Education News Roundup Issue #110

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Top Stories

Debate Over Gifted vs Advanced
Fight between ‘gifted’ and ‘advanced’ programs exposes deeper problems
Washington Post, 9/3/2023

There is a battle in American education over two loaded adjectives, “gifted” and “advanced.” It has raged behind the scenes for decades, but that may change.

The issue made an important appearance recently in a scholarly paper by a national panel of experts on education and other topics — some liberal, some conservative — that strongly argued we should get rid of “gifted” and replace it with “advanced.” Their reasoning provides an opportunity to assess where we are with school learning in America after decades of confusion about what works and what doesn’t.

Mystery of the (Still) Missing Test Scores
As New York Public Schools Struggle With Learning Losses From Covid Shutdowns, State Is Withholding Students’ Test Scores 
NY Sun, 9/1/2023

The education department is using test scores from the 2021-22 academic year — the worst in the state’s history — as the basis for lowering proficiency thresholds on state assessments. As part of New York’s overhaul of academic standards, to be completed by 2025, these new standards artificially elevate student performance.

“They’re resetting the benchmark every two, three years to obfuscate their failure,” the co-founder of an education center that advocates for academic rigor in K-12 public schools, Place NYC, and a mother of two children who attended public schools, Yiatin Chu, tells the Sun.

Class Size Problem
Some NYC class sizes could grow this year under revised draft plan: advocates
NY Daily News, 8/27/2023

New York City’s top education officials seem to be reneging on a promise to keep certain class sizes this school year below thresholds set by the state, according to a revised draft plan quietly released this summer.

…Some schools already have the room needed to have fewer students per class, and others could get there by reprogramming the space. But education officials estimate there are 400 to 500 programs — between a quarter and 31% of schools — that may not be able to comply with the mandate in their current spaces.

Other Headlines

Not Adding Up
NYC school to drop ‘math’ from name as student arithmetic scores tank
NY Post, 9/9/2023

Parents in Brooklyn’s ultra-liberal Boerum Hill are pushing to drop the “math and science” portion of MS 447’s name — which in recent years has seen its students’ math proficiency plummet — to boost diversity. 

…The decision to alter MS 447’s name comes as its students’ grasp of mathematics has tanked – a fact left unmentioned at the August meeting.

…the school still had concerns over enrollment diversity, and partly moved to rename MS 447 because the school’s math and science branding seemed to lead more boys than girls to apply for its seats.

D.E.I. Statements Stir Debate on College Campuses
NY Times, 9/8/2023

Yale changes admissions policy in response to Scotus ruling
AsAm News 9/8/2023

Calkin’s Reading Program Dissolved
Teacher College, Columbia U. dissolves program behind literacy curriculum used in NYC public schools
Gothamist, 9/8/2023

The once-revered Columbia University program behind a flawed literacy curriculum used in New York City schools will be “dissolved,” the university announced.

The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s founder, literacy scholar Lucy Calkins, will also go on sabbatical for the coming academic year. Teachers College quietly released the news last Friday, ahead of Labor Day weekend.

Moving forward, the university said, Teachers College “will ensure that its professional development programs are informed by the latest research and evidence.”

5 things we’re watching this school year in NYC
Chalkbeat, 9/7/2023

Faced with migrant surge, NYC schools cutting red tape to increase the number of bilingual teachers
NY Daily News, 9/7/2023

The city is scrapping a bureaucratic hurdle to get qualified teachers in front of thousands of migrant children, as public schools face a shortage of bilingual educators on the first day of classes.

Teachers with more than one certificate — which can include expertise in bilingual or English as a new language programs — are often dissuaded from switching subjects, due to strict tenure rules that require them to start over accruing seniority.

But the immediate changes announced Thursday will give tenured teachers in other subjects, who also have the skill set to teach the newcomer students English, automatic tenure — freeing up another 500 to 600 educators to pivot without impacting their careers.

Utah and Washington Among 21 States Revamping Math to Better Fit Students’ Goals
The 74 Million, 9/7/2023

Harvard University is the worst college for free speech: ‘Abysmal’ rating, report says
Boston Herald, 9/6/2023

Quality Control
New Class Size Law Means 17,700 More NYC Teachers. Where Will They Come From?
The 74 Million, 9/5/2023

Numerous teachers asserted that the stress of instructing students at different levels was driving many to quit the profession.

“The city is having a hard time holding onto experienced teachers,” Gilly Nadel confirmed, “and large classes are part of the problem.”

…I, too, have long been a proponent of teachers as absolutely the most important aspect of education. Under this law, NYC will need to hire 17,700 new ones. 

Where will they come from? 

A Leadership Perspective on the ‘Toxic’ State of Our Schools 
City Limits, op-ed by David Bloomfield, 9/5/2023

NYC schools increase security with new door-locking system
PIX 11, 9/1/2023

Expanding Opportunities
No high school calculus, chemistry, physics class? Caltech has a new admission work-around
Los Angeles Times, 8/31/2023

Her Redwood City school didn’t offer algebra in eighth grade, which threw her off the progression of high school math classes leading to calculus — a long-standing Caltech admission requirement. Miranda managed to double up on math courses in sophomore year to reach calculus as a senior, but not all students have the wherewithal — or support — to take that path.

…In a groundbreaking step, the campus announced Thursday that it will drop admission requirements for calculus, physics and chemistry courses for students who don’t have access to them and offer alternative paths to prove mastery of the material.

Buildings, additions bring more seats
Queens Chronicle, 8/31/2023

College students are still struggling with basic math. Professors blame the pandemic
AP News, 8/31/2023

TJ HS Loses #1
Thomas Jefferson high school in Virginia drops in U.S. News ranking
Washington Post, 8/30/2023

After three years in the top spot, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the prestigious magnet school in Fairfax County, dropped to fifth in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best High Schools” rankings.

160家長簽名致信教育局 籲20學區增加擇優初中名額
Singtao, 8/30/2023

US Students Need Better Schools, Not Smaller Classes
Bloomberg, op-ed by Michael Bloomberg, 8/30/2023

Reviving Racial Preferences in California
Wall Street Journal Editorial, 8/30/2023

Bard in the Bronx
New high school opens in the Bronx, offering college-focused programs
News12, 8/30/2023

A new Bronx high school is opening its doors in September, helping graduates accumulate college credits cost-free.

Bard High School-Early College offers Bronx scholars the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma, 60 transferrable college credits and even an associate degree.

…Bard High School-Early College programs already are up and running in Queens and Manhattan, and now Bronx students looking to get a step ahead for college and their adult lives can do so in their home borough.  

The math problem: Kids are still behind. How can schools catch them up?
Associated Press, 8/29/2023

Race-Based Affinity Groups Should Be Open to All Students, Biden Admin. Tells Schools
EdWeek, 8/29/2023

TJ High School Petition SCOTUS
PODCAST: The Supreme Court’s Next Racial Admissions Case?
Wall Street Journal Potomac Watch, 8/29/2023

…the case is a question that was left open by the Harvard-North Carolina’s decisions in June, and they ruled directly that racial preferences are unconstitutional. You can’t deliberately go about using racial preferences to get the racial balance you want in a class, but what they left open is whether they can use facially neutral, in other words, categories that aren’t racial in themselves, to achieve racial ends. And that’s what’s at stake in Thomas Jefferson…And so, the question is, can you use something that’s neutral to achieve a racial goal? I don’t think so. The court said you can’t do something indirectly that you can’t do directly, but they have to clarify the issue.

Are Some Students Taking Too Many AP Courses? A College Board Official Responds
EdWeek, 8/28/2023

In the Dark
Many American Parents Have No Idea How Their Kids Are Doing in School
Time, 8/28/2023

In third grade, Cristyonna mostly got As and Bs on her report cards. At parent-teacher evenings, teachers were positive about her learning. So Shareeda Jones, her mother, was surprised when they moved neighborhoods and schools and her daughter’s new teacher told her Cristyonna was three grade levels behind in reading. “I was shocked,” Jones says. 

…A child might be trying really hard and the teacher rewards that with good grades. But they are far behind on grade level work. That may never come up in conversation. In NYC, for example, 83% of parents report their kids get As or Bs on their report cards. In reality, 26% are performing at grade level with math.

Bill would force teen potheads to attend counseling with parents
NY Post, 8/26/2023

Wokeness, antisemitism forced us to pull our kids from their city school
NY Post, 8/23/2023

Everything you need to know about applying to Hunter College Elementary School for 2024
EpiCenter NYC, 8/23/2023

Hunter College Elementary School will open its application for September 2024 in late August 2023. Or maybe in September 2023. Even the official website doesn’t seem to know for sure. 

So while HCES scrambles to figure out what will be happening in the fall, we’re here to give families a head start on the process.

Husband of NYC teacher charged with raping 14-year-old student insists she’s innocent
NY Post, 8/23/2023

The Defenders
Forging Their Own Path: Chinese parents around the country are launching programs and schools to defend traditional values like hard work and meritocracy
City Journal, 8/21/2023

On a chilly Sunday in late March, three Chinese teenagers gathered in a room in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood to present a research paper on New York’s bail reform law. They had known nothing about the subject until three weeks earlier, when they joined Appleseed, a youth leadership program launched by a Chinese parents’ network, Parents Group New York. Now they showed charts and arguments from both sides of the debate, concluding that, while the reform may have helped reduce the incarcerated population, it had fallen short of its original goal of reducing racial disparities. After the presentation, they shared more concerns. “The bail reform is good in theory but not good in practice,” said eleventh-grader Casandra Ng. “How can you be so sure [the suspects] are not going to go out and reoffend?”

Sleep On It
Want to Raise MS and HS Achievement at No Cost? Start Classes at 8:30, or Later
The 74 Million, 8/20/2023

NYC has attempted to combat that inequity in a variety of ways. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio implemented initiatives ranging from Renewal Schools, which cost the city almost $750 million, to universal pre-K, while current Mayor Eric Adams has called for dyslexia screening and a mandatory phonics-based reading curriculum.

…There is, however, a cost-effective and immediate tweak that has proven effective in raising grades and test scores, as well as reducing suspensions for middle and high school students, especially those who are low-income: Starting the school day after 8:30 a.m. 

Standing in the Schoolhouse Door
City Journal, 8/17/2023

How Can I Find the Right School for My Gifted Child?
Psychology Today, 8/16/2023

Colleges Want to Know More About You and Your ‘Identity’
NY Times, 8/14/2023