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Raising the Bars Without Supports Could Lead to Our Children Behind Bars

October 13, 2010

New York City parents, elected officials, and education advocates gathered today to demand that the state Board of Regents vote down a special waiver for school districts which would allow cities and towns across New York to deny thousands of struggling students necessary assistance. Similar events were also held in Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse.

A more accurate calibration of the state’s standardized tests this summer resulted in a huge drop in math and reading scores statewide – more than 25 points for each exam in New York City – shocking parents and revealing more than 100,000 additional children who are not on track for college.

Under a New York State Education Department regulation, all children testing below standard must be offered additional services. The Board of Regents, however, will vote on the 18th to allow school districts to opt out of helping students who would have passed the state exams under the old, flawed scoring system, but are now testing below standard.

Noting that children who fail out of school are three times more likely to end up in prison, protesters marched from the Brooklyn House of Detention to the New York State Education Department’s Brooklyn office to demand that all struggling students receive the help they need to graduate.

In New York City, parents, leading education advocacy organizations, and three-dozen elected officials have declared an education emergency and joined together to demand help for all 239,000 children testing below standard in English, as well as extra support for schools with large numbers of struggling students. The group launched the effort, called Save Our Schools, at the beginning of the school year.

“While we applaud the State Education Department and the Board of Regents for recalibrating test scores so that they are better aligned with college-ready standards, we don’t understand how they would then turn around and take away services from our children, who are most affected,” said Coalition for Educational Justice parent leader Portia Armstrong. “Our children and families are finding out that they while they thought they were on target for college, they are not and instead of being met with supports to get them there, we are planning to tell them you are on your own. How does this make sense?”

“This waiver defies common sense,” said New York City Council Education Chair Robert Jackson. “First we tell students they didn’t pass because we’ve got higher standards. Then we tell them they didn’t fail badly enough to merit extra help. Talk about academic limbo. I urge the Board of Regents to do the right thing by our students and provide the resources that the Board itself knows are needed to achieve proficiency.”

“The Board of Regents must ensure that every child is provided a quality education that adequately prepares them for the challenges of the 21st Century,” said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. “Our children did not create this financial mess, and we cannot allow it to be used as an excuse to deprive them of the educational assistance necessary to succeed in life.”

“I stand with the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice and the Alliance for Quality Education today, and always, as they call on the NYS Board of Regents to support hundreds of thousands of students in need of academic services. These often-times underprivileged students actually need more attention, instead of educational opportunities taken away from them, as proposed, particularly because they received low reading test scores,” said Council Member Letitia James. “I say to the NYS Board of Regents – you must vote NO to waive academic services for youth struggling with reading and writing skills. It seems obvious to me that career and college options would be severely limited by denying the proper academic reinforcement for students today. In the long-run, a bright future for our students would also be denied.”


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