Friday, August 22

Weekly news round-up: charters, asbestos, and incentives

As parents and students begin gearing up for the new school year, the news this week was dominated by the standard – yet colossal and complicated – contemporary education debates, including charter schools, standardized testing, and incentives.

Mayor Bloomberg kicked off the week by announcing that 18 new charter schools would open in the city this fall. The Times opened a Q and A between readers and James D. Merriman IV, the chief executive of the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence. The Sun editorialized in favor of charter schools and private school vouchers. The Daily News wrote about Bay Ridge, Brooklyn parents who oppose a charter school moving into public school buildings.

A Newsday reporter who set out to prove that the Regents exams were easy by taking the U.S. History test unprepared scored a 97 and made his point. Meanwhile, students’ scores on the Advanced Placement tests were released, and the apparently mixed results of pay-for-scores programs vaulted the issue of monetary incentives back into the papers. Employees of the Princeton Review, a high-profile national testing company, made a serious computer error that resulted in 34,000 Florida public school students' private information available to anyone online.

Several disheartening stories involved special education students: allegations of abuse in one city school, asbestos in another, and concerns over special education bus service for the fall. A disabled teacher sued, claiming his epilepsy cost him his job, and a national story about corporal punishment (legal in schools in 21 states but not New York) found that special education students – as well as minority and low income students – disproportionately felt the paddle.

And a couple of journalists used the end of the summer to ask key questions about the future. What will happen to No Child Left Behind, now that Bush is on his way out and a new president is on his way in? Will mayoral control be renewed by the state legislature, especially since Klein and Bloomberg have largely ignored politicians’ education opinions? And where does Obama really stand on education, as supporters of several different ­– and sometimes competing – initiatives claim to be in alignment with the candidate? Education mysteries abound.

No comments: