Education News Roundup Issue #107

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Top Stories

Supreme Court Strikes Down Affirmative Action in College Admissions
Wall Street Journal, 6/29/2023

The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional to consider race in university admissions, eliminating the principal tool the nation’s most selective schools have used to diversify their campuses.

Thursday’s 6-3 decision will force a reworking of admissions criteria throughout American higher education, where for decades the pursuit of diversity has been an article of faith.

The watershed decision by Chief Justice John Roberts sets new parameters for the continuing national debate over what criteria should determine who is admitted to the country’s elite institutions and hired into top jobs—crucial springboards for upward mobility in America.

NY Year in Review
School’s Out and Session’s Out – What Happened this Year?
Empire Center, 6/29/2023

The 2022-23 school year and legislative session have come to a close—what happened? The following summary outlines key legislative changes affecting education in New York.  

Changing the Rules
New York wants to revamp how schools are evaluated. Here’s what could change for now.
Chalkbeat, 6/22/2023

How does the state determine whether schools are doing well or if they are struggling and need extra support?

Before the pandemic, state officials relied on standardized tests and high school Regents exams to figure out how well students were doing, along with other factors, such as graduation rates. But the public health crisis paused state testing and affected school performance metrics in other ways. 

Now, education department officials are seeking a new, temporary evaluation system for the next two school years, with the hopes of creating something more permanent for the 2025-26 school year. 

Other Headlines

Elite Colleges’ Quiet Fight to Favor Alumni Children – The New York Times
NY Times, 7/13/2022

Escalating Grades
NYC’s rising graduation rates bucked national trends. A little-known grading policy may hold clues.
Chalkbeat, 7/10/2023

If a high schooler was not on track to pass a course by the end of a marking period, they would receive a grade of “NX”— equivalent to a “course in progress”— on their transcripts rather than an “F.” The NX would serve as a placeholder, giving them additional time to make up missing assignments and demonstrate mastery of the course material. In the meantime, they would progress to the next semester or grade. Once they completed missing work, their NX would be retroactively converted into a passing grade. 

…Reflecting back on the policy, many educators worry it misleadingly inflated graduation rates and left some kids academically unprepared. Many teachers felt their hands were tied and that the system — which they were a part of — failed to support the most vulnerable students.

NYC DOE’s Michael Vaughn ‘asked to leave’ after PR snafus
NY Post, 7/8/2023

A Question of Legacy
Harvard Discriminates Against Middle-Class Kids – WSJ
Wall Street Journal Opinion, 7/8/2023

Legacy preferences hurt the less well-off but aid what really matters to the university: its endowment.

Conflicting Interests
Dismissing Moderate Minority Voters As GOP Pawns Is Denial
NY Magazine, 7/7/2023

The recent Supreme Court ruling striking down affirmative action once again highlighted an uncomfortable reality that a minority group (in this case, Asian Americans) mostly opposes a position held by the progressive movement and the Democratic Party. The response from the left was to depict Asian Americans — who, polls show, oppose the use of racial preferences in college admissions to increase diversity — as dupes or tools being used by white conservatives to attack other vulnerable minorities.

Affirmative Action Battle Moves to Race-Based College Scholarships
Wall Street Journal, 7/6/2023

SCOTUS affirmative action ruling shows who the REAL bigot are
NY Post, op-ed by Yiatin Chu, 7/6/2023

The University of California Changed Its Math Standards. Some Faculty Aren’t Happy.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/6/2023

Warning Call
GOP senator presses colleges to comply with Supreme Court affirmative action ruling
NBC News, 7/6/2023

Freshman Sen. JD Vance is warning liberal arts colleges and Ivy League schools not to disregard the Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down affirmative action policies in the admissions process.

In a letter Thursday to Ivy League schools, as well as Kenyon and Oberlin colleges in his home state, the Ohio Republican expressed concern about what he called their “openly defiant and potentially unlawful reaction to the Supreme Court’s landmark decision” last week.

“As you know, the Court has instructed you to honor the spirit, and not just the letter, of the ruling,” he wrote, adding, “You and your institutions expressed open hostility to the decision and seemed to announce an intention to circumvent it.”

Harvard’s Admissions Is Challenged for Favoring Children of Alumni
NY Times, 7/3/2023

Sound Advice
Democrats have a schools problem. The good news: They can address it.
Washington Post, op-ed by Jennifer Rubin, 7/3/2023

The United States has a problem with K-12 education that goes beyond school shootings, LBGTQ+ discrimination and specious claims about critical race theory: Schools are failing in their core mission to educate children.

The evidence cannot be ignored. “The average test scores for U.S. 13-year-olds have dipped in reading and dropped sharply in math since 2020, according to new data from National Assessment of Educational Progress,” NPR reported. “The average scores, from tests given last fall, declined 4 points in reading and 9 points in math, compared with tests given in the 2019-2020 school year, and are the lowest in decades. The declines in reading were more pronounced for lower performing students, but dropped across all percentiles.” Math scores were even worse.

It was a bad fit for liberals
NY Daily News, op-ed by Ross Rosenfield, 7/2/2023

Most Americans approve of Supreme Court decision restricting use of race in college admissions: POLL – ABC News
ABC News, 7/2/2023

Scoring Adversity
How Colleges Admissions Might Diversify Without Affirmative Action
NY Times, 7/2/2023

For the head of admissions at a medical school, Dr. Mark Henderson is pretty blunt when sizing up the profession.

“Mostly rich kids get to go to medical school,” he said.

In his role at the medical school at the University of California, Davis, Dr. Henderson has tried to change that, developing an unorthodox tool to evaluate applicants: the socioeconomic disadvantage scale, or S.E.D.

A Student at Saint Ann’s Committed Suicide. Was the School to Blame?
NY Times, 7/2/2023

NYC school ‘falsifies’ credits with Dungeons & Dragons
NY Post, 7/1/2023

Not “Into Reading”
School reading program is ‘watered down’ and a ‘snooze fest’
NY Post, 7/1/2023

Parents are blasting the new reading curriculum that will debut in some public elementary schools in the fall as a dumbed-down step backwards.

“Into Reading” offers kids a chance to coast by with simplistic passages about “superhero squirrels” and “an African mouse,” instead of actual books, critics said.

“These scripted curriculums are generic, not challenging enough and not developed with our students and their cultures in mind,” said Park Slope parent Alina Lewis.

After Affirmative Action, We Can Still Fix the Education Pipeline Shrinking the achievement gap is the best response.
NY Magazine, 6/30/2023

Student Loan Forgiveness: Supreme Court Rules 6-3 Against Biden Plan
NY Times, 6/30/2023

The proposed cancellation of more than $400 billion in student debt would have been one of the most expensive executive actions in U.S. history. President Biden vowed to try again.

Why the Champions of Affirmative Action Had to Leave Asian Americans Behind
The New Yorker, 6/30/2023

New Brooklyn high school aims to create social justice-focused design professionals
Chalkbeat, 6/30/2023

City DOE probing Marilyn Monroe-themed drag show at NYC special needs school
NY Post, 6/29/2023

Read the SCOTUS Ruling
Read the full ruling: SFFA v. Harvard, 6/29/2023

NYC’s budget deal restores some education programs
Chalkbeat, 6/29/2023

Why K-12 education’s alarming decline could be a dominant 2024 issue
Washington Post, op-ed by George Will, 6/28/2023

Advanced Math Opt In
Kids are probably better at math than they think. A new Texas law could help them realize it.
KUT (NPR), 6/28/2023

A new Texas law aims to get more students into advanced math classes in middle school. Researchers and advocates say the move will increase access to these advanced courses, which studies show improve students’ chances of earning a degree later in life.

Senate Bill 2124, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law last month, requires school districts and charter schools to automatically enroll fifth graders who score in the top 40% on the state standardized math test in advanced math in sixth grade. Families can opt their children out of the advanced class if they choose.

In Classrooms, Teachers Put A.I. Tutoring Bots to the Test
NY Times, 6/26/2023

Why there are so few Black kids at Stuyvesant: Private schools and charter schools pull top students out of the system
Daily News, op-ed by Robert Cherry, 6/26/2023

Supreme Court won’t weigh in on whether charters are private or public
Chalkbeat, 6/26/2023

Days Off
NYC updates 2023-24 school calendar, adding 4 more days off
Chalkbeat, 6/26/2023

After many educators complained about certain holidays missing from the 2023-24 school calendar, New York City’s education department is adding four additional days off, officials announced Monday. 

The city also shared the calendars for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years — after families expressed outrage over calendar delays the past few years.

Part II: At High School Debates, Watch What You Say
The Free Press, 6/26/2023

Signs New Yorkers are getting fed up with far-left one-party rule
NY Post Editorial, 6/25/2023

Progressive backlash? A coalition pressing for more selectivity in schools notches key wins in NYC education council elections
NY Daily News, 6/24/2023

Parents backed by a group pressing for more rigorous programs and selective admissions practices captured a significant foothold in this year’s NYC education council elections, fueling the often contentious debate over some of the city’s more progressive education policies.

The organization, Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, or PLACE, pushed back against a progressive wave that had been gaining strength over the last several years in New York.

Hillary Clinton staffer says parents who support admission tests and gifted programs are far right
Daily Mail, 6/23/2023

Data Breach
45,000 NYC students among the victims of MOVEit global data breach, DOE officials say
Chalkbeat, 6/23/2023

Tens of thousands of New York City students were among the millions of victims who have had their personal information compromised through the recent MOVEit data breach, education officials said Friday.

A security vulnerability in the file-sharing software MOVEit — widely used by private companies and governments to safely transfer documents and data — has wreaked havoc in recent weeks as hackers accessed sensitive information across the globe.

Officials estimated roughly 45,000 students, as well as education department staff and service providers, were impacted by the data breach. For those affected, that could mean social security numbers, OSIS numbers, dates of birth, and employee IDs were stolen.

Progressives are minting conservatives
Boston Globe, 6/21/2023

Advice to Harvard Students and Alums: ‘Don’t Gratuitously Drop the H-Bomb’
Wall Street Journal, 6/21/2023

A New Low
What the New, Low Test Scores for 13-Year-Olds Say About U.S. Education Now
NY Times, 6/21/2023

The math and reading performance of 13-year-olds in the United States has hit the lowest level in decades, according to test scores released today from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the gold-standard federal exam.

The last time math performance was this low for 13-year-olds was in 1990. In reading, 2004.

Do Harvard, UNC discriminate against Asian Americans? Here’s the data
USA Today, 6/20/2023

NYC often segregates students with significant disabilities. This new school aims to change that.
Chalkbeat, 6/20/2023