data dump

Kindergarten gifted classes more diverse than last year, city says


The percentage of minority students in the city’s gifted and talented kindergarten classes increased this school year from last, according to data the Department of Education released today.

But while the percentages of Hispanic, Asian and multi-racial students all increased, the ratio of black students to the whole class declined by just over one percentage point.

0809-k-gt-enrollment-ethnicityLast year, more than half — 52.6 percent — of kindergartners in gifted and talented classes were white. This year, that percentage is lower, down to 43.5 percent.

The increase in the ratio of minority students to the whole class is a change from the previous year. In 2008, a New York Times analysis of the first class of gifted kindergarten and first-graders admitted under the standardized admissions process showed that the policy had resulted less diversity in admissions, not more.

The number of kindergartners enrolled in gifted and talented classes nearly doubled this year from last, from 874 to 1554 students. (A large increase in both the number of students who took the exam last year and in the number who met the city’s cut-off for admission spurred that jump.)

City officials attributed the increase in diversity to better outreach efforts they said led to a higher number of applicants.

“As our outreach efforts have improved, we have also seen an increase in the diversity of these students. While we still would like to have more diversity, we are encouraged by this progress,” said DOE spokesman Danny Kanner in a statement released with the data.

Below is the full chart DOE officials released to reporters today. Some things to note: the “applicant” numbers reported here don’t refer to the number of students who sat for the gifted and talented admissions test or those who scored high enough to be eligible for the program. Rather, the applicant column here shows only the number of students who tested eligible and then submitted a formal application to one of the city’s programs. The “active” column shows the number of students who actually enrolled.

So these numbers don’t tell us what difference there is between the ethnicity of the students who took the test, those who were eligible for the programs, and those who eventually enrolled. We’ll be asking the DOE for that breakdown. What other information should we be asking them for?


Rise & Shine

While you were waking up, the U.S. Senate took a big step toward confirming Betsy DeVos as education secretary

Betsy DeVos’s confirmation as education secretary is all but assured after an unusual and contentious early-morning vote by the U.S. Senate.

The Senate convened at 6:30 a.m. Friday to “invoke cloture” on DeVos’s embattled nomination, a move meant to end a debate that has grown unusually pitched both within the lawmaking body and in the wider public.

They voted 52-48 to advance her nomination, teeing up a final confirmation vote by the end of the day Monday.

Two Republican senators who said earlier this week that they would not vote to confirm DeVos joined their colleagues in voting to allow a final vote on Monday. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska cited DeVos’s lack of experience in public education and the knowledge gaps she displayed during her confirmation hearing last month when announcing their decisions and each said feedback from constituents had informed their decisions.

Americans across the country have been flooding their senators with phone calls, faxes, and in-person visits to share opposition to DeVos, a Michigan philanthropist who has been a leading advocate for school vouchers but who has never worked in public education.

They are likely to keep up the pressure over the weekend and through the final vote, which could be decided by a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.

Two senators commented on the debate after the vote. Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who has been a leading cheerleader for DeVos, said he “couldn’t understand” criticism of programs that let families choose their schools.

But Democrat Patty Murray of Washington repeated the many critiques of DeVos that she has heard from constituents. She also said she was “extremely disappointed” in the confirmation process, including the early-morning debate-ending vote.

“Right from the start it was very clear that Republicans intended to jam this nomination through … Corners were cut, precedents were ignored, debate was cut off, and reasonable requests and questions were blocked,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Week In Review

Week In Review: A new board takes on ‘awesome responsibility’ as Detroit school lawsuits advance

PHOTO: Erin Einhorn
The new Detroit school board took the oath and took on the 'awesome responsibility' of Detroit's children

It’s been a busy week for local education news with a settlement in one Detroit schools lawsuit, a combative new filing in another, a push by a lawmaker to overhaul school closings, a new ranking of state high schools, and the swearing in of the first empowered school board in Detroit has 2009.

“And with that, you are imbued with the awesome responsibility of the children of the city of Detroit.”

—    Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens, after administering the oath to the seven new members of the new Detroit school board

Read on for details on these stories plus the latest on the sparring over Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. Here’s the headlines:


The board

The first meeting of the new Detroit school board had a celebratory air to it, with little of the raucous heckling that was common during school meetings in the emergency manager era. The board, which put in “significant time and effort” preparing to take office, is focused on building trust with Detroiters. But the meeting was not without controversy.

One of the board’s first acts was to settle a lawsuit that was filed by teachers last year over the conditions of school buildings. The settlement calls for the creation of a five-person board that will oversee school repairs.

The lawyers behind another Detroit schools lawsuit, meanwhile, filed a motion in federal court blasting Gov. Rick Snyder for evading responsibility for the condition of Detroit schools. That suit alleges that deplorable conditions in Detroit schools have compromised childrens’ constitutional right to literacy — a notion Snyder has rejected.


In Lansing

On DeVos

In other news