Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/education 2019-01-16T16:29:07+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Building the School Girls Deserve in New York City 2018-12-13T05:00:00+00:00 2018-12-13T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8131-building-the-school-girls-deserve-in-new-york-city Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/building-school-girl.jpg" alt="building school girl" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Brittany Brathwaite, the author (photo: Girls for Gender Equity)</p> <hr /> <p>What does the school girls deserve look like? At Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), we know cis and trans girls - and gender non-conforming youth - should go to schools that are safe places to learn, grow, and thrive. Yet, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) continues to let us down, and doing so at a time where the current presidential administration is diligently working against what needs to be done to create those institutions.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ggenyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GGE_school_girls_deserveDRAFT6FINALWEB.pdf">In a participatory action research project we conducted in 2017</a>, one in three students in New York City schools reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment. Further, one in two students shared with us that they felt their gender expression and identity was being unfairly restricted by their schools.</p> <p>Both of these issues can have a tremendous impact on student outcomes, with certain populations being more vulnerable than others. As Dr. Monique Morris documented in Pushout: <em>The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools</em>, black girls across the country face disproportionate and often overlooked barriers to their education and they “have become the fastest growing population to experience school suspensions and expulsions, establishing them as clear targets of punitive school discipline.”</p> <p>Among those being punished? Victims of sexual violence at home and/or at school that are disciplined for ‘acting out’ in the classroom instead of receiving the support that they need to heal and young women who are punished for dress code violations due to their body type.</p> <p>School is far too often a hostile space for youth that so urgently need to be welcomed and affirmed there; hostility that leads to suspensions, expulsions, arrests, and even imprisonment for some of our most vulnerable young people.</p> <p>In 2016, GGE organizers, youth development experts, and young people themselves contributed to a participatory action research project focused on the disproportionate impact of gender and racially biased policies on cis and trans girls and gender non-conforming youth of color in the DOE, which is the country’s largest school district.</p> <p>This work resulted in <a href="http://www.ggenyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GGE_school_girls_deserveDRAFT6FINALWEB.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The School Girls Deserve (SGD)</a> report, depicting the unique ways school pushout and discipline disproportionately impacts girls and TGNC youth of color. This report included 45 recommendations for New York City to improve its policies, addressing gender-specific realities that young people experience rooted in a racial and gender justice lens. We are calling on the city to take action on two of those recommendations.</p> <p>First, we’re looking to the DOE to ensure equal protection for young people in public schools through the enhancement of Title IX, the civil rights law designed to prohibit sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. The New York City DOE operates 1,800 public schools with a total student population of 1.1 million -- but employs just <em>one</em> Title IX Coordinator to support them. GGE is calling for trained Title IX Coordinators in each of the 7 DOE Field Support Offices.</p> <p>Second, we’re calling for a citywide dress code that celebrates diverse cultures, body diversity, and gender expression. Girls of color and TGNC youth are disproportionately disciplined for what they wear to school. Yet, the DOE does not currently have a universal dress code policy. Girls and TGNC youth report missing out on class time because of discriminatory dress codes and unfair enforcement. Both informal and formal classroom removals cause girls and TGNC youth to lose out on opportunity to learn. GGE will work with the DOE to develop an affirming, inclusive school dress code, ensuring that schools are supportive and welcoming for all young people.</p> <p>As we are fighting to see Title IX used more effectively, federal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is looking to limit its ability to protect survivors of sexual violence. She <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/11/16/betsy-devos-proposes-changes-campus-sexual-misconduct-rules/2023775002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently unveiled</a> a series of devastating proposed regulations that would remove Title IX protections from off-campus and online sexual harassment, as well as incidents of harassment that do not result in a student missing classes or dropping out entirely, give schools the ability to claim religious exemption from adhering to anti-sex discrimination policy, and limit investigations of abuse or harassment to cases that are reported to a Title IX official -- again, remember that New York City has just <em>one person</em> in such a position serving 1.1 million students and their families. Earlier this year, DeVos announced plans to remove protections for transgender students from Title IX.</p> <p>This isn’t the first time - at the federal level, this administration has repeatedly demonstrated its blatant disregard for girls, women, and TGNC people. The leader of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Candace Jackson, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/07/13/trump-official-apologizes-for-saying-most-campus-sexual-assault-accusations-come-after-drunken-sex-breakups/?noredirect=on&amp;utm_term=.75066c48fcc2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has said</a> that in her view, “[90% of accusations] fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ we broke up, six months later, I found myself under Title IX investigation because she decided our last sleeping together was not quite right.” &nbsp;</p> <p>When leadership of an agency designed to protect students’ civil rights tries to discredit the courageous people that come forward with their experiences of sexual assault, it sends a message to young people that they shouldn’t come forward and get the support that they need. &nbsp;</p> <p>While we are lucky to have strong protections for women and TGNC folks in New York City, our schools do not reflect that. We must make it clear to our youth that there are adults who are committed to believing and supporting students who experience sexual violence in schools. We need staff and leadership in the DOE who have the skills to shift school climate, and to ensure that schools are not reinforcing harmful messaging that is now, sadly, coming from the highest office in the land.</p> <p>***<br /> Brittany Brathwaite is Organizing &amp; Innovation Manager, Girls for Gender Equity. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/urbintelligence" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@urbintelligence</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/ggenyc" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@ggenyc</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/building-school-girl.jpg" alt="building school girl" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Brittany Brathwaite, the author (photo: Girls for Gender Equity)</p> <hr /> <p>What does the school girls deserve look like? At Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), we know cis and trans girls - and gender non-conforming youth - should go to schools that are safe places to learn, grow, and thrive. Yet, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) continues to let us down, and doing so at a time where the current presidential administration is diligently working against what needs to be done to create those institutions.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ggenyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GGE_school_girls_deserveDRAFT6FINALWEB.pdf">In a participatory action research project we conducted in 2017</a>, one in three students in New York City schools reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment. Further, one in two students shared with us that they felt their gender expression and identity was being unfairly restricted by their schools.</p> <p>Both of these issues can have a tremendous impact on student outcomes, with certain populations being more vulnerable than others. As Dr. Monique Morris documented in Pushout: <em>The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools</em>, black girls across the country face disproportionate and often overlooked barriers to their education and they “have become the fastest growing population to experience school suspensions and expulsions, establishing them as clear targets of punitive school discipline.”</p> <p>Among those being punished? Victims of sexual violence at home and/or at school that are disciplined for ‘acting out’ in the classroom instead of receiving the support that they need to heal and young women who are punished for dress code violations due to their body type.</p> <p>School is far too often a hostile space for youth that so urgently need to be welcomed and affirmed there; hostility that leads to suspensions, expulsions, arrests, and even imprisonment for some of our most vulnerable young people.</p> <p>In 2016, GGE organizers, youth development experts, and young people themselves contributed to a participatory action research project focused on the disproportionate impact of gender and racially biased policies on cis and trans girls and gender non-conforming youth of color in the DOE, which is the country’s largest school district.</p> <p>This work resulted in <a href="http://www.ggenyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GGE_school_girls_deserveDRAFT6FINALWEB.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The School Girls Deserve (SGD)</a> report, depicting the unique ways school pushout and discipline disproportionately impacts girls and TGNC youth of color. This report included 45 recommendations for New York City to improve its policies, addressing gender-specific realities that young people experience rooted in a racial and gender justice lens. We are calling on the city to take action on two of those recommendations.</p> <p>First, we’re looking to the DOE to ensure equal protection for young people in public schools through the enhancement of Title IX, the civil rights law designed to prohibit sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. The New York City DOE operates 1,800 public schools with a total student population of 1.1 million -- but employs just <em>one</em> Title IX Coordinator to support them. GGE is calling for trained Title IX Coordinators in each of the 7 DOE Field Support Offices.</p> <p>Second, we’re calling for a citywide dress code that celebrates diverse cultures, body diversity, and gender expression. Girls of color and TGNC youth are disproportionately disciplined for what they wear to school. Yet, the DOE does not currently have a universal dress code policy. Girls and TGNC youth report missing out on class time because of discriminatory dress codes and unfair enforcement. Both informal and formal classroom removals cause girls and TGNC youth to lose out on opportunity to learn. GGE will work with the DOE to develop an affirming, inclusive school dress code, ensuring that schools are supportive and welcoming for all young people.</p> <p>As we are fighting to see Title IX used more effectively, federal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is looking to limit its ability to protect survivors of sexual violence. She <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/11/16/betsy-devos-proposes-changes-campus-sexual-misconduct-rules/2023775002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently unveiled</a> a series of devastating proposed regulations that would remove Title IX protections from off-campus and online sexual harassment, as well as incidents of harassment that do not result in a student missing classes or dropping out entirely, give schools the ability to claim religious exemption from adhering to anti-sex discrimination policy, and limit investigations of abuse or harassment to cases that are reported to a Title IX official -- again, remember that New York City has just <em>one person</em> in such a position serving 1.1 million students and their families. Earlier this year, DeVos announced plans to remove protections for transgender students from Title IX.</p> <p>This isn’t the first time - at the federal level, this administration has repeatedly demonstrated its blatant disregard for girls, women, and TGNC people. The leader of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Candace Jackson, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/07/13/trump-official-apologizes-for-saying-most-campus-sexual-assault-accusations-come-after-drunken-sex-breakups/?noredirect=on&amp;utm_term=.75066c48fcc2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has said</a> that in her view, “[90% of accusations] fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ we broke up, six months later, I found myself under Title IX investigation because she decided our last sleeping together was not quite right.” &nbsp;</p> <p>When leadership of an agency designed to protect students’ civil rights tries to discredit the courageous people that come forward with their experiences of sexual assault, it sends a message to young people that they shouldn’t come forward and get the support that they need. &nbsp;</p> <p>While we are lucky to have strong protections for women and TGNC folks in New York City, our schools do not reflect that. We must make it clear to our youth that there are adults who are committed to believing and supporting students who experience sexual violence in schools. We need staff and leadership in the DOE who have the skills to shift school climate, and to ensure that schools are not reinforcing harmful messaging that is now, sadly, coming from the highest office in the land.</p> <p>***<br /> Brittany Brathwaite is Organizing &amp; Innovation Manager, Girls for Gender Equity. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/urbintelligence" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@urbintelligence</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/ggenyc" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@ggenyc</a>.</p> <p>

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New York’s Opportunity to Become a Model for Effective Civics Education 2018-12-10T05:00:00+00:00 2018-12-10T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8130-new-york-s-opportunity-to-become-a-model-for-effective-civics-education Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/govcuomo-andrew-elementary.jpg" alt="govcuomo andrew elementary" width="600" /></p> <p>(photo via the Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Could New York be the next state to catch the civics bug and modernize its civics education standards? Hopefully, state legislators and policymakers are watching Massachusetts, which just took a big step forward by creating a national model for effective civics education.</p> <p>Two short days after the November 6 election, Massachusetts adopted cutting-edge legislation (S-2631) that, when implemented, will ensure that every Massachusetts student receives a project-based civics education, equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and dispositions for lifelong civic participation in our 21st century democracy. This legislation, the most substantive civics education bill passed in the country in recent history, may show New York the way forward.</p> <p>Like many states nationwide that are proposing reforms to their civics education standards, Massachusetts may have felt the need to respond to the current civic reckoning. It seems like policymakers may finally realize that one of the potential consequences of deprioritizing civics education in schools is an electorate that does not understand how democracy works or have the civic skills to advocate for systemic change to issues impacting themselves and their community.</p> <p>The lack of civic knowledge and skills has resulted in an electorate that does not actively participate in politics or believe that government is relevant to their daily lives. In one fell swoop, Massachusetts has positioned itself as a model state for effective civics education. New York, which prides itself on being a state that sets national legislative and policy trends, should take note.</p> <p>To contextualize the current state of New York’s democracy and why civics education is needed “now more than ever,” the state has historically ranked at the bottom of the national voter turnout list. That’s why it’s so impressive that almost 50 percent of registered New York voters cast a ballot on November 6. <a href="https://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/11/07/election-2018-results-new-york-state-voter-turnout-highest-since-1994/1921967002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">According to the Journal News</a>, this year was the “highest turnout for a midterm election in almost a quarter-century.” Compare that to turnout in 2014 when only 33 percent of New Yorkers cast a ballot in the midterms.</p> <p>Part of the reason for our state’s historic, low voter turnout is our antiquated voting laws. New York requires voters to register 25 days before the election, they cannot register to vote online unless they have a DMV-issued identification, 16- and 17-year-olds are not allowed to pre-register to vote when they obtain said DMV-issued identification, and New Yorkers cannot vote early - unlike voters in 37 states. One can only hope that the new leadership in the state Legislature can bring our voting laws into the 21st century to address some of the root causes of our participation problem.</p> <p>But another root cause for New York’s low voter turnout is that the state isn’t effectively educating young people for civic participation.</p> <p>To be fair, New York already mandates that all students take Participation in Government (also known as PIG), a one-semester civics education course, before graduating from high school. On its face PIG should do the trick as the course is intended to provide students with “opportunities to become engaged in the political process by acquiring the knowledge and practicing the skills necessary for active citizenship.” The reality is that while PIG is aligned with principles of Action Civics on paper, PIG as implemented falls short.</p> <p>Action Civics is a 21st-century civics education pedagogy that is a student-centered, project-based approach to develop the individual skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary for 21st-century democratic practice. As implemented, PIG does not educate students about local democratic structure, help them learn about processes by engaging in those processes, or how to research, analyze, propose, debate, and advocate for their collectively determined solution(s). By and large, PIG as implemented is civics as usual, a largely passive form of learning that is often a senior year after-thought based on rote memorization of random government facts.</p> <p>Teaching civics well requires robust professional development and curricular resources from the state. Even if teachers wanted to teach PIG as intended, many are not provided the resources or training necessary to do so effectively. There are very few resources or professional development courses designed to equip educators to navigate the discussion and debate of community issues or local democratic structures, and implement nonpartisan, student-led project-based learning in the classroom.</p> <p>There’s also no accountability system in place to ensure teachers measure student learning and ensure that their students develop the civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for lifelong civic participation in our 21st century democracy.</p> <p>The takeaway is that PIG is being implemented haphazardly and inconsistently statewide. The fact that PIG is being implemented inconsistently only further widens the Civic Engagement Gap plaguing underserved school districts statewide. The reality is that students from rural and low socioeconomic urban communities are 50 percent less likely to study how laws are made, and 30 percent less likely to report having experiences with deliberative discussions in their classes.</p> <p>Fortunately, all is not lost. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) made a commitment to modernizing New York’s civics standards when they added the College, Career and Civic Readiness Index (CCCRI) and created a graduation “seal of civic engagement” in the state’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. While the CCCRI establishes a baseline for holding schools accountable for ensuring students’ civic readiness, NYSED has yet to define “civic readiness.” NYSED also needs to define the criteria for how students can earn the seal of civic engagement and then ensure that every student is granted meaningful opportunities to achieve it.</p> <p>As a member of a task force NYSED recently established to propose recommendations about how to define civic readiness and the criteria for the seal of civic engagement, I will advocate for a robust civics education for every student in New York.</p> <p>It is incumbent upon us as a state to follow the lead of Massachusetts and others in adopting a rigorous definition of civic readiness and investing in professional development to prepare educators to teach modernized civics standards. Most importantly, NYSED must distribute funding equitably to districts, prioritizing those with greatest need to help them implement new mandates. Doing so would help strengthen New York’s democracy by ensuring that more New Yorkers have the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in our 21st-century democracy; and hopefully vote in all elections. Anything less would only widen the Civic Engagement Gap.</p> <p>***<br /> DeNora Getachew, New York City Executive Director of Generation Citizen. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/DeNoraGetachew" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@DeNoraGetachew</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/gencitizen" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GenCitizen</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/govcuomo-andrew-elementary.jpg" alt="govcuomo andrew elementary" width="600" /></p> <p>(photo via the Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Could New York be the next state to catch the civics bug and modernize its civics education standards? Hopefully, state legislators and policymakers are watching Massachusetts, which just took a big step forward by creating a national model for effective civics education.</p> <p>Two short days after the November 6 election, Massachusetts adopted cutting-edge legislation (S-2631) that, when implemented, will ensure that every Massachusetts student receives a project-based civics education, equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and dispositions for lifelong civic participation in our 21st century democracy. This legislation, the most substantive civics education bill passed in the country in recent history, may show New York the way forward.</p> <p>Like many states nationwide that are proposing reforms to their civics education standards, Massachusetts may have felt the need to respond to the current civic reckoning. It seems like policymakers may finally realize that one of the potential consequences of deprioritizing civics education in schools is an electorate that does not understand how democracy works or have the civic skills to advocate for systemic change to issues impacting themselves and their community.</p> <p>The lack of civic knowledge and skills has resulted in an electorate that does not actively participate in politics or believe that government is relevant to their daily lives. In one fell swoop, Massachusetts has positioned itself as a model state for effective civics education. New York, which prides itself on being a state that sets national legislative and policy trends, should take note.</p> <p>To contextualize the current state of New York’s democracy and why civics education is needed “now more than ever,” the state has historically ranked at the bottom of the national voter turnout list. That’s why it’s so impressive that almost 50 percent of registered New York voters cast a ballot on November 6. <a href="https://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/11/07/election-2018-results-new-york-state-voter-turnout-highest-since-1994/1921967002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">According to the Journal News</a>, this year was the “highest turnout for a midterm election in almost a quarter-century.” Compare that to turnout in 2014 when only 33 percent of New Yorkers cast a ballot in the midterms.</p> <p>Part of the reason for our state’s historic, low voter turnout is our antiquated voting laws. New York requires voters to register 25 days before the election, they cannot register to vote online unless they have a DMV-issued identification, 16- and 17-year-olds are not allowed to pre-register to vote when they obtain said DMV-issued identification, and New Yorkers cannot vote early - unlike voters in 37 states. One can only hope that the new leadership in the state Legislature can bring our voting laws into the 21st century to address some of the root causes of our participation problem.</p> <p>But another root cause for New York’s low voter turnout is that the state isn’t effectively educating young people for civic participation.</p> <p>To be fair, New York already mandates that all students take Participation in Government (also known as PIG), a one-semester civics education course, before graduating from high school. On its face PIG should do the trick as the course is intended to provide students with “opportunities to become engaged in the political process by acquiring the knowledge and practicing the skills necessary for active citizenship.” The reality is that while PIG is aligned with principles of Action Civics on paper, PIG as implemented falls short.</p> <p>Action Civics is a 21st-century civics education pedagogy that is a student-centered, project-based approach to develop the individual skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary for 21st-century democratic practice. As implemented, PIG does not educate students about local democratic structure, help them learn about processes by engaging in those processes, or how to research, analyze, propose, debate, and advocate for their collectively determined solution(s). By and large, PIG as implemented is civics as usual, a largely passive form of learning that is often a senior year after-thought based on rote memorization of random government facts.</p> <p>Teaching civics well requires robust professional development and curricular resources from the state. Even if teachers wanted to teach PIG as intended, many are not provided the resources or training necessary to do so effectively. There are very few resources or professional development courses designed to equip educators to navigate the discussion and debate of community issues or local democratic structures, and implement nonpartisan, student-led project-based learning in the classroom.</p> <p>There’s also no accountability system in place to ensure teachers measure student learning and ensure that their students develop the civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for lifelong civic participation in our 21st century democracy.</p> <p>The takeaway is that PIG is being implemented haphazardly and inconsistently statewide. The fact that PIG is being implemented inconsistently only further widens the Civic Engagement Gap plaguing underserved school districts statewide. The reality is that students from rural and low socioeconomic urban communities are 50 percent less likely to study how laws are made, and 30 percent less likely to report having experiences with deliberative discussions in their classes.</p> <p>Fortunately, all is not lost. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) made a commitment to modernizing New York’s civics standards when they added the College, Career and Civic Readiness Index (CCCRI) and created a graduation “seal of civic engagement” in the state’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. While the CCCRI establishes a baseline for holding schools accountable for ensuring students’ civic readiness, NYSED has yet to define “civic readiness.” NYSED also needs to define the criteria for how students can earn the seal of civic engagement and then ensure that every student is granted meaningful opportunities to achieve it.</p> <p>As a member of a task force NYSED recently established to propose recommendations about how to define civic readiness and the criteria for the seal of civic engagement, I will advocate for a robust civics education for every student in New York.</p> <p>It is incumbent upon us as a state to follow the lead of Massachusetts and others in adopting a rigorous definition of civic readiness and investing in professional development to prepare educators to teach modernized civics standards. Most importantly, NYSED must distribute funding equitably to districts, prioritizing those with greatest need to help them implement new mandates. Doing so would help strengthen New York’s democracy by ensuring that more New Yorkers have the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in our 21st-century democracy; and hopefully vote in all elections. Anything less would only widen the Civic Engagement Gap.</p> <p>***<br /> DeNora Getachew, New York City Executive Director of Generation Citizen. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/DeNoraGetachew" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@DeNoraGetachew</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/gencitizen" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@GenCitizen</a>.</p> <p>

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Amazon Will Only Exacerbate Long Island City School Overcrowding 2018-11-26T05:00:00+00:00 2018-11-26T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8101-amazon-will-only-exacerbate-long-island-city-school-overcrowding Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/mayordeblasio-mccray-chancellor.jpg" alt="mayordeblasio mccray chancellor" width="600" /></p> <p>(photo: Rob Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The plan to provide Amazon up to $3 billion in city and state tax cuts and other subsidies to site one of their new headquarters in Long Island City leaves the children who are living there in the lurch. The booming community is already severely short on school seats, a problem that Amazon’s move to the area will only exacerbate given recent trends, Department of Education projections, and the details of the Amazon deal that have been released.</p> <p>The only zoned elementary school in Long Island City, PS 78, is already at 135% capacity, and more than 70 children who were zoned to the school were put on the <a href="https://chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/03/22/here-are-the-50-new-york-city-schools-with-kindergarten-waitlists-in-2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">waitlist for kindergarten</a> last spring, while classes for numerous pre-K kids are being housed in trailers.</p> <p>There are plans for two small elementary schools of about 600 seats each to be created as part of a huge 5,000-housing unit <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160215/long-island-city/long-island-city-get-new-elementary-school-at-hunters-point-south" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Hunters Point South development</a>, but these schools are likely to be immediately overcrowded the day they open. There are already three sections of kindergarten students attending class in an incubation site at a nearby pre-K center, waiting to attend the first elementary school, which will not be completed until 2021.</p> <p>An already-planned middle school had been proposed to be built on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20170731/long-island-city/tf-cornerstone-nyc-edc-44th-drive-development-new-school" target="_blank" rel="noopener">city-owned land</a> as part of a mixed-use 1,000-unit project, but this area is now to be incorporated into the Amazon development. Contrary to Mayor de Blasio’s claims, the <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r_PpFtnUQcBmNlLkdBecA3bBAAMc1B3j/view" target="_blank" rel="noopener">memorandum of understanding</a> with Amazon includes no new school for the neighborhood. Instead, the MOU merely says that the company will pay for this middle school already in the city’s capital plan – but moved to another location, as yet undetermined. As <a href="https://chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/11/13/how-amazon-could-affect-new-york-city-schools/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Chalkbeat NY explained</a>, “The company agreed to house a 600-seat intermediate school on or near its Long Island City campus, replacing a school that had already been planned in a residential building nearby.”</p> <p>From 2006 to 2017, more than 20,000 residential units were built in Long Island City. <a href="https://ny.curbed.com/2017/6/26/15875702/long-island-city-construction-usa-leader" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A study found</a> that 12,533 apartments in 41 separate developments were built in the community between 2010 and 2016 – not just the highest number in New York City, but more than any other neighborhood in the entire nation.</p> <p>The <a href="https://dnnhh5cc1.blob.core.windows.net/portals/0/Capital_Plan/Housing_Projections/Projected%20New%20Housing%20Statrts%20as%20Used%20in%202018-2027%20Enrollment%20Projection....pdf?sr=b&amp;si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&amp;sig=SAqWa6LkW75gxrvvc3rh6iOBEjQKlEJ7rOYJ7Tel4JU%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">housing start data</a> recently posted by the School Construction Authority projects 20,000 residential units to be built between 2018-2024 in Queens’ District 30, which includes Long Island City. According to the DOE <a href="https://dnnhh5cc1.blob.core.windows.net/portals/0/Capital_Plan/Housing_Projections/2018%20Housing%20Multipliers%20Final%2011022018.pdf?sr=b&amp;si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&amp;sig=1XUUO4VQSvq4cfUJVXX3W6NrDAsvCwasXvyxfcGsr5w%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">formula</a> used to estimate how much school enrollment growth this will generate, there will be a need for seats for about 4,000 additional elementary and middle school students. Meanwhile, the new <a href="https://dnnhh5cc1.blob.core.windows.net/portals/0/Capital_Plan/Capital_plans/11012018_20_24_CapitalPlan.pdf?sr=b&amp;si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&amp;sig=UoDzgbPdHYLWX6MumIqH2i2ZkmoX9No%2BpGs6g%2FAZZoY%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">proposed five-year capital plan</a> for 2020-2024 includes only 1,012 new seats for the entire district – a shortage of nearly 3,000 seats, before the impact of the Amazon deal is even considered.</p> <p>Though nearly all Queens high schools are already overcrowded, there are fewer than 1,000 high school seats for the borough in the proposed five-year plan, while the housing start data alone would generate the need for about 5,000 additional high school students.</p> <p>Another part of the deal includes Amazon making payments in lieu of taxes into an <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r_PpFtnUQcBmNlLkdBecA3bBAAMc1B3j/view" target="_blank" rel="noopener">infrastructure fund</a> that, <a href="https://www.amny.com/news/amazon-long-island-city-infrastructure-1.23456277" target="_blank" rel="noopener">starting 11 years after the deal</a>, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) can spend on nearly any sort of use, “including but not limited to streets, sidewalks, utility relocations, environmental remediation, public open space, transportation, schools and signage,” according to the MOU.</p> <p>And to add the most grievous insult to injury, the city now plans to give Amazon a large DOE office building, one that community members have <a href="https://www.liccoalition.org/take-action/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">been fighting to convert into </a>much-needed schools and a community center instead. <a href="https://www.change.org/p/city-elected-officials-save-the-waterfront-this-land-is-our-land-public-land-for-public-use" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A petition, now with more than 1,500 signatures, to</a> the mayor and local elected officials was posted last year by the <a href="https://www.liccoalition.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Long Island City Coalition</a>.</p> <p>This is not the first time the community’s needs for schools have gone entirely ignored. In 2008, EDC re-zoned city-owned land for the <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160503/REAL_ESTATE/160509994/massive-queens-apartment-project-adds-elementary-school-as-rail-tunnel-forces-redesign" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Hunters Point South project</a> without any plan to create a single new school, ignoring the thousand or so children who were likely to inhabit these new apartments. It took <a href="https://www.change.org/p/mayor-bill-deblasio-chancellor-carmen-fari%C3%B1a-long-island-city-s-hunter-s-point-south-development-does-not-account-for-the-public-school-seats-needed-for-the-incoming-30-000-residents-1bf06de7-dd8b-49c9-b272-1b9e10f1c5b8" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a concerted organizing effort</a> of Long Island City parents and elected officials in 2015 for the city to agree to belatedly include two small schools in the plans.</p> <p>We’ve seen this poor planning repeatedly, wherever new residential developments are springing up. The Amazon deal is but a particularly egregious example of how the city’s policies are driven by the interests of the real estate industry and private corporations while the educational needs of our children are too often overlooked. As many education advocates, parents and community leaders have pointed out, the school planning process in New York City is broken, resulting in <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/ny-metro-575k-kids-in-overcrowded-schools-need-more-seats-20181025-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">more than half a million</a> students crammed into overcrowded schools and classrooms, with the problem likely to get worse as the city’s population continues to grow.</p> <p>In March 2018, the New York City Council released a report, <a href="https://council.nyc.gov/land-use/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2018/03/Planning-to-Learn-3.16.2018-high-resolution.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Planning to Learn: The School Building Challenge</a>, which documented many of the problems inherent in the city’s dysfunctional planning process. Before that, Class Size Matters released two reports, <a href="https://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SPACE-CRUNCH-Report-Final-OL.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Space Crunch</a> and <a href="https://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Web-Seat-Loss-Report.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Seats Gained and Lost: the Untold Story</a>, which identified many of the same problems, showing how the city’s methodology to plan for new schools is inherently flawed and lags further and further behind the actual need.</p> <p>The city has consistently underestimated the real need for public schools and to plan accordingly. The school capacity formula is aligned to excessive class sizes of 28 students per class in grades 4-8 and 30 in high school, larger than the current citywide averages, and thus would tend to push class sizes even higher in these grades.</p> <p>The Department of Education’s projections also are based upon housing start data that is highly unreliable, especially the ten-year data, which estimate only a tiny number of new units to be built after the first five or six years. For example, the housing start data posted in March 2017 used to create the current five-year plan projected not a single new housing unit to be built in Brooklyn between 2020 and 2024. The <a href="https://dnnhh5cc1.blob.core.windows.net/portals/0/Capital_Plan/Housing_Projections/Projected%20New%20Housing%20Statrts%20as%20Used%20in%202018-2027%20Enrollment%20Projection....pdf?sr=b&amp;si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&amp;sig=SAqWa6LkW75gxrvvc3rh6iOBEjQKlEJ7rOYJ7Tel4JU%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">housing start data</a> used for the new proposed capital plan projects 45,000 new housing units will be built in ten school districts between 2018 and 2024, but not a single one the next three years. In District 24 in Queens -– currently, the most overcrowded district in the borough -- the data projects over 3,000 new units to be built during the first six-year period, but only 150 additional units thereafter.</p> <p>Worse yet, a consideration of the need for new schools is only triggered when a proposed development is projected to increase school overcrowding by at least five percent – even in areas like Long Island City, where the schools are already severely overcrowded. &nbsp;</p> <p>Instead, every new large-scale project should require new schools to be built where schools are already overcrowded or likely to become so as a result of new housing and/or current enrollment trends. Parent-led community education councils should be consulted in a meaningful way about the likely impact on schools each time a large-scale project or rezoning is proposed, as they know the educational landscape directly, not just community boards. &nbsp;</p> <p>The formula for projecting enrollment should include 3-K and pre-K students and should be updated regularly with the latest Census and American Community Survey and housing data. &nbsp;And the need for schools should be based upon more realistic ten-year housing trends – not just five-year trends, as it usually takes far more than five years to site and build a new school.</p> <p>Class Size Matters and other parent leaders are proposing these and additional critical reforms to the school planning process to the 2019 New York City Charter Revision Commission so the city’s students are not left in even worse conditions in the years to come. Meanwhile, the Amazon deal should be scotched or revamped, because, as is stands, it is yet another giveaway to a corporate giant with no consideration of the need to alleviate the overcrowded schools and classrooms under which the neighborhood’s children struggle to learn.</p> <p>If New York City is to thrive and offer opportunities to all its residents, we must ensure that investment in our public schools is a top priority for all agencies, including those focused on economic development. School construction should be the first consideration in all our development goals, rather than added as an afterthought years later, when the overcrowding has become too extreme to ignore. In the end, our investment in education will provide far better financial returns than yet more public land and tax giveaways to developers and corporations.</p> <p>***<br />Leonie Haimson is Executive Director of Class Size Matters; Sabina Omerhodzic is a Long Island City resident and a member of the Community Education Council in District 30.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/mayordeblasio-mccray-chancellor.jpg" alt="mayordeblasio mccray chancellor" width="600" /></p> <p>(photo: Rob Bennett/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The plan to provide Amazon up to $3 billion in city and state tax cuts and other subsidies to site one of their new headquarters in Long Island City leaves the children who are living there in the lurch. The booming community is already severely short on school seats, a problem that Amazon’s move to the area will only exacerbate given recent trends, Department of Education projections, and the details of the Amazon deal that have been released.</p> <p>The only zoned elementary school in Long Island City, PS 78, is already at 135% capacity, and more than 70 children who were zoned to the school were put on the <a href="https://chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/03/22/here-are-the-50-new-york-city-schools-with-kindergarten-waitlists-in-2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">waitlist for kindergarten</a> last spring, while classes for numerous pre-K kids are being housed in trailers.</p> <p>There are plans for two small elementary schools of about 600 seats each to be created as part of a huge 5,000-housing unit <a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160215/long-island-city/long-island-city-get-new-elementary-school-at-hunters-point-south" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Hunters Point South development</a>, but these schools are likely to be immediately overcrowded the day they open. There are already three sections of kindergarten students attending class in an incubation site at a nearby pre-K center, waiting to attend the first elementary school, which will not be completed until 2021.</p> <p>An already-planned middle school had been proposed to be built on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20170731/long-island-city/tf-cornerstone-nyc-edc-44th-drive-development-new-school" target="_blank" rel="noopener">city-owned land</a> as part of a mixed-use 1,000-unit project, but this area is now to be incorporated into the Amazon development. Contrary to Mayor de Blasio’s claims, the <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r_PpFtnUQcBmNlLkdBecA3bBAAMc1B3j/view" target="_blank" rel="noopener">memorandum of understanding</a> with Amazon includes no new school for the neighborhood. Instead, the MOU merely says that the company will pay for this middle school already in the city’s capital plan – but moved to another location, as yet undetermined. As <a href="https://chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/11/13/how-amazon-could-affect-new-york-city-schools/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Chalkbeat NY explained</a>, “The company agreed to house a 600-seat intermediate school on or near its Long Island City campus, replacing a school that had already been planned in a residential building nearby.”</p> <p>From 2006 to 2017, more than 20,000 residential units were built in Long Island City. <a href="https://ny.curbed.com/2017/6/26/15875702/long-island-city-construction-usa-leader" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A study found</a> that 12,533 apartments in 41 separate developments were built in the community between 2010 and 2016 – not just the highest number in New York City, but more than any other neighborhood in the entire nation.</p> <p>The <a href="https://dnnhh5cc1.blob.core.windows.net/portals/0/Capital_Plan/Housing_Projections/Projected%20New%20Housing%20Statrts%20as%20Used%20in%202018-2027%20Enrollment%20Projection....pdf?sr=b&amp;si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&amp;sig=SAqWa6LkW75gxrvvc3rh6iOBEjQKlEJ7rOYJ7Tel4JU%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">housing start data</a> recently posted by the School Construction Authority projects 20,000 residential units to be built between 2018-2024 in Queens’ District 30, which includes Long Island City. According to the DOE <a href="https://dnnhh5cc1.blob.core.windows.net/portals/0/Capital_Plan/Housing_Projections/2018%20Housing%20Multipliers%20Final%2011022018.pdf?sr=b&amp;si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&amp;sig=1XUUO4VQSvq4cfUJVXX3W6NrDAsvCwasXvyxfcGsr5w%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">formula</a> used to estimate how much school enrollment growth this will generate, there will be a need for seats for about 4,000 additional elementary and middle school students. Meanwhile, the new <a href="https://dnnhh5cc1.blob.core.windows.net/portals/0/Capital_Plan/Capital_plans/11012018_20_24_CapitalPlan.pdf?sr=b&amp;si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&amp;sig=UoDzgbPdHYLWX6MumIqH2i2ZkmoX9No%2BpGs6g%2FAZZoY%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">proposed five-year capital plan</a> for 2020-2024 includes only 1,012 new seats for the entire district – a shortage of nearly 3,000 seats, before the impact of the Amazon deal is even considered.</p> <p>Though nearly all Queens high schools are already overcrowded, there are fewer than 1,000 high school seats for the borough in the proposed five-year plan, while the housing start data alone would generate the need for about 5,000 additional high school students.</p> <p>Another part of the deal includes Amazon making payments in lieu of taxes into an <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r_PpFtnUQcBmNlLkdBecA3bBAAMc1B3j/view" target="_blank" rel="noopener">infrastructure fund</a> that, <a href="https://www.amny.com/news/amazon-long-island-city-infrastructure-1.23456277" target="_blank" rel="noopener">starting 11 years after the deal</a>, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) can spend on nearly any sort of use, “including but not limited to streets, sidewalks, utility relocations, environmental remediation, public open space, transportation, schools and signage,” according to the MOU.</p> <p>And to add the most grievous insult to injury, the city now plans to give Amazon a large DOE office building, one that community members have <a href="https://www.liccoalition.org/take-action/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">been fighting to convert into </a>much-needed schools and a community center instead. <a href="https://www.change.org/p/city-elected-officials-save-the-waterfront-this-land-is-our-land-public-land-for-public-use" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A petition, now with more than 1,500 signatures, to</a> the mayor and local elected officials was posted last year by the <a href="https://www.liccoalition.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Long Island City Coalition</a>.</p> <p>This is not the first time the community’s needs for schools have gone entirely ignored. In 2008, EDC re-zoned city-owned land for the <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20160503/REAL_ESTATE/160509994/massive-queens-apartment-project-adds-elementary-school-as-rail-tunnel-forces-redesign" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Hunters Point South project</a> without any plan to create a single new school, ignoring the thousand or so children who were likely to inhabit these new apartments. It took <a href="https://www.change.org/p/mayor-bill-deblasio-chancellor-carmen-fari%C3%B1a-long-island-city-s-hunter-s-point-south-development-does-not-account-for-the-public-school-seats-needed-for-the-incoming-30-000-residents-1bf06de7-dd8b-49c9-b272-1b9e10f1c5b8" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a concerted organizing effort</a> of Long Island City parents and elected officials in 2015 for the city to agree to belatedly include two small schools in the plans.</p> <p>We’ve seen this poor planning repeatedly, wherever new residential developments are springing up. The Amazon deal is but a particularly egregious example of how the city’s policies are driven by the interests of the real estate industry and private corporations while the educational needs of our children are too often overlooked. As many education advocates, parents and community leaders have pointed out, the school planning process in New York City is broken, resulting in <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/ny-metro-575k-kids-in-overcrowded-schools-need-more-seats-20181025-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">more than half a million</a> students crammed into overcrowded schools and classrooms, with the problem likely to get worse as the city’s population continues to grow.</p> <p>In March 2018, the New York City Council released a report, <a href="https://council.nyc.gov/land-use/wp-content/uploads/sites/53/2018/03/Planning-to-Learn-3.16.2018-high-resolution.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Planning to Learn: The School Building Challenge</a>, which documented many of the problems inherent in the city’s dysfunctional planning process. Before that, Class Size Matters released two reports, <a href="https://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SPACE-CRUNCH-Report-Final-OL.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Space Crunch</a> and <a href="https://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Web-Seat-Loss-Report.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Seats Gained and Lost: the Untold Story</a>, which identified many of the same problems, showing how the city’s methodology to plan for new schools is inherently flawed and lags further and further behind the actual need.</p> <p>The city has consistently underestimated the real need for public schools and to plan accordingly. The school capacity formula is aligned to excessive class sizes of 28 students per class in grades 4-8 and 30 in high school, larger than the current citywide averages, and thus would tend to push class sizes even higher in these grades.</p> <p>The Department of Education’s projections also are based upon housing start data that is highly unreliable, especially the ten-year data, which estimate only a tiny number of new units to be built after the first five or six years. For example, the housing start data posted in March 2017 used to create the current five-year plan projected not a single new housing unit to be built in Brooklyn between 2020 and 2024. The <a href="https://dnnhh5cc1.blob.core.windows.net/portals/0/Capital_Plan/Housing_Projections/Projected%20New%20Housing%20Statrts%20as%20Used%20in%202018-2027%20Enrollment%20Projection....pdf?sr=b&amp;si=DNNFileManagerPolicy&amp;sig=SAqWa6LkW75gxrvvc3rh6iOBEjQKlEJ7rOYJ7Tel4JU%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener">housing start data</a> used for the new proposed capital plan projects 45,000 new housing units will be built in ten school districts between 2018 and 2024, but not a single one the next three years. In District 24 in Queens -– currently, the most overcrowded district in the borough -- the data projects over 3,000 new units to be built during the first six-year period, but only 150 additional units thereafter.</p> <p>Worse yet, a consideration of the need for new schools is only triggered when a proposed development is projected to increase school overcrowding by at least five percent – even in areas like Long Island City, where the schools are already severely overcrowded. &nbsp;</p> <p>Instead, every new large-scale project should require new schools to be built where schools are already overcrowded or likely to become so as a result of new housing and/or current enrollment trends. Parent-led community education councils should be consulted in a meaningful way about the likely impact on schools each time a large-scale project or rezoning is proposed, as they know the educational landscape directly, not just community boards. &nbsp;</p> <p>The formula for projecting enrollment should include 3-K and pre-K students and should be updated regularly with the latest Census and American Community Survey and housing data. &nbsp;And the need for schools should be based upon more realistic ten-year housing trends – not just five-year trends, as it usually takes far more than five years to site and build a new school.</p> <p>Class Size Matters and other parent leaders are proposing these and additional critical reforms to the school planning process to the 2019 New York City Charter Revision Commission so the city’s students are not left in even worse conditions in the years to come. Meanwhile, the Amazon deal should be scotched or revamped, because, as is stands, it is yet another giveaway to a corporate giant with no consideration of the need to alleviate the overcrowded schools and classrooms under which the neighborhood’s children struggle to learn.</p> <p>If New York City is to thrive and offer opportunities to all its residents, we must ensure that investment in our public schools is a top priority for all agencies, including those focused on economic development. School construction should be the first consideration in all our development goals, rather than added as an afterthought years later, when the overcrowding has become too extreme to ignore. In the end, our investment in education will provide far better financial returns than yet more public land and tax giveaways to developers and corporations.</p> <p>***<br />Leonie Haimson is Executive Director of Class Size Matters; Sabina Omerhodzic is a Long Island City resident and a member of the Community Education Council in District 30.</p> <p>

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Bridging the Achievement Gap Through Real Renewal 2018-10-31T04:00:00+00:00 2018-10-31T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8036-bridging-the-achievement-gap-through-real-renewal Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/nycmayorsoffice-1st-dayschool.jpg" alt="nycmayorsoffice 1st dayschool" width="600" /></p> <p>(Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>When the New York State Board of Regents met last month, the mood was despondent. “The needle hasn’t moved for minority children in decades,” said Regent Kathy Cashin, decrying the racial achievement gap on the newly-released 2018 state exam scores for students in grades 3-8. The reaction of the Regents ran the usual gamut of hand-wringing, blaming the tests, and calling for more dilatory “analysis.”</p> <p>And then came <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/nyregion/deblasio-school-renewal-bill.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the damning report</a> in The New York Times on the failure of New York City’s Renewal schools program. After investing $755 million—nearly the entire annual budget of the San Francisco Unified School District—in the academic improvement of the 94 lowest performing schools, the needle has barely moved there either.</p> <p>Why the hand-wringing, and why the wasteful investment in programs doomed to fail, when the achievement gap can be closed—for this generation, and with current resources?</p> <p>Charter schools are dramatically outperforming traditional district schools in the city. In school year 2017-18, New York City public charter schools, enrolling 91% percent children of color, vastly outperformed the rest of the state in both English Language Arts (ELA) and math proficiency, 57 percent to 45 percent and 60 percent to 45 percent, respectively.</p> <p>Our practices vary, and we don’t always agree on policies. But collectively we are offering a brighter future to 100,000 city students.</p> <p>Students who attend Ascend Public Charter Schools—a network of 12 schools in central Brooklyn’s most challenged communities—are proving what’s possible.</p> <p>Brownsville, where we operate five schools, is a community of tremendous potential, but blighted by failed schools. The incarceration rate is the second-highest in the city and a mere 26% of students were found proficient in English. Yet our 5,000 students, 96 percent of whom are black or Latino and 83 percent of whom are from low-income families, not only closed but reversed the achievement gap. Ascend’s African-American students outperformed white students statewide by 7 percentage points in ELA and 2 points in math.</p> <p>Eschewing the harsh disciplinary practices of “no excuses” schools, Ascend schools offer a rich liberal arts education in a supportive and joyful environment. As our results have climbed, suspension rates have plummeted, down 40% in our lower schools in four years and 28% percent in middle schools.</p> <p>We commit to making every child feel welcome and cherished. We don’t select students on the way in, nor on the way out. Some, including those affected by homelessness and other traumas, are afforded individual attention for years, and then blossom.</p> <p>Our schools accomplish all this while holding true to our deepest commitment: to operate truly public schools that enroll all students and operate at district funding levels. All students are enrolled strictly by lottery, we charge no tuition or fees, and most important, we fill every vacant seat through grade 9.</p> <p>We are but one example of successful charter education. Other networks are posting results as exciting. We are not stuck in the transformational “ice age” that Regent Luis Reyes bemoaned at the recent Regents meeting. Our students—New Yorkers’ students—are not consigned to lives where promise is crushed.</p> <p>Our education officials are staring a solution in the face.</p> <p>Yet charter growth may soon stall because of an artificial statutory cap on the number of new charters; only a handful now remain to be awarded statewide. Why not lift the cap? Why not have charters run even half of the Renewal schools to test our methods? Why limit our children’s potential?</p> <p>***<br /> Steven Wilson is founder and chief executive officer of Ascend Charter Schools.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/nycmayorsoffice-1st-dayschool.jpg" alt="nycmayorsoffice 1st dayschool" width="600" /></p> <p>(Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>When the New York State Board of Regents met last month, the mood was despondent. “The needle hasn’t moved for minority children in decades,” said Regent Kathy Cashin, decrying the racial achievement gap on the newly-released 2018 state exam scores for students in grades 3-8. The reaction of the Regents ran the usual gamut of hand-wringing, blaming the tests, and calling for more dilatory “analysis.”</p> <p>And then came <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/nyregion/deblasio-school-renewal-bill.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the damning report</a> in The New York Times on the failure of New York City’s Renewal schools program. After investing $755 million—nearly the entire annual budget of the San Francisco Unified School District—in the academic improvement of the 94 lowest performing schools, the needle has barely moved there either.</p> <p>Why the hand-wringing, and why the wasteful investment in programs doomed to fail, when the achievement gap can be closed—for this generation, and with current resources?</p> <p>Charter schools are dramatically outperforming traditional district schools in the city. In school year 2017-18, New York City public charter schools, enrolling 91% percent children of color, vastly outperformed the rest of the state in both English Language Arts (ELA) and math proficiency, 57 percent to 45 percent and 60 percent to 45 percent, respectively.</p> <p>Our practices vary, and we don’t always agree on policies. But collectively we are offering a brighter future to 100,000 city students.</p> <p>Students who attend Ascend Public Charter Schools—a network of 12 schools in central Brooklyn’s most challenged communities—are proving what’s possible.</p> <p>Brownsville, where we operate five schools, is a community of tremendous potential, but blighted by failed schools. The incarceration rate is the second-highest in the city and a mere 26% of students were found proficient in English. Yet our 5,000 students, 96 percent of whom are black or Latino and 83 percent of whom are from low-income families, not only closed but reversed the achievement gap. Ascend’s African-American students outperformed white students statewide by 7 percentage points in ELA and 2 points in math.</p> <p>Eschewing the harsh disciplinary practices of “no excuses” schools, Ascend schools offer a rich liberal arts education in a supportive and joyful environment. As our results have climbed, suspension rates have plummeted, down 40% in our lower schools in four years and 28% percent in middle schools.</p> <p>We commit to making every child feel welcome and cherished. We don’t select students on the way in, nor on the way out. Some, including those affected by homelessness and other traumas, are afforded individual attention for years, and then blossom.</p> <p>Our schools accomplish all this while holding true to our deepest commitment: to operate truly public schools that enroll all students and operate at district funding levels. All students are enrolled strictly by lottery, we charge no tuition or fees, and most important, we fill every vacant seat through grade 9.</p> <p>We are but one example of successful charter education. Other networks are posting results as exciting. We are not stuck in the transformational “ice age” that Regent Luis Reyes bemoaned at the recent Regents meeting. Our students—New Yorkers’ students—are not consigned to lives where promise is crushed.</p> <p>Our education officials are staring a solution in the face.</p> <p>Yet charter growth may soon stall because of an artificial statutory cap on the number of new charters; only a handful now remain to be awarded statewide. Why not lift the cap? Why not have charters run even half of the Renewal schools to test our methods? Why limit our children’s potential?</p> <p>***<br /> Steven Wilson is founder and chief executive officer of Ascend Charter Schools.</p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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Molinaro Pledges Education 'State of Emergency,' Council of Mayors 2018-10-31T04:00:00+00:00 2018-10-31T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8032-molinaro-pledges-education-state-of-emergency-council-of-mayors Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/marc-molinaro-on-twitter.png" alt="marc molinaro on twitter" width="600" /></p> <p>Marc Molinaro (photo: @marcmolinaro)</p> <hr /> <p>Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro intends to declare a “state of emergency” for struggling school districts to address a plethora of issues and provide districts with more control over their destiny.</p> <p>Speaking to Gotham Gazette after his Tuesday speech at the Association for a Better New York, Molinaro said that the dismal status of some school districts, especially in upstate cities, requires extraordinary action and significant facets of educational policy-making devolved to local districts.</p> <p>“You have failing schools upstate that are generationally failing,” Molinaro said. “Rochester and Syracuse, just generationally failing, and the governor has done nothing to address this. I would declare a state of emergency.”</p> <p>“I’m willing to declare a state of emergency, allow community school districts and the state to establish latitude within the bureaucratic system to get an education, a school functioning again, so we’re educating kids to compete,” he continued, going on to say he would form a “Council of Mayors” also open to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>The statewide graduation rate for the class of 2017 was 80.2 percent, but the graduation rate in four of the five largest school districts is lower: Yonkers tops the statewide rate, but New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse all have graduation rates lower than the statewide average.</p> <p>Of the “big five,” the crisis is most acute in Rochester, where the 2017 on-time graduation rate was just 51.9 percent, though this was a 4.2 percent increase over 2016. <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/local/communities/time-to-educate/stories/2018/06/06/worst-public-schools-america-rochester-ny-rcsd-kodak-park-school-41/550929002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rochester’s schools</a> are <a href="https://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/ny-norflet-report-placeholder/Rochester_NY_CBSA_intrastate_tables_2014_March20_v.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">highly segregated and nearly 40 percent of students are low-income</a>. Syracuse’s graduation rate is slightly higher, at 60.5 percent, but was the only “big five” district to see graduation rates decline between 2016 and 2017. Buffalo’s 2017 rate was 62.7 percent, New York City’s was 71.1 percent, and Yonkers’ was 82.8 percent. Graduation rates tell only part of the story, of course, but often provide significant insight into broader, more complex dynamics.</p> <p>Issues exist elsewhere outside of the “big five” districts. In Hempstead, where 97 percent of students are black or Hispanic, just 37 percent of students graduated on-time in 2017, one of the lowest figures in the state.</p> <p>Molinaro did not go into explicit detail on what exactly a “state of emergency” would entail and what types of state regulations he would like to unshackle districts from. But he did say that he would establish a “Council of Mayors” that would meet to develop plans and targets, apparently organized and run by the executive chamber if he is governor.</p> <p>“We will meet every single quarter to identify our work plan, benchmarks to address educational failure, generational failure, nutritional issues, safety,” Molinaro said. “And each quarter we will identify whether or not we’ve achieved that and use an actual, real time dashboard to evaluate success.” Molinaro said that de Blasio, a Democrat who famously does not get along with Governor Andrew Cuomo, would be welcome to join the council, but that its “focus” would be on upstate cities.</p> <p>Education itself has largely been reduced to the sidelines in this election, with issues such as corruption, taxes, transit, and the Trump administration dominating. Nonetheless, Molinaro has outlined contours of an education agenda (though not a detailed plan) that in many ways departs from arguments traditionally brought forward by Republicans.</p> <p>Molinaro has largely shied away from the perennial issues of charter schools and school choice, both of which he and Cuomo both support. Molinaro has said several times that he supports lifting the state’s charter school cap, though he joined fellow Republicans in voting against doing so in the Assembly in 2010. Nonetheless, he has not discussed the issue much during the campaign -- wealthy charter school backers continue to support Cuomo with campaign donations.</p> <p>Molinaro criticized the governor and distanced himself from Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan for calling teachers and the teachers union “enemies” or “forces of evil,” respectively. “Neither is acceptable,” he told Gotham Gazette on Tuesday, pledging to work with and re-empower teachers.</p> <p>The GOP nominee faces long odds taking on Cuomo and will be joined on the ballot by three other challengers, including Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins, independent Stephanie Miner, the former mayor of Syracuse, and Libertarian Party nominee Larry Sharpe, who has outlined his own, somewhat revolutionary education plan.</p> <p>While he has put forth detailed plans on taking over the MTA, government reform, tax policy, veterans services, economic opportunity, and services for people with disabilities, Molinaro has not published an education plan, though he said elements of his others include education-focused elements.</p> <p>The crux of Molinaro’s approach to education is to devolve significant amounts of authority over all sorts of matters from state to local control, including decoupling from education policy like the Common Core learning standards and elements of <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/990227941073342464" target="_blank" rel="noopener">standardized testing</a>, and providing teachers and administrators wider “latitude” over decisions at hyperlocal levels. This includes more local control of teacher evaluations, he said, though he acknowledged the need for some statewide framework that localities would then work within to pursue their own system for teacher evaluation, a hot-button issue that formed a central part of Cuomo’s education agenda until he retreated from it in the face of opposition from the teachers unions and their legislative allies.</p> <p>“What you need to reestablish is really a partnership between family, community, and school,” Molinaro said. “And the way you do that is by empowering local districts to start to make more curriculum decisions, and then give even individual buildings and administrators the ability to create work-plans for their students, their teachers, their community. And by doing that, you’ll get greater buy-in from family, and you’ll be able to evaluate success much more.”</p> <p>Molinaro has spoken extensively, at least relative to other education policy areas, on special education and services for those with disabilities, which he has placed particular importance on since learning his <a href="https://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/motivated-by-daughter-marc-molinaro-urges-local-governments-to-thinkdifferently/article_e58c43ce-759a-11e7-9a55-87ffadc64219.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">daughter was on the autism spectrum</a> and running into challenges getting her proper services.</p> <p>In Dutchess County, Molinaro’s administration launched in 2015 the “ThinkDifferently” initiative to change perceptions and improve services for and integration of people with disabilities in schools and elsewhere. The project, annually <a href="https://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/motivated-by-daughter-marc-molinaro-urges-local-governments-to-thinkdifferently/article_e58c43ce-759a-11e7-9a55-87ffadc64219.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">funded</a> by $2 million of federal Community Development Block Grant, supports projects and outreach for businesses to become accessible and for the community to reevaluate its relationship with individuals with disabilities. Molinaro has said ThinkDifferently has been adopted by roughly 100 communities across the state already.</p> <p>He has put forth a plan to take ThinkDifferently statewide if elected governor, which includes new deputy secretary and ombudsperson positions, and a reevaluation of all services.</p> <p>“This state has perpetuated a separate but unequal form of education: general ed and special ed,” Molinaro said at his October 23 debate with Cuomo. “I believe in integrating that because those who are living with special education needs, those living with developmental disabilities are being left behind and parents are being forced to advocate, full hand on combat, to receive services. So that’s a way to reinvigorate and to inspire kids to learn.”</p> <p>Molinaro has criticized the state’s universal pre-K program as being <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/953335890134396928" target="_blank" rel="noopener">exclusionary</a> towards people with disabilities, and that Cuomo in particular has neglected that cohort of students. And on Sunday, Molinaro characterized Sharpe’s plan not to accept any federal funds for education as one that would “<a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/1056590816230232067" target="_blank" rel="noopener">decimate special education</a>” in New York.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this story.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/marc-molinaro-on-twitter.png" alt="marc molinaro on twitter" width="600" /></p> <p>Marc Molinaro (photo: @marcmolinaro)</p> <hr /> <p>Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro intends to declare a “state of emergency” for struggling school districts to address a plethora of issues and provide districts with more control over their destiny.</p> <p>Speaking to Gotham Gazette after his Tuesday speech at the Association for a Better New York, Molinaro said that the dismal status of some school districts, especially in upstate cities, requires extraordinary action and significant facets of educational policy-making devolved to local districts.</p> <p>“You have failing schools upstate that are generationally failing,” Molinaro said. “Rochester and Syracuse, just generationally failing, and the governor has done nothing to address this. I would declare a state of emergency.”</p> <p>“I’m willing to declare a state of emergency, allow community school districts and the state to establish latitude within the bureaucratic system to get an education, a school functioning again, so we’re educating kids to compete,” he continued, going on to say he would form a “Council of Mayors” also open to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.</p> <p>The statewide graduation rate for the class of 2017 was 80.2 percent, but the graduation rate in four of the five largest school districts is lower: Yonkers tops the statewide rate, but New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse all have graduation rates lower than the statewide average.</p> <p>Of the “big five,” the crisis is most acute in Rochester, where the 2017 on-time graduation rate was just 51.9 percent, though this was a 4.2 percent increase over 2016. <a href="https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/local/communities/time-to-educate/stories/2018/06/06/worst-public-schools-america-rochester-ny-rcsd-kodak-park-school-41/550929002/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Rochester’s schools</a> are <a href="https://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/k-12-education/integration-and-diversity/ny-norflet-report-placeholder/Rochester_NY_CBSA_intrastate_tables_2014_March20_v.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">highly segregated and nearly 40 percent of students are low-income</a>. Syracuse’s graduation rate is slightly higher, at 60.5 percent, but was the only “big five” district to see graduation rates decline between 2016 and 2017. Buffalo’s 2017 rate was 62.7 percent, New York City’s was 71.1 percent, and Yonkers’ was 82.8 percent. Graduation rates tell only part of the story, of course, but often provide significant insight into broader, more complex dynamics.</p> <p>Issues exist elsewhere outside of the “big five” districts. In Hempstead, where 97 percent of students are black or Hispanic, just 37 percent of students graduated on-time in 2017, one of the lowest figures in the state.</p> <p>Molinaro did not go into explicit detail on what exactly a “state of emergency” would entail and what types of state regulations he would like to unshackle districts from. But he did say that he would establish a “Council of Mayors” that would meet to develop plans and targets, apparently organized and run by the executive chamber if he is governor.</p> <p>“We will meet every single quarter to identify our work plan, benchmarks to address educational failure, generational failure, nutritional issues, safety,” Molinaro said. “And each quarter we will identify whether or not we’ve achieved that and use an actual, real time dashboard to evaluate success.” Molinaro said that de Blasio, a Democrat who famously does not get along with Governor Andrew Cuomo, would be welcome to join the council, but that its “focus” would be on upstate cities.</p> <p>Education itself has largely been reduced to the sidelines in this election, with issues such as corruption, taxes, transit, and the Trump administration dominating. Nonetheless, Molinaro has outlined contours of an education agenda (though not a detailed plan) that in many ways departs from arguments traditionally brought forward by Republicans.</p> <p>Molinaro has largely shied away from the perennial issues of charter schools and school choice, both of which he and Cuomo both support. Molinaro has said several times that he supports lifting the state’s charter school cap, though he joined fellow Republicans in voting against doing so in the Assembly in 2010. Nonetheless, he has not discussed the issue much during the campaign -- wealthy charter school backers continue to support Cuomo with campaign donations.</p> <p>Molinaro criticized the governor and distanced himself from Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan for calling teachers and the teachers union “enemies” or “forces of evil,” respectively. “Neither is acceptable,” he told Gotham Gazette on Tuesday, pledging to work with and re-empower teachers.</p> <p>The GOP nominee faces long odds taking on Cuomo and will be joined on the ballot by three other challengers, including Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins, independent Stephanie Miner, the former mayor of Syracuse, and Libertarian Party nominee Larry Sharpe, who has outlined his own, somewhat revolutionary education plan.</p> <p>While he has put forth detailed plans on taking over the MTA, government reform, tax policy, veterans services, economic opportunity, and services for people with disabilities, Molinaro has not published an education plan, though he said elements of his others include education-focused elements.</p> <p>The crux of Molinaro’s approach to education is to devolve significant amounts of authority over all sorts of matters from state to local control, including decoupling from education policy like the Common Core learning standards and elements of <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/990227941073342464" target="_blank" rel="noopener">standardized testing</a>, and providing teachers and administrators wider “latitude” over decisions at hyperlocal levels. This includes more local control of teacher evaluations, he said, though he acknowledged the need for some statewide framework that localities would then work within to pursue their own system for teacher evaluation, a hot-button issue that formed a central part of Cuomo’s education agenda until he retreated from it in the face of opposition from the teachers unions and their legislative allies.</p> <p>“What you need to reestablish is really a partnership between family, community, and school,” Molinaro said. “And the way you do that is by empowering local districts to start to make more curriculum decisions, and then give even individual buildings and administrators the ability to create work-plans for their students, their teachers, their community. And by doing that, you’ll get greater buy-in from family, and you’ll be able to evaluate success much more.”</p> <p>Molinaro has spoken extensively, at least relative to other education policy areas, on special education and services for those with disabilities, which he has placed particular importance on since learning his <a href="https://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/motivated-by-daughter-marc-molinaro-urges-local-governments-to-thinkdifferently/article_e58c43ce-759a-11e7-9a55-87ffadc64219.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">daughter was on the autism spectrum</a> and running into challenges getting her proper services.</p> <p>In Dutchess County, Molinaro’s administration launched in 2015 the “ThinkDifferently” initiative to change perceptions and improve services for and integration of people with disabilities in schools and elsewhere. The project, annually <a href="https://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/motivated-by-daughter-marc-molinaro-urges-local-governments-to-thinkdifferently/article_e58c43ce-759a-11e7-9a55-87ffadc64219.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">funded</a> by $2 million of federal Community Development Block Grant, supports projects and outreach for businesses to become accessible and for the community to reevaluate its relationship with individuals with disabilities. Molinaro has said ThinkDifferently has been adopted by roughly 100 communities across the state already.</p> <p>He has put forth a plan to take ThinkDifferently statewide if elected governor, which includes new deputy secretary and ombudsperson positions, and a reevaluation of all services.</p> <p>“This state has perpetuated a separate but unequal form of education: general ed and special ed,” Molinaro said at his October 23 debate with Cuomo. “I believe in integrating that because those who are living with special education needs, those living with developmental disabilities are being left behind and parents are being forced to advocate, full hand on combat, to receive services. So that’s a way to reinvigorate and to inspire kids to learn.”</p> <p>Molinaro has criticized the state’s universal pre-K program as being <a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/953335890134396928" target="_blank" rel="noopener">exclusionary</a> towards people with disabilities, and that Cuomo in particular has neglected that cohort of students. And on Sunday, Molinaro characterized Sharpe’s plan not to accept any federal funds for education as one that would “<a href="https://twitter.com/marcmolinaro/status/1056590816230232067" target="_blank" rel="noopener">decimate special education</a>” in New York.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this story.</p>
Gubernatorial Candidate Larry Sharpe Wants to Reinvent New York's Education System 2018-10-25T04:00:00+00:00 2018-10-25T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8010-gubernatorial-candidate-larry-sharpe-wants-to-reinvent-new-york-s-education-system Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/39603570_2056486391347719_8739424016818765824_n.jpg" alt="39603570 2056486391347719 8739424016818765824 n" width="600" height="276" /></p> <p>Larry Sharpe on the trail (photo: @Sharpe4Gov)</p> <hr /> <p>Larry Sharpe has a radical plan to reshape New York’s education system. The Libertarian candidate for governor, Sharpe has been campaigning vigorously around the state, making lively and entertaining media appearances, and putting forth substantive policy proposals far different from those typically discussed in mainstream state politics by the two major political parties.</p> <p>Among those is Sharpe’s education plan. A former marine and University of Maryland graduate who spent some of his youth in the Bronx, Sharpe characterizes the costs of education as unsustainable, and in dire need of reform, both in terms of policy and funding. He proposes several outside-the-box policies and engages only slightly in some of the more traditional education debates, such as over charter schools and foundation aid formulas from the state to localities. He’s thinking of much more sweeping change, detailing his platform during interviews and in a policy paper released by his campaign.</p> <p>At the core of his plan is a proposal to make mandatory public education in the state end at 10th grade, upon which Sharpe says that “most of the major schoolwork has already been completed and most remaining courses are electives and, for many students, college prep.” Though for too many, he says, 11th and 12th grade have too little academic rigor and purpose, too many gym classes and study halls.</p> <p>In Sharpe’s proposal, students would graduate upon passing an exam at the end of 10th grade and have a series of options in front of them. With New York spending an average of more than $20,000 per year per pupil, the highest in the nation, this would free up significant funds.</p> <p>Sharpe would make grants of $20,000 available to each student over the course of several years to spend on a selection of options including prep schools, which would proliferate, he believes, under his plan, to entice that newly available money and help students become ready for higher education. In what he describes as something of a GI Bill for New York youth, Sharpe would also allow the money to be used for trade school or other training programs, or even to start a business. Students could also earn an associate’s degree, he said, then pursue a bachelor’s if college is right for them.</p> <p>“When we go off to college most of the time, it is 13th grade,” Sharpe said <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7986-max-murphy-podcast-larry-sharpe-libertarian-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on the Max &amp; Murphy radio show</a> on WBAI. “You can check out all the studies. Ask anyone who has been there, our kids are not ready for college. It takes about six years for the average kid to graduate college, we should be ashamed of that.”</p> <p>Sharpe also thinks that standardized tests should be done away with prior to high school, to let students learn and teachers teach without the pressure and undue influence of the exams, and that decisions on curriculum, programs, and other facets of education policy should be left at the local level.</p> <p>He envisions a loss of $4 billion in federal education grant money as a result of abandoning standardized testing and Common Core learning standards, which would allow for greater experimentation in education policy, while the $4 billion deficit would be made up for with the savings from the elimination of 11th and 12th grades, he says.</p> <p>“So what did I just do? I replaced all of the federal money, plus more, and provided a surplus and allowed local school districts to get rid of unnecessary administrators,” he said. “All of that happened without one extra tax dollar.”</p> <p>His plan also includes severely cutting administrative staff within the school system, characterizing them as overpaid and contributing little to the system, only drawing a large paycheck and needed only because of all the overbearing federal and state regulations that he plans to either do away with or extricate New York from.</p> <p>“The average administrator makes over six figures, you can easily let some of these administrators go,” he said. “You let some of these administrators go, what can you do? Teachers will have more freedom, but not just that. Teachers will have more raises, or hire more teachers, or do things that a local district should do.”</p> <p>In 2016, New York’s highest-in-the-nation spending was roughly $22,366 per pupil, about 90 percent more than the national average of $11,762, <a href="https://www.empirecenter.org/publications/ny-school-avg-tops-22k-per-pupil/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to the US Census Bureau</a>, though numbers vary widely among New York school districts, with rich districts spending far more per pupil. That year, total spending in New York’s public schools, via local, state, and federal money, was <a href="http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$61.4 billion</a>. This year, the state <a href="https://www.the74million.org/4-things-to-know-about-new-yorks-1-billion-bump-in-education-spending/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increased</a> its school spending yet again, by $912 million, up to $26.7 billion total in state funds.</p> <p>The state’s funding formula, Foundation Aid, plays a part in the funding inequality: a <a href="https://www.lohud.com/story/news/2016/08/25/new-york-state-education-school-districts-funding-formula/89306728/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">USA Today investigation in 2016</a> found that the formula uses obsolete data and doesn’t reduce aid to a locality, even if migratory shifts take place. A <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/333552258/2016-School-Spending-Report#from_embed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a> from the State Association of School Business Officials in 2016 <a href="https://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/politics-on-the-hudson/2016/12/07/ny-spends-22593-per-pupil-but-theres-wide-disparity/95088028/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found</a> that rich districts spend about $5,800 more per pupil on average than poor districts. Sharpe has noted these issues and proposes doing away with local spending on schools, having everything go through the state in an effort to make things more equal.</p> <p>There's been little discussion of K-12 or higher education during the gubernatorial campaign from frontrunners Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat seeking a third term, and Republican Marc Molinaro, though Molinaro recently released a plan for reimagining services for people with developmental and physical disabilities that includes elements related to K-12 and workforce education. In their recent debate, Cuomo and Molinaro both said they believe in expanding charter schools and school choice, hot button education issues that often dominate the conversation. Sharpe says he believes in choices, as outlined above, but as he recently <a href="https://www.wcny.org/october-19-2018-libertarian-gubernatorial-nominee-larry-sharpe/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told Susan Arbetter on The Capitol Pressroom</a>, he does not foresee much role for charter schools if his education plan is realized.</p> <p>

***
by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this story.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/39603570_2056486391347719_8739424016818765824_n.jpg" alt="39603570 2056486391347719 8739424016818765824 n" width="600" height="276" /></p> <p>Larry Sharpe on the trail (photo: @Sharpe4Gov)</p> <hr /> <p>Larry Sharpe has a radical plan to reshape New York’s education system. The Libertarian candidate for governor, Sharpe has been campaigning vigorously around the state, making lively and entertaining media appearances, and putting forth substantive policy proposals far different from those typically discussed in mainstream state politics by the two major political parties.</p> <p>Among those is Sharpe’s education plan. A former marine and University of Maryland graduate who spent some of his youth in the Bronx, Sharpe characterizes the costs of education as unsustainable, and in dire need of reform, both in terms of policy and funding. He proposes several outside-the-box policies and engages only slightly in some of the more traditional education debates, such as over charter schools and foundation aid formulas from the state to localities. He’s thinking of much more sweeping change, detailing his platform during interviews and in a policy paper released by his campaign.</p> <p>At the core of his plan is a proposal to make mandatory public education in the state end at 10th grade, upon which Sharpe says that “most of the major schoolwork has already been completed and most remaining courses are electives and, for many students, college prep.” Though for too many, he says, 11th and 12th grade have too little academic rigor and purpose, too many gym classes and study halls.</p> <p>In Sharpe’s proposal, students would graduate upon passing an exam at the end of 10th grade and have a series of options in front of them. With New York spending an average of more than $20,000 per year per pupil, the highest in the nation, this would free up significant funds.</p> <p>Sharpe would make grants of $20,000 available to each student over the course of several years to spend on a selection of options including prep schools, which would proliferate, he believes, under his plan, to entice that newly available money and help students become ready for higher education. In what he describes as something of a GI Bill for New York youth, Sharpe would also allow the money to be used for trade school or other training programs, or even to start a business. Students could also earn an associate’s degree, he said, then pursue a bachelor’s if college is right for them.</p> <p>“When we go off to college most of the time, it is 13th grade,” Sharpe said <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7986-max-murphy-podcast-larry-sharpe-libertarian-nominee-for-governor" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on the Max &amp; Murphy radio show</a> on WBAI. “You can check out all the studies. Ask anyone who has been there, our kids are not ready for college. It takes about six years for the average kid to graduate college, we should be ashamed of that.”</p> <p>Sharpe also thinks that standardized tests should be done away with prior to high school, to let students learn and teachers teach without the pressure and undue influence of the exams, and that decisions on curriculum, programs, and other facets of education policy should be left at the local level.</p> <p>He envisions a loss of $4 billion in federal education grant money as a result of abandoning standardized testing and Common Core learning standards, which would allow for greater experimentation in education policy, while the $4 billion deficit would be made up for with the savings from the elimination of 11th and 12th grades, he says.</p> <p>“So what did I just do? I replaced all of the federal money, plus more, and provided a surplus and allowed local school districts to get rid of unnecessary administrators,” he said. “All of that happened without one extra tax dollar.”</p> <p>His plan also includes severely cutting administrative staff within the school system, characterizing them as overpaid and contributing little to the system, only drawing a large paycheck and needed only because of all the overbearing federal and state regulations that he plans to either do away with or extricate New York from.</p> <p>“The average administrator makes over six figures, you can easily let some of these administrators go,” he said. “You let some of these administrators go, what can you do? Teachers will have more freedom, but not just that. Teachers will have more raises, or hire more teachers, or do things that a local district should do.”</p> <p>In 2016, New York’s highest-in-the-nation spending was roughly $22,366 per pupil, about 90 percent more than the national average of $11,762, <a href="https://www.empirecenter.org/publications/ny-school-avg-tops-22k-per-pupil/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to the US Census Bureau</a>, though numbers vary widely among New York school districts, with rich districts spending far more per pupil. That year, total spending in New York’s public schools, via local, state, and federal money, was <a href="http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">$61.4 billion</a>. This year, the state <a href="https://www.the74million.org/4-things-to-know-about-new-yorks-1-billion-bump-in-education-spending/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">increased</a> its school spending yet again, by $912 million, up to $26.7 billion total in state funds.</p> <p>The state’s funding formula, Foundation Aid, plays a part in the funding inequality: a <a href="https://www.lohud.com/story/news/2016/08/25/new-york-state-education-school-districts-funding-formula/89306728/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">USA Today investigation in 2016</a> found that the formula uses obsolete data and doesn’t reduce aid to a locality, even if migratory shifts take place. A <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/333552258/2016-School-Spending-Report#from_embed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">report</a> from the State Association of School Business Officials in 2016 <a href="https://www.lohud.com/story/news/politics/politics-on-the-hudson/2016/12/07/ny-spends-22593-per-pupil-but-theres-wide-disparity/95088028/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found</a> that rich districts spend about $5,800 more per pupil on average than poor districts. Sharpe has noted these issues and proposes doing away with local spending on schools, having everything go through the state in an effort to make things more equal.</p> <p>There's been little discussion of K-12 or higher education during the gubernatorial campaign from frontrunners Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat seeking a third term, and Republican Marc Molinaro, though Molinaro recently released a plan for reimagining services for people with developmental and physical disabilities that includes elements related to K-12 and workforce education. In their recent debate, Cuomo and Molinaro both said they believe in expanding charter schools and school choice, hot button education issues that often dominate the conversation. Sharpe says he believes in choices, as outlined above, but as he recently <a href="https://www.wcny.org/october-19-2018-libertarian-gubernatorial-nominee-larry-sharpe/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told Susan Arbetter on The Capitol Pressroom</a>, he does not foresee much role for charter schools if his education plan is realized.</p> <p>

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Ben Max contributed to this story.</p>
Fostering Feeder Schools Will Improve Diversity at the Specialized High Schools 2018-08-02T04:00:00+00:00 2018-08-02T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7841-fostering-feeder-schools-to-improve-diversity-at-the-specialized-high-schools Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/41541458224_4763c6f367_z.jpg" alt="students" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>students (photo:&nbsp;Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The public education system in New York City remains one of the most segregated and unequally resourced school systems in the country, reflective of segregation and inequality in other areas of our civic life.</p> <p>That segregation is starkly obvious in our specialized high schools. In a city where two out of three public high school students are black or Latino, it is unacceptable that they comprise only 10% of the student body across all eight of our elite high schools.<br /> <br />Much has been made recently of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to eliminate the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, or SHSAT, from the admissions process. The plan is to replace it with a more holistic assessment of achievement based on students’ classroom grades, scores on state standardized English and math tests, and potentially other criteria yet to be determined. But the lack of diversity in our specialized high schools is not a function of the admissions process alone.<br /> <br />The city’s specialized high schools <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/06/02/mayor-bill-de-blasio-new-york-city-will-push-for-admissions-changes-at-elite-and-segregated-specialized-high-schools/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">draw from just 21</a> of the nearly 600 public middle schools citywide. The two Brooklyn City Council districts that we represent factor into this discussion in important ways, and help us draw a path toward improvements to our school system and more diversity at our elite high schools.<br /> <br />Three of these 21 feeder schools are located in the city’s 43rd City Council District in south Brooklyn, with nearly a quarter of all students admitted to specialized high schools coming from School Districts 20, 21, and 22. The schools in these communities are exceptionally diverse, with a majority of students coming from first and second generation immigrant families -- white, black, Hispanic, and Asian alike.<br /> <br />District 16 in central Brooklyn, where schools are 77 percent black and 18.5 percent Hispanic, is a different story. There is not one feeder middle school in District 16, which decades ago had enhanced academics that sent hundreds of students of color to the specialized schools. In fact, until 2015, District 16 schools did not offer the advanced level courses and programming known as “gifted and talented.”<br /> <br />It took pressure from local elected officials forced the Department of Education to provide many majority-minority school districts access to the kind of enhanced academics that provide a pathway to the specialized schools. Despite representing over two-thirds of our public school population, black and Latino students make up <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2017/03/31/with-diversity-still-dismal-at-specialized-schools-new-york-city-officials-and-parents-shift-focus-to-gifted-programs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">only 27% of those enrolled</a> in gifted and talented programs. But even now, the enhanced academics are poorly resourced.<br /> <br />To be sure, improving the admissions process to ensure greater diversity in our specialized high schools is critically important. Expanding access to a great education for minority communities already facing obstacles to their achievement is necessary if we are going to provide equality of opportunity for all New Yorkers.<br /> <br />High-stakes, standardized tests like the SHSAT are poor indicators of students’ potential for success. However, the test is not in itself the problem, and need not be eliminated in order to increase opportunity and diversity. But even with additional methods of assessment, the reality of unequal resources and underinvestment in certain schools would mean improving diversity at our elite high schools will still be a significant challenge.<br /> <br />When you consider that <a href="https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/media/users/sg158/PDFs/Pathways_to_elite_education/PathwaystoAnEliteEducation.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">nearly 60% of the middle schools</a> that sent students to specialized high schools were in districts that had gifted and talented schools that required a test for admission, it is evident how decades of unequal investment in enrichment for students of color might be the most significant contributing factor to the city’s problem of diversity in specialized high schools.<br /> <br />Barring state intervention, the students who receive a qualifying score on the SHSAT will continue to be those who have access to test prep and other educational enrichment that most black and Latino students do not.<br /> <br />Today, the National Society of Black Engineers offers test prep to youngsters in District 16 schools to prepare them for tests like the SHSAT. This programming should be expanded, not just to succeed on a test, but to teach how to succeed in life. We must give students enriching experiences that make them connect with learning and foster critical thought and engagement. And we have to do more to create parent awareness and interest in gifted and talented programming.<br /> <br />But it is not enough simply to offer gifted and talented programs and call it a day. The programming provided must be adequately resourced and targeted at the students who are currently underrepresented.<br /> <br />Our colleagues in the City Council agree that the city must restore the funding for enhanced academics in black and Latino communities. As recently as 1989, Brooklyn Tech, for example, was 51 percent black and Latino. As enhanced academics for high-potential students was eliminated in those communities, the percentages of students of color decreased to the point we are at today. We know students, whether in southern or central Brooklyn, can compete successfully if given the resources. They have done it before. They can do it again.<br /> <br />Ending the SHSAT without providing adequate funding and a commitment to educating all students equitably will do nothing to adequately resolve the lack of diversity in our schools, specialized or otherwise.<br /> <br />*** <br />Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. represents the Brooklyn communities of Bedford Stuyvesant and Northern Crown Heights in the New York City Council. Justin Brannan represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst in the City Council. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/robertcornegyjr" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@RobertCornegyJr</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinBrannan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@JustinBrannan</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p> <p>Note: this column has been corrected to reflect that in&nbsp;1989, Brooklyn Tech was 51 percent black and Latino, not 67 percent as originally stated.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/41541458224_4763c6f367_z.jpg" alt="students" width="600" height="401" /></p> <p>students (photo:&nbsp;Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>The public education system in New York City remains one of the most segregated and unequally resourced school systems in the country, reflective of segregation and inequality in other areas of our civic life.</p> <p>That segregation is starkly obvious in our specialized high schools. In a city where two out of three public high school students are black or Latino, it is unacceptable that they comprise only 10% of the student body across all eight of our elite high schools.<br /> <br />Much has been made recently of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to eliminate the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test, or SHSAT, from the admissions process. The plan is to replace it with a more holistic assessment of achievement based on students’ classroom grades, scores on state standardized English and math tests, and potentially other criteria yet to be determined. But the lack of diversity in our specialized high schools is not a function of the admissions process alone.<br /> <br />The city’s specialized high schools <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/06/02/mayor-bill-de-blasio-new-york-city-will-push-for-admissions-changes-at-elite-and-segregated-specialized-high-schools/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">draw from just 21</a> of the nearly 600 public middle schools citywide. The two Brooklyn City Council districts that we represent factor into this discussion in important ways, and help us draw a path toward improvements to our school system and more diversity at our elite high schools.<br /> <br />Three of these 21 feeder schools are located in the city’s 43rd City Council District in south Brooklyn, with nearly a quarter of all students admitted to specialized high schools coming from School Districts 20, 21, and 22. The schools in these communities are exceptionally diverse, with a majority of students coming from first and second generation immigrant families -- white, black, Hispanic, and Asian alike.<br /> <br />District 16 in central Brooklyn, where schools are 77 percent black and 18.5 percent Hispanic, is a different story. There is not one feeder middle school in District 16, which decades ago had enhanced academics that sent hundreds of students of color to the specialized schools. In fact, until 2015, District 16 schools did not offer the advanced level courses and programming known as “gifted and talented.”<br /> <br />It took pressure from local elected officials forced the Department of Education to provide many majority-minority school districts access to the kind of enhanced academics that provide a pathway to the specialized schools. Despite representing over two-thirds of our public school population, black and Latino students make up <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2017/03/31/with-diversity-still-dismal-at-specialized-schools-new-york-city-officials-and-parents-shift-focus-to-gifted-programs/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">only 27% of those enrolled</a> in gifted and talented programs. But even now, the enhanced academics are poorly resourced.<br /> <br />To be sure, improving the admissions process to ensure greater diversity in our specialized high schools is critically important. Expanding access to a great education for minority communities already facing obstacles to their achievement is necessary if we are going to provide equality of opportunity for all New Yorkers.<br /> <br />High-stakes, standardized tests like the SHSAT are poor indicators of students’ potential for success. However, the test is not in itself the problem, and need not be eliminated in order to increase opportunity and diversity. But even with additional methods of assessment, the reality of unequal resources and underinvestment in certain schools would mean improving diversity at our elite high schools will still be a significant challenge.<br /> <br />When you consider that <a href="https://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/media/users/sg158/PDFs/Pathways_to_elite_education/PathwaystoAnEliteEducation.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">nearly 60% of the middle schools</a> that sent students to specialized high schools were in districts that had gifted and talented schools that required a test for admission, it is evident how decades of unequal investment in enrichment for students of color might be the most significant contributing factor to the city’s problem of diversity in specialized high schools.<br /> <br />Barring state intervention, the students who receive a qualifying score on the SHSAT will continue to be those who have access to test prep and other educational enrichment that most black and Latino students do not.<br /> <br />Today, the National Society of Black Engineers offers test prep to youngsters in District 16 schools to prepare them for tests like the SHSAT. This programming should be expanded, not just to succeed on a test, but to teach how to succeed in life. We must give students enriching experiences that make them connect with learning and foster critical thought and engagement. And we have to do more to create parent awareness and interest in gifted and talented programming.<br /> <br />But it is not enough simply to offer gifted and talented programs and call it a day. The programming provided must be adequately resourced and targeted at the students who are currently underrepresented.<br /> <br />Our colleagues in the City Council agree that the city must restore the funding for enhanced academics in black and Latino communities. As recently as 1989, Brooklyn Tech, for example, was 51 percent black and Latino. As enhanced academics for high-potential students was eliminated in those communities, the percentages of students of color decreased to the point we are at today. We know students, whether in southern or central Brooklyn, can compete successfully if given the resources. They have done it before. They can do it again.<br /> <br />Ending the SHSAT without providing adequate funding and a commitment to educating all students equitably will do nothing to adequately resolve the lack of diversity in our schools, specialized or otherwise.<br /> <br />*** <br />Robert E. Cornegy, Jr. represents the Brooklyn communities of Bedford Stuyvesant and Northern Crown Heights in the New York City Council. Justin Brannan represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst in the City Council. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/robertcornegyjr" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@RobertCornegyJr</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinBrannan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@JustinBrannan</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p> <p>Note: this column has been corrected to reflect that in&nbsp;1989, Brooklyn Tech was 51 percent black and Latino, not 67 percent as originally stated.</p>
I’m with Cynthia Because She Stands for Schools, Not Jails 2018-07-12T04:00:00+00:00 2018-07-12T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7800-i-m-with-cynthia-because-she-stands-for-schools-not-jails Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cmreynoso34-cynthia-2.jpg" alt="cmreynoso34 cynthia 2" width="600" height="566" /></p> <p>Antonio Reynoso, the author, endorses Cynthia Nixon (photo: @CMReynoso34)</p> <hr /> <p>Last week, I endorsed Cynthia Nixon for Governor because her campaign is focused on making sure young people of color across New York thrive in school, rather than wither away in jail. As a City Council member from a predominantly black and brown community in Brooklyn, I constantly hear from young people who know what they need to succeed in school and what stands in their way.</p> <p>Right now, there are more police in New York City schools than there are guidance counselors and social workers combined. What message does that send our children?</p> <p>It is time to drastically change course in how we invest in the lives of black and brown young people. Talking to friends and allies across the state, the stories and experiences of the young people in my district are strikingly similar to those of young people across New York, from the Hudson Valley to Syracuse and beyond—because, while we can draw geographical lines to separate their school districts, it’s the color line that ensures they will all still be impacted by racially discriminatory school discipline policies and practices.</p> <p>These policies have created a school-to-prison pipeline that afflicts young people of color across the State of New York. As Governor, Cynthia Nixon is committed to transformative policy changes to dismantle this system. That’s why a central part of her #SchoolsNotJails platform is school climate reform. Cynthia’s plan will push New York to lead the way by creating a Restorative Practices Training department within the State Department of Education to support schools in implementing restorative practices, introduce legislation to end school-based arrests for misdemeanors and violations, support schools to remove ineffective security measures, such as law enforcement and metal detectors, and only use suspensions as a last resort.</p> <p>In New York State, there are over 500 suspensions per day and a disproportionate number of our young people being suspended are students of color. Statewide, one in five black boys are suspended from school each year; for black girls, it is one in seven. In New York City, black students are 27% of the population but nearly half of all students suspended; in Kingston they are 14% of the student body but 36% of all suspensions; and in Troy, they are 31% of the population but 61% of all students who are expelled.</p> <p>The racial disparities in the statistics on referrals to law enforcement are just as alarming. In New York City, black and Latino students are 92% of all students who receive a summons; in Schenectady, black and Latino students are 75% of all students referred to law enforcement; and in Buffalo, black and Latino students are 85% of all students referred to law enforcement.</p> <p>These disparities begin in pre-kindergarten, where black students are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended from school. And they continue through high school and beyond—one suspension in high school doubles the likelihood that a student will drop out before graduation and it denies students from critical instructional time. Last year, students in New York lost 686,000 days of instruction because of suspension. If the school discipline gap continues, it’s no wonder that our state is struggling to close the graduation gap.</p> <p>Those numbers alone should be enough evidence to convince Governor Cuomo to take steps to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. But instead of confronting this reality, under his leadership, New York has done nothing to curtail the school-to-prison pipeline.</p> <p>The young people I meet with are clear that the way forward is not to continue to “harden” their schools and rely on ineffective and harsh school discipline and policing, but to ensure equity in school discipline policies and practices and reimagine our approach to safety. There is no evidence that police officers and metal detectors make schools any safer, but there is ample research that shows they makes students feel less safe and result in more young people being pushed in front of police officers, prosecutors, and judges instead of guidance counselors, social workers, and school administrators.</p> <p>Students feel safest in their schools not when they know technology exists that track their every move, or police officers do random checks and sweeps, but when they have staff trained in trauma-informed care, restorative practices, and youth development that are there to attend to their needs and create an inclusive environment.</p> <p>Young people in my district are leading the way in demonstrating what safe and supportive schools can look like. Many of these schools are implementing restorative practices with real results -- dramatically decreasing suspensions and building strong school communities. This year my district saw one of the largest decreases in suspensions across the city. We can replicate this and transform schools into the safe and supportive learning environments our students and families deserve.</p> <p>New York needs a public school system that is completely disentangled from the criminal justice system and a commitment that we are creating a nurturing and supportive environment for all students. This is the commitment that Cynthia Nixon is making. We need to invest in schools, not repeat the same policy failures that have led to our children ending up in jails.</p> <p>***<br /> Antonio Reynoso is the City Council member for New York’s 34th Council District in Brooklyn. On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/CMReynoso34" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@CMReynoso34</a>.</p> <p>

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cmreynoso34-cynthia-2.jpg" alt="cmreynoso34 cynthia 2" width="600" height="566" /></p> <p>Antonio Reynoso, the author, endorses Cynthia Nixon (photo: @CMReynoso34)</p> <hr /> <p>Last week, I endorsed Cynthia Nixon for Governor because her campaign is focused on making sure young people of color across New York thrive in school, rather than wither away in jail. As a City Council member from a predominantly black and brown community in Brooklyn, I constantly hear from young people who know what they need to succeed in school and what stands in their way.</p> <p>Right now, there are more police in New York City schools than there are guidance counselors and social workers combined. What message does that send our children?</p> <p>It is time to drastically change course in how we invest in the lives of black and brown young people. Talking to friends and allies across the state, the stories and experiences of the young people in my district are strikingly similar to those of young people across New York, from the Hudson Valley to Syracuse and beyond—because, while we can draw geographical lines to separate their school districts, it’s the color line that ensures they will all still be impacted by racially discriminatory school discipline policies and practices.</p> <p>These policies have created a school-to-prison pipeline that afflicts young people of color across the State of New York. As Governor, Cynthia Nixon is committed to transformative policy changes to dismantle this system. That’s why a central part of her #SchoolsNotJails platform is school climate reform. Cynthia’s plan will push New York to lead the way by creating a Restorative Practices Training department within the State Department of Education to support schools in implementing restorative practices, introduce legislation to end school-based arrests for misdemeanors and violations, support schools to remove ineffective security measures, such as law enforcement and metal detectors, and only use suspensions as a last resort.</p> <p>In New York State, there are over 500 suspensions per day and a disproportionate number of our young people being suspended are students of color. Statewide, one in five black boys are suspended from school each year; for black girls, it is one in seven. In New York City, black students are 27% of the population but nearly half of all students suspended; in Kingston they are 14% of the student body but 36% of all suspensions; and in Troy, they are 31% of the population but 61% of all students who are expelled.</p> <p>The racial disparities in the statistics on referrals to law enforcement are just as alarming. In New York City, black and Latino students are 92% of all students who receive a summons; in Schenectady, black and Latino students are 75% of all students referred to law enforcement; and in Buffalo, black and Latino students are 85% of all students referred to law enforcement.</p> <p>These disparities begin in pre-kindergarten, where black students are 3.6 times more likely to be suspended from school. And they continue through high school and beyond—one suspension in high school doubles the likelihood that a student will drop out before graduation and it denies students from critical instructional time. Last year, students in New York lost 686,000 days of instruction because of suspension. If the school discipline gap continues, it’s no wonder that our state is struggling to close the graduation gap.</p> <p>Those numbers alone should be enough evidence to convince Governor Cuomo to take steps to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. But instead of confronting this reality, under his leadership, New York has done nothing to curtail the school-to-prison pipeline.</p> <p>The young people I meet with are clear that the way forward is not to continue to “harden” their schools and rely on ineffective and harsh school discipline and policing, but to ensure equity in school discipline policies and practices and reimagine our approach to safety. There is no evidence that police officers and metal detectors make schools any safer, but there is ample research that shows they makes students feel less safe and result in more young people being pushed in front of police officers, prosecutors, and judges instead of guidance counselors, social workers, and school administrators.</p> <p>Students feel safest in their schools not when they know technology exists that track their every move, or police officers do random checks and sweeps, but when they have staff trained in trauma-informed care, restorative practices, and youth development that are there to attend to their needs and create an inclusive environment.</p> <p>Young people in my district are leading the way in demonstrating what safe and supportive schools can look like. Many of these schools are implementing restorative practices with real results -- dramatically decreasing suspensions and building strong school communities. This year my district saw one of the largest decreases in suspensions across the city. We can replicate this and transform schools into the safe and supportive learning environments our students and families deserve.</p> <p>New York needs a public school system that is completely disentangled from the criminal justice system and a commitment that we are creating a nurturing and supportive environment for all students. This is the commitment that Cynthia Nixon is making. We need to invest in schools, not repeat the same policy failures that have led to our children ending up in jails.</p> <p>***<br /> Antonio Reynoso is the City Council member for New York’s 34th Council District in Brooklyn. On Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/CMReynoso34" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@CMReynoso34</a>.</p> <p>

***
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</p>
Missing Pieces of the Discussion Around Specialized High Schools and City Education 2018-06-21T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-21T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7760-missing-pieces-of-the-discussion-around-specialized-high-schools-and-city-education Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/40733253080_499a915acc_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio education" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio's announcement (photo:&nbsp;Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>On June 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/06/02/mayor-bill-de-blasio-new-york-city-will-push-for-admissions-changes-at-elite-and-segregated-specialized-high-schools/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">announced in Chalkbeat</a> that he was urging the State Legislature to change the admissions system at the city’s eight specialized high schools, which relies on a single high-stakes exam called the SHSAT. Only 10 percent of students admitted to these selective high schools are black and Hispanic, while these students make up 67 percent of the overall public school population. This year, only 10 black students were offered admission to the city’s most selective of these high schools, Stuyvesant, out of 902 students admitted.</p> <p>The Mayor and the Chancellor <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/281-18/mayor-de-blasio-chancellor-carranza-plan-improve-diversity-specialized-high/#/0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">have proposed</a> that admissions instead depend on a combination of a student’s school ranking in terms of grades and state test scores. In the meantime, before the state law is changed, de Blasio plans to expand the “discovery program,” a special program for disadvantaged students near the cut-off score on the SHSAT, to admit them into these schools after extra academic preparation.</p> <p>As City Council Education Chair Mark Treyger later <a href="https://twitter.com/MarkTreyger718/status/1005192874730967040" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pointed out on Twitter</a>, the entire effort was announced with little preparation; and ”key stakeholders were also not consulted” on something “dropped 11 days before the end of the [Legislative] session.” The proposal has aroused much controversy, and will not come to a final vote this year, as neither the Assembly nor the Senate was prepared to pass it so late in the session that just ended. Yet the issue will be surely be reconsidered again when the Legislature reconvenes next year, and the debate continues, including over what the City can and should do on its own.</p> <p>Despite the fact that much ink has been spilled and emotions aroused since de Blasio made his announcement, several aspects of this hot-button issue remain under-discussed:</p> <p>1. This move is long overdue. New York City is the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/nyregion/specialized-high-school-admissions-test-is-racially-discriminatory-complaint-says.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">only school district</a> in the entire nation where admissions to any high school depends solely on the results of a single high stakes test. This was confirmed by Chester Finn of the Hoover Institute, a conservative education advocate who co-authored a book,<a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9811.html">“Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selective Public High Schools.</a>” Advocates have made efforts for at least 50 years to open up the admission process to these schools and make it more fair. &nbsp;The Hecht-Calandra Act of 1971 in New York, which specified that specialized high schools must rely solely on a single exam for entry, was passed in the first place in response to such a campaign. Bill de Blasio also promised to reform this admissions process &nbsp;when he <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20131105074711/http:/www.billdeblasio.com/issues/education">first ran for Mayor in 2013</a>.</p> <p>2. The reality is that relying solely on a single high-stakes test for admissions, grade retention, or any important decision in a student’s educational career is unfair, unreliable, and likely to have a racially disparate impact, as pointed out by the National Academy of Sciences nearly 20 years ago in its seminal report, <a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/6336" target="_blank" rel="noopener">High Stakes, Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation.</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/6336"></a>3. The SHSAT, produced by Pearson, is a highly peculiar exam that has never been independently assessed for racial bias. This was pointed out by <a href="http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/pb-feinman-nyc-test_final.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Joshua Feinman</a> in 2008, and confirmed more recently by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in its 2012 <a href="http://www.naacpldf.org/files/case_issue/Specialized%20High%20Schools%20Complaint.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Civil Rights complaint</a> about the use of this exam. The results of this test also appear to be <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2018/03/new-evidence-of-extreme-gender-bias-in.html">gender biased</a>, as girls tend to score significantly higher on state exams and receive better grades, but score lower than boys on the SHSAT. (Girls were only admitted to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1983/04/24/education/perspectives-girl-in-a-boys-school-the-way-it-was.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.nytimes.com/1983/04/24/education/perspectives-girl-in-a-boys-school-the-way-it-was.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1529767706462000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFmpyv_D3trVTyE7v-Nzfu-qW3gng">Stuyvesant</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bths.edu/school_history.jsp" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.bths.edu/school_history.jsp&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1529767706462000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFtv9VwoOQ3fOh-3FyTRkeMttW90Q">Brooklyn Tech</a>&nbsp;in 1969-1970.) The test is quirky in other ways and is <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/12/nyregion/admission-tests-scoring-quirk-throws-balance-into-question.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">scored to give extra points to students who do exceptionally well on the ELA or the math section</a> – rather than those students who score well on both subjects. It also has poorly worded questions – see, for example, the first question in this <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4493539-SHS-Handbook.html#document/p1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sample exam</a>.</p> <p>4. The mayor could alter the admissions tests at five of the eight specialized high schools immediately – without any act of the state Legislature. Only Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech are named in state law. The other five schools -- Staten Island Tech, the High School of American Studies, the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College, Queens High School for the Sciences, and Brooklyn Latin School -- were designated as specialized high schools by Joel Klein when he was city schools chancellor, and could be undesignated as such by Chancellor Richard Carranza. &nbsp;All it would take is a vote of the Panel on Educational Policy at one of its monthly meetings. It is a panel made up of a supermajority of mayoral appointees. (The best explanation of how only three schools are mandated to use this exam was published in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5392-the-history-of-new-york-citys-special-high-schools-timeline" target="_blank">Gotham Gazette</a>. While many other news outlets have gotten this fact <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2016/06/correction-requested-from-ny-times-on.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrong</a> in <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2017/03/10/new-york-city-expanded-its-efforts-to-boost-diversity-at-elite-specialized-high-schools-so-why-hasnt-the-needle-budged/">the past</a>, they have recently <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/nyregion/admissions-specialized-high-schools-new-york.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">improved</a> their <a href="https://chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/06/04/a-chalkbeat-cheat-sheet-the-specialized-high-schools-admissions-test-overhaul/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reporting</a> on this issue.)</p> <p>5. Despite the huge amount of time and money many students invest in test prep for the SHSAT exam, &nbsp;there is <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w17286" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research to show</a> that attending a specialized high school has little or no impact on a students’ future SAT scores, chances of enrollment in selective colleges, or college graduation rates – which in turn casts real doubt about the value of attending one of these schools.</p> <p>6. Whatever happens to the admissions system at the specialized high schools, there are myriad problems with how admissions to New York City schools have been designed. Many schools utilize a complex and competitive application system overly reliant on test scores. This makes the process of admissions stressful to kids and their parents, and leads to excessive test prep. In many cases, admissions to middle schools are based heavily upon students’ scores on the 4th grade state exams, and 7th grade exams for high school. The state tests and their <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2018/04/latest-naep-scores-reveal-lost-decade.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">scoring methods</a> have <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2018/04/epic-fail-of-last-weeks-state-testing.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">their own problems</a> in terms of <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2016/08/evidence-grows-we-are-entering-new-era.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">accuracy</a> and <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2016/08/update-on-growing-evidence-of-state.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">validity</a>. In addition, some New York City middle and high schools have developed their own special tests that they rely upon for admissions.</p> <p>7. The competitive nature of this process worsened under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein. The number of high schools that admitted students through <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/17/nyregion/public-schools-screening-admission.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">academic screening</a> increased from 29 in 1997 to 112 in 2017, while the proportion of “ed-opt” high schools, designed to accept students at all different levels of achievement, dropped sharply. Even so-called <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2016/11/07/caught-in-a-dysfunctional-system-some-unscreened-high-schools-collect-information-that-raises-questions-about-how-they-admit-students/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unscreened programs</a> actually do screen students, in covert ways. Moreover, the Gates-funded small schools that proliferated after 2002 initially barred students with disabilities or English language learners from their schools, prompting a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/16/nyregion/16schools.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">civil rights complaint in 2006</a>.</p> <p>Most of these small schools also required prospective students and their families to attend special “open houses” in the evening, which also tends to box out families with the fewest resources. While &nbsp;Bloomberg and Klein often bragged about expanding school “choice,” too often this has meant that schools make the choice, not students or families. There is something to be said for comprehensive high schools as exist in most of the country, where students automatically have a right to attend when they enter 9th grade and don’t have to compete to get into.</p> <p>8. The method de Blasio now proposes to use for admissions at the specialized high schools would be to give preference to students at the top of their class in terms of grades wherever they attend middle school, as long as their state test scores are also good enough. Yet this method, based upon the admissions process at the University of Texas system, will likely only work to effectively integrate the specialized high schools if <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/6/14/17458710/new-york-shsat-test-asian-protest" target="_blank" rel="noopener">city middle schools remain largely segregated</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>9. Even if all New York City high schools became less stratified according to race and class, one would still be left with the biggest problem of all: too many elementary and middle schools are simply not providing the quality of education necessary – especially for students of color. This was revealed by city students’ recent results on the NAEP exams, which showed scores have stagnated – with the only significant change since 2013 being a seven-point decrease in the proportion of fourth-graders proficient in math. The <a href="https://patch.com/new-york/brooklyn/achievement-gap-widens-nyc-students-color-report">achievement gap</a> among racial and ethnic groups is also larger than ever, in 4th and 8th grade reading.</p> <p>10. Class size reduction is one of very few reforms proven to work to <a href="https://www.classsizematters.org/research-and-links/#opportunity" target="_blank" rel="noopener">narrow the achievement gap</a>, and yet New York City class sizes remain excessive. In fact, class sizes have increased substantially since 2007, and are up to 50 percent larger than class sizes in the rest of the state. More than <a href="https://www.classsizematters.org/in-2017-class-sizes-increase-once-again-according-to-doe-data/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">290,000 New York City students</a> were crammed into classes of 30 or more this fall. In the early grades, the number of first-through-third-graders in classes of 30 or more has ballooned by an amazing 3800 percent. Yet despite promises <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20131105074711/http:/www.billdeblasio.com/issues/education" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to reduce class size</a> when he first ran for office, de Blasio has done nothing to accomplish this.</p> <p>In January, Class Size Matters, along with nine New York City parents and the Alliance for Quality Education, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/activists-parents-demand-smaller-class-sizes-new-york-article-1.3935851" target="_blank" rel="noopener">brought a lawsuit</a> versus the City and the State to require the Department of Education to lower class sizes in our public schools, as the state’s highest court deemed was necessary for students to obtain their <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2018/04/advocates-and-parents-sue-in-court-to.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">constitutional right</a> to a sound basic education. Our lawsuit will be heard in State Supreme Court in July. Whether the city’s public school students will receive an equitable chance to learn may depend on the outcome of this lawsuit, as well as the education policies pursued by Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza going forward.</p> <p>***<br />Leonie Haimson is the Executive Director of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.classsizematters.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Class Size Matters</a>. On twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leoniehaimson" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@leoniehaimson</a>.</p> <p>

***
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</p> <p>Note: this column has been corrected to accurately reflect when the schools admitted girls.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/40733253080_499a915acc_z.jpg" alt="Mayor de Blasio education" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>Mayor de Blasio's announcement (photo:&nbsp;Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>On June 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/06/02/mayor-bill-de-blasio-new-york-city-will-push-for-admissions-changes-at-elite-and-segregated-specialized-high-schools/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">announced in Chalkbeat</a> that he was urging the State Legislature to change the admissions system at the city’s eight specialized high schools, which relies on a single high-stakes exam called the SHSAT. Only 10 percent of students admitted to these selective high schools are black and Hispanic, while these students make up 67 percent of the overall public school population. This year, only 10 black students were offered admission to the city’s most selective of these high schools, Stuyvesant, out of 902 students admitted.</p> <p>The Mayor and the Chancellor <a href="http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/281-18/mayor-de-blasio-chancellor-carranza-plan-improve-diversity-specialized-high/#/0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">have proposed</a> that admissions instead depend on a combination of a student’s school ranking in terms of grades and state test scores. In the meantime, before the state law is changed, de Blasio plans to expand the “discovery program,” a special program for disadvantaged students near the cut-off score on the SHSAT, to admit them into these schools after extra academic preparation.</p> <p>As City Council Education Chair Mark Treyger later <a href="https://twitter.com/MarkTreyger718/status/1005192874730967040" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pointed out on Twitter</a>, the entire effort was announced with little preparation; and ”key stakeholders were also not consulted” on something “dropped 11 days before the end of the [Legislative] session.” The proposal has aroused much controversy, and will not come to a final vote this year, as neither the Assembly nor the Senate was prepared to pass it so late in the session that just ended. Yet the issue will be surely be reconsidered again when the Legislature reconvenes next year, and the debate continues, including over what the City can and should do on its own.</p> <p>Despite the fact that much ink has been spilled and emotions aroused since de Blasio made his announcement, several aspects of this hot-button issue remain under-discussed:</p> <p>1. This move is long overdue. New York City is the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/nyregion/specialized-high-school-admissions-test-is-racially-discriminatory-complaint-says.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">only school district</a> in the entire nation where admissions to any high school depends solely on the results of a single high stakes test. This was confirmed by Chester Finn of the Hoover Institute, a conservative education advocate who co-authored a book,<a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9811.html">“Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selective Public High Schools.</a>” Advocates have made efforts for at least 50 years to open up the admission process to these schools and make it more fair. &nbsp;The Hecht-Calandra Act of 1971 in New York, which specified that specialized high schools must rely solely on a single exam for entry, was passed in the first place in response to such a campaign. Bill de Blasio also promised to reform this admissions process &nbsp;when he <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20131105074711/http:/www.billdeblasio.com/issues/education">first ran for Mayor in 2013</a>.</p> <p>2. The reality is that relying solely on a single high-stakes test for admissions, grade retention, or any important decision in a student’s educational career is unfair, unreliable, and likely to have a racially disparate impact, as pointed out by the National Academy of Sciences nearly 20 years ago in its seminal report, <a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/6336" target="_blank" rel="noopener">High Stakes, Testing for Tracking, Promotion, and Graduation.</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.nap.edu/read/6336"></a>3. The SHSAT, produced by Pearson, is a highly peculiar exam that has never been independently assessed for racial bias. This was pointed out by <a href="http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/pb-feinman-nyc-test_final.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Joshua Feinman</a> in 2008, and confirmed more recently by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in its 2012 <a href="http://www.naacpldf.org/files/case_issue/Specialized%20High%20Schools%20Complaint.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Civil Rights complaint</a> about the use of this exam. The results of this test also appear to be <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2018/03/new-evidence-of-extreme-gender-bias-in.html">gender biased</a>, as girls tend to score significantly higher on state exams and receive better grades, but score lower than boys on the SHSAT. (Girls were only admitted to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1983/04/24/education/perspectives-girl-in-a-boys-school-the-way-it-was.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.nytimes.com/1983/04/24/education/perspectives-girl-in-a-boys-school-the-way-it-was.html&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1529767706462000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFmpyv_D3trVTyE7v-Nzfu-qW3gng">Stuyvesant</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.bths.edu/school_history.jsp" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://www.bths.edu/school_history.jsp&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1529767706462000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFtv9VwoOQ3fOh-3FyTRkeMttW90Q">Brooklyn Tech</a>&nbsp;in 1969-1970.) The test is quirky in other ways and is <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/12/nyregion/admission-tests-scoring-quirk-throws-balance-into-question.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">scored to give extra points to students who do exceptionally well on the ELA or the math section</a> – rather than those students who score well on both subjects. It also has poorly worded questions – see, for example, the first question in this <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4493539-SHS-Handbook.html#document/p1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">sample exam</a>.</p> <p>4. The mayor could alter the admissions tests at five of the eight specialized high schools immediately – without any act of the state Legislature. Only Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, and Brooklyn Tech are named in state law. The other five schools -- Staten Island Tech, the High School of American Studies, the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College, Queens High School for the Sciences, and Brooklyn Latin School -- were designated as specialized high schools by Joel Klein when he was city schools chancellor, and could be undesignated as such by Chancellor Richard Carranza. &nbsp;All it would take is a vote of the Panel on Educational Policy at one of its monthly meetings. It is a panel made up of a supermajority of mayoral appointees. (The best explanation of how only three schools are mandated to use this exam was published in <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5392-the-history-of-new-york-citys-special-high-schools-timeline" target="_blank">Gotham Gazette</a>. While many other news outlets have gotten this fact <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2016/06/correction-requested-from-ny-times-on.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrong</a> in <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2017/03/10/new-york-city-expanded-its-efforts-to-boost-diversity-at-elite-specialized-high-schools-so-why-hasnt-the-needle-budged/">the past</a>, they have recently <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/nyregion/admissions-specialized-high-schools-new-york.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">improved</a> their <a href="https://chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2018/06/04/a-chalkbeat-cheat-sheet-the-specialized-high-schools-admissions-test-overhaul/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reporting</a> on this issue.)</p> <p>5. Despite the huge amount of time and money many students invest in test prep for the SHSAT exam, &nbsp;there is <a href="http://www.nber.org/papers/w17286" target="_blank" rel="noopener">research to show</a> that attending a specialized high school has little or no impact on a students’ future SAT scores, chances of enrollment in selective colleges, or college graduation rates – which in turn casts real doubt about the value of attending one of these schools.</p> <p>6. Whatever happens to the admissions system at the specialized high schools, there are myriad problems with how admissions to New York City schools have been designed. Many schools utilize a complex and competitive application system overly reliant on test scores. This makes the process of admissions stressful to kids and their parents, and leads to excessive test prep. In many cases, admissions to middle schools are based heavily upon students’ scores on the 4th grade state exams, and 7th grade exams for high school. The state tests and their <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2018/04/latest-naep-scores-reveal-lost-decade.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">scoring methods</a> have <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2018/04/epic-fail-of-last-weeks-state-testing.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">their own problems</a> in terms of <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2016/08/evidence-grows-we-are-entering-new-era.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">accuracy</a> and <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2016/08/update-on-growing-evidence-of-state.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">validity</a>. In addition, some New York City middle and high schools have developed their own special tests that they rely upon for admissions.</p> <p>7. The competitive nature of this process worsened under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein. The number of high schools that admitted students through <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/17/nyregion/public-schools-screening-admission.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">academic screening</a> increased from 29 in 1997 to 112 in 2017, while the proportion of “ed-opt” high schools, designed to accept students at all different levels of achievement, dropped sharply. Even so-called <a href="https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/ny/2016/11/07/caught-in-a-dysfunctional-system-some-unscreened-high-schools-collect-information-that-raises-questions-about-how-they-admit-students/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">unscreened programs</a> actually do screen students, in covert ways. Moreover, the Gates-funded small schools that proliferated after 2002 initially barred students with disabilities or English language learners from their schools, prompting a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/16/nyregion/16schools.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">civil rights complaint in 2006</a>.</p> <p>Most of these small schools also required prospective students and their families to attend special “open houses” in the evening, which also tends to box out families with the fewest resources. While &nbsp;Bloomberg and Klein often bragged about expanding school “choice,” too often this has meant that schools make the choice, not students or families. There is something to be said for comprehensive high schools as exist in most of the country, where students automatically have a right to attend when they enter 9th grade and don’t have to compete to get into.</p> <p>8. The method de Blasio now proposes to use for admissions at the specialized high schools would be to give preference to students at the top of their class in terms of grades wherever they attend middle school, as long as their state test scores are also good enough. Yet this method, based upon the admissions process at the University of Texas system, will likely only work to effectively integrate the specialized high schools if <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/6/14/17458710/new-york-shsat-test-asian-protest" target="_blank" rel="noopener">city middle schools remain largely segregated</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>9. Even if all New York City high schools became less stratified according to race and class, one would still be left with the biggest problem of all: too many elementary and middle schools are simply not providing the quality of education necessary – especially for students of color. This was revealed by city students’ recent results on the NAEP exams, which showed scores have stagnated – with the only significant change since 2013 being a seven-point decrease in the proportion of fourth-graders proficient in math. The <a href="https://patch.com/new-york/brooklyn/achievement-gap-widens-nyc-students-color-report">achievement gap</a> among racial and ethnic groups is also larger than ever, in 4th and 8th grade reading.</p> <p>10. Class size reduction is one of very few reforms proven to work to <a href="https://www.classsizematters.org/research-and-links/#opportunity" target="_blank" rel="noopener">narrow the achievement gap</a>, and yet New York City class sizes remain excessive. In fact, class sizes have increased substantially since 2007, and are up to 50 percent larger than class sizes in the rest of the state. More than <a href="https://www.classsizematters.org/in-2017-class-sizes-increase-once-again-according-to-doe-data/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">290,000 New York City students</a> were crammed into classes of 30 or more this fall. In the early grades, the number of first-through-third-graders in classes of 30 or more has ballooned by an amazing 3800 percent. Yet despite promises <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20131105074711/http:/www.billdeblasio.com/issues/education" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to reduce class size</a> when he first ran for office, de Blasio has done nothing to accomplish this.</p> <p>In January, Class Size Matters, along with nine New York City parents and the Alliance for Quality Education, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/activists-parents-demand-smaller-class-sizes-new-york-article-1.3935851" target="_blank" rel="noopener">brought a lawsuit</a> versus the City and the State to require the Department of Education to lower class sizes in our public schools, as the state’s highest court deemed was necessary for students to obtain their <a href="https://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com/2018/04/advocates-and-parents-sue-in-court-to.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">constitutional right</a> to a sound basic education. Our lawsuit will be heard in State Supreme Court in July. Whether the city’s public school students will receive an equitable chance to learn may depend on the outcome of this lawsuit, as well as the education policies pursued by Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza going forward.</p> <p>***<br />Leonie Haimson is the Executive Director of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.classsizematters.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Class Size Matters</a>. On twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leoniehaimson" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@leoniehaimson</a>.</p> <p>

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</p> <p>Note: this column has been corrected to accurately reflect when the schools admitted girls.</p>
What Stuyvesant High School Was For Me 2018-06-12T04:00:00+00:00 2018-06-12T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7727-what-stuyvesant-high-school-was-for-me Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/stuy_hs_sunny_jeh.jpg" alt="Stuyvesant HS" width="600" height="489" /></p> <p>Stuyvesant High School (photo: Jim Henderson via Wikipedia)</p> <hr /> <p>When I graduated from Stuyvesant High School in June of 2001, I remember feeling sad to be moving on from my friends and excited to be moving on to college. But I also remember an overwhelming sense of relief that I would no longer have to deal with the tests that formed the backbone of the Stuyvesant High School experience.</p> <p>The tests didn’t start at the end of the first semester or even during midterms freshman year. They did not even start on the day that I made the trip down to Battery Park to take the “Stuy test.” Rather, they started toward the end of middle school, spending Saturday mornings in a hotel conference room in midtown Manhattan, taking a prep course run by a Stuyvesant math teacher (who, when I was a sophomore, would give me the lowest grade of my high school career). I remember that many of us wore our soccer uniforms and cleats to class because we had to hurry off to games immediately afterwards.</p> <p>By this time I had been subjected to plenty of high-stakes exams: pre-school interviews, citywide exams, a fifth grade full of tests and interviews to get into well-regarded public middle schools, and, even after I had started attending one such school, the Hunter test, on which I did not come remotely close to earning the admission score. I understood some of those tests to be more important than others, but none carried the weight of the ones related to Stuyvesant. The implication, starting with preparations for the SHSAT, and continuing at a pace of six or more exams per semester during my time at Stuyvesant and additionally highlighted by the SAT, was that how I performed on each exam was going to impact the rest of my life.</p> <p>My parents did not pressure me to get into Stuyvesant or seem to care about where I went to college (though it was always understood I would go). They did pressure me to do the homework the prep course assigned, and I recall that I did it. I scored a 560 on the exam -- the cutoff was 559 -- and was excited to be accepted as, technically speaking, the dumbest kid in school. I called a close friend who told me he had missed getting in by one question. He would be going to Bronx Science. Even though we only lived a few blocks away from each other, we drifted apart after that.</p> <p>The pressure was entirely driven by the culture surrounding Stuyvesant. Other than the occasional creative writing course or class led by an outside-the-box thinking history teacher, Stuyvesant was all about tests. The midterms and finals were inflexible and merciless. Scantrons were everywhere. “What did you get on the test?” was a frequent question, one that had to be asked with a level of tact that high school kids are seldom capable of.</p> <p>Even though I was, relative to my classmates, an unmotivated, average student, content to get Bs and take “remedial” Spanish and math (which at Stuyvesant meant taking ninth-grade Spanish as a ninth-grader and not taking calculus), I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and scribble math equations on a piece of paper next to my bed. At my mom’s advice, I took to sleeping with textbooks underneath my pillow the night before tests, hoping to learn just a little more through osmosis.</p> <p>At the end of one semester there was a rash of episodes involving fire alarms getting pulled and the school being unnecessarily evacuated. It was rumored that they caught the culprit by identifying a single student who had an exam scheduled on each of the days an evacuation occurred. Students whispered that we could not access the patio outside the fifth floor cafeteria because the administration was afraid if we were allowed on it there would be suicides. It was said we were not given class rankings for the same reason.</p> <p>Cheating, which relied both on old-fashioned methods and newfangled technology like cell phones and digital cameras, was rampant. Some kids cheated to get the grades they felt they needed and some kids cheated just to get by. Some kids just disappeared, presumably moving on to schools where things were a little less intense. I remember crying in a taxi on the way home from college night as a sophomore because it was clear I could not even expect to get into “Wash U. in St. Louis.”</p> <p>Exams aside, there was a lot of fun to be had at Stuy. I wrote for the sports section of the school newspaper. A review of the yearbook tells me there were more than 90 clubs, including something called “The Real,” devoted to “underground hip-hop music,” that I was the president of -- it is my recollection that we had no budget or formal meetings. I played backup tight end on the football team, which I am not sure I could have done at another school. Significantly, in my experience the football team was one of the few places at Stuyvesant where Asian, black, Hispanic, and white students really spent time together (the cheerleading team was a similarly integrated group).</p> <p>I can still remember all the different parts of the school where students of particular races congregated almost exclusively and I suspect that my classmates can as well. On the second floor where the main entrance and exit was located, there was a “senior bar” -- basically a waist-high counter surrounded by lockers -- that at the time I would have said was the epicenter of the social life of the school but I now realize was overwhelmingly white. There was another “bar” that was widely referred to as the “Asian bar” on the sixth floor. I recall that there was an area behind the escalators on the fifth floor where African-American students hung out.</p> <p>The exact demographic makeup of the school at the time is difficult to find online, but as I recall, Asian students made up about half the school, with white students making up most of the other half. As now, the percentage of black and Hispanic students was well below 10%. I am sure that Stuyvesant has changed in many ways since I left, but in some important ones, it has not.</p> <p>Like most alums, it is through my perspective from and since my time at Stuyvesant that I view the ongoing debate about how -- and whether -- specialized high school admissions should be reformed. Stuyvesant needs to be more diverse and it is not entirely clear how best to make that happen.</p> <p>What I find missing from the debate is a discussion about how the “Stuy test” and the Stuyvesant experience are linked. If students are not going to be admitted based on their ability to excel on a single, high-pressure exam, they should not be evaluated primarily based on high-pressure exams. It seems likely that a student body admitted to Stuyvesant based on criteria other than the SHSAT would benefit from a reduced emphasis on testing. It may even be that all students, including current Stuyvesant students, would benefit from a reduced emphasis on testing.</p> <p>At the same time, the iteration of Stuyvesant I attended left me very well prepared for college and law school. I feel strongly that I was always going to be an average student in high school. At an underperforming school, that might mean barely graduating. At Stuyvesant, that meant a B average and a partial scholarship to Lehigh University. Many New York City students would benefit from the education I received, regardless of how they are admitted to the school or how painful it might be while they are there.</p> <p>***<br />Jonathan Fishner is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, class of 2001, and an attorney. His opinions are his own.</p> <p>

***
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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/stuy_hs_sunny_jeh.jpg" alt="Stuyvesant HS" width="600" height="489" /></p> <p>Stuyvesant High School (photo: Jim Henderson via Wikipedia)</p> <hr /> <p>When I graduated from Stuyvesant High School in June of 2001, I remember feeling sad to be moving on from my friends and excited to be moving on to college. But I also remember an overwhelming sense of relief that I would no longer have to deal with the tests that formed the backbone of the Stuyvesant High School experience.</p> <p>The tests didn’t start at the end of the first semester or even during midterms freshman year. They did not even start on the day that I made the trip down to Battery Park to take the “Stuy test.” Rather, they started toward the end of middle school, spending Saturday mornings in a hotel conference room in midtown Manhattan, taking a prep course run by a Stuyvesant math teacher (who, when I was a sophomore, would give me the lowest grade of my high school career). I remember that many of us wore our soccer uniforms and cleats to class because we had to hurry off to games immediately afterwards.</p> <p>By this time I had been subjected to plenty of high-stakes exams: pre-school interviews, citywide exams, a fifth grade full of tests and interviews to get into well-regarded public middle schools, and, even after I had started attending one such school, the Hunter test, on which I did not come remotely close to earning the admission score. I understood some of those tests to be more important than others, but none carried the weight of the ones related to Stuyvesant. The implication, starting with preparations for the SHSAT, and continuing at a pace of six or more exams per semester during my time at Stuyvesant and additionally highlighted by the SAT, was that how I performed on each exam was going to impact the rest of my life.</p> <p>My parents did not pressure me to get into Stuyvesant or seem to care about where I went to college (though it was always understood I would go). They did pressure me to do the homework the prep course assigned, and I recall that I did it. I scored a 560 on the exam -- the cutoff was 559 -- and was excited to be accepted as, technically speaking, the dumbest kid in school. I called a close friend who told me he had missed getting in by one question. He would be going to Bronx Science. Even though we only lived a few blocks away from each other, we drifted apart after that.</p> <p>The pressure was entirely driven by the culture surrounding Stuyvesant. Other than the occasional creative writing course or class led by an outside-the-box thinking history teacher, Stuyvesant was all about tests. The midterms and finals were inflexible and merciless. Scantrons were everywhere. “What did you get on the test?” was a frequent question, one that had to be asked with a level of tact that high school kids are seldom capable of.</p> <p>Even though I was, relative to my classmates, an unmotivated, average student, content to get Bs and take “remedial” Spanish and math (which at Stuyvesant meant taking ninth-grade Spanish as a ninth-grader and not taking calculus), I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and scribble math equations on a piece of paper next to my bed. At my mom’s advice, I took to sleeping with textbooks underneath my pillow the night before tests, hoping to learn just a little more through osmosis.</p> <p>At the end of one semester there was a rash of episodes involving fire alarms getting pulled and the school being unnecessarily evacuated. It was rumored that they caught the culprit by identifying a single student who had an exam scheduled on each of the days an evacuation occurred. Students whispered that we could not access the patio outside the fifth floor cafeteria because the administration was afraid if we were allowed on it there would be suicides. It was said we were not given class rankings for the same reason.</p> <p>Cheating, which relied both on old-fashioned methods and newfangled technology like cell phones and digital cameras, was rampant. Some kids cheated to get the grades they felt they needed and some kids cheated just to get by. Some kids just disappeared, presumably moving on to schools where things were a little less intense. I remember crying in a taxi on the way home from college night as a sophomore because it was clear I could not even expect to get into “Wash U. in St. Louis.”</p> <p>Exams aside, there was a lot of fun to be had at Stuy. I wrote for the sports section of the school newspaper. A review of the yearbook tells me there were more than 90 clubs, including something called “The Real,” devoted to “underground hip-hop music,” that I was the president of -- it is my recollection that we had no budget or formal meetings. I played backup tight end on the football team, which I am not sure I could have done at another school. Significantly, in my experience the football team was one of the few places at Stuyvesant where Asian, black, Hispanic, and white students really spent time together (the cheerleading team was a similarly integrated group).</p> <p>I can still remember all the different parts of the school where students of particular races congregated almost exclusively and I suspect that my classmates can as well. On the second floor where the main entrance and exit was located, there was a “senior bar” -- basically a waist-high counter surrounded by lockers -- that at the time I would have said was the epicenter of the social life of the school but I now realize was overwhelmingly white. There was another “bar” that was widely referred to as the “Asian bar” on the sixth floor. I recall that there was an area behind the escalators on the fifth floor where African-American students hung out.</p> <p>The exact demographic makeup of the school at the time is difficult to find online, but as I recall, Asian students made up about half the school, with white students making up most of the other half. As now, the percentage of black and Hispanic students was well below 10%. I am sure that Stuyvesant has changed in many ways since I left, but in some important ones, it has not.</p> <p>Like most alums, it is through my perspective from and since my time at Stuyvesant that I view the ongoing debate about how -- and whether -- specialized high school admissions should be reformed. Stuyvesant needs to be more diverse and it is not entirely clear how best to make that happen.</p> <p>What I find missing from the debate is a discussion about how the “Stuy test” and the Stuyvesant experience are linked. If students are not going to be admitted based on their ability to excel on a single, high-pressure exam, they should not be evaluated primarily based on high-pressure exams. It seems likely that a student body admitted to Stuyvesant based on criteria other than the SHSAT would benefit from a reduced emphasis on testing. It may even be that all students, including current Stuyvesant students, would benefit from a reduced emphasis on testing.</p> <p>At the same time, the iteration of Stuyvesant I attended left me very well prepared for college and law school. I feel strongly that I was always going to be an average student in high school. At an underperforming school, that might mean barely graduating. At Stuyvesant, that meant a B average and a partial scholarship to Lehigh University. Many New York City students would benefit from the education I received, regardless of how they are admitted to the school or how painful it might be while they are there.</p> <p>***<br />Jonathan Fishner is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, class of 2001, and an attorney. His opinions are his own.</p> <p>

***
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</p>