Archives for category: Competition

New York City has a large number of schools with competitive admissions. Some, like the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant High School, are protected by state law because their graduates are successful and vocal and oppose any loosening of the entrance requirements they met. Many additional screened schools were added during the administration of Mayor Bloomberg, perhaps hoping to hold onto the relatively small number of white students in the public schools. Asian American families strongly defend test-based admissions policies, and their children are over-represented at the most selective schools.

Mayor Adams, who controls the city’s public schools, announced a restoration of screened admissions.

The New York Times reported:

New York City’s selective middle schools can once again use grades to choose which students to admit, the school chancellor, David C. Banks, announced on Thursday, rolling back a pandemic-era moratorium that had opened the doors of some of the city’s most elite schools to more low-income students.

Selective high schools will also be able to prioritize top-performing students.

The sweeping move will end the random lottery for middle schools, a major shift after the previous administration ended the use of grades and test scores two years ago. At the city’s competitive high schools, where changes widened the pool of eligible applicants, priority for seats will be limited to top students whose grades are an A average.

The question of whether to base admissions on student performance prompted intense debate this fall. Many Asian American families were particularly vocal in arguing that the lotteries excluded their children from opportunities they had worked hard for. But Black and Latino students are significantly underrepresented at selective schools, and some parents had hoped the previous admissions changes would become permanent to boost racial integration in a system that has been labeled one of the most segregated in the nation.

“It’s critically important that if you’re working hard and making good grades, you should not be thrown into a lottery with just everybody,” Mr. Banks said, noting that the changes were based on family feedback.

It is surprising that a city with an African-American Mayor, who controls the city school system, and an African-American schools Chancellor, would revive screened admissions for the city’s middle schools and high schools. Some high schools have competitive admissions that are mandated by the state legislature. Most admission screens, however, are a matter of policy. They exist because of decisions by the Mayor and the Chancellor.

Just in from the New York Civil Liberties Union:

NYCLU Statement on Screening in NYC Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Mohamed Taguine, 212-607-3372, media@nyclu.org

NEW YORK – New York City’s school chancellor David C. Banks announced on Thursday the City’s selective middle and high schools can once again use grades to choose which students to admit. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from Education Policy Center’s director Johanna Miller:

“Screening props up a separate and unequal school system and feeds the notion that only some students deserve a great education. Allowing middle and high school screens is a step backward that will increase the exclusion of Black, Latinx and lower-income students from our city’s best educational opportunities.

“In the most segregated school system in the country, we will never make progress without intentional measures. Instead of using precious education dollars to discriminate, we urge this administration to center racial equity, advance inclusion, and help our students heal and grow together.”

***

New York City has long had a significant means of sorting and labeling students. When Michael Bloomberg became mayor, he expanded the number of selective middle schools. It’s not clear whether he was trying to lure white parents to stay in the city or whether he was a dyed-in-the-wool believer in test-based meritocracy.

Whatever the case, New York City has large numbers of selective middle schools. The New York City Bar Association, through its Civil Rights and Education and Law committees, issued a call to eliminate selective admissions in middle schools.

For what it’s worth, when I attended public schools in Houston, Texas, many years ago, there were no selective schools. I attended my neighborhood elementary school, junior high school, and high school.

Things have changed. For better or worse?

Contact: Eric Friedman

efriedman@nycbar.org

Eli Cohen

Eecohen@nycbar.org


PERMANENTLY ELIMINATE COMPETITIVE ADMISSIONS TO NEW YORK CITY MIDDLE-SCHOOLS

Chancellor Banks and the New York City Department of Education Should Not Reinstate Screens

New York, September 19, 2022 – The New York City Bar Association (City Bar), through its Civil Rights and Education and the Law Committees,[1] renews its calls for the New York City Department of Education (DOE) to eliminate competitive admissions to the City’s public middle schools. We are concerned by reports that DOE is considering reinstating the screens for middle school students and we urge that this practice not be restored.

 

The City Bar first called for the elimination of competitive admissions for the City’s public elementary and middle schools during the de Blasio Administration, arguing that the policy unnecessarily segregates our students, schools and educational programs, leaving some students without the opportunity for enriched learning that all of our children deserve.[2] In support of those conclusions, our letters noted that:

 

 

  • Measures of young children’s ability and behavior through competitive admission screening and testing are unreliable and racially biased.

 

  • Competitive admissions for very young children are pedagogically unsound because research demonstrates that all children derive educational and social benefits from diverse classrooms with students of differing races, economic backgrounds and learning abilities.

 

  • The practice of excluding the majority of certain socioeconomic and racial groups of young children from a large percentage of public institutions, through the use of middle school screens was inequitable, conducive to racial hierarchy and inconsistent with our democratic ideals.[3]

 

It would be deeply problematic to reinstate middle school screens and allow public schools and programs within schools that opt for that process to effectively close their doors to the majority of students. Student-assignment methods for middle school should take into account the characteristics of individual students only for the purpose of achieving balanced and equitable access for all students – not for the disproportionate exclusion of historically disadvantaged groups.

 

For all the reasons outlined in our previous letters, and as was most recently argued in the New York Appleseed’s September 16 letter,[4] the City Bar calls on Schools Chancellor David Banks and DOE to permanently end the use of middle school screens.

 

[1] The Civil Rights Committee addresses issues affecting the civil rights of New Yorkers, especially the rights of marginalized communities. The Education and the Law Committee addresses K-12 and higher education, and legal and policy education issues affecting the city, state, and nation. Both Committees’ memberships include attorneys from state and local government agencies, law firms, not-for-profit organizations, and law-school faculty. Education and the Law members also include K-12 educators and education consultants. Committee members are acting in their respective individual capacities as members of the City Bar, not in their professional or academic roles.

2 “Eliminate Competitive Admissions to NYC Public Elementary & Middle Schools,” New York City Bar Association, May 1, 2019, https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/eliminate-competitive-admissions-to-nyc-public-elementary-and-middle-schools; see also “Letter in Support of Eliminating Competitive Admissions in NYC’s Public Elementary and Middle Schools,” New York City Bar Association, Nov. 1, 2019, https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/letter-in-support-of-eliminating-competitive-admissions-in-nycs-public-elementary-and-middle-schools.

3 Please note that we do not include in these recommendations programs or schools in which facility with a certain language or demonstrated capability in the Arts is a prerequisite.

4 Letter to Chancellor David C. Banks, NYC. Dept. of Education, “Call to Permanently End Middle-School Screens,” NY Appleseed, Sept. 16, 2022, https://www.nyappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/LetterToChancellorBanks_-End-MS-Screens-Permanently_Sept22.pdf.

 

About the Association

The mission of the New York City Bar Association, which was founded in 1870 and has over 23,000 members, is to equip and mobilize a diverse legal profession to practice with excellence, promote reform of the law, and uphold the rule of law and access to justice in support of a fair society and the public interest in our community, our nation, and throughout the world. www.nycbar.org



[1] The Civil Rights Committee addresses issues affecting the civil rights of New Yorkers, especially the rights of marginalized communities. The Education and the Law Committee addresses K-12 and higher education, and legal and policy education issues affecting the city, state, and nation. Both Committees’ memberships include attorneys from state and local government agencies, law firms, not-for-profit organizations, and law-school faculty. Education and the Law members also include K-12 educators and education consultants. Committee members are acting in their respective individual capacities as members of the City Bar, not in their professional or academic roles.

[2] “Eliminate Competitive Admissions to NYC Public Elementary & Middle Schools,” New York City Bar Association, May 1, 2019, https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/eliminate-competitive-admissions-to-nyc-public-elementary-and-middle-schools; see also “Letter in Support of Eliminating Competitive Admissions in NYC’s Public Elementary and Middle Schools,” New York City Bar Association, Nov. 1, 2019, https://www.nycbar.org/member-and-career-services/committees/reports-listing/reports/detail/letter-in-support-of-eliminating-competitive-admissions-in-nycs-public-elementary-and-middle-schools.

[3] Please note that we do not include in these recommendations programs or schools in which facility with a certain language or demonstrated capability in the Arts is a prerequisite.

[4] Letter to Chancellor David C. Banks, NYC. Dept. of Education, “Call to Permanently End Middle-School Screens,” NY Appleseed, Sept. 16, 2022, https://www.nyappleseed.org/wp-content/uploads/LetterToChancellorBanks_-End-MS-Screens-Permanently_Sept22.pdf.

_._,_._,_

Filippa Mannerheim is a Swedish high school teacher and a critic of Sweden’s experiment in school privatization.

She writes.

Dear Sweden, let me tell you what a school is.

A school educates and dares and can demand effort. Sweden has forgotten what a school is. High school teacher Filippa Mannerheim gives a lesson to a country that has lost its grip.

Dear Sweden, since you seem to have completely lost your composure, here is a short, educational guide to help you along in your confused state.

Sweden, let me tell you what school is: A school is an academic place for knowledge and learning. A school is the nation’s most important educational institution with the aim of equipping the country’s young citizens with knowledge and abilities, so that they can develop into free and independent individuals, protect the country’s democratic foundations and with knowledge and skills contribute to the country’s continued prosperity – in times of peace as well as in troubled times .

A school is not a joint-stock company with profit as the main incentive. A school is a joint community building. A school has educated, subject-knowledgeable, qualified teachers with high status, good working conditions and great professional freedom. These teachers teach the country’s children in the country’s language.

A school has employed – not hired – resource staff: special teachers, school nurse, study and vocational guidance counselors, IT staff, janitors. A school does not have non-qualified persons behind the chair.

A school gives children who are falling behind extra support from trained special teachers. A school does not hand out digital tools or ineffective adaptations as substandard substitutes for extra support, just because it is cheaper.

A school has appropriate premises: adequately sized classrooms, an auditorium, a sports hall, a music hall, a home economics room with a kitchenette, crafts and lab rooms. A school has adequate equipment for theoretical and practical teaching, such as musical instruments, craft tools, laboratory equipment, teaching aids, working IT equipment and large amounts of fiction in class sets.

A school has a school library with trained librarians who keep an eye on the world, buy books, hold book talks and contribute with unique expertise in fiction and non-fiction, information search and source criticism. A school does not have a repository of some randomly selected books donated by parents and call this a “school library”. A school library is not “access to a public library”.

A school has a large school yard where children can jump rope, jump fence, play football, play marbles, play ghost ball, King and run around. A school yard is not a paved patch outside an apartment building.

A school is an architectural building – a proud landmark – adapted to a unique activity, namely teaching the country’s children. A school is not a bicycle cellar or an industrial premises where students get “theoretical skills” or a gym card at Sats, which is called “sports education” because it is cheaper.

A school is not a private playground for calculating corporate groups and corrupt ex-politicians who want to make a career in business. If you think so, you have seriously misunderstood what school is.

A school sells nothing because knowledge cannot be sold or bought. A school has a canteen that serves a well-planned lunch based on the Swedish Food Agency’s guidelines for a good and nutritious meal. A school does not send teenagers out to buy their daily lunch at a hamburger chain using a food stamp.

A school does not compete with other schools for school fees or easily taught students. A school has no incentive to set satisfaction ratings, as rating is a pressure-free exercise of authority – not a means of competition and a way to fish for new school customers.

A school educates and dares and can demand effort. A school is a community foundation, not a sandwich board for demanding parental customers. A school has an obvious consensus on what knowledge is and how it is taught using methods that rest on a scientific basis.

A school has teachers who conduct well-planned teaching, not teachers who send students home with work that parents are expected to help with in order for the school’s profit to be greater. A school has teachers who see themselves as academics and public servants, not marketers and influencers who hawk vacuum cleaners with the help of their students via Instagram accounts.

A school is an area where politicians strive for cooperation, long-termism, stability and the best interests of the citizens. A school is not allowed to become a bat in national political debates about cap issues or grades from year 4. The word “school” and “lobbyism” are never used in the same sense. A school system without a market is not a “communist government”.

We live in a country that has lost all understanding of what school is. We live in a country where the politicians have let go of the country’s own school system and are selling it off, piece by piece, to international companies.

We live in a country where students and parents get an image that school can be anything, however, anywhere and an image of themselves as school customers instead of parents and students. This is dangerous for the individual but even more dangerous for the nation at large.

Sweden, now you know what school is. What do you do with that knowledge?

By Filippa Mannerheim

Filippa Mannerheim is a high school teacher in Swedish and history, as well as a school debater. She attracted a lot of attention in the winter of 2020 with her open letter to Sweden’s Riksdag politicians on Expressen’s culture page, “Swedish school is a shame – you politicians have failed”.

I am not a racing fan. I can’t get engaged in a sport whose major competition is completed in two minutes.

But, whoa! These may be the two greatest minutes of horse-racing history!

On Friday morning, the horse Rich Strike was not in the starting line-up. When another horse dropped out, Rich Strike was a last-minute addition. The odds against him were 80-1.

He was supposed to trail the field.

Watch this.

I’ve watched three times and may see it a few more times.

Meet his owner and jockey here.

The stores in small towns and rural areas across America have been devastated by the arrival of Walmarts, whose low prices and foreign imports drive the small stores out of business. Main streets across the nation are marked by empty stores.

This is a story of a near century-old store in Moundsville, West Virginia, that managed to survive. The story explains how Ruttenberg’s has withstood the competition.

It is a reminder that competition can make you stronger, or, if the competition is a mega-giant, it can kill you and wipe out your town’s Main Street.

Mercedes Schneider describes a new consulting team that is selling its services to states and districts. Most of its partners are protégés of Jeb Bush and learned his strategies of high-stakes testing, school choice, test-based accountability, and harsh treatment of teachers.

She writes:

Need help with your public or private business venture? Well, NY- and DC-based Ridge-Lane Limited Partners (LP) offers “venture development at the apex of public and private sector…”

Schneider reviews the bios of the firm’s principal actors, which are not reassuring.

She writes:

So, if you want to dip into some of this Ridge-Lane LP K12 “significant experience” (not in the classroom, mind you, but in Jeb Bush reforms, such as school grading, and Common Core, and PARCC, and pension funneling), then get your (or the taxpayer’s) proverbial checkbook ready so that these once state-ed superintendents can spin an income advising you out of those edu-dollars.

The Boss of bosses

Journalist Jennifer Berkshire and historian Jack Schneider wrote a warning in the New York Times to the Democratic Party about education. Democrats, they say, used to have a big advantage over Republicans on the education issue, but that advantage has almost disappeared. They say that Democrats have erred in celebrating education as the most important, if not the only, route to economic success. Meanwhile, they ignored trade unions, which dwindled under red state assaults and corporate attacks, and tax policy, which favored the rich.

While I don’t disagree with their analysis, I have a different take on why Democrats lost the education issue. Not only did they ignore growing economic inequality, but Democrats abandoned their historic devotion to public schools (attended by 90% of American students) and adopted the Republicans’ long-standing belief in choice, competition, testing, and accountability.

Thirty years later, it is indisputably clear that those policies do not improve education, do not increase opportunity for those who are at the bottom, and do not reduce economic inequality.

Under Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, the Democratic platform sounded remarkably like the Republican Party on education. Clinton and Gore pledged to create a national system of standards and tests. Their Goals 2000 legislation of 1994 laid the groundwork for George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, which had bipartisan support. The Clinton administration created the federal Charter Schools Program in 1994, which allocated a few million dollars to help start new charters; it has now grown into a charter slush fund of $440 million annually, which is strongly supported by Republicans and for which there is no need, given the many billionaires who subsidize charters.

Race to the Top was the culmination of the Democrats’ complete merger with Republicans on education policy.

The Democrats lost their primacy as the party of public schools because they embraced Republican ideology, and they ignored the causes of economic inequality, which testing, standards, and choice could not fix.

Berkshire and Schneider write:

The warning signs are everywhere. For 30 years, polls showed that Americans trusted Democrats over Republicans to invest in public education and strengthen schools. Within the past year, however, Republicans have closed the gap; a recent poll shows the two parties separated on the issue by less than the margin of error.

Since the Republican Glenn Youngkin scored an upset win in Virginia’s race for governor by making education a central campaign issue, Republicans in state after state have capitalized on anger over mask mandates, parental rights and teaching about race, and their strategy seems to be working. The culture wars now threatening to consume American schools have produced an unlikely coalition — one that includes populists on the right and a growing number of affluent, educated white parents on the left. Both groups are increasingly at odds with the Democratic Party.

For the party leaders tasked with crafting a midterm strategy, this development should set off alarms. Voters who feel looked down on by elites are now finding common cause with those elites, forming an alliance that could not only cost the Democrats the midterm elections but also fundamentally realign American politics.

The Democrats know they have a problem. One recent analysis conducted by the Democratic Governors Association put it bluntly: “We need to retake education as a winning issue.” But reclaiming their trustworthiness on education will require more than just savvier messaging. Democrats are going to need to rethink a core assumption: that education is the key to addressing economic inequality.

The party’s current education problem reflects a misguided policy shift made decades ago. Eager to reclaim the political center, Democratic politicians increasingly framed education, rather than labor unions or a progressive tax code, as the answer to many of our economic problems, embracing what Barack Obama would later call “ladders of opportunity,” such as “good” public schools and college degrees, which would offer a “hand up” rather than a handout. Bill Clinton famously pronounced, “What you earn depends on what you learn.”

But this message has proved to be deeply alienating to the people who once made up the core of the party. As the philosopher Michael Sandel wrote in his recent book “The Tyranny of Merit,” Democrats often seemed to imply that people whose living standards were declining had only themselves to blame. Meanwhile, more affluent voters were congratulated for their smarts and hard work. Tired of being told to pick themselves up and go to college, working people increasingly turned against the Democrats.

Today, as the middle class falls further behind the wealthy, the belief in education as the sole remedy for economic inequality appears more and more misguided. And yet, because Democrats have spent the past 30 years framing schooling as the surest route to the good life, any attempt to make our education system fairer is met with fierce resistance from affluent liberals worried that Democratic reforms might threaten their carefully laid plans to help their children get ahead.

Please read the rest of their article.

I received the letter at the bottom of this post at the beginning of January. I thought it deserved a response.

This was my response:

Dear Jonah,

You don’t know me but I have followed your career. As the son of illustrious parents, much was expected of you.

Stand for Children was a great idea, when it actually defended children and public schools.

But somewhere along the way, you changed and Stand for Children changed. In 2007-08, you began to accept gifts of millions of dollars from “ultra-wealthy political donors,” and you began leading campaigns against teachers, their unions, and public schools. You demanded test-based evaluations of teachers, a useless metric that punished teachers who taught the neediest children. You boasted at an Aspen summer meeting in 2011 (which I attended) that you had outsmarted the Chicago Teachers Union by hiring all the best lobbyists. The big political donors gave you money to support pro-charter candidates in school board races.

Early supporters of Stand for Children started to call it “Stand on Children.”

I agree with all the goals you describe in your letter, and I must ask you if you will continue to promote charter schools, even though they drain money from public schools; whether you will continue to support test-based evaluation of teachers, even though it has consistently failed; whether you will continue to support school board candidates who favor charter schools and privatization.

If you truly intend to reject donations from “ultra-wealthy political donors,” if you truly reject all forms of privatization, including charter schools, if you truly mean to demand “that politicians at all levels do everything possible to protect and strengthen public education, support children and families’ well-being, and reduce the prevalence of racism,” then we can stand together. Please let me and the Network for Public Education know where you stand on the issues that could unite us.

Diane Ravitch


On Thu, Dec 30, 2021 at 10:36 AM Jonah Edelman <info@stand.org> wrote:

Diane,

Reflecting on 2021, I see reasons for hope. The widespread availability of vaccines. A return to in-person learning. An economy that rebounded with record speed due to bold government action.

At the same time, there is cause for grave concern. Tens of millions of children and young people are struggling to recover academically, socially, and emotionally from the pandemic. Tragically, instead of using their power to help children and young people get on track, politicians are passing bans on conversations about race and discrimination that deny children the honest and unbiased understanding of the past they need to create a better future. At the same time, extremists are targeting and harassing school board members, principals, teachers, parents, and even students who want an accurate portrayal of U.S. history with diverse viewpoints.DONATE

Public education is the pathway to economic opportunity and the backbone of a healthy democracy.

That is why we must stand together against the politicians, media moguls, and ultra-wealthy political donors who are stirring up fear and hate and conspiring to make public education a political battleground at the expense of our children’s learning and well-being.

And it is why, together, we must continue to use our collective voice and votes to ensure that politicians at all levels do everything possible to protect and strengthen public education, support children and families’ well-being, and reduce the prevalence of racism and the harm it does to us all.

We are deeply grateful for your partnership and support, and we hope you will continue to stand with us in 2022.

Standing together with you,

Jonah Edelman

Stand for Children

2121 SW Broadway #111

Portland, OR 97201

Donald Cohen is the executive director of “In the Public Interest” and co-author of an important new book The Privatization of Everything. He titled this column, which originally appeared in the Washington Post.

He writes:

Reforming public education with market-based reform is “like using a hammer to cook an omelet”

Trying to fix public education with market-based reform is like using a hammer to cook an omelet. It’s just the wrong tool.

That’s one of the main points in The Privatization of Everything, a new book that I co-authored with Allen Mikaelian, which explains why market rules don’t apply to every single aspect of human activity—including education.

The recent announcement by former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg that he’s investing $750 million to expand student enrollment in charter schools was a harsh reminder that the decades-long experiment with market-based education reform isn’t working. Charter schools have been in existence for decades, but they haven’t proved to be the panacea their supporters claimed.

To the contrary, many communities see charter schools (and voucher programs) as harming district schools that educate most American schoolchildren.

That’s why what a growing number of public schools are doing to actually improve educational outcomes—and create strong ties among families, students, educators, and communities along the way—is so promising and refreshing.

Over the past few years, public schools from places as diverse as the suburbs of Tampa and Los Angeles have been implementing what’s called the “community school” approach.

Community schools bring together local nonprofits, businesses and public services to offer a range of support and opportunities to students, families and nearby residents. Their goal is to support the entirety of a student’s well-being to ensure they are healthy, safe and in a better position to learn.

These benefits then extend to the surrounding community—which has been especially crucial during the pandemic.

Like, Florida’s Gibsonton Elementary, which organized an effort to have the local government install new streetlights near campus, immediately increasing attendance—which, among other things, helped improve test scores.

And Texas’s Reagan High School, which doubled enrollment, increased graduation rates, and avoided closure by launching mobile health clinics and parenting classes, changing its approach to discipline, and expanding after-school activities.

And so many more community schools around the country.

Many of these schools are succeeding because the community school approach treats public education as the public good that it is. Like with coronavirus vaccines and other public health measures, no child should be excluded—there should be no winners and losers.

In his recent op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg concludes, “We need a new, stronger model of public education that is based on evidence, centered on children, and built around achievement, excellence and accountability for all.” I agree.

Read the full version of this article in the Washington Post.

You can buy The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back at your local independent bookstore or from Bookshop.org.

Stay in touch,

Donald Cohen
Executive Director
In the Public Interest