Education News Roundup Issue #114

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Top Stories

NYC kids could be shut out of AP and honors classes under new law: critics
NY Daily News, 12/12/2023

The NYC class size advisory group is recommending enrollment caps at overcrowded schools, despite concerns from some parents who say it will reduce access to popular schools and programs that could include AP and honors or dual language classes.

…While the working group urged education officials not to “eliminate” access to programming that may also include gifted and talented classes and electives, some dissenters believe the guidance does not go far enough and publicly released a report of their own Tuesday.

The group, mostly comprised of members of Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, or PLACE, said the majority report failed to consider potential program cuts as the law is implemented…They objected to enrollment caps at sought-after programs and worried that the benefits of class size reduction could be negated if the school system needs to hire lower-quality teachers to reach its projections of 9,000 new teachers to comply with the law, plus thousands more to backfill attrition.

Class size reduction law problematic, reduces ‘equity’ for NYC’s neediest kids: report
NY Post, 12/5/2023

The controversial state law requiring New York City public schools to reduce class sizes across the board could become more problematic and reduce “equity” for the neediest students amid budget cuts proposed by Mayor Eric Adams, a new report claims.

“The state legislature did not provide funding to implement the mandate, so the city will have to identify new revenue sources or repurpose existing funds,” reads the analysis conducted by the Urban Institute, a poverty fighting group.

The report says absent a change in the way funds are distributed, will reduce “funding equity” that aims to steer a higher percentage of education funding to disadvantaged students.

Advocacy Corner

PLACE NYC – Parent-to-Parent Conversation on the 2023 Kindergarten Applications
Date: Thursday, December 21, 8pm
Register for zoom

Dates and Locations Set for Public Hearings on Mayoral Control of New York City Schools
Monday, December 18, 2023

Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical HS
165-65 84th Avenue,
Jamaica, NY 11432

Class Size Working Group: Final Report
December 11,2023

Elections Watch

Top Court Clears Path for Democrats to Redraw House Map in New York
NY TImes, 12/12/2023

Inside the Secret Meeting That Cleared the Way for Tom Suozzi’s Return
NY TImes, 12/5/2023

NYC Mayor’s Woes Are So Bad Even Andrew Cuomo Is Eyeing Run
Bloomberg, 11/30/2023

Other Headlines

Harvard’s Board Unites Behind Its President, but Its Campus Remains Splintered
NY Times, 12/12/2023

“Just bad for kds”
NYC’s class size working group delivers recommendations — but some members dissent
Chalkbeat, 12/11/2023

After months of deliberation, internal clashes, and comments from nearly 2,000 people, a working group tasked with advising New York City’s public schools on complying with a landmark state law capping class sizes released its final recommendations Monday.

…Dia Bryant, the former executive director of Education Trust-New York and one of the dissenters, said the law and the working group ignored practical concerns and are “very aspirational.”

“Ultimately, I think the implementation under the current conditions … is just bad for kids,” Bryant said.

‘This is Definitely Plagiarism’: Harvard University President Claudine Gay Copied Entire Paragraphs From Others’ Academic Work and Claimed Them as Her Own
Washington Free Beacon, 12/11/2023

Listen up. The closing of the teenage mind is almost complete
LA Times, op-ed by Zach Gottlieb, 12/10/2023

As Harvard President Faces Pressure to Resign, Some Faculty Show Support
NY Times, 12/10/2023

Hochul warns state schools that campus calls for genocide of Jews ‘will not be tolerated’ in NY
NY Post, 12/10/2023

Tax & Redistribute?
Columbia and N.Y.U. Would Lose $327 Million in Tax Breaks Under Proposal
NY Times, 12/10/2023

State lawmakers will unveil legislation on Tuesday that would eliminate enormous property tax breaks for Columbia University and New York University, which have expanded to become among New York City’s top 10 largest private property owners.

The bills would require the private universities to start paying their full annual property taxes and for that money to be redistributed to the City University of New York, the largest urban public university system in the country.

NYC chancellor adds ‘chief of school leadership development’ amid Adams’ budget cuts
NY Post, 12/9/2023

NYC migrant student becomes chess prodigy after just one year of playing
NY Post, 12/9/2023

What Is Happening at the Columbia School of Social Work?
NY Times. 12/7/2023

Back to Class
School safety agent class quietly reinstated — but at half the size — after blowback over budget cuts
NY Post, 12/6/2023

Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has quietly reinstated a new class of school safety agents — but at half the previous size — following blowback over its abrupt decision to nix the hire due to budget concerns, The Post has learned.

About 120 agents will be trained at the Police Academy in the coming weeks in a reversal from City Hall, which was facing heat from parents and pols over the planned cuts to the NYPD schools unit, sources said.

Biden administration to forgive $4.8 billion in student loan debt for 80,300 borrowers
CNBC, 12/6/2023

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Peer Effect’ Review: Trying to Find a Key to Success: Because their fellow students work so hard, even the slackers at Stuyvesant High School know they have to get their schoolwork done.
Wall Street Journal, 12/6/2023

The DEI Blues
DEI Drives Campus Antisemitism
Wall Street Jounal, op-ed by Heather MacDonald, 12/5/2023

Tuesday’s House hearing on campus antisemitism ratcheted up the pressure on American universities: counter the anti-Israel vitriol that exploded in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack or risk losing philanthropic and government support. The leading approach is sure to fail: doubling down on the ideologies and practices that led to the pro-Hamas fever in the first place.

Bill Ackman, the hedge-fund manager leading a Harvard donor revolt, told CNBC on Nov. 6 that he hadn’t previously read Harvard’s DEI statement. Though he had assumed DEI was “for all marginalized groups,” once he read the statement, he realized that “the DEI program at Harvard is limited to specific groups and exploits others.” Instead, Mr. Ackman suggested, DEI should cover all minorities, including Jews and Asians.

Teachers’ union boss blames math test slide on COVID — after fighting to keep remote learning
NY Post, 12/5/2023

‘A’ is for All
Nearly Everyone Gets A’s at Yale. Does That Cheapen the Grade?
NY Times, 12/5/2023

Nearly 80 percent of all grades given to undergraduates at Yale last academic year were A’s or A minuses, part of a sharp increase that began during the coronavirus pandemic and appears to have stuck, according to a new report.

…The findings have frustrated some students, alumni and professors. What does excellence mean at Yale, they wonder, if most students get the equivalent of “excellent” in almost every class?

NYC opens kindergarten application process on Tuesday: 5 things to know, 12/5/2023

Getting the Boot
Member forced off CEC 28 over pro-Palestine posts
Queens Chronicle, 12/5/2023

Community Education Council 28 member Adriana Alicea was forced out Tuesday after coming under fire from parent activists over multiple pro-Palestine social media posts, the Chronicle has learned.

Alicea, who was appointed by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, took to X, formerly Twitter, to share her opinions on the Israel-Hamas conflict, which some parents describe as anti-Semitic. 

In one post, she writes, “Free them all. From the river to the sea. Free Palestine.”

Higher Ed Has Become a Threat to America
Wall Street Journal, op-ed by John Ellis, 12/4/2023

What happens when a poor state guts its public university?
The Atlantic, 12/3/2023

Through the Cracks
Too Many Schools Are Misdiagnosing Dyslexia
Scientific American, 12/1/2023

It pains Tim Odegard that four decades after a misguided approach to diagnosing dyslexia kept him from getting help in school, thousands of children across the U.S. are needlessly suffering for the same reason.

During the initial weeks of first grade Odegard’s struggles with reading went undetected as he memorized words that classmates read aloud before him. The strategy worked so well that his teacher moved him to the position of “first reader.” It then became apparent that the six-year-old not only wasn’t the strongest reader in the class—he couldn’t read at all. The teacher dispatched him to a low-skill group. “It just kind of went downhill from there,” Odegard, now 47, recalls.

After senior claims to be disciplined for hanging a Palestinian flag in front of school, tensions rise over political speech
THHS Classic, 11/29/2023

Feds Launch Investigation of Harvard for Possible Civil-Rights Violations
Wall Street Journal, 11/29/2023

Moving Out
Fear of Competition? Research Shows That When Asian Students Move In, White Families Move Out
The 74 Million, 11/29/2023

Asian Americans increasingly find themselves at the center of scorching debates over educational opportunity and fairness, whether related to admissions practices at highly selective colleges or pressing concerns over social exclusion in school. 

Now research evidence demonstrates that they face racial isolation simply by entering the classroom. A recent study of wealthy California suburbs finds that white families drift away from public schools as more Asian students enroll in them — and fears over academic competition, rather than outright racism, may play the biggest role in driving the departures. 

Teacher who ranted on social media to ‘let Gaza burn’ booted from NYC school 
NY Post, 11/27/2023

PROOF POINTS: The myth of the quick learner
Hechinger Report, 11/27/2023

NYC schools chief tries to calm unrest at ‘radicalized’ high school after antisemitic student riot
NY Post, 11/27/2023

Under Investigation
After Students Target Pro-Israel Teacher, Officials Try to Quell Outrage
NY Times, 11/27/2023

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 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.

To Shrink Learning Gap, This District Offers Classes Separated by Race
Wall Street Journal, 11/26/2023

Pro-Israel teacher hides in Queens high school as ‘radicalized’ students riot: ‘They want her fired’
NY Post, 11/25/2023

“The problem isn’t the test”
New study finds wide gap in SAT/ACT test scores between wealthy, lower-income kids
Harvard Gazette, 11/22/2023

A recent paper released by Opportunity Insights, a Harvard-based team of researchers and policy analysts, found that children of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans were 13 times likelier than the children of low-income families to score 1300 or higher on SAT/ACT tests.

…”I think when people call it a wealth test, they mean to delegitimize it as a measure of who can succeed in school. And the reality is that the SAT test does predict success in college. The SAT does capture something about whether you’re ready to do college level work.”

‘Everyone is scared’: Columbia reels as students feud over Israel-Hamas war
Gothamist, 11/20/2023

New York Gives Up on High-School Education
National Review Editorial, 11/20/2023

REPORT – Boarded: The Teachers’ Union Takeover of NY School Districts
Empire Center, 11/20/2023

A review of school board rosters in 45 of New York’s largest school districts reveals a significant degree of union influence and potential conflicts of interest:

  • More than half of the 343 board members were elected after seeking and receiving support from the local affiliate of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the statewide teachers’ union.
  • NYSUT locals this year funded several candidates’ entire campaigns. 

Bullies post TikTok videos edited with special effects of vicious beatdown of girl, 11, at gifted and talented school
NY Post, 11/16/2023

Schools should ban smartphones. Parents should help.
Washington Post, Editoral, 11/15/2023

Booker, Castro Introduce Bicameral Bill to Expand Advanced Coursework Opportunities for Underrepresented Students, 11/14/2023

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) introduced the Advanced Coursework Equity Act, bicameral legislation that would create a federal grant program to help states and school districts increase the enrollment of underrepresented students in advanced coursework and academic programs. The Advanced Coursework Equity Act would allow eligible schools and school districts to receive up to $60 million to implement universal screening for advanced students, expand enrollment in advanced courses, cover course fees for low-income students, train or hire teachers for advanced courses, prepare students for postsecondary STEM pathways, and create or expand related efforts.