transgender students in NY can use the names, pronouns they choose without parental consent: education officials
NY Daily News, 6/12/2023

Honors Math Axed
Do honors classes favor ‘compliant and organized’ kids? Westwood wants to change that, 6/12/2023

The Westwood Regional School District plans to eliminate honors classes in eighth grade next year, saying that the honors level curriculum will now become part of regular classes.

The district posted a letter on its official website on May 31 to explain the change for the 2023-2024 school year, acknowledging that the plan was “the subject of some public criticism.”

SUNY Albany faces federal race-discrimination complaint over black-only internships
NY Post, 6/11/2023

Rejected Race Quotas
The Failed Affirmative Action Campaign That Shook Democrats
NY Times. 6/11/2023

The 2020 campaign to restore race-conscious affirmative action in California was close to gospel within the Democratic Party. It drew support from the governor, senators, state legislative leaders and a who’s who of business, nonprofit and labor elites, Black, Latino, white and Asian.

The Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants and 49ers and Oakland Athletics urged voters to support the referendum, Proposition 16, and remove “systemic barriers.” A commercial noted that Kamala Harris, then a U.S. senator, had endorsed the campaign, and the ad also suggested that to oppose it was to side with white supremacy. Supporters raised many millions of dollars for the referendum and outspent opponents by 19 to 1.

‘Obsessed’ CUNY professor fights suspension over creepy texts to student
NY Post, 6/10/2023

NYC public schools barred from state track meet over air quality —  but private schoolers allowed to run
NY Post, 6/9/2023

With the return of the testing requirement, the diversity of applicants getting into Boston exam schools shifts only slightly
Boston Globe, 6/8/2023

Charter Data
National Study Shows Charters Outperform Traditional Schools
NY Magazine, 6/7/2023

In 2009, a national study by Stanford’s Center for Research on Educational Outcomes, or CREDO, found that charter schools do not produce better outcomes than traditional public schools. If you have ever come across a column denouncing charter schools, you have probably seen a reference, either direct or indirect, to this finding.

…When moderates cite the study, it is in a spirit of resignation: “We tried a new experiment, and it failed.” When leftists cite it, they generally leap directly to accusation: “We know charters do not help children, so only a nefarious motive can explain their existence.” The ubiquitous reliance on this research led many people to permanently dismiss any chance charter schools could produce significant improvements.

But this finding is badly out of date…At the time, CREDO had not conducted a national study since 2013. But now the center has released its latest report, and it confirms the trend Raymond had already seen locally. The new study finds, unambiguously, that students on average gain more learning in charter schools than in traditional public schools.

An All-Time Low on the Upper West Side: Little Boy’s Lemonade Stand Robbed, 6/7/2023

New York City’s Specialized High Schools Work
City Journal, op-ed by Wai Wah Chin, 6/6/2023

I Wish My Son Weren’t So Freakishly Smart
Slate, 6/7/2023

Balanced Literacy Controversy
The Fight Over Phonics
NY Times The Daily Podcast, 6/6/2023

Over the past three decades, Lucy Calkins helped create a set of strategies for teaching children how to read, known as balanced literacy. It was widely adopted in the United States, including in New York, the country’s largest public school system.

But doubts about the approach persisted, and now it seems that using balanced literacy has given a generation of American students the wrong tools.

Fairfax trained teachers to disregard objections to ‘equity grading’
Washington Examiner, 6/5/2023

1619 Project releases new ‘reparations math’ curriculum for high school students
The College Fix, 6/5/2023

Watch A Group of High School Students Make Their Broadway Debut In “Kimberly Akimbo”
NBC 4NY, 6/2/2023