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December 13, 2018
The SHSAT helps Manhattan families like mine. I finally stood up last week to say that’s wrong.
Choosing schools in New York City can be a formidable challenge. That was evident at a Community Education Council meeting in District…
The big sort
July 18, 2018
Do selective admissions actually help middle schools choose the best students? This Manhattan dad says no.
Eric Goldberg wants to change the debate around whether public schools should be allowed to select their students based on test scores, report…
June 19, 2018
I fight for integrated schools in New York City. I’m also Asian-American. Mayor de Blasio, let’s talk.
Shino Tanikawa explains why she's concerned about the rollout of the mayor's plan to integrate New York City's specialized schools — and how the process can be salvaged.
sorting the students
June 7, 2018
How one Manhattan district has preserved its own set of elite high schools
The laser-focus on specialized schools leaves out hundreds of other schools and programs across the system whose policies also segregate students by race and class.
the right mix
January 25, 2018
How to integrate Manhattan middle schools? This parent says make them enroll a mix of low- and high-achievers
Shino Tanikawa is part of a small but growing group of advocates trying to combat segregation in New York City by reforming how students are assigned to schools
the right mix
February 10, 2017
How two Manhattan moms are trying to convince their peers that integration is good for everyone
Their effort is rooted in an understanding of how race and class impact student achievement, and how academic screening can shut vulnerable students out.
October 5, 2016
Five New York City school districts putting integration on the map
As the school year ramps up, so do plans to integrate New York City classrooms.
April 12, 2016
In Manhattan’s vast District 2, some parents seek a district-wide integration plan
Parent leaders argued that the selective admissions systems used by many of the district’s middle schools have worked to sort students along race and class lines.
April 4, 2014
Wide inequities persist as fewer children make gifted screening cut
Fewer children met the city's standards to enter gifted programs this year, but wide disparities remained between students in middle-class districts and poor ones, according to data that the Department of Education released today.
May 1, 2013
Inequities grew after city fixed Pearson's G&T screening errors
Pearson's errors when grading city students' screening tests for gifted programs did not affect all test-takers equally. Children in districts with many white and Asian families — who make up more than 70 percent of students in gifted programs, despite being just a third of the city's student population — were most likely to have learned that their score was higher than they had been told, according to data the Department of Education released today. The good news came much more infrequently in districts that are heavily black and Hispanic. The department announced nearly two weeks ago that Pearson, the testing company, had botched the scores of nearly 5,000 children who were screened for gifted programs. Instead of slightly fewer children qualifying than last year, as the department initially said had happened, children had met the eligible requirements at a record rate. Today, the department released an updated breakdown of where children qualifying for gifted programs live. The data reinforce the fact that the department's overhaul of the screening process — which included a test that was billed as harder to game — seems to have done little to chip away at longstanding inequities in the racial makeup of students in gifted programs.
March 21, 2012
In District 2, educators explain their approach to new standards
P.S. 59 Principal Adele Schroeter and teacher Nekia Wise discuss how the Common Core standards have effected teaching practices at their school. As an elementary school teacher, Nekia Wise has taken her students to the HomeDepot in Midtown and to a nearby Starbucks to learn about business, communities, and cultures. And when she read the materials the city used to introduce teachers to the Common Core standards last year, those lessons immediately came to mind. In her view, the new standards represent a teaching point-of-view that she has used with her first, third and fourth grade students for years: a focus on "inquiry-based learning," which privileges learning opportunities ripe for experimentation and analysis over the rote memorization of facts. "They learned so much about Africa from learning about where the coffee beans come from. And about the lack of water systems," she said. "[The Core] made me think about everything that I've already tried to do in the classroom with kids along the lines of real-world understanding and implementation." She and two Manhattan principals joined city officials and educator Deborah Meier in District 2 on Monday night for a forum to demystify the new curriculum standards for parents who feel the city's curriculum pilot has left many in the dark about how teaching practices are expected to change. The standards have come under fire since their inception both for being too vague in some areas and too rigid in others. Meier, a city educator and the influential author of "the Power of Their Ideas," said she is particularly concerned that the Core will stifle students' and teachers' creativity, by prescribing a strict guide to what they need to learn, when they need to learn it, and how they will be judged using standardized tests. "The word alignment is not something we ever used to use," she said. "You've set up a situation starting in pre-Kindergarten in which we are all involved in a race."
December 8, 2011
In District 2, push to create more schools trumps closure news
Chancellor Dennis Walcott responds to District 2 Community Education Council member Tamara Rowe's questions at a town hall meeting. Parents in Manhattan's District 2 came to a town hall meeting Wednesday night with Chancellor Dennis Walcott with one item at the top of their agendas: plans to manage school crowding. But Walcott wanted to talk about other things. He opened his remarks by talking about the city's scores on a national exam, then segued into announcing that the Department of Education would soon name the schools it wants to close. No District 2 schools are on the city's shortlist for closure. Three high schools located in the district, but not administered by it, are on the list. Walcott was tight-lipped about which schools would receive closure notices over the next two days. But he said department officials had been considering whether the shortlisted schools "have the capacity to improve." And he told reporters that the decisions would support the middle school reform initiative he announced earlier this year. "I made a commitment around middle schools and I intend to adhere to that commitment," Walcott said. "I want 21st-century middle schools that are meeting the needs of our students." Most of the roughly three dozen parents who braved heavy rain to attend the meeting wanted to talk about the demand for new neighborhood elementary schools and the city's recent rezoning proposals.
November 29, 2011
Lukewarm reception for revised Lower Manhattan rezoning plan
Deputy Chancellors Kathleen Grimm and Marc Sternberg hear feedback from parents on plans to rezone schools in District 2. The Department of Education's third — and likely final — proposal for rezoning in Manhattan's District 2 received a lukewarm reception from Lower Manhattan parents at a public hearing Monday night. DOE officials retracted some of the more controversial elements of the department's rezoning proposal but warned that some overcrowded schools would not see relief, prompting grumbling from parents who had come to urge the officials to build more schools in the district. In the revised plan, unveiled this week, Tribeca's popular P.S. 234 and the Greenwich Village's P.S. 41 and P.S. 3 will not be rezoned. Two of the original proposals, which called for the rezoning of schools in Lower Manhattan, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village, were unanimously rejected by the District 2 CEC earlier this month. Now, the rezoning's only major effect would be to trim some Lower Manhattan school zones to create a zone for the Peck Slip School, a new elementary school that is set to open in Tweed Courthouse next fall. City officials, including deputy chancellors Marc Sternberg and Kathleen Grimm, said the change in plans was a response to vocal opposition from parents at P.S. 234, who argued that altering the school's zone would change its character. But Sternberg and Grimm stressed that the tradeoff is that their latest proposal would not meet demand for school seats in the neighborhood. The parents had urged the officials to build more schools rather than shifting students among existing ones. "You're right to ask for more, but we don't know if we can give you more," Sternberg said. "We are looking for solutions where the money falls short, as it most certainly will."
November 21, 2011
To ease school crowding, legislator urges DOE to rezone itself
Tweed Courthouse, the Department of Education's headquarters, regularly houses just-starting-out schools in its basement. To ease crowding in Lower Manhattan, the Department of Education could move offices out of its headquarters. That's the suggestion of State Sen. Daniel Squadron, who argues in a letter to Chancellor Dennis Walcott that DOE officials would do well to clear out to make space for children. The letter comes days after the elected parent council for Manhattan's District 2 rejected a DOE plan that would have tweaked zones for some overcrowded schools and created a zone for a new school set to open next year. That school, Peck Slip School, is set to spend its first year in the basement of Tweed Courthouse, the DOE's headquarters ever since Mayor Bloomberg relocated the education department's offices from Brooklyn when he first gained control of the schools. The ornate building mostly contains administrative offices, but for the last several years, its basement has housed just-starting-out schools. Ross Global Charter School and the Spruce Street School have occupied the space while waiting for permanent sites, and Innovate Manhattan Charter School opened there this year. Since the space is certified for public school occupancy — an obstacle the city has run up against when surveying other vacant buildings in Manhattan — Squadron says the DOE should convert more offices into classrooms and send the adults elsewhere.
November 9, 2011
Second draft of District 2 zoning plan puts CEC in tough position
Rezoning plan for Lower Manhattan District 2's Community Education Council is facing a catch-22: Approve the three rezoning plans presented by the Department of Education last night, with all of their wrinkles, or risk missing a chance to solve crowding problems this year. After parents criticized a first draft of the plans last month, department officials brought new rezoning maps – one for the Upper East Side, one for the West Village/Chelsea, and one for Lower Manhattan – to the council's meeting last night. The plans, which council members had not seen before the meeting, address some problems but introduce others, according to Shino Tanikawa, the council's president. The Upper East Side plan was minimally altered, while the West Village/Chelsea plan had significant changes. P.S. 3 and P.S. 41, which currently share a single choice zone, will be split into two separate zones. Moreover, the P.S. 41 zone would include inside of it the future zone lines for the Foundling School, which is set to open in 2014. The main point of contention involves the Lower Manhattan plan which would send some addresses currently zoned for Tribeca's P.S. 234 and others currently zoned for P.S. 397, the new Spruce Street School, to P.S. 1 in Chinatown, a far less affluent school with many immigrant students. Last summer, families on P.S. 234's waiting list resisted when they were offered places at another Chinatown school, P.S. 130. Some parents said the change would damage the neighborhoods' sense of identity. But Tricia Joyce, a P.S. 234 parent and a co-chair of the school's overcrowding committee, said the bigger problem is that P.S. 1 could become overcrowded. “The proposals are all just overcrowding the schools around us for an insignificant gain,” Joyce said. “Rezoning does not create seats and seats are what we need.”
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