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Posts Tagged ‘social mobility’

Covid-19 Positive Consequence: NYC “Elite” High Schools Cannot Use Screens

May 25, 2020 Comments off

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This NYDaily News op ed piece by three social justice advocates describes one of the positive consequences of the pandemic: NY high schools will need to revamp their admissions criteria. Because schools were closed from March 15 onward and the Regents and other standardized tests were cancelled, all of the traditional means of selecting students for the elite high schools in the city will not be available for next years eighth grade students. This provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the current criteria in a fashion that will eliminate the de facto economic and racial segregation that results from the use of tests as the primary metric for admission. As the writers describe, such a change would benefit all high schools:

Reforming and eventually eliminating screened school admissions would do more than fix a deeply inequitable process. It would also improve student and school performance. While the evidence on peer effects and tracking is mixed, research generally finds that middle- and low-performing students benefit from learning with higher-achieving students. Siphoning the highest-achieving students into selective programs limits these interactions and draws resources — high-quality teachers and honors courses, for example — away from regular schools. What is more, as some evidence has shown, racially and economically diverse classroom settings benefit all students and reflect our country’s democratic values.

Change of this magnitude seemed politically impossible six months ago… but after the pandemic many ideas that seemed impossible are now being examined as realistic alternatives to the dominant paradigm.

Stan Karp’s Rethinking Schools Post Full of Chilling Reminders of the Past, Ominous Predictions for the Future

May 21, 2020 Comments off

Rethinking Schools editor Stan Karp wrote a post yesterday that is full of chilling reminders from the past and ominous predictions for the future.

In case any public school advocates had forgotten, Mr. Karp offers a scathing recounting of how the Democrats responded to the economic meltdown in 2008 where the relatively scarce funds allocated for public education were used to leverage the ill-starred ideas of “reformers” who hoped to privatize public education by sustaining the test-and-punish models put in place as part of No Child Left Behind. By the time the Obama administration came to an end, public schools were funded more parsimoniously than they had been for decades and the funding mechanisms did not move in the direction of greater equity:

Even as the economy recovered in the years after 2009, the vise of austerity continued to squeeze schools. A recent report from the Shanker Institute documented a 25-year decline in the percentage of personal income that went to state and local taxes.What school finance experts call “effort” — the share of state economies devoted to supporting K–12 education — decreased sharply through 2012 and hasn’t recovered. “This was not an accident or random confluence of events,” the Shanker Institute report noted. “It was — and still is — due in no small part to policymakers’ refusal to raise sufficient revenue to fund public services, including education.”

Expanded federal aid could be used as a lever to increase the “effort” and fairness of state school funding systems. But federal and state policy decisions have instead steadily eroded the funding mechanisms that support public education and left it increasingly vulnerable to repeated crises, with disproportionate impact on high-poverty districts most dependent on state and federal aid.

As bad as things were in response to the 2008 meltdown, they promise to be even worse this time around because the Congress has turned over a massive amount of spending authority to Betsy DeVos…. and in case you think she couldn’t wreak havoc on public education, here’s a reminder of what she’s done without any money at her disposal and what she will be able to do once she has some:

The CARES Act gives her the power to waive Title I funding regulations, which govern the largest federal education program supporting children from low-income families. It also allows her to suspend Title II rules defining professional development and Title IV requirements to “provide students with a well-rounded education” including the arts, mental health services, and training on trauma-informed practices — all crucially important in the current crisis. The CARES Act specifically allows schools to shift money from these areas to purchase “digital devices.” By early April, 28 states had received waivers to reallocate ESSA spending…

DeVos has a long and notorious record of using agency guidance and regulatory action to undermine equity. One of her first acts after being confirmed as secretary was to support the repeal of protections for transgender students, including their right to choose restrooms. She was sued for rolling back protections against predatory lenders at for-profit colleges and threatened with jail by a federal judge for “intentionally flouting” a court order to stop collection proceedings for such loans. DeVos rescinded sexual assault guidance issued under Title IX, a move the National Women’s Law Center said would have a “devastating” impact, and in May released new guidance that weakened protections for victims of sexual harassment and assault. She proposed allowing schools to use federal “student enrichment funds” to purchase guns and used a school safety commission formed in the wake of the Parkland school shootings to recommend repeal of regulations on school discipline practices that were rooted in civil rights concerns. Similarly, DeVos tried to rescind Obama-era rules that required districts to track racial disparities in special education classification rates, an effort a federal judge blocked as “arbitrary and capricious.” In April, DeVos relaxed oversight and accreditation rules for higher education online programs at a time when the pandemic was massively expanding the scale of such programs.

What could go wrong?

College Board’s Preposterous Solution to Online AP Testing Equity

May 18, 2020 Comments off

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A NYC charter school teacher describes the predicament facing one of her hardworking AP English students that is a proxy for a host of problems students like her face repeatedly throughout their lives. It seems that this star pupil’s free 60 day internet service is going to come to an end before the administration of the AP tests she has worked all year to prepare for. Seeing this problem, the teacher called the College Board to see if they would help find away to help. Their solution? Go to a McDonalds parking lot to take the test!

The teacher bemoaned the College Board’s intractability on this issue… but this is just another example of how intractable rules have impacted immigrant students like the one the teacher profiled, including the possibility that DACA, the one HELPFUL rule that would open the door to citizenship for this hardworking and academically talented student, might be thrown out by the SCOTUS.