Good morning and welcome to the Monday edition of the New York Education newsletter. We’ll take a look at the week ahead and a look back at the past week.
The fight over funding for New York City public schools continues as a state judge temporarily blocked the city from further carrying out cuts to school budgets.
Bronx Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank said that pending an Aug. 4 hearing, the city has to halt “further implementation of the cuts contained in the approved budget for the 2022-2023 school year,” POLITICO’s Madina Touré reports. The city has to instead keep “spending at the levels … as required by the FY 2021-22 school year,” Frank wrote.
Four New York City parents and teachers recently filed a lawsuit alleging the city, schools Chancellor David Banks and the Department of Education breached state education law by using an “emergency declaration” to send the budget past the Panel for Educational Policy, the DOE’s governing body, and directly to City Council.
The city has until the end of business Monday to file a motion to vacate the temporary restraining order.
And negotiations between the Adams administration and the Council to restore $250 million in funding to schools have hit an impasse.
The administration has proposed $250 million but wants to tie the restoration to future cuts to school budgets, Madina reports. The Council has called it a “non-starter” and is refusing to agree to cuts in a “haphazard way and predetermined way.”
“They’re trying to bully that in and kind of hold the money hostage to get some agreement,” a person close to the negotiation told POLITICO, who added they are also working to “get really clear on all of the data.”
A lawmaker also confirmed the $250 million deal is at an impasse due to the mayor pushing the Council to commit to future school cuts. City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, for her part, told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer that the Council was trying to “drill down” on the numbers and the DOE told Council the cuts would primarily cover staffing vacancies but that it’s led to schools “losing key staff and entire programs.”
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NO MOVEMENT ON SCHOOL INTEGRATION — Chalkbeat’s Christina Veiga: “At a town hall meeting in southeast Queens this spring, a parent leader asked David Banks, the newly minted schools chancellor: Will you fight to integrate our segregated schools? ‘I think diversity, when it’s done well, provides a level of enrichment for education that you cannot beat,’ Banks responded. ‘But I also think that it is critically important that we not lose sight of the fact that we have to increase the quality of all of our schools.’ Six months into his tenure, Banks, along with his boss, Mayor Eric Adams, have not laid out plans to advance integration in the city’s school system — one of the most segregated in the nation.”
SPOTLIGHT ON REGENTS EXAMS — Newsday’s John Hildebrand: “Regents exams — gatekeepers to high school diplomas for more than 140 years — face intense scrutiny in the months ahead, as education leaders look for equivalent ways to boost graduation rates for students struggling to pass the tests. Starting in the fall, a ‘blue-ribbon’ commission of about 40 educators, parents, business representatives and others will review the state’s complex graduation requirements and recommend changes. State education officials said they expect a detailed inquiry into the knowledge and skills that students need in the 21st century, and that a final commission report should be delivered in 2024 or 2025.”
BINGHAMTON WEIGHS CLOSING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL — WSKG’s Megan Zerez: “Binghamton City School District is reconsidering a proposal to shutter one of the city’s seven elementary schools. After pushback by parents, the district is now considering renovating the aging schools and keeping them all open. Amy Zieziula was one of about 30 people present at a Binghamton City School District Board of Education Meeting Tuesday. ‘I’m going to speak on behalf a lot of parents that couldn’t come tonight; they said ‘Make sure they don’t close any of the schools,’ Zieziula said. ‘This is what we’ve been saying for months now.’”
STUDENTS STUCK ON HOT BUSES WITHOUT AC — New York Post’s Cayla Bamberger and Susan Edelman: “Many public school buses transporting young students and children with disabilities during an interminable heat wave in New York City don’t have air conditioning, families told The Post. The advocacy group Parents to Improve School Transportation (PIST), citing workforce sources, says more than half of the buses don’t have cool air. The city Department of Education has received hundreds of complaints about sweltering conditions on the vehicles since the ‘Summer Rising’ academic and camp program began July 5, according to city data.”
MORE BLACK HISTORY IN BUFFALO SCHOOLS — WGRZ’s Liz Lewin: “National calls for more inclusive and effective education in schools, as it pertains to American History and Black and Brown people, are intensifying. School districts and academic institutions alike are being challenged to redesign curricula to better reflect what some are calling a ‘full’ portrayal of American history. Dr. Fatima Morrell is the associate superintendent of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives for Buffalo Public Schools. Dr. Morrell said as it relates to Black history education in schools today, it’s historically nonexistent.”
DEMOCRACY PREP FOUNDER SEEKS TO AVOID JAIL TIME — Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum: “In a new court filing, Democracy Prep charter school founder Seth Andrew says he illegally took money from the schools after a dispute with network leaders. Andrew’s lawyers suggest this disagreement over financial management — and less so personal financial gain — motivated his decision to steal money from the charter network. ‘Seth recognizes the enormity of his mistake. He realizes that he was acting out of frustration and a desire to be proven right,’ his lawyers write. ‘In many respects, his actions can be understood as the response of a founder trying to continue to influence leadership that had chosen to move on from him.’”
LAWSUIT: CUNY ENVIRONMENT IS HOSTILE FOR JEWISH STUDENTS — New York Post’s Melissa Klein and Irie Sentner: “The City University of New York has become a ‘pervasively hostile environment for Jewish students,’ according to a newly filed complaint to the US Department of Education that alleges violations of the Civil Rights Act. ‘Some of the harassment on CUNY campuses has become so commonplace as to almost be normalized,’ according to the complaint by the American Center for Law & Justice in Washington DC., which cites a litany of harassment going back to 2013. Court papers cite incidents at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn where a Jewish professor ‘found swastikas carved into the door and her keyboard drenched in urine’ and another Jewish professor from Israel was asked how many people she had killed.”
INTEGRATION ADVOCATES WEIGH FEDERAL COMPLAINT AGAINST STATE — Press of Atlantic City’s Christopher Doyle: “A coalition campaigning against school segregation in New Jersey is now threatening to file a federal complaint against the state. Building One America and its affiliate New Jersey Coalition Against Racial Exclusion, or NJ-CARE, said in a letter dated Monday they intend to file a complaint against New Jersey with the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. The coalition argues that state leaders, particularly Gov. Phil Murphy, have not taken the action necessary to integrate New Jersey classrooms, in violation of federal civil rights law.”
SAYREVILLE DISTRICT TO HOLD SPECIAL ELECTION ON BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS — CentralJersey.com’s Matthew Sockol: “The Sayreville School District will have a special election to determine if the Board of Education may appropriate $97.5 million in bonds to improve the district’s schools, with focus on improving the air conditioning at every facility. Board members passed a resolution during a recent meeting that provides for the Oct. 4 referendum. Voters will be asked to approve the district’s $97.5 million bond proposal for the facility improvements.”
UTAH UNIVERSITY ADMITS MISHANDLING DOMESTIC ABUSE CASE — New York Times’ Amanda Holpuch: “Zhifan Dong had only been at the University of Utah for a few months when she raised the first alarm: She told a residential director at the university’s housing department that her ex-boyfriend, who lived in the same dorm building, had assaulted her in a downtown Salt Lake City motel room. Two days after the Jan. 12 assault, Ms. Dong, 19, told the director that she was concerned about her ex, Haoyu Wang, 26. She said he had suicidal ideation and that she had not heard from him since he was arrested in connection with the assault…In documents released this week, the university acknowledged it mishandled some of the warning signs leading up to Ms. Dong’s death.”
PENNSYLVANIA’S STATE-RUN SCHOOLS TO SPLIT NEW MONEY — 90.5 WESA’s Sam Dunklau: “Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education approved plans for divvying up its share of new state budget money this week. Leadership is pledging to use much of the money to boost student financial aid efforts. The 10 state-owned universities are receiving between a few hundred thousand and several million more dollars based on how many full-time students have recently attended. Each school is also getting between $7 million and $23 million in federal pandemic relief money.”
POPE FRANCIS TO APOLOGIZE FOR INDIGENOUS SCHOOL ABUSE — AFP: “Pope Francis heads to Canada on Sunday for a chance to personally apologise to Indigenous survivors of abuse committed over a span of decades at residential schools run by the Catholic Church. The head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics will be met at Edmonton’s international airport by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the flight from Rome. The 10-hour flight constitutes the longest since 2019 for the 85-year-old pope, who has been suffering from knee pain that has forced him to use a cane or wheelchair in recent outings.”
Young People’s Chorus from NYC participated in a free concert in Montecito, California, that featured kids and teenagers.