Posts tagged "School Choice"
July 26, 2012
New York City’s process for assigning students to schools still sets some of the schools up to fail, State Education Commission John King charged today.
“I continue to have concerns about enrollment,” King said. “I worry about the over-concentration of high-needs students in particular buildings without adequate supports to ensure success.”
King made the comments to reporters during a break in a meeting of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state education reform commission, which met this morning in the Bronx.
City officials have acknowledged King’s concerns when petitioning the state for aid, but they have never conceded that high concentrations of needy students could hurt schools. Today, the Department of Education official in charge of enrollment said recent changes to the way some students are assigned to schools, made quietly last summer, were meant to increase choices for families, not respond to King’s concerns or help struggling schools.
King’s concerns reflect longstanding criticism about the Bloomberg administration’s school choice policies. For years, critics have charged that the department overloads some schools with needy students, making it hard for them to show progress or even sustain their past performance. An internal department report completed in 2008 and obtained by GothamSchools last year concluded that a high school’s size and concentration of low-achieving and overage students strongly predicts its graduation rate. (more…)
June 28, 2012
When Jacqueline Wayans helped her second daughter pick a high school, they were confident about their choice.
After all, Wayans is a savvy parent who had worked for years visiting and reviewing schools for Insideschools, the online guide to city schools. Her older daughter had attended a city school with an arts theme and gotten a good education, and her younger daughter’s top pick, Manhattan’s High School for Fashion Industries, had gotten an “A” from the Department of Education.
It wasn’t until after her daughter enrolled that Wayans learned Fashion Industries only offered three years of math classes. And when the school added a fourth math class, she didn’t find out until it was too late that her daughter’s scores were too low for her to qualify. Now, when Wayans’s daughter starts college this fall, she’ll need to take remedial math.
“I just assumed that there was a four-year sequence,” Wayans said today during a panel discussion about metrics for assessing high schools that Insideschools hosted. “My older daughter had it at her high school and I just thought it was there.”
Wayans isn’t alone in trusting a small sliver of information to make the potentially life-changing decision about where to attend high school. Some parents and students choose schools by their names, their sports teams, or their neighborhoods, without digging deep to understand what kind of education the schools offer.
Now entering its second decade, Insideschools (where I also worked from 2005 to 2008) is preparing to launch a tool to help parents like Wayans — and those far less savvy than she is — make better choices. The tool, called “Inside Stats,” is a consumer-oriented presentation of public data about high schools that is meant to complement, or perhaps even rival, the information the city distributes. (more…)
June 5, 2012
This story has been corrected from its earlier version to clarify the positions expressed by Lasher yesterday.
Two months ago StudentsFirstNY, the New York branch of Michelle Rhee’s political action committee, announced itself with a splash. But it hasn’t been clear where the group will direct its financial and political might.
Micah Lasher, StudentsFirstNY’s executive director, fleshed out the group’s platform for the first time at a discussion hosted Monday by the DL21C, a group of young Democrats. GothamSchools’ Elizabeth Green moderated the discussion.
StudentsFirstNY will also focus on organizing parents to demand policy changes around improving teacher quality and school choice, Lasher said. He also said the group might well weigh in on next year’s mayoral race, whose victor will determine the next phase of the city’s education reforms.
“If there comes a time where it becomes clear that there is a candidate that we think would be effective on these issues, and it makes sense according to our political judgements and the way we think we can best improve schools in the city, I would allow us to get involved in getting support of a candidate,” Lasher said. (more…)
May 24, 2012
Upper West Sider and mayoral hopeful Tom Allon would oppose testing in elementary schools — even though the state, not the city, sets the testing schedule.
That was one of several policy positions he outlined for a sparse crowd of principals, campaign volunteers, and teachers’ union leader Michael Mulgrew yesterday evening who gathered to hear his first policy speech about education.
Allon, a former teacher and political outsider, said he wants to be the “education mayor” — a mantle Bloomberg sought early in his administration. Allon briefly taught English and journalism at his alma mater, Stuyvesant High School; aided city officials in the creation two small high schools in Manhattan; and sent three daughters to public schools.
The speech itself contained few hard proposals but instead focused on challenges facing the school system and a handful of small-scale solutions that are already in place, such as teacher mentoring programs that the UFT runs.
It was when audience members pressed Allon for specifics that he offered ideas of what an Allon administration might look like. (His five likely competitors in the Democratic primary have also started to stake out their education platforms, but none has yet delivered a policy address on the subject.)
Like Mayor Bloomberg, he would favor mayoral control and school choice. But like some of Bloomberg’s fiercest critics, he would slash the Department of Education’s central bureaucracy and reduce the emphasis on standardized testing.
And on some issues, he would strike out for a middle ground. (more…)
December 9, 2011
Many of the parents and teachers attending a forum last night about school choice said it was their first time hearing Chancellor Dennis Walcott talk about the Bloomberg administration’s school policies.
Walcott defended the school choice model that has developed during Bloomberg’s tenure at the event, which was organized by the New York Times and WNYC in conjunction with their SchoolBook reporting project.
The event took place against the backdrop of a spate of school closures announced by the Department of Education earlier in the day. The city’s closure strategy, meant to clear space for better school options, has in large part fueled the increasing number of choices that families face, especially when applying in middle and high school.
Parents and teachers we spoke to said the apparent options could be dizzying, even for the most involved families. educators, some parents said they didn’t think Walcott’s answers got to the root of their concerns.
“It’s very confusing. The whole process reminds me of voting. People don’t engage because there’s too much information out there. They don’t know how to process all of it,” said Tania Cade, who has a child in third grade at P.S. 278 and another in seventh-grade at a gifted-and-talented program in Washington Heights. “I don’t think that [Walcott] addressed that issue at all. It’s all up to the parents, and God bless those parents who don’t have the time or don’t speak the language.” (more…)
November 30, 2011
The same admissions processes that leave city parents scratching their heads or, worse, pulling their hair out have put New York City at the head of the pack in a new study ranking districts’ school choice policies.
The report, by the nonpartisan Brookings Institution, which has long pushed for expanded school choice, compares choice policies in place in 25 urban school districts and how families took advantage of them.
New York City came in first, in part because students here are never assigned to schools based simply on where they live. Of the 25 districts, New York was the only one where students are assigned to schools based on applications that asked for families’ preferences, not just their address.
The city has a labyrinthine citywide high school matching process and district-based middle and elementary school admissions processes that many believe could be improved. In a district with more than 1,600 schools (the Brookings report tallies 1,474), the processes are seen as bringing order but also as sometimes pitting schools against each other and limiting options, particularly in high school, for students who aren’t happy with what they’ve chosen.
The Brookings report also gave New York credit for making data about school performance public and closing or restructuring low-performing schools. But its B grade would have been higher if it had more virtual school options and provided transportation when students enroll in schools outside their districts.
To tie in with the report, former city schools chancellor Joel Klein, who bolstered and expanded the city’s school choice policies, is speaking at Brookings’ Washington, D.C., offices today. (more…)
September 26, 2011
Eighth-graders and their parents began queuing up outside Brooklyn Technical High School on Saturday an hour before the annual citywide high school fair’s start time, and by 9:45 a.m. a long line of families wrapped around the block. When the doors opened at 10 a.m., they poured into the stuffy building, some of the tens of thousands of families that passed through the fair this weekend.
Inside, Brooklyn Tech’s eight stories were something of a labyrinth — but no more so than the high school admissions process itself. Parents and students that we met outlined varying strategies for navigating the fair and the journey to high school.
Laura Napiza and her daughter Samantha tried traversing the hallways but seemed completely lost. “We just got here and it’s very overwhelming,” Laura Napiza said. “We’re looking for a high school with a strong academic program that also has something that she’d be interested in. Right now she wants to be a teacher.”
They said their goal was to visit the Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts, and the Sciences and Maspeth High School — if they could find those tables. Saying they planned to inquire about graduation rates, student-to-teacher ratios and extracurricular options, the mother and daughter disappeared into the melee.
Beverly Brailsford and her son Spencer Jackson came in with a clear plan of action: Head straight to the seventh floor and methodically work downwards, hitting only the schools with strong academic programs and track and field teams. First, though, the pair found a quiet hallway where they could sit down and prepare. With the high school directory in her lap, a pen in her hand, and a notebook turned to a fresh page, Brailsford took notes on schools such as Aviation High School and Medgar Evers College Preparatory School while Jackson played on his phone. “I think it’s more of a mom thing,” Brailsford said of the process. “As long as they have what he’s into, it works for him.” (more…)
June 21, 2010
A City Council hearing today on public school admissions policies became a debate on school choice as teachers union and city officials clashed on whether more choice had really helped more students.
Defending the current system, which was put in place seven years ago, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg pulled from his own experience of starting the Bronx Lab School, one of several small schools that replaced a Evander Childs High School, a large neighborhood school. Sternberg argued that because students can now apply to high schools all over the city, the fate of their education isn’t tied to the quality of a zoned high school. In his testimony he argued that having school choice is working for most students.
And for the coming year, 52 percent of rising ninth-graders were matched to their first-choice school, and 77 percent were matched to one of their top-three choices-more than triple the figure just six years ago. At the end of the main round, 86 percent of students had been matched to one of their top five choices. And while there is always room for progress, this represents a completely different universe of opportunities for students and a signature accomplishment of this Administration.
Teachers union officials countered that having school choice is great for the students who apply and get in to desirable schools, but every year there are thousands of students who aren’t matched with any school. This year there are about 6,500 of those students. (more…)
April 24, 2009
A line of parents that wrapped around the block, blue and orange balloons, and a carefully choreographed program greetged hopeful families and political supporters last night at the admission event for the four Harlem Success Network charter schools. In addition to the main event, the naming of admitted students, the evening featured a barnstorming speech by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein (in the video above), a surprise announcement about charter school funding from State Sen. Malcolm Smith, and political exhortations from Eva Moskowitz, Harlem Success’s lightning rod CEO.
“I wish we could open them faster and have spots for absolutely everyone,” Moskowitz said about her schools to the thousands of assembled parents. But she said, “There are special interests and even elected officials who don’t support the growth of charter schools.” Moskowitz has sparred for years with the teachers union over her aggressive school reform strategies.
For the thousands of parents in attendance, politics took a distant second to anxiety about whether their children would be among the 475 selected from the 3,500 entered into the lottery. (more…)
April 2, 2009
A group of parents is sharply criticizing the Department of Education for backing away from its decision to shut down struggling neighborhood elementary schools, saying Mayor Bloomberg should “take a hard line” and turn over the buildings to be used as charter schools.
The parents, who are zoned to have their children attend two of the schools that would have been closed and replaced with charter schools, said that they want the mayor to shut the schools down because the schools are dirty, dangerous, and filled with teachers who are “just there for a paycheck.”
“I live across the street from 194,” one mother, Melissia Daley, wrote of P.S. 194, a Harlem elementary school that would have been closed under the city’s original plan. “Although it’s a zoned school and very convenient for me and my child, I wouldn’t even try to put my child in there because the children are well behind in grade.”
“If they are closing 241 to put a better school in its place, then they should do that,” one parent, Martinique Owens, said, of another Harlem school, P.S. 241, in a similar situation.
Their statements came in a press release issued this afternoon by a spokeswoman for the Harlem Success Academy network of charter schools, Jenny Sedlis. Two Harlem Success schools were planning to become the sole occupants of the P.S. 194 and P.S. 241 buildings after those schools closed. Those schools will have to continue sharing space with district elementary schools next year. (more…)