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Janus, Success, Carranza, test scores — the NYC education news you missed this summer, summarized

Susan Gonzalez

New York City schools recessed for the summer on June 26, but education news hasn’t taken a vacation.

From a new proposal to overhaul the specialized high school admissions process to a Supreme Court decision about union dues, major shifts occurred during July and August. If you disconnected from the news for a few weeks, here are the education headlines that you might have missed.

Teachers unions took a hit. The United Federation of Teachers ended the school year on a bang, with the announcement of paid family leave for its members starting this fall. The celebration didn’t last long: Over the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against unions in a case known as Janus that ruled public employees can’t be forced to pay fees to unions. So far, the UFT and the state union, NYSUT, say the decision isn’t hurting them. But the unions face new pressure to prove their value to members, especially because teachers will have more time next year to decide whether to pay dues.

Richard Carranza dug in. At the very end of the school year, the new chancellor announced that he’d be reorganizing the city education department — but he didn’t say who would fill the new roles he was creating. That news came just last week, when he picked educators to fill nine “executive superintendent” positions and Linda Chen, a former city official who has worked in several other districts, to be his chief academic officer. Carranza also accelerated “anti-bias training” meant to expand culturally relevant teaching practices and address other inequities, pledged to reduce paperwork for principals, and hinted the city may reconsider the way it funds schools — initiatives and ideas he shared in a slew of interviews. You can read ours here.

Specialized schools drew scrutiny. Mayor de Blasio surprised many with his op-ed in Chalkbeat calling for an overhaul of admissions to the city’s specialized high schools. While the plan was lauded by some advocates of integrating the schools, where only 10 percent of students are black or Hispanic, de Blasio’s proposal drew outrage from some alums and the Asian community. Some are questioning why officials are only looking at these eight schools, when the entire system is the most segregated in the country. We looked at one elite school left out of the process, Hunter College High School. Other officials suggested focusing on the city’s gifted and talented program, which also doesn’t reflect the city’s population.

Success Academy struggled. Success and its CEO, Eva Moskowitz, celebrated their first high school graduates at the end of the school year, but the news for the city’s largest charter network hasn’t been good since. The high school principal departed along with droves of teachers, students protested, and Moskowitz had to meet with parents to quell concerns. We detailed the chaos at Success’s high school in a major story last month, then followed up with the surprising news that teacher turnover is such a problem that Moskowitz roped in her son, a college student, to teach economics.

State test scores stayed dark, but school spending saw the light. If you feel like you usually know about last year’s test scores by now, you’re not wrong. We reported in January that the state would be delaying this year’s scores from late summer until the middle of this month to adjust grading after going from three days of testing to two. Schools have information already about how students did last year, according to state officials, but parents and the public won’t find out until the scores have been double-checked. On the flip side, a new law meant that the public saw for the first time detailed information about how much money is going to each city school — offering a new avenue for understanding inequities.

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