PROGRAMMING NOTE: We’ll be off for Thanksgiving this Thursday and Friday but back to our normal schedule on Monday, Nov. 28.
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.
New York public schools continuing to use Native American mascots could face penalties if they don’t make a name and logo change.
A memo late Thursday from the state Education Department said if the roughly 60 districts that still have Native American names that do not comply with a ban by the end of this school year, they could face penalties such as the removal of school officers and withholding of state aid, POLITICO’s Katelyn Cordero reports.
The directive from Senior Deputy Commissioner Jim Baldwin pointed to a decision by the Albany County Supreme Court on June 22 ordering the Cambridge Central School District near the Vermont border to remove its “Indians” team logo.
In response, the Cambridge Board of Education released a statement on Friday claiming the district will continue with its appeal of both the commissioner’s and the court’s decision.
The decision derives from a 2001 memorandum from former Education Commissioner Richard Mills, calling for districts to “end the use of Native American mascots as practical.”
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NEW YORK INVESTS $3.3M IN YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH: The state invested $3.3 million in 80 community-based organizations providing mental health resources to youth. Gov. Kathy Hochul made the announcement last week. The grants are funded through the American Rescue Plan and federal time-limited federal medical funds. More than $1 million was awarded to organizations with contracts through the Office of Mental Health that focus on suicide prevention initiatives, respite programs, and family and youth peer support services. NYU Langone and SUNY Stony Brook were each awarded $250,000 for training on evidence-based approaches, and skills for engagement and treatment of youth and families.
NYC PRINCIPAL’S WIFE RAKES IN CASH FROM DOMINICAN TEACHERS PAYING STEEP RENT — New York Post’s Georgia Worrell and Susan Edelman: “The wife of a Bronx principal collects rent money from teachers recruited from the Dominican Republic and forced to share a co-op apparently owned by the principal’s mother. The city Department of Education announced with great fanfare in September that it had hired 25 bilingual Dominican teachers to work with Spanish-speaking students. But the program is now embroiled in accusations that the foreigners have been controlled and intimidated by a group of DOE administrators profiting as their landlord.”
NYC OPENS A NEW KIND OF HYBRID HIGH SCHOOL — Chalkbeat’s Alex Zimmerman: “Starting freshman year this September at Brooklyn’s Edward R. Murrow High School, River Wedding felt overwhelmed by its hulking campus with more than 3,500 other students. The 15-year-old quickly sought advice from their middle school guidance counselor. Within days, they transferred to a city-run program called A School Without Walls, joining its inaugural class of 55 ninth graders. ‘There was like nine people in the class,” said River, who uses they/them pronouns. ‘I was just like, ‘Whoof, I can breathe.’’”
LACK OF HEAT SHUTS DOWN CLASSES AT CUNY’S BRONX COMMUNITY COLLEGE — New York Post’s Carl Campanile: “Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams — turn on the heat. CUNY’s Bronx Community College has canceled most in-person classes because of a lack of heat on campus — and the school’s faculty union is blaming government leaders for the long-festering maintenance problem. The deep freeze was revealed this week by BCC president Thomas Isekenegbe, who said students will have to learn and work remotely until at least Thanksgiving.”
MOMS BRING HOLIDAY SPIRIT TO UNDERPRIVILEGED STUDENTS — PIX 11’s Kala Rama: “For hundreds of underprivileged students attending New York City’s public schools, four moms are on a mission to make the holiday season a little brighter and merrier. The Sugarplum Sled works to fulfill the wish list of families living in temporary housing who otherwise could not afford to give or get a gift this year. The Sled is hoping you can help with its mission. P.S. 188 on the Lower East Side is one of the schools where all 427 students from 3K to eighth grade will get a gift. According to the school administration, the school’s population is unique, with 50 percent of students living in temporary housing or domestic violence shelters.”
OPTIMISM OVER TASK FORCE TO TACKLE STAFF SHORTAGES — WHYY’s P. Kenneth Burns: “New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy hopes to have solutions to an ongoing crisis in staffing K-12 schools. If a task force does its job, he will have them fairly soon. The governor announced an executive order during last week’s NJEA convention in Atlantic City that would create a task force to develop short- and long-term recommendations to increase the number of teachers and support staff at K-12 schools in the state. The governor said that New Jersey prides itself on the quality of education it provides children, noting in a press release, “our state is no exception to the national teacher shortage currently straining our education system.”
HOUSE GOP EAGER TO QUESTION CARDONA AIDES ABOUT SCHOOL BOARD THREATS — POLITICO’s Michael Stratford: House Republicans on Friday previewed some of their plans to use new oversight powers they get in the new Congress next year to scrutinize the Education Department and various other parts of the Biden administration. GOP lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, saying they anticipated requesting interviews with several department officials next year. The requests, they wrote, are related to “oversight of the Biden administration’s use of federal law enforcement with respect to school board-related threats.”
SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST, COUNSELOR HIRING LAGS NATIONWIDE EVEN AS STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS SOAR — Chalkbeat’s Patrick Wall, Kalyn Belsha and Annie Ma: “Mira Ugwuadu felt anxious and depressed when she returned to her high school in Cobb County, Georgia, last fall after months of remote learning, so she sought help. But her school counselor kept rescheduling their meetings because she had so many students to see. “I felt helpless and alone,” the 12th grader later said. Despite an influx of COVID-19 relief money, school districts across the country have struggled to staff up to address students’ mental health needs that have only grown since the pandemic hit.”
RON DESANTIS’ ANTI-WOKE LAW SUFFERS ANOTHER LEGAL SMACKDOWN — MSNBC’s Steve Benen: “Ahead of his re-election campaign, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida’s GOP-led Legislature were quite busy. As regular readers know, Republicans in the Sunshine State made it harder for Floridians to vote. And made it easier to ban books from school libraries and classrooms. And approved a new abortion ban. And created restrictions on the right to peaceably protest. But for DeSantis, the feather in his cap was a measure called the ‘Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act’ — or the “Stop WOKE Act” — that was intended to use the power of state government to target ideas about race and history that Republicans didn’t like.”
PHILADELPHIA HITS PAUSE ON BLUEPRINT FOR SCHOOL BUILDING UPGRADES — Chalkbeat’s Nora Macaluso: “Philadelphia Superintendent Tony Watlington said the district has paused the process it’s developed to decide on upgrades to school facilities, in order to align it more closely to the district’s future five-year strategic plan. During a school board meeting Thursday, Watlington said the facilities planning process will be put on hold until the district adopts that strategic blueprint, but added that building work that’s already been approved will proceed.”
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION MAY SCRAP STANDARDIZED ADMISSIONS TESTS — Daily Mail’s Ronny Reyes: “The American Bar Association may throw out law schools’ requirements that students take LSAT and other standardized admissions tests. An ABA panel will make its final decision on Friday after a committee recommended the testing requirements be scrapped because they hurt diversity in admissions. The LSAT, or Law School Admission Test, estimates a prospective students reasoning and reading comprehension, and it serves as a predictor on how they will fair in classes.”
I’M A CONSERVATIVE WHO GOT HECKLED AT YALE LAW SCHOOL. BUT NOT BY WHO YOU THINK — POLITICO’s Sarah Isgur: This spring, I spoke at Yale Law School. The atmosphere in the gothic classroom was tense from the beginning. The students slouching in their seats look bedraggled. Things went fine enough, and the room started to relax. Then a conservative student launched into a tirade because he had seen me hug the associate dean of students earlier in the afternoon. I’d known her since I was a first-year law student at Harvard more than 15 years ago. Though I was the president of the Harvard Federalist Society and she was a well-documented liberal, she had helped me innumerable times on campus. She supported me when the faculty and administrators selected me as class day speaker at graduation. A few years later, we stood together at the White House when our former dean, Elena Kagan, was confirmed as an associate justice to the Supreme Court. When I hugged her at Yale this spring, she had just congratulated me on having a baby at the height of the pandemic.
‘SURVIVOR-LED’ INQUIRY BEING EXAMINED TO INVESTIGATE SEXUAL ABUSE IN IRISH SCHOOL — The Irish Times’ Carl O’Brien: “The Government is considering a ‘survivor-led’ inquiry into the handling of child sexual abuse in schools, according to Minister for Education Norma Foley. She said although there are Garda inquiries into allegations of abuse, the Government will be ‘proactive’ in working with survivors of abuse to scope out how to move forward without impacting any criminal investigations.”
SUNY Westchester Community Collegeunveiled a new location in Yonkers to boost pathways to workforce development.