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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.”
October 5, 2011
Downtown residents disappointed by school zones proposal
A map of proposed new school zones for Lower Manhattan Tribeca’s P.S. 234 is no stranger to overcrowding, but last night the packed auditorium was full of stressed downtown parents instead of their children. The parents were there to speak out on the Department of Education’s rezoning proposal for downtown Manhattan during the first of multiple public hearings held by the Community Education Council for District 2. It is the third time District 2 has been rezoned in as many years as new schools have come online to serve the district's growing number of families. In 2009, the department offered up multiple rezoning options, pitting parents against each other based on how their children would be affected. This year, the department released a single proposal for the council to revise and approve. “We went through some wars together,” Elizabeth Rose, from the DOE’s department of portfolio management, told the parents at last night's meeting. “Tonight, I’m mostly here to listen.” Rose, CEC members, and other officials heard parents complain that they had moved to Tribeca in order to send their children to the popular P.S. 234, only to find out that they could be rezoned and see the value of their homes fall. They heard concerns about changes to a longstanding policy of treating the West Village as a single zone shared by multiple schools. And they heard worries about the "sketchy" neighborhood that students might have to walk through to get from Tribeca to P.S. 3 in the West Village. Together, the parents argued that the rezoning proposal did not meet downtown's real needs: for the DOE to bring school zones in line with neighborhood boundaries, ensure students' safety during their commutes, and build more schools in Lower Manhattan.
March 25, 2010
New elementary school planned as part of NYU expansion
A longed-for new elementary school for Greenwich Village families may open in an unexpected location — a new building on a greatly expanded New York University campus. NYU has committed to building a new 600-seat public elementary school as part of its plan to add 6 million square feet of space to its campus, the university announced today. The school offers a bright bargaining chip to NYU in its battle to expand its campus by 40 percent without alienating the neighboring community. Parents in the Village have complained about overstuffed classrooms and long wait-lists for neighborhood kindergarten seats. But Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who has been a fierce critic of how the city has handled Manhattan's school crowding problems, said he is confident that the plan is more than just an attractive ploy. "The school is now off the table," Stringer said. "It's happening." Still, many of the details — including where exactly the school will be located, when construction will start or even if the university's broader plan will be approved — remain up in the air.
December 7, 2009
Push to ease crowding by moving Clinton School draws ire
A plan aimed at easing crowding in District 2 has parents up in arms because it would force a popular middle school to move from its long-time home. The plan would move the Clinton School for Writers and Artists to P.S. 33, roughly five blocks from its home on the fifth floor of P.S. 11 in Chelsea. The move was finalized at the end of last week just as the school's parent-teacher association sent a letter to the Department of Education rejecting the placement. Though parents and the department agree that P.S. 11 is too overcrowded for the Clinton School to remain there, there's disagreement over whether P.S. 33 is an appropriate relocation spot. In a letter sent to the DOE last Friday, co-president of the PTA Darren Taffinder asked that the Clinton School be given one more year at P.S. 11. Taffinder wrote that he and other parents couldn't agree to a move to P.S. 33 without knowing how much space their school would have and without a promise that the move is temporary.
May 19, 2009
Lawsuit seeks to reverse multiple school zoning decisions
Elected parent leaders in Manhattan are asking the city to reverse multiple school decisions, including ones that the city has used to manage severe overcrowding in many neighborhood schools, because they say they should have been involved in making the decisions. The demand comes in a lawsuit filed yesterday, the second in three months against the Department of Education over its adherence to state law that requires parent groups to be consulted before some decisions are made. Members of the Community Education Council for District 2, which includes the Upper East Side and most of Manhattan below Central Park, say the city violated the law by not consulting them when it made decisions about opening and closing schools and how students were assigned to district schools. With the city teachers union, they filed a lawsuit yesterday over about a dozen cases in recent years where the DOE failed to consult the CEC about major zoning changes (one case dates back to 2001). The suit details the ways council members say the DOE brusquely informed them of its "unilateral" decisions after they had been made. Among them: The parent council learned about the closing of Bayard Rustin High School in Chelsea by looking at the DOE's Web site, parents allege. It learned of the opening of another school via an e-mail from DOE official John White: "Good morning. Please see new addition of Quest to Learn School."
May 15, 2009
To kindergarten shutouts, top schools official says, "I'm sorry"
Anyone who stayed until the bitter end of a three-hour meeting last night about kindergarten waitlists in Manhattan got a surprise: an uncharacteristic apology from a top DOE official. Hundreds of parents turned out for a meeting of the parent council for District 2 to vent about having been shut out, at least for now, of their neighborhood schools. Last week, Manhattan parents protested at City Hall after 273 children were put on waiting lists at many elementary schools. Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm arrived late to the meeting after spending her afternoon dealing with the swine flu outbreak in Queens. She sat quietly in the audience and listened to a tense back and forth between school officials and angry parents. The auditorium had mostly emptied and council members were preparing to adjourn when Grimm approached the microphone to make a surprise statement, which I captured on video above. Here's a key part of what she said: I also want to say something that I thought I heard people from the DOE say tonight, but just in case you didn't, I want to say, I'm sorry. We're sorry. We have stumbled on some of this planning. The two officials leading the meeting told parents during the meeting that most schools should be able to eliminate their wait lists by the middle of June, after families find out where they've been offered seats in gifted and talented programs. John White, who heads the Department of Education's efforts to manage school space, said that more children in each area qualified for gifted admissions than there are children on the waiting list.
May 6, 2009
A protest as hundreds of kindergarten hopefuls sit on waiting lists
Parents and elected officials gathered at City Hall today to protest crowding in Manhattan that has led to long waiting lists for public school kindergartens. (GothamSchools ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/28995913@N07/3508423223/##Flickr##) A crowd of shell-shocked parents gathered outside City Hall this afternoon, angry that the Department of Education hasn’t found seats for the hundreds of rising kindergarten students who have been placed on waiting lists for next year at their local public schools. The waiting lists, which include 273 names in just two Manhattan districts, mean that families in baby- and building-boom areas like the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, and Greenwich Village could find themselves unable to secure a spot at their neighborhood school's kindergarten. The lists attracted extra attention yesterday after news leaked that the city was considering closing or relocating prekindergarten classes at two Greenwich Village elementary schools, PS 3 and PS 41, in order to make room for kindergartners. Parents at the rally said they felt confused and powerless. "As far as I can tell, I don't have a Plan B — other than home school or moving to Jersey," said Jay Douglas, whose 4-year-old son is number 42 on a waiting list for PS 187 in Washington Heights. Elected officials joined the parents at City Hall today to criticize city officials for not planning ahead to meet the demand for spots in public schools. Scott Stringer, Manhattan's borough president, said the DOE is "closing its eyes" to a widespread capacity problem, warning that taxpaying parents will pack up and move, taking their kids and tax dollars somewhere else if they can't enroll in their local public school.
February 26, 2009
DOE finds some supporters of its ideas to combat crowding
75 Morton Street, the subject of a rally last summer, could still become a school. <em>(GothamSchools)</em> A meeting about overcrowding in Manhattan schools last night ended in surprising fashion: with the Department of Education being lauded for listening to parents. Parents from one local school, the Clinton School for Writers and Artists, showed up to the meeting of the Community Education Council for District 2 in red, as planned, to protest the idea of their school moving. Hundreds of other parents arrived armed with protest signs and talking points about the need for more school seats in the district, which covers most of Manhattan below 59th Street and the Upper East Side. Advocates have criticized the DOE for understating the extent of crowding in the area. But the mood relaxed after John White, the DOE official on hand, dispatched with the idea that Clinton would be asked to move. White said the DOE instead would try to ease crowding by finding a new space for Greenwich Village Middle School. That school is eager to move out of its current location on the top floor of the already overcrowded PS 3 building. One potential site for the school, according to White: part of the state-owned office building at 75 Morton Street that parents and elected officials lobbied mightily last summer for the DOE to obtain.
November 5, 2008
What to look for in the city's new school construction plan
Sandwiched between exciting election news and distressing budget news, the mayor and chancellor today will release their proposal for the city schools’ next…
October 23, 2008
Deal with private developer brings new schools to East Side
The East Side of Manhattan is getting two new school buildings — and the city won't have to spend a cent on them. As part of a complicated deal with a private developer, the World-Wide Group, the Department of Education will open a massive, multi-use private development at 57th Street and 2nd Avenue that will include two schools, a Whole Foods, shops, and 320 residential units. Two schools will occupy the space, PS 59 and the High School for Art and Design, which is 1 million square feet and will open in 2012. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein unveiled the designs for the development this morning at PS 59's temporary home, a gleaming East Side building that was also renovated by the World-Wide Group last year. The arrangement will certainly be cheered in the community, since it means 830 new elementary school seats in the overcrowded District 2 region. It could also become a model for how to build school buildings at little cost to the city. The Department of Education negotiated the deal through the Educational Construction Fund, a finance mechanism that gives private developers access to tax-exempt bonds and city air rights if they commit to including schools in their developments. A Greenwich Village school planned for 2012 will follow a similar model. And also in District 2, another public-private partnership is paying for a new space for East Side Middle School in a 118-unit residential tower on East 91st Street. A crane at that site collapsed this spring, killing a construction worker. A sketch of the new development and a rendering of its facade, all designed by architecture firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill LLP, are below the jump.
August 6, 2008
DOE combating overcrowding in Manhattan; rally today in West Village
In an attempt to take the wind out of the sails of the anti-overcrowding movement in Manhattan’s District 2, the city…
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