A new year doesn’t mean an end to New York City’s education woes. In honor of 2020, we highlight 20 stories which are bound to continue vexing NYC families, ranked by how much traffic they received in 2019:
20: The Big Con: Why NYC’s Plan For Raising Student Achievement Isn’t Close To Good Enough For All Kids
Most Vexing Point: NYC simply doesn’t have enough students performing at grade level to go around if they want to make every school a majority-passing school!
19) NYC Parents Sound Off On Department Of Education Incompetence (Part #2)
Most Vexing Point: “The new website is not at all user friendly and, although Carranza’s and de Blasio’s rhetoric says this new system would make things better by giving the power of registration to the parents, in fact, it makes searching for information more difficult. It is incomprehensible to me that NYC spent millions of taxpayers money for so little return. If NYC DOE were a publicly traded company, this would call for an emergency shareholders meeting to decide whether… to remove and replace the leaders.”
18) You Get a Grant and You Get a Grant and You Get a Grant! NYC Mandates All Districts Must Have a Diversity Plan
Most Vexing Point: In New York City, improving outcomes for over one million schoolchildren comes down to a single word: Diversity. Diversity will fix everything that ails us. Sitting minority, low-income, underachieving children next to white, middle-class, high-achieving peers will magically inspire test scores and literacy rates to rise.
17) Should New York Require Algebra 2 for Graduation? Answers From a NYC High School Student
Most Vexing Point: What’s so special about Algebra that makes it more important for a potential future than things schools don’t require, such as finance, rhetoric, astronomy, or phrenology?
16) “Implying that Black and Hispanic Kids Only Do Better When They’re In School With White Kids Is Racist.” A NYC Mom Speaks Out!
Most Vexing Point: “When I hear the implied message coming from a Hispanic school chancellor, it makes me wonder if he is a victim of believing that black and Hispanic kids are just not capable.”
15) What’s “Enrichment,” Anyway? Can It Really Replace Gifted & Talented Programs?
Most Vexing Point: Sure, get rid of G&T and the segregation no one is denying it brings. But don’t claim that enrichment — at least as currently (un)defined and implemented — (or the other suggestion, magnet schools) is capable of filling the academic gap. Because it’s that academic gap, more than any lack of extracurricular activities, that’s the main impetus driving families of all races, ethnicities, and social classes out of their zoned schools, as they search for something even a tiny bit better.
14) The Surprising Integration Sceptics of NYC (It’s Not Who You Think)
Most Vexing Point: If the school experiences an upswing, (they) wonder whether longtime Red Hook families will be displaced to other schools…. “And then what happens to the black and brown students?…. If they want to make the school into something else, is it really going to serve the students who have been there?”
13) Parents Helping Parents – When the Department of Ed Won’t (Gifted & Talented Edition)
Most Vexing Point: There are still G&T programs with seats available! And they’re accepting out of district students! Because this isn’t information the DOE has seen fit to share with families, we’re honoring NYC School Secrets’ motto of Parents Helping Parents, and asking them to share what they know, so that others might benefit.
12) The Butterfly Effect: Good and Bad News About Your NYC Public School Waitlist
Most Vexing Point: If 150 kids who should have gotten a spot at Lab got seats elsewhere, that means 150 kids who should have gotten seats at those schools, didn’t. And then 150 kids who would have gotten seats at schools where they did, didn’t. And so on, and so on, and so on. It’s a classic butterfly effect.
11) Calls For Closing All Gifted & Talented/Screened Schools – Where Does Hunter Fit In?
Most Vexing Point: Even those who swear they fervently believe in public schools and that everyone should attend their zoned one — unchecked choice leads to… well, everything that’s wrong with public schools now — are willing to make an exception for Hunter, the Kindergarten through 12th grade publicly funded but not public (though free to attend) school for the gifted.
10) An SHSAT School For All Who Want One!
Most Vexing Point: Right now, about 30,000 students sit for the test. In all 8 schools, there are around 4,000 seats, so the city offers places to roughly 5,000 kids, with the understanding that not all will accept. But what if NYC commits to making a seat available to absolutely every single test-taker?
9) Universal Pre-K Closes Without Warning – Kids Left With Nowhere To Go!
Most Vexing Point: I have written about what might happen when the next Mayor, in order to fund his or her own pet legacy project, shrinks UPK due to its being over-budget… and the reasonably priced preschools middle-class families used to count on have been driven out of business. Finger Painted Hands is just one example of a private school that was unable to continue operating once it became part of the public system (especially the lower pay for teachers outside of public schools).
8) The Sorting Hat: How NYC Kindergarten Admissions Really Works
Most Vexing Point: Competition for the handful of schools parents consider acceptable is fierce: Some traditional public and charter schools have waitlists of up to 800 kids for just kindergarten alone! And the admissions process is hardly straightforward. I advise the families I work with, “anyone who says the waitlist follows a straight queue is lying — either to you or to themselves.”
7) Should the NYC Department Of Education Be In Charge Of Public Schools, Too?
Most Vexing Point: The bill’s (unspoken) primary targets are Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish yeshivas which, a group of former students charges, failed to provide them with “a basic education that is “at least substantially equivalent” to that of public schools.” But why sweep up some of the highest-performing schools not just in NYC but in the country, into the same dragnet?
6) It’s the Hypocristy, Stupid: NYC School Choice For… Some
Most Vexing Point: Ms. Watson-Harris’ direct boss, Richard Carranza, believes that all school screens are immoral and that G&T programs are unnecessary and discriminatory. Now that his daughter has graduated from San Francisco’s top screened institution for gifted students. Ms. Watson-Harris’ indirect boss, Mayor Bill De Blasio, believes everyone should attend their zoned school, and that all schools should be unscreened in order to encourage diversity. Now that his own children have graduated from District 15’s highest-achieving, whitest middle-school. The same school attended by Councilman Brad Lander’s children. Both the mayor and the Councilman wished their children had been placed in a more diverse environment but could not, for the life of them figure out how to make that happen.
5) NYC Kids Left Out In the Cold as NYC Public Schools Cancel G&T Testing – But Don’t Notify Parents!
Most Vexing Point: “My 4 yo and I ended up soaking in the rain in front of the locked doors with no email prior to canceling the test (yes I did check the spam folder like 3 times), no sign at the door or anything/anybody at all notifying us that the test was cancelled. Luckily there were some Good Samaritan parents (who arrived in their cars earlier and stayed) ran out of their cars in the rain to let us know that they called 311 number and were told that the test was canceled for today. What angers the most is that after the morning screw up and numerous calls (I am sure they received tons) we have yet to receive anything from DOE (and it is almost 2pm as I am writing this)….”
4) 10 NYC Public Schools Which Went Up In Test Scores – And 10 That Went Down
Most Vexing Point: Instead of posting a familiar list with only a few alterations, I thought I’d focus on 10 schools that posted substantial increases (a minimum of 20 places up the list) – and 10 that revealed substantial decreases (a minimum of 20 places down the list). These are not the schools with the biggest rise or drop (some schools toward the bottom of the list made strides of as many as 100 rungs), but rather schools already in the top 100 of NYC schools which experienced a noticeable change in status.
3) Say Good-Bye To Hollywood: How Much For a ‘Good’ NYC Public School?
Most Vexing Point: Money has always played a huge role in gaining admittance to whatever your definition of a “good” school is. It’s not limited to college, and it’s not limited to Hollywood. In New York City, money is a key factor in admissions starting with elementary school.
2) By the Numbers: Math the NYC Department Of Ed Really Doesn’t Want Parents To Do
Most Vexing Point: Where is the New York Times headline: Over 80% of black 7th graders in NYC fail to receive an adequate math education?
And finally, in 1st place for 2019 – even though it was written back in back in 2017 is:
1) 5 Secrets NYC Department of Ed Doesn’t Want Parents To Know About Gifted & Talented Programs
Most Vexing Point: This post was written in 2017… and things have only gotten worse.
Which issues do you hope to see tackled in 2020? Tell us in the Comments!