Sorting the Students

State offers city $10M to improve diversity at eight low-performing schools

Updated, 4:55 p.m. — The state is offering the city up to $10 million over the next three years to increase diversity at eight low-performing schools.

The pilot program, announced Tuesday, asks the city to come up with ways to attract students from higher-income families to eight schools on the state’s list of low-performing “focus” and “priority” schools. Each school will be eligible for up to $1.25 million to implement new dual-language, arts, Montessori, or other specialty programs, develop new admissions policies, or come up with other ways to increase socioeconomic diversity.

The announcement — likely to be State Education Commissioner John King’s last before he leaves for a post at the federal education department — reflects King’s longtime concern that the city’s admissions and enrollment policies concentrate high-needs students in struggling schools. A March analysis found that only 25 percent of black and Latino students in the city attended schools that could be considered “multiracial.”

“The world is a diverse place; our students shouldn’t be isolated because they come from struggling neighborhoods,” King said Tuesday.

The city has until Feb. 13 to choose schools and apply for the grants, which come from federal School Improvement funds. A spokesman for the State Education Department pointed to Connecticut’s magnet schools initiative and to diversity-boosting efforts in Brooklyn’s District 13 as models for programs that could be expanded with the new funding.

“We hear so often that this is such difficult problem, that there are no easy solutions,” said David Tipson, the director of New York Appleseed, a group that advocates for policies to increase school diversity. “I think this shows that addressing this issue head on, proactively, is not all that difficult. I think we see here what can happen when school officials decide they want to do something.”

Department spokesman Harry Hartfield called the grants “a great opportunity” and said the city looked forward to applying. The city expects to have some programs in place by September 2015.

Statewide, another 17 schools are eligible. Here’s the information the state has released about the program.

list list

Here are the 50 New York City schools with kindergarten waitlists in 2018

It’s the most anxiety-inducing season of all: Kindergarten placement letters are out in New York City.

All kindergartners are guaranteed a spot in a city school, and almost all families that prefer their zoned school ultimately get to enroll there.

But the city’s admissions process yields waitlists at dozens of schools for a period of time every year — and this year, there are 50 schools where not all local families who applied by the January deadline could be given a spot. In all, 590 applicants were placed on waitlists, compared to 1,083 a year ago, according to the city’s admissions tally.

Here are the New York City schools with kindergarten waitlists right now:

Waitlists typically clear over the spring and summer, as families opt for schools outside of their zone, including private or charter schools, or relocate out of the city. But each year, some kindergartners are assigned to schools outside of their zone — an issue that typically affects a few crowded neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn.

Half of the schools with waitlists had five or fewer children on them. Three schools had waitlists with more than 60 children: PS 196 and P.S. 78 in Queens and P.S. 160 in Brooklyn.

In a sign of just how volatile the admissions picture can be, just 23 of the 50 schools with waitlists this year also had them last year.

Some schools with large waitlists had none last year, according to a comparison of education department data from the two years. P.S. 78 in Queens has 73 children on the kindergarten waitlist this year, for example, but last year all zoned students who applied by the deadline were admitted right away.

On the other hand, some schools that placed many students on the waitlist last year were able to take all applicants this year. Last year, 43 children landed on the waitlist at P.S. 176 in Brooklyn, but this year, the school has no waitlist at all.

back to court

Nashville appeals judge’s order to share student information with state charters

The battle over student contact information will continue between Tennessee’s charter schools and its second largest school district.

Attorneys for Metro Nashville Public Schools on Friday appealed Chancellor Bill Young’s order to provide state-run charter schools with the names, phone numbers, and addresses of students.

The appeal came on the same day that Young originally set for Nashville’s district to comply with a new state law requiring sharing such information if charter operators request it. But a recent court extension assured Nashville leaders that they could exhaust the appeals process first.

The disagreement — which also touches on student privacy, school choice, and enrollment — has vexed state officials and lawmakers as they’ve sought to mitigate skirmishes between the state’s growing charter sector and its two largest districts, in Nashville and Memphis. Last month, Gov. Bill Haslam brought all parties to the table to seek a solution outside the courts. The State Department of Education was tasked with developing a way forward, but has not yet submitted a proposal.

While the state has urged local districts to comply with the year-old charter law, Nashville leaders argue it runs afoul of a federal law that gives districts discretion over who gets student contact information. For instance, school systems routinely share such information with companies that sell yearbooks and class rings.

The tussle has implications for the state’s largest school system, Shelby County Schools, in Memphis. Leaders there also have refused to hand over the information to charters in the state’s Achievement School District, which seeks to turn around Tennessee’s lowest-performing schools.

What Memphis parents should know about how schools share student information

Parents are divided on the issue. Some say the information exchange is an invasion of privacy, including when a Nashville charter school sent a barrage of text messages to parents, resulting in a $2.2 million settlement last year. Others say allowing charters to contact prospective students allows them to better explore their options.