Manhattan Had Biggest Common Core Knowledge Gap Among Boroughs, Says Study

Categories: Education

HBO's "The Wire."
The Common Core test, implemented in New York City public schools for the first time last year, caused a stir because much fewer students passed it than the previous version. It set a higher standard for what a student should know, suggesting that past scores were inflated and the education system was all along worse than even what we'd suspected.

The overall score drop, however, was not equal across the board. The knowledge gap was present as always, and black and Hispanic kids had steeper falls than white and Asian kids. For instance, the math proficiency rate dipped 30.5 percent among black sixth graders and 33 percent among Hispanic sixth graders. The rate among Asian and white students in that age group decreased by 24.7 and 29.6, respectively.

The gap wasn't even across the boroughs either, according to a study released this month by the National Urban Research Group.

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Esaul Ortiz, Student Shot at Bronx High School, Sues City

NYC Department of Education
Bronx Regional High School
Around noon on December 10, 2012, 19-year-old Esaul Ortiz was shot in front of Bronx Regional High School. The bullet hit the student in the arm and he survived. Two days later, police arrested then-17-year-old Larry Adeyanju, who is currently awaiting trial for charges including criminal weapons possession and assault with intent to cause serious injury.

Meanwhile, Ortiz seeks to hold the school responsible as well. Last week, he filed a complaint against the Department of Education and the city for negligence and "their failure to provide a reasonably safe environment."

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Brown University Committee Releases Report on Ray Kelly Heckling Incident

Screenshot via Brown Daily Herald
Students protest before Kelly's lecture-attempt.
It's been a full four months since then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly headed to Brown University to deliver a lecture on "proactive policing," and instead was driven from the stage by student hecklers displeased with his policies on stop-and-frisk. Kelly has since moved on, working as a "distinguished visiting fellow" at the Council on Foreign Relations and, soon, as a special adviser to Governor Andrew Cuomo's planned new school on homeland security and emergency preparedness.

But Brown University, in the grand liberal arts tradition of discussing every single thing to death and beyond, is still parsing the meaning of the Ray Kelly Heckling Incident, even appointing a ten-person committee to explore what happened that afternoon. Last week, the committee released the first half of a two-part report, which outlines everything that happened from the moment the lecture was announced to the time Kelly touched down in his NYPD-funded helicopter to speak.

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And Now, the Answers to Our 2013 News Quiz, Plus the Super Smart Contest Winner

Illustration by Fred Harper
This picture is a joke about Banksy, who was real big in 2013.
At the end of 2013, before our collective spirits had been broken by the endless Polar Vortexes inflicted upon us, we extended a challenge to you, our readers: show us what you remember about the past year in news. Our 2013 news quiz brought in lots and lots of people willing to take that challenge, and finally, we're ready to announce a winner. But first, an apology.

That quiz was hard. We didn't exactly mean to make it so hard, but some of the stuff we threw in there was just cruel. The bizarre species of cockroach found on the High Line? Which politicians were indicted for election fraud and which ones were merely divorced by their long-suffering spouses? Who even remembers this stuff?

A few things, though, everyone got right. Damn near all of you knew that Amanda Bynes was accused of throwing a bong out the window of her apartment (a charge that was dismissed not long ago). Most people remembered that Anthony Weiner was pursued by sexting buddy Sydney Leathers through a McDonalds on election night, although very few of you remembered that Leathers subsequently attempted to auction off her "excess" labia skin after a "rejuvenation" procedure.

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The New York City Council Thinks Standardized Tests Suck, Too

Categories: Education

Thumbnail image for stests.jpg
albertogp123 via Flickr
In a move that is expected to be popular with school children across the city, the New York City Council passed a unanimous resolution Tuesday declaring its opposition to high-stakes standardized testing.

"The over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools," the resolution said, "including the narrowing of the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing the love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving excellent teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate."

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Two CCNY Students Charged With Rioting, Criminal Mischief, Harassment for Protests Over Closure of Morales-Shakur Center

Anna Merlan
Tafadar Sourov, in the striped t-shirt, stands next to Khalil Vasquez, tan jacket, and their attorneys, Mark Yu and Ron McGuire, outside the courthouse this morning.
Two City College of New York students have been criminally charged for their role in the protests against the closure of the Morales-Shakur Center, the school's hub of campus political activity. Tafadar Sourov, 19, and Khalil Vasquez, 22, have been suspended from CCNY since October 28, barred from campus, and prevented from registering for spring classes; late last week, they learned that they would also be facing charges in Manhattan criminal court.

The men surrendered themselves yesterday and spent last night in jail. This morning, they were arraigned and charged with two counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree, one count of obstructing governmental administration in the second degree, one count of rioting, one count of inciting to riot, and harassment in the second degree, all misdemeanors. Sourov is also being charged with attempted assault in the third degree, another misdemeanor, for allegedly shoving a CCNY police officer to the ground. Both men face up to a year in prison.

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Eleven-Year-Old Suffered Brain Damage from Toxic Chemicals at P.S. 51 Building, Lawsuit Claims

Google Maps
The building formerly known as P.S. 51.
An 11-year-old who attended P.S. 51 for three years suffered brain damage from the toxic chemicals in the school building, the boy's father claims in a lawsuit filed on Monday.

The boy had attended P.S. 51 from September 2007 to June 2011, two months before the Department of Education informed families that there was an unsafe level of trichloroethylene (TCE) in the soil below the cafeteria of the school's 3220 Jerome Avenue building in the Bronx.

The suit states that the boy has suffered "impaired motor coordination," "impaired mathematical skills," "impaired visual and verbal memory" and "impaired perceptual reasoning," as well as a "lack of concentration and attention," "frequent headaches," "vomiting," and "insomnia."

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South Bronx Public Schools: Highest Rate of Low-Income Students and Suspensions

Categories: Education, Race

HBO's The Wire
The classroom can break the cycle of poverty. It's an axiom we hear routinely, in stump speeches and research papers. "The great equalizer," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has called it. "The one force that can consistently overcome differences in background, culture, and privilege."

Education can help turn a poor boy into a rich man, can fuel the promises of American Dream--work hard play and by the rules, find success.

Constructing a system that achieves those expectations for everybody, of course, is a challenge that policymakers have faced since the days of the one-room schoolhouse.

The reality is bleaker. The students who come from the least money often have the most trouble at school. According to a study released this week by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the neighborhood with the highest percentage of low-income students -- the South Bronx -- also has the highest rate of suspensions.

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Two Arrested During Protest Over Closure of CCNY's Morales-Shakur Center

Photo by Ian Scott Horst
Protesters and police clash outside the North Academic Center, where the Morales-Shakur center was housed.
A sit-in and protest at City College of New York turned confrontational on the afternoon of Thursday, October 24, when a protester was pepper-sprayed and arrested for endangering the welfare of a minor, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. A second protester was detained and cited for disorderly conduct.

The protest took place outside City College's recently closed Morales-Shakur Center, which CCNY abruptly converted into a "career center" on Sunday. The arrests ensued after protesters tried to force their way inside the North Academic Center (NAC), where the Morales-Shakur center used to be.

The pepper-sprayed arrestee is CCNY alumnus and activist David Suker. It's his second CCNY-related arrest of the week; Suker was arrested Sunday morning while sitting outside the center's doors and refusing to move. He attended Thursday's protest with his toddler son, who was left in the care of another protester after his arrest. A little while later, the police could be seen escorting both the child and the protester inside, away from the crowd.

- See also: Two CCNY Students Suspended as Third Protest Over Closure of Morales-Shakur Center Begins

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CUNY City College Students Protest After Morales-Shakur Center, Hub of Campus Political Activity, Is Abruptly Closed

Students protest outside the North Academic Center

Update, Thursday, October 24:A second demonstration has resulted in the arrests of two to three protesters. Read our report on those arrests here.

Original entry: A nearly 25-year-old campus community center at the City College of New York was abruptly closed Sunday night, leading to a large, furious protest by students and community groups. The Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community and Student Center, which is on the third floor of a campus building, was abruptly converted into a "career center" late that night, just before midterms began this week. All the Morales-Shakur Center's belongings were moved out and apparently thrown into storage, and the room and exterior doors, which were once red with a black fist, were both painted over.

A group calling itself Liberate CUNY Front quickly issued a press release, calling the closure "deceptive and dishonest, and indicative of a major lack of respect for the ability of students organizing." The press release also said that the campus went into "lockdown" on Sunday night and Monday morning, with students unable to enter or leave the campus, or get into the library, which is in an adjacent building. Meanwhile, CCNY issued its own press release, saying the room had been "reallocated," to provide a space for "students involved in experiential learning."

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