let's review

On the last day of school in New York City, a look back at the 15 biggest education stories this year

PHOTO: Christina Veiga

The 2017-18 school year wraps up today in New York City. But before you head off on vacation, hit the beach, or board the bus to camp, we’ve compiled some of the biggest education stories to recap the year that was.

1. After more than half a century in the New York City education department, schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña decided this winter to retire for good, setting off a national search for a replacement.

2. It seemed like that replacement would be Alberto Carvalho, the longtime superintendent of Miami-Dade County schools. But Carvalho stunned New York City this spring by turning down the job — after city officials said he initially accepted it — in an emotional meeting that was broadcast live on television.

3. De Blasio tried again to name a new chancellor. This time, it stuck: In April, Richard Carranza took the helm of the country’s largest school system. It quickly became clear that Carranza — while philosophically aligned with his predecessor in many ways — would chart his own course as schools chief.

PHOTO: Alex Zimmerman
Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza poses for a selfie with the Statue of Liberty on the Staten Island Ferry.

4. One of the most notable areas of difference has been Carranza’s willingness to push for school integration. Only weeks into his tenure, Carranza made waves when he retweeted a news story that said: “WATCH: Wealthy white Manhattan parents angrily rant against plan to bring more black kids to their schools.”

5. The story contained viral news footage of a parent protesting an integration proposal for middle schools on the Upper West Side and Harlem. That plan was approved this month, and will affect District 3 schools starting next year.

6. But the biggest integration news of the year stemmed from a controversial proposal to overhaul admissions at the city’s elite specialized high schools in a bid to enroll more black and Hispanic students. The proposal has sparked protests from the Asian community, who say their children will be unfairly shut out of the schools.

7. A Bronx student was killed in a school by another student — the first time that’s happened in nearly 25 years. The tragedy has spurred big debates about school safety and discipline.

8. New York City began offering free lunch to all students, regardless of their family income, capping years of lobbying from advocates who said the old policy shamed students who couldn’t afford their meals.

9. More than 100,000 New York City students walked out of class as part of a national movement against gun violence that was spurred by the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

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PHOTO: Christina Veiga
Rafael Perez, a student in New York City, walked out during a March protest against gun violence.

10. More Renewal schools were closed, and the controversial school turn-around program was extended beyond its initial three-year deadline. The program’s future remains uncertain and progress has been uneven at best, despite costing more than half a billion dollars.

11. Once a formidable charter school advocacy group, Families for Excellent Schools publicly imploded just days after its leader was accused of inappropriate behavior.

12. Teachers unions notched a big win — and a substantial loss. New York City agreed to offer paid family leave to its 76,000 teachers after an online petition calling for the benefit went viral. But at the state level, teachers unions went home in defeat when the legislature failed to amend a controversial evaluation law that ties state test scores to teachers’ ratings.

13. It wasn’t all gridlock at the state: Education policymakers carved out changes to graduation requirements, breaking open a debate about what it should take to earn a diploma.

14. The state’s Board of Regents also approved new learning standards — dropping the name Common Core — and a new plan to evaluate and intervene in schools.

15.  “Sex in the City” star and longtime education advocate Cynthia Nixon launched a bid for New York governor on a platform that’s heavy on education reform.

Future of Schools

Ogden school staffer arrested after 12-year-old student is hurt

PHOTO: Chicago Public Building Commission

A 12-year-old student at William B. Ogden Elementary School on the Near North Side suffered a sprained wrist this week in a physical altercation with a school employee, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The employee, Marvin Allen, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery of a child. He has been removed from the school pending an investigation, according to an email to parents from Acting Principal Rebecca Bancroft and two other administrators.

Chicago Public Schools’ payroll records list Allen as a student special services advocate and full-time employee at the school. Student special services advocates are responsible for working with at-risk children and connecting them and their families with social services, according to district job descriptions.

An email to parents Thursday night from school leaders said an incident had occurred earlier this week “that resulted in a “physical student injury.”

“While limited in what I can share, the incident took place earlier this week between a student and staff member off school grounds after dismissal,” read the message. “The employee involved has been removed from school while a CPS investigation by the Law Department takes place.”

District spokeswoman Emily Bolton confirmed that the employee had been removed pending a district investigation.

“Student safety is the district’s top priority and we immediately removed the employee from his position upon learning of a deeply concerning altercation that took place off of school grounds,” Bolton said.

The exact circumstances behind the incident are still unclear.

The altercation happened Monday morning outside the school’s Jenner Campus, which used to be Jenner Elementary School before Ogden and Jenner merged last year. The Jenner campus serves grades 5-8.

At recent Local School Council meetings, Bancroft, the acting principal, acknowledged a “fractured community” at the school in the aftermath of the merger, which joined two different schools — Ogden, a diverse school with a large white population and many middle-class families, and Jenner, a predominately black school where most students come from low-income households. At the January meeting, parents complained of student disciplinary problems at the Jenner campus. Jenner parents have also expressed concerns about inclusiveness at the school.

The school has also experienced leadership turnover. One of the principals who helped engineer the merger died last March after an illness. And in November, the district placed Ogden Principal Michael Beyer on leave after he was accused of falsifying attendance records.

The incident also comes on the heels of a video released in early February that shows a school police officer using a taser on a female Marshall High School student.

On the hunt

Want a say in the next IPS superintendent? Here’s your chance.

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat

Parents, teachers, and neighbors will have a chance to weigh in on what they hope to see in the next Indianapolis Public Schools superintendent and the future of the district at three community meetings in the coming weeks.

The meetings, which will be facilitated by Herd Strategies at three sites across the city, will gather feedback before the school board begins the search for a new superintendent. The school board is expected to select the next superintendent in May.

Board President Michael O’Connor said the meetings are designed to get input on what the public values in the next superintendent. But they will also play another role, allowing community members to reflect and give feedback on the district’s embrace of innovation schools, one of the most controversial strategies rolled out during former Superintendent Lewis Ferebee’s administration.

“As we look for the next superintendent, it’s perfect for us to take input on that path that we’ve taken and then hear what [community members] think is working well and maybe what they think we could do better,” O’Connor said, noting that the administration and board are often criticized for failing to engage the public.

Innovation schools are run by outside charter or nonprofit managers, but they are still considered part of the district. Indianapolis Public Schools gets credit from the state for their test scores, enrollment, and other data. The model is lauded by charter school advocates across the country, and it helped Ferebee gain national prominence.

Ferebee left Indianapolis in January after he was tapped to lead the Washington, D.C., school system. Indianapolis Public Schools is being led by interim Superintendent Aleesia Johnson, who was formerly the deputy superintendent and is seen as a leading candidate to fill the position permanently.

Here is information about the three scheduled community input sessions:

Feb. 27, Hawthorne Community Center, 1-3 p.m.

March 7, Arsenal Technical High School in the Anderson Auditorium, 6-8 p.m.

March 13, George Washington Carver Montessori School 87 in the gymnasium, 6-8 p.m.