Achieving Diversity

Here are the New York City school districts with the highest and lowest percentages of students in gifted programs

Despite considerable attention, New York City’s gifted and talented programs remain starkly segregated by race and class. While black and Hispanic students make up about 70 percent of the student body, they comprise only 27 percent of gifted enrollment.

This week, the Bronx and Brooklyn borough presidents launched a task force to look into equity issues within gifted programs, as well as in the city’s elite specialized high schools.

“Unfortunately, our students’ home addresses are playing too heavy a role in their access to high-quality specialized education that taps into their full academic potential,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said in a statement.

Using 2015-16 data, Chalkbeat looked at where students are most likely to be enrolled in gifted programs in elementary schools. The differences from district to district are stark.

The top three districts for gifted enrollment are all in Manhattan. District 1 on the Lower East Side leads the pack by far, with about 12 percent of all students in gifted programs, compared to a citywide average of 2.5 percent. That’s largely because the district is home to New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math, a gifted school that admits students from across the city. (There are five citywide gifted schools, three of which are in Manhattan. None is as large as NEST+m, which has roughly 700 students.)

Next on the list: District 2, which stretches from Lower Manhattan to the Upper East Side, and District 3, which includes the Upper West Side and part of Harlem. More than seven percent of students there are in gifted programs.

Of those districts with gifted programs, District 9 in the Bronx had the fewest students enrolled: Only 55 students out of more than 26,000 in the district.

Districts 7 and 12 in the Bronx, and Districts 16 and 23 in Central Brooklyn did not have gifted programs last school year. The city launched new classes in those districts during the current school year. An additional gifted program has also been added in District 3, after parents threatened to pull out of the school system during a controversial school rezoning.

Click on the map below to see the percentage of students enrolled in gifted classes in each district. The data comes from the Department of Education’s school diversity report.

 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information on District 1.

Mapping a Turnaround

This is what the State Board of Education hopes to order Adams 14 to do

PHOTO: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post
Javier Abrego, superintendent of Adams 14 School District on April 17, 2018.

In Colorado’s first-ever attempt to give away management of a school district, state officials Thursday provided a preview of what the final order requiring Adams 14 to give up district management could include.

The State Board of Education is expected to approve its final directives to the district later this month.

Thursday, after expressing a lack of trust in district officials who pleaded their case, the state board asked the Attorney General’s office for advice and help in drafting a final order detailing how the district is to cede authority, and in what areas.

Colorado has never ordered an external organization to take over full management of an entire district.

Among details discussed Thursday, Adams 14 will be required to hire an external manager for at least four years. The district will have 90 days to finalize a contract with an external manager. If it doesn’t, or if the contract doesn’t meet the state’s guidelines, the state may pull the district’s accreditation, which would trigger dissolution of Adams 14.

State board chair Angelika Schroeder said no one wants to have to resort to that measure.

But districts should know, the state board does have “a few more tools in our toolbox,” she said.

In addition, if they get legal clearance, state board members would like to explicitly require the district:

  • To give up hiring and firing authority, at least for at-will employees who are administrators, but not teachers, to the external manager.
    When State Board member Steve Durham questioned the Adams 14 school board President Connie Quintana about this point on Wednesday, she made it clear she was not interested in giving up this authority.
  • To give up instructional, curricular, and teacher training decisions to the external manager.
  • To allow the new external manager to decide if there is value in continuing the existing work with nonprofit Beyond Textbooks.
    District officials have proposed they continue this work and are expanding Beyond Textbooks resources to more schools this year. The state review panel also suggested keeping the Beyond Textbooks partnership, mostly to give teachers continuity instead of switching strategies again.
  • To require Adams 14 to seek an outside manager that uses research-based strategies and has experience working in that role and with similar students.
  • To task the external manager with helping the district improve community engagement.
  • To be more open about their progress.
    The state board wants to be able to keep track of how things are going. State board member Rebecca McClellan said she would like the state board and the department’s progress monitor to be able to do unannounced site visits. Board member Jane Goff asked for brief weekly reports.
  • To allow the external manager to decide if the high school requires additional management or other support.
  • To allow state education officials, and/or the state board, to review the final contract between the district and its selected manager, to review for compliance with the final order.

Facing the potential for losing near total control over his district, Superintendent Javier Abrego Thursday afternoon thanked the state board for “honoring our request.”

The district had accepted the recommendation of external management and brought forward its own proposal — but with the district retaining more authority.

Asked about the ways in which the state board went above and beyond the district’s proposal, such as giving the outside manager the authority to hire and fire administrative staff, Abrego did not seem concerned.

“That has not been determined yet,” he said. “That will all be negotiated.”

The state board asked that the final order include clear instructions about next steps if the district failed to comply with the state’s order.

Changing fortune

Late votes deliver a narrow win for Jeffco school bond measure

PHOTO: Denver Post file
Fourth-graders Kintan Surghani, left, and Rachel Anderson laugh out the school bus window at Mitchell Elementary School in Golden.

Voters in Jefferson County narrowly approved a $567 million bond request that will allow the school district to improve its buildings.

Jeffco Measure 5B, the bond request, initially appeared to have failed, even as voters supported Measure 5A, a $33 million mill levy override, a type of local property tax increase, by a comfortable margin. But as late votes continued to be counted between Election Day and today, the gap narrowed — and then the tally flipped.

With all ballots counted — including overseas and military ballots and ballots from voters who had to resolve signature problems — the bond measure had 50.3 percent of the vote and a comfortable 1,500 vote margin.

In 2016, Jeffco voters turned down both a mill levy override and a bond request. Current Superintendent Jason Glass, who was hired after the ballot failure, made efforts in the last year to engage community members who don’t have children in the district on the importance of school funding. This year’s bond request was even larger than the $535 million ask that voters rejected two years ago.

“We are incredibly thankful to our voters and the entire Jeffco community for supporting our schools,” Glass said in a statement. “The 5A and 5B funding will dramatically impact the learning environment for all of our students. Starting this year, we will be able to better serve our students, who in turn will better serve our communities and the world.”

The money will be used to add new classrooms and equip them, improve security at school buildings, and add career and technical education facilities.