Education News Roundup Issue #113

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Top Stories

Commission Proposes Changes for Regents 
What You Should Know: NY’s changing graduation requirements
Empire Center, 11/17/2023

Fresh off lowering the criteria to pass state exams at the 3rd through 8th grade level, New York education officials might be doing the same at the high school level—creating a more “flexible” road to graduation. Come next school year, the advanced Regents diploma may no longer be an option for students who have gone above and beyond, while alternatives and exemptions will be made available to students falling behind.

…However, many of them represent a departure from objective measures of student achievement (like standardized tests) in favor of more subjective and “flexible” methods of proving readiness to graduate.

The proposed changes range from reducing testing requirements, adjusting teacher training and prioritizing cultural awareness and civic engagement in the classroom, to potentially “modifying or dropping Regents Exam requirements” and ending the Regents diploma as we know it.

…The commission recommended that all NYS teacher certification programs be required to include culturally responsive training, and for state learning standards to align with a “diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility lens in all subject areas, including history.” 

Upcoming Public Hearings on Mayoral Control
As state reviews NYC mayoral control, officials to hold public hearings across five boroughs
Chalkbeat, 11/8/2023

Mayor Eric Adams will need to return to Albany next year to retain control of New York City schools, but in the meantime, residents across the five boroughs have a chance to voice their opinions on whether mayoral control has been effective.

As part of a comprehensive review of New York City’s school governance structure, the state plans to hold five public hearings in December and January, offering families, educators, school staff, administrators, and others an opportunity to weigh in on the city’s mayoral control system.

The review comes as part of a deal state lawmakers struck in 2022 — extending Adams’ control of the city’s schools for two years, while giving Albany time to assess how effective the long-standing system has been — though efforts to reconsider the system date back years. It seeks to understand the overall effectiveness of the system, including study of school governance models and best practices used by other school districts and input from a broad range of community members. 

Advocacy Corner

Dates and Locations Set for Public Hearings on Mayoral Control of New York City Schools
NYSED, 11/07/2023

Other Headlines

Pro-Israel parents booted from heated school board meeting
NY Post, 11/18/2023

Why Is the College Board Pushing to Expand Advanced Placement?
NY Times, 11/18/2023

“Startling” Reality
The Startling Evidence on Learning Loss Is In
NY Times Editorial, 11/18/2023

In the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress sent $190 billion in aid to schools, stipulating that 20 percent of the funds had to be used for reversing learning setbacks. At the time, educators knew that the impact on how children learn would be significant, but the extent was not yet known.

The evidence is now in, and it is startling. The school closures that took 50 million children out of classrooms at the start of the pandemic may prove to be the most damaging disruption in the history of American education. It also set student progress in math and reading back by two decades and widened the achievement gap that separates poor and wealthy children.

Hamas’s Barbarity Heightens the Crisis in Higher Education
Wall Street Journal, op-ed by Michael Bloomberg, 11/17/2023

Kids Still Aren’t Going to Class, So Schools Are Getting Aggressive
Wall Street Journal, 11/17/2023

Colleges Hate Complaints
Cornell, Columbia and UPenn among 7 schools facing Education Dept. probe over allegations of antisemitism and Islamophobia
CNN, 11/17/2023

The Department of Education has launched investigations into seven schools, including Cornell University, Columbia University and University of Pennsylvania, after receiving complaints about alleged incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia.

The investigations include five antisemitism cases and two Islamophobia cases.

…The schools were informed about the investigations within the last 24 hours. They include one K-12 school, the Maize Unified School District in Kansas, and six colleges: Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, Cornell University in New York, Columbia University in New York, Wellesley College in Massachusetts, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Mayor Adams, Governor Hochul Release Details for First-of-its-Kind Job and Education Hub for Growing Health Sector
NYC EDC, 11/17/2023

Rewarding merit, hard work are keys to school success — as NYC District 2 proved
NY Post, op-ed by Maud Maron, 11/17/2023

New York City public schools sent top educators to Baltimore last week to learn how to implement a new literacy curriculum.

Yes, you read that right: Baltimore!

Next we’ll be sending cops to Chicago to brush up on homicide prevention. 

The city’s educators chose Baltimore — a city where only 19% of students are proficient in literacy — to learn about “Wit & Wisdom,” one of Chancellor David Banks’ new reading curriculums.

NYC DOE Employee Charged In Teen Girl’s Attempted Kidnapping: NYPD, 11/16/2023

Foreign Language Enrollment Sees Steepest Decline on Record
Inside Higher Ed, 11/16/2023

Cutting Back
Eric Adams axes $547 million from NYC Education Department budget, more cuts on the way
Chalkbeat, 11/16/2023

New York City’s Education Department will cut nearly $550 million from its budget this year as part of a sweeping round of citywide reductions ordered by Mayor Eric Adams.

Many of the cuts are expected to take effect immediately. They will touch a wide range of programs and positions that directly affect students, from the city’s massive free preschool program, to community schools that support families with out-of-school needs, to the popular pandemic-era Summer Rising program.

A big chunk of this year’s savings will come through a hiring slowdown and the elimination of 432 vacant non-classroom positions, which officials said on Thursday will lead to a combined $157 million in savings.

How a disgraced method of diagnosing learning disabilities persists in our nation’s schools
The Hechinger Report, 11/15/2023

Making the Grade
These Are The Best Elementary, Middle Schools In NYC: New Ranking, 11/15/2023

New education rankings from U.S. News & World Report aim to give New York City parents a snapshot of how their child’s school compares to others, compiling a list of the best K-8 schools in the five boroughs, and around the state.

In New York City, the top 10-ranked public elementary schools are:PS 77 Lower Lab School (ranked No. 1 statewide)New Explorations Into Science, Technology and Math School (ranked No. 2 statewide)The Academy for Excellence Through the Arts (ranked No. 3 statewide)…(cont’d in article)NYC public school enrollment rises for 1st time in 8 years
Gothamist, 11/15/2023

Educrat Cover Up
New York’s educrats can’t educate — now they want to hide it by ditching Regents exams
NY Post, op-ed by Wai Wah Chin, 11/14/2023

Good morning, students, it’s time to help you learn less and graduate all the same.

That is the proposal the New York State Education Department just presented to the Board of Regents: To graduate from high school, students would no longer need to pass five Regents exams but could demonstrate their “learning” through alternative “assessments.”

What’s amazing is that it took a 64-member Blue Ribbon Commission more than a year to come up with this brilliant, groundbreaking innovation in education: Just dumb down standards, give everyone a shiny diploma, and we can congratulate ourselves for “improving outcomes.”

NYC to open kindergarten applications soon: 8 key things to know before you apply.
silive, 11/13/2023

The Soft Bigotry
New York considers ditching Regents exams as HS graduation requirement
NY Post, 11/13/2023

The New York State Education Department on Monday presented the Board of Regents with the recommendations on graduation measures — which included giving students the option of taking the Regents exam to graduate.

Mona Davids of the NYC Parents Union said moving away from the Regents exam requirements to earn a diploma signifies an insulting lack of faith in the abilities of students of color.

“This is a continuation of the soft bigotry of low expectations from our black and Hispanic students,” said Davids, who was part of a 2014 lawsuit challenging New York’s tenure laws that shield ineffective teachers from losing their jobs.

America Needs Real School Choice
Wall Street Journal, op-ed by Roland Fryer, 11/13/2023

NYC parent, teacher groups promoted pro-Palestinian student walkout: Kids yelled ‘F–k the Jews!’
NY Post, 11/11/2023

A Brooklyn parent advisory board promoted and organized a student walkout for Palestinians this week — a clear violation of state regulations, outraged critics told The Post.

The Community Education Council for District 14, which covers ultra-liberal Williamsburg and Greenpoint, used its platform to encourage the 700-student protest involving 100 schools — and even shared resources including antisemitic signs proclaiming, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

…Students protesting on Thursday near Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, were captured on video yelling, “F–k the Jews!”

NYC chief of student enrollment ousted in wake of DOE misconduct probe
NY Post, 11/11/2023

New Division
NYC’s new algebra curriculum mandate divides educators
Chalkbeat, 11/10/2023

The ninth graders in Katie Carson’s Algebra I class had only a foggy memory of how to use the “greater than” and “less than” signs that appeared in their warm-up exercise on a recent Tuesday afternoon.

One student said he hadn’t seen the symbols since elementary school. Carson, a teacher at Energy Tech High School in Long Island City, Queens, gave her class no explanation. Instead, she asked students what they noticed about how the signs work.

…The answer wasn’t right, but Carson gamely copied it onto the whiteboard and began testing it on sample problems. A minute later, Adam interjected. “It doesn’t work. I think it’s whatever the open side is on, that’s greater.”

Councilman Eric Dinowitz Calls on DOE to Investigate Education Council District 14’s Sponsorship of “Divisive Rally”
Norwood News, 11/9/2023

A New Low
Participation in parent conferences has plunged 40%. Is Zoom to blame?
Chalkbeat, 11/9/2023

Remote parent-teacher conferences, a holdover from the height of the pandemic, continue to elicit mixed feelings among families and educators alike.

For some parents, these virtual meetings — which were enshrined in the most recent teachers union contract — have been a boon. They can Zoom with teachers during their work day. They no longer need child care to travel to and from schools for the meetings. For those with multiple kids, it can be easier to juggle meetings at different schools.

But just as remote learning exacerbated New York City’s gaping digital divide, these virtual meetings also leave out families with less tech access and those with language barriers. Faced with an array of teachers with different sign-up methods, joining the meetings can feel insurmountable to some.

Does Your State Use Weak Teacher Reading Tests? New Study Says A Majority Do
The 74 Million, 11/8/2023

Read the Fine Print
The Fine Print: Why Some New York City Parents Are Against Smaller Class Sizes
The 74 Million, 11/6/2023

On October 18, The New York Times published a piece entitled, “Smaller Classes? At Elite Schools, Some Parents Say ‘No Thanks,” in which the author seemed surprised at the counterintuitive revelation that some NYC parents are not automatically cheering the September 2022 law signed by Governor Kathy Hochul mandating lowering class size. 

This initiative would phase in over a period of six years until, by 2028, Kindergarten through 3rd grade classes would be capped at 20 students, 4th through 8th grades could have no more than 23, and a maximum of 25 students per class would be allowed in high school.

But Linda Quarles, a member of the Citywide Council for High Schools, understood some parents’ concerns: “This entire situation is quite counterintuitive. When I first heard about smaller classes, I was, as well as most parents naturally would be, very supportive of the idea. It sounds so good in theory. The more I learned about the implications and trade-offs involved, I (became) convinced this is not in service of our kids. 

NYC high school applications are due next month. Here are 5 tips for navigating the process.
Chalkbeat, 11/3/2023

Students hated ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ Their teachers tried to dump it.
Washington Post, 11/3/2023

Keep the SAT
The SAT is a better measure of wealth than aptitude. We should still keep it, though.
MSNBC, op-ed by Natalia Petrzela, 11/2/2023 

New data compiled by economists at Harvard-based Opportunity Insights further confirm what anyone familiar with elite universities’ admissions process has long known: The SAT is a more reliable predictor of wealth than intellectual aptitude. The richer a test-taker’s family is, the better they perform: Those whose families are in the top 1% of earners are 13 times more likely to score above 1300 than the poorest students. And the “Ivy-Plus” colleges that graduate a disproportionate amount of our nation’s future leaders and high earners are twice as likely to admit wealthy students than their less affluent peers, even if they have comparable standardized test scores. Elite college admissions, it is clearer than ever, is no meritocracy.

…Abolishing these tests and some advanced placement programs will certainly make some disparities less glaringly obvious, but it will not solve the underlying problem. In fact, eliminating  these instruments and learning environments is more likely to exacerbate already dire educational disparities by making them less apparent.

One in nine NYC students was homeless last year, analysis says
NY1, 11/1/2023

NYC families push for special education open houses as high school admissions season heats up
Chalkbeat, 10/31/2023

On the Road
The $1.8-Billion Lawsuit Over a Teacher Test
The New Yorker, 10/31/2023

Wilds-Bethea started taking the N.T.E. Each time, he would fail by two or three points. He typically did fine on the math and science sections, but he had trouble on the communications section, which he attributes to a then undiagnosed hearing impairment that made it hard for him to focus on the listening portion of the test. There were also essay prompts, which Wilds-Bethea described as “ridiculous”: “I just went and wrote any old bullshit,” he said. Wilds-Bethea failed the N.T.E. ten times. In 1993, the state began phasing out the N.T.E. and introduced an alternative exam, the Liberal Arts and Science Test, or last, which Wilds-Bethea took and failed three times.

…The lawsuit raised a difficult question that never really got resolved: Were these tests racist? Coverage of the case, especially in conservative outlets, has focussed on this matter. One New York Post article noted tartly that Herman Grim, a Queens resident who will get a payout of more than two million dollars from the city after failing the last in the nineties, could not give any examples of why the test was racially biased. The clearly intended takeaway is that teachers who weren’t smart enough to pass a basic-knowledge exam cried racism and will get to collect millions of dollars as a result.

This Florida School District Banned Cellphones. Here’s What Happened.
NY Times, 10/31/2023

Home schooling’s rise from fringe to fastest-growing form of education
Washington Post, 10/31/2023

The Calculus on Calculus
Why Calculus Remains a Math Flash Point
EdWeek, 10/30/2023

Calculus has long been one of the most-debated flash points in high school math.

The course is commonly seen as the pinnacle of the high school progression, a clear signal to college admissions counselors that graduates are ready for postsecondary study. But many in the K-12 field question whether it’s really the best mathematical preparation for all students.

And the course is plagued by inequities—data from the U.S. Department of Education’s office of civil rights has shown that Black and Latino students have less access to calculus in their schools than their white and Asian peers. Some high schools don’t even offer the class.

Schooling vs. Learning: How Lax Standards Hurt the Lowest-Performing Students
The 74 Million, 10/30/2023

NYC principals study in China on taxpayer, communist group’s dime
NY Post, 10/28/2023

Reading Tea Leaves
Will the Supreme Court reaffirm its decision to end race-based admissions?
Washington Examiner, op-ed by Max Eden & Anthony Pericolo, 10/28/2023

After the Supreme Court ruled in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard that universities could not discriminate in college admissions based on race, top lawyers on the Left rushed to contain the fallout. Expressing that she was “disturbed” by the “deliberate overread of the recent court decisions,” President Joe Biden’s assistant secretary of education for civil rights, Catherine Lhamon, insisted that schools could grant race-based scholarships and host race-segregated events. And former Obama Solicitor General Don Verilli made it clear that if he has his way, K-12 schools can discriminate against white and Asian students.

It’s telling that Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia retained Verilli in Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax, which is up for certiorari before the Supreme Court. At issue in the case is whether a public school district can use facially race-neutral means to discriminate based on race.

Mayor Adams’ admin abruptly cancels class of 250 NYC school safety agents
NY Daily News, 10/27/2023

Midyear Budget Cuts Resume
NYC schools with enrollment shortfalls face cuts; more budget losses loom
Chalkbeat, 10/25/2023

New York City schools with lower than projected enrollments will see their budgets slashed midyear for the first time in four years.

School and Education Department staffers said the move comes as little surprise given the city’s bleak fiscal situation and dwindling federal COVID relief funds. City officials had used federal funding the past three school years to avert the midyear cuts and hold schools “harmless” if their student rosters fell short of the Education Department’s estimates.

“As NYCPS navigates the current fiscal landscape, we’ve made the necessary decision to revert to our pre-COVID-19 budgeting process,” said Education Department spokesperson Nathaniel Styer.

NYC schools losing enrollment facing midyear budget cuts; programs and personnel at risk
NY Daily News, 10/25/2023

If Everyone Gets an A, No One Gets an A
NY Times, op-ed by Tim Donahue, 10/23/2023

Diversity Plans 2.0?
New federal program puts $12 million toward school integration in a dozen states
Chalkbeat, 10/19/2023

Among the winners are some of the largest districts in the country, including New York City and Chicago, where debates have long raged over how to address the inequities wrought by school segregation…New York City, meanwhile, won $3 million for initiatives in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn that have previously worked to create more integrated middle schools. In Manhattan, officials will work to create a more diverse group of schools serving some 12,000 students, starting with preschool. In Brooklyn, the money will help put middle school integration plans into place, and fund efforts to recruit elementary school families to attend the area’s middle schools.

…Recently, some New York City schools have returned to academically screening incoming middle schoolers — a practice integration advocates say fuels segregation. The current mayor and chancellor have shown less interest in school integration than past administrations.

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