Tag Education In Reverse

NYC Reports More School Suspensions, but Serious Crimes Declined

In the first data compelled by the Student Safety Act (Local Law 6 (2011) of City of New York) [PDF], the NYC Dep’t of Ed. has revealed:

City schools reported handing out more suspensions to students in the last year than before, but most of that increase was owed to a jump in less-serious infractions, while reported cases of egregious misbehavior dropped.

City Department of Education officials announced on Tuesday that the number of suspensions given students citywide increased to 73,441 in 2010-2011, from 71,721 the previous school year.

During this time, schools reported giving students fewer superintendent’s suspensions, which can force students out of school for six days or several months, depending on the severity of their actions. But schools reported many more principal’s suspensions, which can last from one to five days and are given for more minor infractions, like cursing at a teacher or cheating on an exam.

The city’s data show that black and Hispanic students are on the receiving end of most school suspensions. More than half of all suspensions were given to black students last year, though they account for about a third of students in the city’s schools. Hispanic students, who make up close to 40 percent of public school students, got about 37 percent of the suspensions. Nearly a third of all suspensions were given to special education students.

Last month, a report by the National Education Policy Center found that, nationwide, school suspensions for non-white students in grades K-12 have increased by more than 100 percent since 1970.

NYCLU to City: Let Educators Handle School Discipline

A call by the New York Civil Liberties Union to return school discipline to the province of educators, rather than the NYPD:

the police force in the schools has increased by 35 percent to more than 5,240 people, representing the fifth-largest police force in the nation. (City schools employ approximately 3,000 guidance counselors.) * * * As a result, incidents of children being wrongfully arrested and mistreated by police personnel in the city’s schools are disturbingly common.

Union Claims Highest Number of Oversize Classes in Decade

Anna M. Phillips, Teachers Say Survey Found 7,000 Classes Overcrowded, N.Y. Times, Sept. 23, 2011, at A26:

The number of overcrowded classes in New York is the largest in 10 years, according to a survey conducted by the teachers union and released on Thursday.

As a result of attrition, budget cuts and increased enrollment in some areas of the city, nearly 7,000 classes are over their contractual limits this year, the survey, by the United Federation of Teachers, found. That figure exceeds last year’s number by almost 1,000.

The union says that about 256,000 students, roughly a quarter of total enrollment, spend at least part of the school day in an overcrowded class.

As is often the case, high schools in Queens are most affected. In a borough where many students attend zoned high schools, which must accept all students in their neighborhoods, about 2,600 classes have more than 34 students.

A school system to be built on miracles and stunning interventions

The New York Times ran a front-page article on Newark schools 17 new principals recruited this year by Cami Anderson, the new schools superintendent, “to run nearly a quarter of the city’s schools… as part of an ambitious plan to rebuild the 39,000-student district, which has long been crippled by low achievement and high dropout rates, but now is flush with up to $200 million from prominent donors, including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.” Winnie Hu, Troubled District’s Bet: Wave of New Principals, N.Y. Times, Sept. 16, 2011, at A1:

“I believe a strong principal is the key to almost everything,” Ms. Anderson said in an interview. “Where you have great performance, you have great principals, period, full stop. Where you have low performance, you have struggling principals. It’s not that complicated.”

Perhaps prescient is Jonathan Kozol’s discussion of Joe Clark, a school principal in Paterson, New Jersey and a favorite of the Reagan White House “who became the subject of a film and was presented to the public as a salvatory figure”:

Sometimes the dynamic-sounding program introduced by a new principal does have a galvanizing and perceptible effect and one that lasts for more than a few years. In other cases, it is really just an avalanche of words and short-term measures that temporarily establish a degree of calm within the school and sometimes bring a sudden spike in test results or graduation rates, although the academic gains more frequently than not turn out to be short-lived and, in some cases, they have proven to be spurious.

… There are hundreds of principals in our urban schools who are authentic heroes, few of whom… receive the notice and support they deserve. But there is a difference between recognizing the accomplishments of able school officials and the marketing of individuals as saviors of persistently unequal systems. As with the hero children, so too with the hero principals, there is this inclination to avert our eyes from the pervasive injuries inflicted upon students by our acquiescence in a dual system [of apartheid schooling] and to convey the tantalizing notion that the problems of this system can be superseded somehow by a faith in miracles embodied in dynamic and distinctive individuals I don’t believe that this is true. I don’t believe a good school system can be built on miracles or on the stunning interventions of dramatically original and charismatic men or women. I don’t think anyone really believes this.

Jonathan Kozol, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America 199-200 (2005).

NY Post: ‘Shelter student’ crisis

Yoav Gonnen, Doug Montero and Jennifer Bain, ‘Shelter Student’ Crisis; Big homeless rise, N.Y. Post, Sept. 8, 2011, at 24:

The number of homeless students in city public schools has quad­-rupled since the economy tanked in 2008 — weighing down an already overburdened system with an additional 30,000 kids lacking permanent homes, The Post has learned.

The shocking Department of Education data put the number of kids without fixed shelter at 42,980 as of October 2010 — while state data show those numbers to be even higher.

The count was at 10,209 in October 2008.

Education officials said the numbers have skyrocketed not just because of the struggling economy, but also due to better reporting — which has resulted in increased federal funding — and better coordination with agencies like the Department of Homeless Services.

But some critics say the city’s policies are equally to blame for the dramatic spike.

“This speaks fundamentally to the failures of the administration’s approach to the problem of homelessness,” said Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst at the Coalition for the Homeless.

“This administration has failed to recognize what 30 years of research and experience taught us — that it’s a housing-affordability problem.”

The DOE’s figures are required by federal law to count not just kids living in shelters, but those living in multiple-family households or motels, or awaiting placement in foster care.

The surge has walloped some schools more than others — with Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton HS in Bay Ridge and New Utrecht HS in Bensonhurst each seeing their populations of homeless kids more than double from 2009 to 2010 to about 250 students.

DOE officials said every school is responsible for creating a plan to address the needs of kids in temporary housing, and that they are each provided a liaison to help coordinate services from other agencies.

DHS officials said that, contrary to the reported school surge, they’ve seen the number of children living in city shelters flatline since 2008.

NYPD Blows School Data Release Deadline

Rachel Monahan and Rocco Parascandola, NYPD Stalls On Crime Data, Daily News, Sept. 2, 2011, at 12:

THE NYPD has blown its first deadline to release data on arrests in city schools – by more than a month.

As part of the city’s Student Safety Act enacted in January, the NYPD had to provide the figures by the end of July.

“There is no excuse for it,” said New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman. “It’s critical to understanding what the over 5,000 police employees are doing in the New York City schools.”

In the past, the department ignored similar deadlines to provide “stop and frisk” data on how often cops stop citizens without making an arrest.

Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-East Harlem, Mott Haven) said the delay on the school safety data was troubling.

“[The NYPD was] not in favor of this legislation to begin with,” she said. “This may be reflective of that opposition.”

NYPD officials cited the need to be accurate as a reason for the delay.

They also noted data collection and analysis were complicated, and the agency had no new resources.

How kids are faring in the recession

Julianne Hing at Colorlines reported on the findings of the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2011 Kids Count Data Book (which tracks indicators of child welfare such as poverty, infant mortality rates and school achievement) showing that one in five U.S. kids are living in poverty, but “for kids of color, the numbers are much worse. More than one in three black kids—a full 36 percent of black youth—live in poverty and 31 percent of Latino kids lives in poverty.”

What’s more, researchers are beginning to track the links between poverty and kids’ psychological and educational development. Researchers at Cornell University have found that kids who grow up in poverty are deeply affected by the instability of their home lives, and those environmental stressors hamper their ability to excel in school. It seems intuitive, but there’s growing evidence that there’s, in fact, a causal relationship between family income and kids’ academic success.

NYT: Last Days, Perhaps, for Group That Sued for Poor School Districts

Missed this article a couple months ago from the NYT City Room blog (6/8/2011):

After a series of setbacks, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the advocacy organization whose victory in a historic lawsuit brought billions of additional dollars to poor school districts in New York State, has run out of money to sustain itself, the organization said.

The organization’s last remaining employee, Helaine K. Doran, will leave the group’s Lower Manhattan office this month and, essentially, lock the door behind her.

While its future is not yet certain, the president of its board of directors, Luis Miranda, said on Tuesday that the group was in talks to merge with the New Jersey-based Education Law Center, which two weeks ago won a $500 million judgment in its own long-standing school-financing litigation, known as the Abbott case.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in San Antonio Indep. School Dist. v. Rodriguez,1 advocates in 45 states have brought actions challenging school finance systems under their state constitutions with challengers prevailing in 26 of the 45 cases that resulted in a judicial decision.2 Overall though, “progress has been fitful, and the victories often short-lived and generally incomplete, and even after all these years of litigation unacceptable inequities remain the norm in the majority of states.”3 Even in New York, where the Court of Appeals affirmed that the state’s constitution requires that every public school child in the State of New York has a right to a “sound basic education” defined as “a meaningful high school education,”4 Michael Rebell, executive director of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity which brought the litigation in 1996, lamented: “We really came to the decision that if we could get a functioning lab in every school, decent class sizes, gym facilities, an adequate education in every school – to get there is such a huge battle. . . Maybe in 20 years, if we ever get that, somebody else can say that they want to go for equity. But that’s not our battle.”5

Success Charter Network has been just that for Eva Moskowitz but not for public schools

Juan Gonzalez, Success for Eva, but not PS, N.Y. Daily News, July 27, 2011, at 17:

The Success Charter Network, a chain of charter schools headed by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, spent an astonishing $1.6million in the 2009-2010 school year just for publicity and recruitment of new students, the group’s most recent financial reports show.

The network spent more on publicity and recruitment that year than it did in the previous two years.

In 2009-2010, the seven schools operated by the Success network admitted 1,200 new students. That means Moskowitz spent about $1,300 on marketing for every new enrollee.

The money went to everything you can imagine – bus stop ads, multiple mass mailings of glossy color brochures to tens of the thousands of homes, a small army of part-time workers going door-to-door to sign up applicants, high profile “school choice” fairs.

Community leaders and educators in Harlem and the South Bronx – where those first seven schools were located – say they have never encountered such a relentless and well-financed campaign aimed at convincing parents to desert the public schools.

Many are stunned that the nonprofit Success network is able to spend so lavishly while regular city schools are being forced to cut their budgets….

NYT: School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions

The Council of State Governments Justice Center, in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University, has released an unprecedented statewide study, titled Breaking Schools’ Rules, of nearly 1 million Texas public secondary school students, followed for at least six years.

Alan Schwarz, School Discipline Study Raises Fresh Questions, N.Y. Times, July 19, 2011, at A14:

Raising new questions about the effectiveness of school discipline, a report scheduled for release on Tuesday found that 31 percent of Texas students were suspended off campus or expelled at least once during their years in middle and high school — at an average of almost four times apiece.

When also considering less serious infractions punished by in-school suspensions, the rate climbed to nearly 60 percent, according to the study by the Council of State Governments, with one in seven students facing such disciplinary measures at least 11 times.

The study linked these disciplinary actions to lower rates of graduation and higher rates of later criminal activity and found that minority students were more likely than whites to face the more severe punishments.