Education News Roundup Issue #109

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Top Stories

HS Admissions Debate Goes On
Debate over NYC high school admissions heats up at parent meeting
Chalkbeat, 8/9/2023

Debate over how selective New York City high schools choose their students erupted Wednesday night, as members of a parent advisory group called on the city to adopt more stringent academic screening.

The Citywide Council on High Schools, a group of parent representatives from across the five boroughs, considered a slate of recommendations on the city’s admissions process, including reinstating the use of seventh grade state test scores at selective schools such as Eleanor Roosevelt or the Clinton School in Manhattan and allowing such schools to once again set their own admissions criteria.

But some members of the public who spoke at the meeting protested the resolution proposing the changes…The Wednesday night debate followed an especially divisive parent council election cycle. Earlier this year, candidates endorsed by Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, or PLACE, won all of the elected seats on the citywide high school council. 

…The board, composed primarily of parents whose children attend selective or specialized high schools, passed the resolution 7-1, with the no-vote from the public advocate’s appointee [Camille Casaretti].

Striking a Balance
NYC’s famed LaGuardia High Schools taps alum as new principal
Chalkbeat, 8/11/2023

LaGuardia High School, New York City’s premier performing arts school, is getting a new principal after five months without a permanent leader.

Deepak Marwah, an alum and former teacher at LaGuardia, is set to take the helm at the Upper West Side institution later this month, the school announced Friday. Marwah most recently oversaw arts education for the New Rochelle school district.

…Jamie McShane, the parent of a rising senior and former president of the parent association, said it was Marwah’s commitment to maintaining academic rigor that was most appealing to some parents.

Advocacy Corner

Petition: Open Letter in Support of Expanding Brooklyn’s School District 20 Superintendent Program and Using Test-Based Admissions
Parents for D20 Education

Petition: Kids First: Don’t Take Away Space to Play (Randall’s Island)
Families for New York

Other Headlines

Hide and Seek
Where are New York’s Test Results?
Empire Center, 8/21/2023

For the second year in a row, New York parents will receive their back-to-school shopping lists before their students’ results on state assessments.

…This appears to be a pattern. The State Education Department (SED) usually indicates August for the release of previous years’ scores. However, last year, it was well into October when the Empire Center sued the state for failing to follow up on a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to release the data. Scores for 2021-22 were finally made public almost eight weeks into the following school year—only a few weeks before Thanksgiving break and noticeably, just a few weeks after Election Day.

What’s the holdup?

How a NYC mom-of-4 helped end affirmative action in college admissions
NY Post, 8/20/2023

NYC DOE lawyers grill deputy chancellor on ‘cover-up,’ pay hikes
NY Post, 8/20/2023

Legacy for You, but Not for Me
The Atlantic, 8/18/2023

Not Adding Up
California’s Weapons of Math Destruction
Wall Street Journal, op-ed by Faith Bottum, 8/18/2023

The California State Board of Education issued on July 12 a new framework for teaching math based on what it calls “updated principles of focus, coherence, and rigor.” The word “updated” is certainly accurate. Not so much “principles,” “focus,” “coherence” or “rigor.” California’s new approach to math is as unfair as it is unserious.

…The framework recommends that Algebra I not be taught in middle school, which would force the course to be taught in high school. But if the students all take algebra as freshmen, there won’t be time to fit calculus into a four-year high-school program. And that’s the point: The gap between the best and worst math students will become less visible.

Betty Rosa, New York’s top education official, raises equity concerns over class size law
Chalkbeat, 8/17/2023

A ‘National Teacher Shortage’? New Research Reveals Vastly Different Realities Between States & Regions
The 74 Million, 8/17/2023

Mass. exodus: Two top Mayor Adams execs, NYC elite whisk off to Martha’s Vineyard as speculation swirls about weekend wedding
NY Post, 8/17/2023

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
NYC must slash class sizes under a new law. The neediest schools stand to benefit least.
Chalkbeat, 8/17/2023

But in recent months, some of the new law’s costs and tradeoffs have come into sharper focus. A Chalkbeat analysis shows that because the city’s highest-poverty schools already have smaller classes, they stand to benefit the least from the state’s class size cap. This aligns with recent reports from the New York City Department of Education, the city’s Independent Budget Office, and The Urban Institute.

Researchers who have studied class size say that these findings raise troubling equity concerns. The class size cap could mean that new resources will be funneled not to the schools that have the greatest needs or lowest test scores but to some of the city’s better-off schools.

…But since the state has not earmarked new funding attached to the class size law, it remains unclear how the city will pay for it. Experts warn of difficult tradeoffs.

FEATURE: Find how many classes your school has over the new cap 

There’s finally money for smaller class sizes: New law for NYC schools will help kids
NY Daily News, op-ed by John C. Liu, 8/16/2023

Emergency room doctors beg for help treating children with mental health illnesses
NBC News, 8/16/2023

Radio Silence
NYC parents ‘alarmed’ over DOE silence about migrant kids in school ahead of Sept. 7 start date
NY Post, 8/16/2023

New York City public school kids will return to the classroom in three weeks, but with slim details available about the plan for some 18,000 migrant students and an impending bus strike, parents are starting to panic.

…“We are just weeks away from the start of the school year. As the symbolic leader of our school system, I’d like to hear that he’s as concerned as parents about what’s going to happen in our schools.”

The Department of Education boss’ break comes as City Hall sources warned the Big Apple was bracing for a huge, new wave of asylum-seeking students – causing parents to fret over what plans, if any, are in place to help schools cope. 

NYC schools change up arrival, dismissal times for students
Gothamist, 8/14/2023

NYC school bus drivers could go on strike, Chancellor David Banks warns parents of 150K students
NY Post, 8/14/2023

WH College Guidance
With affirmative action gone, Biden administration offers tips for colleges on diversity
USA Today, 8/14/2023

There are, according to the guidance, other levers within admissions that colleges ought to consider. Perhaps they can choose to admit higher rates of first-generation students, for example, or to stop giving preference to the children of alumni. Other strategies could include making standardized test scores optional; removing prerequisite courses such as calculus (which isn’t always available in low-income schools); and waiving application fees. 

Beyond admissions, the guidance highlights other strategies for promoting diversity on campus. 

A research update on social-emotional learning in schools
Hechinger Report, 8/14/2023

Price Fixing
University of Chicago Agrees to $13.5 Million Settlement in Financial Aid Antitrust Case
Wall Street Journal, 8/14/2023

The University of Chicago has agreed to pay $13.5 million to settle a lawsuit in which it was accused of illegally colluding with other top universities to limit financial aid to students, making it the first defendant in the case to settle, according to a court filing Monday. 

The lawsuit, filed in Illinois federal court in January 2022, accuses 17 colleges and universities, including most members of the Ivy League, Duke University, Vanderbilt University and the California Institute of Technology, of engaging in price fixing by using a shared methodology to calculate applicants’ financial need. 

College professors are going back to paper exams and handwritten essays to fight students using ChatGPT
Business Insider, 8/13/2023

It’s Not the Test
Parents, beware: NYC specialized high schools are coming under attack again
NY Post, op-ed by Wai Wah Chin, 8/13/2023

State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt and Assemblyman William Colton (D-Brooklyn) are calling on parents to prepare to mobilize as the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test is under attack yet again.

In a recent op-ed, Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Brooklyn Democratic Party chair, proposed to eliminate the SHSAT as the sole admission criterion for the city’s specialized high schools because standardized tests are, she wrote, racist.

Of course, standardized tests are not racist. They are objective and anonymously scored.

NYC DOE exec in ‘cover up’ for repeat hooky given generous raise
NY Post, 8/12/2023

Millions of kids are missing weeks of school as attendance tanks across the US
AP News, 8/11/2023

Teachers union challenge to new NYC Success Academy charter schools tossed
NY Post, 8/11/2023

The Latest Migrant Battleground: New York City Soccer Fields
NY Times, 8/11/2023

One of the latest skirmishes is being fought on Randall’s Island, off the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where a tent complex big enough to sleep 2,000 men is being built atop four soccer fields, just as the fall season prepares to begin.

The fields are heavily used by teams from public high schools and private leagues across the city. More than 3,000 people have signed petitions urging Mr. Adams to halt the plan.

In an uncomfortable twist for Mr. Adams, one of the petitions has been promoted by his consumer protection commissioner, Vilda Vera Mayuga, who is also the commissioner of Manhattan’s West Side Soccer League…Ms. Mayuga urged league parents to sign the petition in an email on Sunday. She said that the league understood the city’s need to accommodate the migrants but that “it simply cannot be at the expense of our youth and the NYC government must make responsible decisions.”

Students harmed by remote learning inequities can take California to trial, judge rules
SF Chronicle, 8/11/2023

Change in Medical Licensing Exam Concerns Students and Faculty
Inside Higher Ed, 8/10/2023

Spending Spree
Colleges Spend Like There’s No Tomorrow. ‘These Places Are Just Devouring Money.’
Wall Street Journal, 8/10/2023

The nation’s best-known public universities have been on an unfettered spending spree. Over the past two decades, they erected new skylines comprising snazzy academic buildings and dorms. They poured money into big-time sports programs and hired layers of administrators. 

Then they passed the bill along to students.

Vance Asks FTC to Investigate Universities Over Alleged Admission Policy Collusion Following Affirmative Action Ban
Washington Free Beacon, 8/10/2023

Sing Tao, 8/10/2023

Education advocates in N.Y. demand transparency around migrant students
NY1, 8/9/2023

A Case for Coverage
Rethinking gifted coverage in the media
The Grade, 8/9/2023

High-achieving students who are also disadvantaged by class, race, or ethnicity may be the most overlooked group in American education. Education reporters, ask yourself: The last time you visited a high-poverty elementary school, did you query the principal or teachers about how they serve children who are a year or more above grade level? Who arrive on the first day having already mastered that year’s material?

If the answer is no, you’re hardly alone. Stories about advanced education are too few and far between. One indicator: A simple Google News search for “gifted education” turns up 1/1,000 as many articles as a search for “special education.”

More asylum seekers headed our way as NYC works on how it will educate their children
CBS News, 8/8/2023

The End of Legacy Admissions Could Transform College Access
The New Yorker, 8/8/2023

NY schoolchildren can’t read — yet state leaders refuse to act
NY Post Editorial, 8/5/2023

No Safety Net
How to ensure twice-exceptional students don’t slip through the cracks
Fordham Institute, 7/24/2023

Imagine the course of history if some of the most brilliant minds were held back by learning disabilities. Albert Einstein was dyslexic and didn’t talk until he was six. His teachers said nothing good would come of him. Thomas Edison was called “too dumb.” He was kicked out of school at age twelve because he struggled with mathematics and had difficulty speaking and pronouncing words. Yet each overcame struggles, and their scientific discoveries and inventions impact our lives still today.

…More than one-third of gifted students could be 2e, research suggests. Unfortunately, the true number is difficult to pinpoint. Often these children’s strengths obfuscate their struggles, making learning challenges harder to diagnose. On the flip side, learning disabilities may disguise a child’s giftedness. Even more frequently, neither the disability nor the giftedness is recognized.