NYC School Diversity Panel Recommends Ending Gifted Programs in Public Schools

By Valerie Strauss, Washington Post - Rep: September 9, 2019

A panel appointed by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to find ways to diversify schools in the nation’s largest system just came out with a surprising recommendation: eliminate gifted programs in the city’s public schools. The mayor, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said he would take that suggestion under advisement.

The issue has been of concern for years in New York City, which has among the nation’s most segregated schools, with a lack of diversity extending to its gifted programs in the lower grades and to selective high schools that admit students based on a single standardized test score.

The recommendation by the panel includes gifted programs in elementary schools – which also select students based on a test score – and middle schools, as well as some high schools. It does not, however, include the city’s eight most elite high schools, even though they have diversity issues, as well...

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How Policymakers Can Boost Student Engagement by Elevating Their Voices in Education

On August 14, the Center for American Progress released a new report describing various strategies for elevating student voice in education. Student voice, defined by the authors as authentic student input or leadership in instruction, school structures, or education policies, can promote stronger educational engagement and performance as well as meaningful change in education systems, practice, and policy. The report includes examples and analysis for eight strategies used to incorporate student voice in education, including: student surveys, student perspective on governing bodies, student governments or councils, student journalism, student-led conferences, democratic classroom practices, youth participatory action research, and personalized learning.

Schools are preparing to welcome students back to school at a time of great unrest on domestic issues. This report outlines recommendations that they, along with district and state policymakers, should consider bolstering student voice and develop the next generation of leaders...

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Push for Ethnic Studies Faces a Dilemma: Whose Stories to Tell?

By Dana Goldstein - Rep: August 26, 2019

Discuss a recent instance of police brutality in your community. Read op-eds arguing for and against legal status for unauthorized immigrants. Compare and contrast border conditions in the Palestinian territories and Mexico.

Those are some of the lesson plans suggested in a draft of California’s newly proposed ethnic studies curriculum for K-12 public schools. The documents have led to bitter debate in recent weeks over whether they veer into left-wing propaganda, and whether they are inclusive enough of Jews and other ethnic groups. Now, amid a growing outcry, even progressive policymakers in the state are promising significant revisions.

The materials are unapologetically activist – and jargony. They ask students to “critique empire and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism and other forms of power and oppression.”...

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Draft Ethnic Studies Curriculum Criticized, “Substantial” Redesign and Revisions Appear Likely

August 26, 2019

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond joined with leaders of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus at a special news conference on August 14 to address concerns and talk about revisions to the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.

Thurmond stated in the meeting that greater balance was needed in the curriculum to more accurately reflect the experience and contributions of Jewish Americans and to address anti-Semitism that has existed historically and that continues to persist in modern-day times.

“Revisions to the model curriculum will be recommended to highlight the Jewish community and other ethnic groups in addressing the types of inequities that the curriculum seeks to help undo,” Thurmond said...

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Is It Time for Schools to “De-track” Math?

By Carly Berwick - August 26, 2019

Two years ago, Julie Ward, the math curriculum coordinator for Cambridge Public Schools in Massachusetts, took a look at test scores for the district’s eighth graders from the previous school year: 70 percent of white students had passed the state math tests while only 10 percent of black students had. Digging deeper into the data, she found that the numbers were part of a pattern that was consistent year to year.

Cambridge staff began trying to understand why there were such racial disparities in math performance, remembers Manuel Fernandez, the principal at Cambridge Street Upper School, who says that he and his staff noticed a strong correlation with the ways students were placed in math courses.

“Over time you end up with lower-level math courses filled with black and Latino children, and high-level math classes with white and Asian children,” he said...

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Watching Out for the Health and Safety of Student Athletes

August 26, 2019

Whether it’s hitting a home run, crossing the finish line or simply being part of a team, extracurricular athletics are influential to the educational experience of many students. Students in these programs experience enhanced school engagement by being part of an athletic program.

Research shows that higher grades, graduation rates and scores on state assessments, as well as lower dropout rates, are seen among student athletes in comparison to non-athletes. To actualize these positive attributes, and, most importantly, to properly care for participants, governance teams should review district policies and protocols related to the health and safety of student athletes.

Stories of student athletes who suffer major injuries and even death caused by avoidable circumstances are heartbreaking, and districts should strive to prevent such occurrences...

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Proposed California Ethnic Studies Curriculum Would be a First in U.S. – State Seeking Feedback

By Elaine Chen, Sacramento Bee - Rep: August 12, 2019

The California Department of Education has posted a draft of its proposed ethnic studies curriculum – the first state-level curriculum on the academic subject in the country – and is asking for public feedback.

Until Aug. 15, members of the public can view the high school curriculum on the department’s website, fill out a feedback form and send it to

The publication of the draft curriculum marks a step in the implementation of a bill passed in 2016 that requires the State Board of Education to develop an ethnic studies curriculum by 2020 to serve as a guideline for local school districts.

Districts would not be required to implement the model curriculum, according to the Education Department. Rather, “schools and districts may use it when developing an ethnic studies curriculum that best addresses local student needs,” the website says...

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Fewer California High School Students are Playing Football

By Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times - Rep: August 12, 2019

An annual survey of high schools in California shows a marked decrease in football participation for a fourth consecutive year.

The latest numbers, released by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) on Thursday, showed that 91,305 of the state’s high school students played football last fall, a drop of 3.1%.

Statewide participation in football has dwindled steadily – by more than 12,000 – since 2014-15, when there was a high of 103,725 students involved. The numbers are down nationally, too, having dropped in schools with 11-man football teams by 27,865 in 2016 and 21,465 in 2017. Nationwide participation from last season will be announced later this month by the National Federation of State High School Associations...

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More Students Are Being Bullied Online, Federal Report Says

By Debbie Truong, Washington Post - Rep: July 29, 2019

Online bullying is on the rise among middle and high school students, even as overall rates of bullying in schools have remained steady, according to a federal report released on July 16.

Twenty percent of students between the ages of 12 and 18 were bullied during the 2016-2017 school year, according to the report from the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the U.S. Education Department. Among those students who faced bullying, 15 percent said they were bullied online or by text, a 3.5 percentage point jump from the 2014-2015 school year.

The report did not indicate why online bullying is increasing, and students were not asked about the websites or social media networks used as conduits for bullying. But Rachel Hansen, a project officer for the National Center for Education Statistics, said the information can help guide efforts by schools to curb bullying...

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Achievement in State’s Public Schools: What Do Standardized Test Scores Tell Us?

(Editor’s note: Earlier this month, the Public Policy Institute of California released a report examining and comparing California students’ performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests and National Assessment of Educational Progress. The following is a summary of that report.)

By Paul Warren and Julien LaFortune, Public Policy Institute of California - July 29, 2019

Two major reforms have transformed California’s K-12 education system over the past decade. To revamp English and mathematics instruction, the Common Core standards were adopted in 2010, with district implementation beginning several years later. In 2013, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was enacted to increase funding for disadvantaged students, reshape the state’s K-12 accountability system, and expand local control over school spending. There is now concern that these reforms are failing to improve student outcomes fast enough. To evaluate these concerns, this report examines California’s performance on two tests of English and mathematics – the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)...

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