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Educational equity requires putting systems in place that acknowledge and address the specific challenges, histories, and needs impacting students from different backgrounds, to holistically support them as they learn. Despite the systemic inequities APA public school students and their families face, they are often excluded from or misrepresented in discussions on educational equity issues including school integration, opportunity gaps, systemic racism, and poverty. However, APA students continue to be impacted by overcrowding in schools, bullying, lack of quality language-accessible and culturally-responsive services, under referrals in special education, underfunding of programs for English Language learners, and more.It is true that the complex diversity of our community can make outreach difficult within the current system. However, the Department of Education and schools can take key steps to address inequities that involve building and funding strong partnerships with community-based organizations who often have the language proficiency and cultural responsiveness to help support families, collecting and providing disaggregated data, and increasing the representation of APA educators and staff.
Left Out: The Struggle of Newly Arrived Haitian Immigrant Youth Enrolling in New York City High Schools Through Family Welcome CentersApril 16, 2019
On April 26, 2019, CDP and Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project (Flanbwayan) released "Left Out: The struggle of newly arrived Haitian immigrant youth enrolling in New York City high schools through Family Welcome Centers." When immigrant high school students arrive in New York City, their high school admissions are processed through Family Welcome Centers, offices set up by the Department of Education to provide transition services for immigrants and others who are new to New York City. This process is fraught with challenges, and often gives young people little, if any, choice in what school they attend. The report, based on over 150 surveys conducted by Flanbwayan, details the experiences of Haitian youth who enrolled in high schools though Family Welcome Centers. The research reveals significant barriers to education for Haitian immigrant students in New York City. Findings from the report include that Haitian students enrolling in school through Family Welcome Centers are not being asked about their academic preferences and interests, are being placed in schools that are incompatible with their needs and are faced with a lack of information to make informed choices about their academic futures. The report offers policy recommendations and reforms to address the systemic challenges faced by immigrant students enrolling through Family Welcome Centers.
Yaffed was founded to address the lack of secular education in many ultra-Orthodox schools. Tens of thousands of children attending these schools, also known as yeshivas, are being denied the education to which they are entitled under New York State law. For more than five years we have worked to educate public officials about this matter. Throughout, city and state education officials have demonstrated ignorance, disregard, and gross incompetence and in all these years have done little or nothing to improve education at these institutions.This report attempts to change that by increasing public awareness about ultra-Orthodox education.It describes the lack of secular education in many ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic yeshivas and the government inaction that has come at the expense of tens of thousands of children. It exposes the array of funding that the government doles out to yeshivas while fully aware that these schools arenot meeting standards. Finally, it sheds light on the grave consequences for the citizens of New York City and New York State were this problem to remain unchecked. We hope that the information provided here will enable readers to stand up for these children and for the proper use of their own tax dollars.After years of broken promises on the part of New York City and State education departments —after phantom investigations and reports, missed deadlines with no explanation, and promisedimprovements that never occurred — it is time the matter is addressed so that tens of thousands of current and future students at those yeshivas receive the education to which they are entitled. It is our sincere hope that this report will make that happen sooner. We invite the public to join us in demanding change.
The $746 Million A Year School-to-Prison Pipeline: The Ineffective, Discriminatory, and Costly Process of Criminalizing New York City StudentsApril 20, 2017
This report, released by the Center for Popular Democracy and Urban Youth Collaborative, reveals the staggering yearly economic impact of the school-to-prison pipeline in New York City, $746.8 million. In addition, it presents a bold "Young People's School Justice Agenda," which calls on the City to divest from over-policing young people, and invest in supportive programs and opportunities for students to thrive. New evidence of the astronomical fiscal and social costs of New York's school-to-prison pipeline demand urgent action by policymakers. The young people who are most at risk of harm due to harsh policing and disciplinary policies are uniquely situated to lead the dialogue about developing truly safe and equitable learning environments. This report highlights the vision for safe, supportive, and inclusive schools developed by these youth leaders.
Where's My Seat? How School Overcrowding Disproportionally Impacts Immigrant Communities in New York CityNovember 1, 2015
School overcrowding, which occurs when "the number of students enrolled in the school is larger than the number of students the school was designed to accommodate," is rampant in New York City's public school system. Across the city, students are forced to learn in crammed classrooms, ill-equipped trailers or temporary classroom units (TCUs), or other spaces not intended for instruction. New York City's Department of Education (DOE) has acknowledged that more than 49,000 new seats need to be created to address the problem and committed to creating fewer than 33,000 new seats in coming years, and other more likely estimates put the number at more than 100,000.
The members of Journey for Justice, are comprised of thousands of youth, parents, and other concerned citizens from communities of color across the United States. They wrote this report because they need the American people to know that the public education systems in our communities are dying. More accurately, they are being killed by an alliance of misguided, paternalistic "reformers," education profiteers, and those who seek to dismantle the institution of public education. Some are being killed quickly; others are still in the early stages. But it is, at this point, quite clear that there will soon be little to nothing left of our public school systems -- and many more like ours -- unless current trends are disrupted.
The Urban Youth Collaborative strives for social and economic justice throughout our communities -- overcoming obstacles to make sure youth voices are heard and youth empowerment is emphasized. They are committed to building a strong youth voice, a voice that can ensure high schools prepare students to go to college, earn a living wage, and actively participate in our democracy. In the subsequent pages is a set of proposals to ensure that high schools serving low-income youth of color meet the new Department of Education standards for college readiness. We offer multiple ways to pursue each goal, recommend that combinations of the aspects of models we present be considered.The report is organized to share what we know about why items on our platform are important and to give information to help fellow students, education advocates, and the NYC DOE work toward implementing changes.
Essential Voices, Part II: Engaging Students and Parents in the Implementation of a New Teacher Evaluation SystemOctober 17, 2013
In June 2013, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) announced a new teacher evaluation system for New York City, which is being enacted citywide in the 2013-14 school year. The implementation of a new system for evaluating the 75,000 teachers who work in New York City's public schools is a massive undertaking -- one that will change how principals use their time, how teachers direct their efforts in the classroom, and, ultimately, how students experience school. State Education Commissioner John King has said, "These evaluation plans will help principals and teachers improve their practice, and that in turn will help students graduate from high school ready for college and careers. That's our goal in everything we do."As the intended beneficiaries of this major reform effort, students and their families have an enormous stake in its success. This paper makes the case that the New York City Department of Education (DOE) must include them in the policy implementation process.Students and parents should have the opportunity to actively contribute to the policy changes that affect their lives; reforms are more likely to be successful, sustainable, and responsive to local needs when students and families are engaged as partners and supportive of such efforts. As theNational Parent Teacher Association (PTA) notes, "Because parents, teachers, students, and the general public are affected by school policy, it is appropriate that they participate in its determination. We believe that such sharing of responsibility will result in greater responsiveness to student and societal needs and therefore improve the quality of educational opportunity."The voices of actual New York City public school parents and students echo this desire for participation with respect to teacher evaluation policy. One New York City high school student told us, "Since the students are the ones subjected to changes in the system (as well as the teachers) they should be allowed to have a say in what they think will benefit/hurt them. They should be able to say what they think makes their teachers effective/ineffective, and what can be done to fix any problems with the new policy."Similarly, Diana M., the parent of an eleventh grader in Queens, affirmed, "We have a voice, we have many concerns and as parents should be included in these new policies that are taking place....Students as well parents have ideas and we can change the school system for the better [for] students, the DOE and the parents alike....The change starts with all three parties, parent, student and educator!"With this paper, we are calling on the DOE to include students and parents when putting the new evaluation system into practice by establishing a stakeholder advisory group to provide feedback throughout the implementation process and ensure open discussion and sharing of responsibility take place. We begin by setting forth the arguments for including parents and students in the implementation of the new policies and conclude by providing examples of structures established for this purpose in other cities and states.
One Step Forward Half a Step Back: A Status Report on Bias-Based Bullying of Asian American Students in New York City SchoolsSeptember 1, 2013
In September 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced Chancellor's Regulation A-832, which established policies and procedures on how New York City schools should respond to bias-based harassment, intimidation, and bullying in schools. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), the Sikh Coalition, and many other community organizations had long advocated for such measures and we applauded the city for taking a foundational step to ensure the safety of all students.However, as the five-year anniversary of the anti-bullying Regulation approaches, our survey found a significant gap between the promise of bias-free public schools and the day-to-day reality of Asian American students.
As the education of our children -- our nation's future -- and the school-justice connection has increasingly captured public attention, the sunshine of increased graduation rates has brought into sharp focus the shadow of the so-called school-to-prison pipeline -- the thousands of students who are suspended, arrested, put at greater risk for dropping out, court involvement and incarceration. They are the subject of this Report.In school year 2011-2012 (SY2012), the number of suspensions in New York City public schools was 40 percent greater than during SY2006 (69,643 vs. 49,588, respectively), despite a five percent decrease in suspensions since SY2011. In addition, there were 882 school-related arrests (more than four per school day on average) and another 1,666 summonses issued during the SY2012 (more than seven per school day on average), also demonstrating an over-representation of students of color. These numbers might suggest New York City has a growing problem with violence and disruption in school but the opposite is true. Over the last several years, as reported by the Department of Education in November 2012, violence in schools has dropped dramatically, down 37 percent between 2001 and 2012. Indeed, violence Citywide has dropped dramatically.Emerging facts suggest that the surge in suspensions is not a function of serious misbehavior. New York City has the advantage of newly available public data that makes it possible for the first time to see patterns and trends with respect to suspensions by school and to see aggregate data on school-related summonses and arrests. The data shows that the overwhelming majority of school-related suspensions, summonses and arrests are for minor misbehavior, behavior that occurs on a daily basis in most schools. An important finding is that most schools in New York City handle that misbehavior without resorting to suspensions, summonses or arrests much if at all. Instead, it is a small percentage of schools that are struggling, generating the largest number of suspensions, summonses and arrests, impacting the lives of thousands of students. This newly available data echoes findings from other jurisdictions indicating that suspension and school arrest patterns are less a function of student misbehavior than a function of the adult response. Given the same behavior, some choose to utilize guidance and positive discipline options such as peer mediation; others utilize more punitive alternatives.The choice is not inconsequential. Recent research, including groundbreaking studies in Texas, Cincinnati and Chicago, underscore the important connections between academic outcomes and suspensions. Students who are suspended are more likely to be retained a grade, more likely to drop out, less likely to graduate and more likely to face involvement in the juvenile or criminal justice systems, thereby placing them at higher risk for poor life outcomes. Suspensions and school-related court involvement also generate significant and lifetime costs -- for extra years of schooling, for justice system involvement, and for families and all society. Notably, high rates of suspension do not yield correspondingly significant benefits, as research shows that high rates of suspensions in a school make students and teachers feel less, not more, safe.Most worrisome are patterns of suspensions for students with disabilities and students of color in New York City and across the nation. In New York City alone during SY2012, students receiving special education services were almost four times more likely to be suspended compared to their peers not receiving special education services; Black students were four times more likely and Hispanic students were almost twice as likely to be suspended compared to White students. New York City Black students were also 14 times more likely, and Hispanic students were five times more likely, to be arrested for school-based incidents compared to White students.Studies have shown that it is not the violent and egregious misbehavior that drives the disparities. For example, the Texas study showed that Black students had a lower rate of mandatory suspensions (suspensions for violence, weapons and other equally serious offenses) than White students. Black students exceeded White students only in the rates of suspensions for discretionary offenses.Innovative school districts throughout the country, encouraged by the federal government, are increasingly moving away from suspensions, summonses and arrests in favor of positive approaches to discipline that work. In New York City, a range of schools similarly have adopted constructive discipline with good results. In short, we have examples of what to do. The challenge is to take that learning system-wide and transform the small group of schools that over-rely on suspensions, summonses and arrests. Change in these schools could have a significant impact on student outcomes, re-engaging thousands of students so that they stay in school and out of courts. But research and experience tell us these schools cannot make this change by themselves. They need help and support. Change will require strong leadership and committed partnerships.New York City has a proud tradition of turning conventional wisdom on its head and achieving remarkable results. A recent example underscores this point. In the United States, conventional wisdom is and has been that mass incarceration is the cost of keeping communities safe. But New York City has proved otherwise. Even as the incarceration rate in New York City declined significantly, with a drop in the prison population of 17 percent between 2001 and 2009 and in the jail population by 40 percent from 1991 to 2009, the number of felonies reported by New York City to the Federal Bureau of Investigation also declined, down 72 percent. New York City proved conventional wisdom wrong with the result that thousands fewer people have been incarcerated -- saving the City and State taxpayers two billion dollars a year.Similarly, New York City can refute the conventional wisdom of critics who think that sacrificing a few students -- although the thousands of students who were suspended, arrested or issued summonses each year is not a "few" -- can be justified on the theory it protects the many by improving safety and academic outcomes. There is no research that supports this belief and a growing body of research that suggests the opposite. Students in schools with lower suspension rates have better academic outcomes than students in schools with high suspension rates, irrespective of student characteristics. Students and teachers in schools with lower rates of suspension and arrest also feel safer than students and teachers at schools with high rates. Students who feel safe can learn, and teachers who feel safe can teach.The students interviewed by Task Force members during their school visits echoed what the research also says: the best approach to keeping schools safe and improving academic outcomes is to support a positive school climate where students and teachers feel respected and valued. Evidence-based interventions like restorative justice, positive behavioral supports, and social-emotional learning are giving teachers and school leadership the tools they need to deal with school misbehavior and help build that positive school climate while keeping students safe and learning.In 2011, Judge Judith Kaye, with the support of The Atlantic Philanthropies, convened the New York City School-Justice Partnership Task Force to bring together City leaders to address the question of how best to keep more students in school and out of courts. She invited a group of stakeholders who do not often come together -- judges and educators, researchers and advocates, prosecutors and defense counsel -- to learn more about how the systems they serve impact each other and how they might partner together to achieve better outcomes. The Task Force heard from experts from around the City and country on promising practices. It examined data to improve understanding of the challenges and look for bright spots, schools that were succeeding even in the face of a wide array of challenges. Task Force members visited local schools and heard from principals and students about what they need. Members learned from each other and debated what avenues would be best.The work of the Task Force leads us to conclude that New York City can safely reduce the number of school-related incidents that can ultimately lead to court involvement. Indeed, the City already has models of promising practice -- schools that have high needs populations with low rates of suspensions and arrests. Learning from these schools and other reform-minded districts across the nation can guide leadership across systems to further safely reduce court involvement, arrests and suspensions while improving academic outcomes.We recognize that progress toward this objective will require a laser-like focus on shared outcomes and an unprecedented level of partnership among city agencies, and collaboration with the courts, and it must include parents, students, teachers, principals, researchers and advocates. Leadership and partnership at the top is the key. It will make possible the adoption of shared goals to improve outcomes for New York City's children across agencies so that schools do not have to go it alone. It will make possible the ability to divert summonses and arrests unnecessarily referred to the courts. It will make possible the ability to direct services where those services are needed and stop the flow of students with disabilities and youth of color into the suspension system and the courts. It will make possible the ability to raise up our support, expectations and standards for educational achievement and outcomes for students who do become court involved.In 2014, a new Mayor will assume office. It is already clear that school reform will be a high priority, as it has been for the Bloomberg administration. Over the past decade and more, we have learned a great deal about what works and what does not work, even as we recognize there is more to be learned. Now we have an opportunity to build on what has worked well.Reducing unnecessary suspensions, summonses and arrests is a challenge we can tackle and we must if our students are to succeed. In the end, many more young people can grow into successful and productive adults -- and it is our duty as adults to find the supports necessary to make that happen. Frederick Douglass was right on target in his observation that it is better to build strong children than repair broken men and women. This Report summarizes almost two years of learning, and it advances recommendations to make that happen.As the next New York City Mayor sets the course for education reform, these recommendations offer a roadmap of next steps for a Citywide effort to take advantage of emerging approaches to school and justice system leadership that are effective and fair as a means to improve outcomes for all of our children -- to keep our students in school and out of court.
Throughout New York City, students from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade are learning firsthand about "co-location," the practice of two or more distinct schools existing in the same building and sharing spaces. While some co-locations involve multiple public schools, this paper will focus on co-locations with charter schools in public school buildings. All too often, co-location in New York City has led to the denial of parity and equity for all of the City's public schools students. This paper discusses best practices that are absolutely essential to prevent co-location practices that are unfair and deny parity to all public schools students. These best practices will improve the process of co-location in New York City.
Raising the Stakes: Investing in a Community School Model to Lift Student Achievement in Community School District 16January 1, 2013
Brooklyn's Community School District 16 (CSD16) is a chronically low-performing district that encompasses the eastern half of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a section of northeastern Crown Heights, and a small portion of Brownsville. CSD16 consists of 26 traditional public schools with a total enrollment of 9,900 students. Eighty percent of CSD16 students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. CSD16 serves 11 public housing complexes.In CSD16, 45% of girls and 34% percent of boys in grade three tested at or above grade level for English Language Arts in 2010-2011, as compared to 56% and 55% respectively for New York State overall. Similarly, 52% of girls and 49% of boys in CSD16 tested at or above grade level for math in grade three, as compared to 60% and 59% respectively for New York State overall. Of the CSD16 students who were in grade nine in 2006-2007, 50% received Regents diplomas in 2010-2011. CSD16 had a 44% graduation rate in a city where 59% is the average.The metric used to determine college and career readiness, however, is even more troubling. Students are considered college ready in New York when they score 75% or higher on their English Regents and 80% or higher on their Math Regents. Of the four high schools located in CSD16 with 2011-2012 graduating classes, two had a 5% college readiness rate among graduates over a four year period, one had a 3% rate, and the remaining had a college readiness rate of 0.0%.In citing these statistics, this report makes the case that CSD16 has significant challenges that severely undermine the efforts of Black and Brown families to provide opportunities for their children to thrive educationally. At the same time, CSD16 has strengths. For example, there are strong nonprofit institutions and a civically engaged working-and middle-class, which offer opportunities for individual community-based donors, established foundations, and public sector agencies to team up with local stakeholders to improve the educational outcomes of students in CSD16.
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