last chance

More students given transfers, but many are left in weak schools

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New York City Public School Choice applications and offers, based on data provided by the Department of Education

Far more New York City students were offered pathways out of low-performing schools this year under a new policy that gave priority to students who wanted to leave schools that are being closed.

But few students who were eligible to transfer even tried, and most students who did apply were told they must stay at their original school.

Of the 150,000 students eligible for transfers this year under the city’s Public School Choice program, about 10,000 applied to be placed at another school. Of those who applied, about 4,190, or 41 percent, were given offers. Their approval rate was more than twice as high as last year, when only about 16 percent of applicants were offered seats in different schools.

But the proportion of eligible students who applied for transfers fell from 7.7 percent to 6.7 percent, despite the Department of Education’s promise to advertise the transfer option aggressively.

“There’s some deeper thing happening in terms of barriers and people understanding the process and their rights and making the decision to apply,” said Emma Hulse, a community organizer with the New Settlement Parent Action Committee who helped parents fill out transfer applications.

This year, responding to criticism about its school closure process, the city introduced a new policy that prioritized students at schools that the Department of Education is phasing out. Previously, the city’s policy was that current students had to stay at the school until they graduated.

Students in phase-out schools did fare better than students in other schools that the state considers low-performing. About 12 percent of transfer applications this year came from students attending a phase-out school, according to the department, but those students received about 15 percent of transfer offers — meaning that about half of all students in phase-out schools who applied to transfer were given permission to.

Still, the gap between the number of students who applied for transfers – 10,127 — and who received offers — 4,194 — is significant. A Department of Education official said some families had diminished their chances of receiving a transfer offer by selecting only one or two choices for alternate schools, rather than selecting a wide array of options. The official could not say what percentage of applicants checked one to two options or many options.

Magatte Ndiaye, a parent of a P.S. 64 third-grader who we wrote about in a previous story about transfer options, said she chose at least seven different schools and bubbled in the “all other schools” option, which means she’d agree to any school the city wanted to place her daughter in. Her daughter was not given a single transfer offer.

“That means you want to keep my child in the school that’s failing … at least give me one chance,” Ndiaye said. “They can’t tell me they have nothing in all of the city of New York.”

Student placement depends on how many seats are available at the school he or she wants to transfer to. Priority is given to “lowest-performing and lowest-income” students, as defined under the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires districts to create ways for children to leave schools that are failing. If there are more applicants than seats available at a particular school, students are picked at random for the available seats.

Hulse, who helped Ndiaye and 24 other parents fill out their transfer applications, said she’s spoken with 10 parents so far, of whom seven received at least one transfer option. She said while she’s happy that the city dramatically increased the number of students who were offered transfers, she noted that only 1,200 students at phase-out schools applied for a transfer when there are 16,000 students at schools that will be in the process of phasing out this fall.

She added that she would ask Department of Education officials to consider what it would be like to have their children jump through hoops such as charter school lotteries and transfer application processes and still end up with a low-performing zoned school as their only option.

“Think about what it feels like to those families who applied to 20 to 30 schools and are still stuck in a school that’s failing,” Hulse said.

Full data about transfer applicants and offers is below.

NYC Public School Choice Applicants and Offers | Create infographics

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.