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Saturday, May 30, 2020

NYC Chancellor Richard Carranza Says To Parents: "Do As I Say, Not As I do"

Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack
We parents know that in NY City there are different rules for people of different races, economic levels and political connections.

If you live on the Upper East side of Manhattan, for example, and you have a great income and job, you have the full array of options available to you, namely excellent private schools , charters, religious institutions and public schools. If you have money, the people who work at these schools will listen to you more often than not or you can hire an expensive lawyer to cut through the fake news and get what you want.

If you live in a poor neighborhood and/or you are black or Hispanic and/or you do not speak English well, you may not get what is given to parents with financial or political resources and connections unless you have the stamina to battle every administrator/educator at the public/charter/religious institution every day, sometimes every hour. A common theme for media reports on the NYC Department of Education is that NYC schools are racially segregated. I agree. I see it.

Many people don't want this, and I'm speaking as a parent/teacher advocate. I have 4 children who went through the public schools of NYC and I was able to get 3 of my 4 graduated before they were crushed. With one of my children the attacks and lies by people at the DOE showed me the way the NYC DOE works to crush parents and children and also allowed me to learn strategies to survive and win what was needed, which I now pass on to people who ask for my help.

I have written on this blog several times about my advocacy for parents, which is centered on the following: stay focused on what your child/career needs, and get out of the NYC public schools if you can. Don't allow your child to be a guinea pig for the bumbling curriculum changes of the NYC DOE, the huge class sizes, and the disrespectful behavior of administrators. I believe in school choice. I do not agree with Department pushpins such as Diana Ravitch, whose anti-charter talk is, as far as I am concerned, irrational and simply narrow-minded and wrong. Sure there are bad charters and there are good public schools. Each parent should be their own judge of which educational setting is best. Homeschooling? This can be ideal for the right child and the right family. Again, families should choose what is best for their child.... not Ravitch, not Carranza or de Blasio pushpins and not leaders of parent groups who want one thing: to have you agree with their perspective and stay in NYC public schools to help them fight for their agenda.

Astonishingly, Carranza's own army of Deputy Chancellors and Superintendents don't follow the policies that Carranza is ordering that all others follow, as you can see below in  two recent articles from the NY POST. Carranza clearly approves of his closest administrators' putting their children in screened schools and/or specialized high-schools, the same schools that are too racially unbalanced for the general public.

So at the same time that Carranza is promoting an end to screened admissions as well as testing for specialized high schools, his Deputy Chancellor, Josh Wallack, is ignoring these directives and putting his child in those very schools.

Parents, teachers, everyone else should not approve this "Do as I say and not as I do" policy.

Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ blog
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

DOE official in charge of NYC admissions debate sent his child to top screened schoolby Selim Algar, NY POST, May 28, 2020

The Department of Education official overseeing the city’s school admissions debate is sending his child to a highly selective and disproportionately white Manhattan middle school, sources told The Post.
Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack resides in Brooklyn’s District 15 in Park Slope, which scrapped screened admissions in 2018 to spur diversity in its racially segregated schools.
Among other roles, Wallack heads the Office of Student Enrollment, “which manages . . . efforts to advance school diversity and equity,” according to the DOE website.
But rather than enroll his child in one of these unscreened schools next year, Wallack instead successfully vied for a middle school spot at the competitive Institute for Collaborative Education in Manhattan’s District 2.
District 15’s decision to get rid of screens has sharply remade demographics at Park Slope’s top schools. For example, the white population at coveted MS 51 dropped from 47 percent to 28 percent while the number of low-income, homeless, and English Language Learner kids hiked from 34 percent to 56 percent, according to DOE figures.
At ICE, which extends from grades 6 through 12, the school is 48 percent white, 22 percent black, 19 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent Asian.
“The man has every right to send his kid to the school of his choice,” said a District 2 parent. “But for the DOE to moralize to others who do so or to try to get rid of those opportunities for other parents is a blaring double standard. It’s like we have two sets of rules.”
According to DOE records, there are no English Language Learners at the school, a category commonly correlated with recent immigrants to America.
In announcing a plan to diversify District 1 schools in 2017 through modified admissions, Wallack espoused goals that some said contradicted his eventual schooling choice.
“The aspiration we’ve set is that each school would reflect the socioeconomic and linguistic diversity of the district as a whole,” he told The New York Times that year.
Jean Hahn, a Queens activist, said parents were growing tired of an apparent chasm between the DOE’s public rhetoric and the personal choices of its top officers.
“The hypocrisy is just unbelievable,” she said. “Truly unbelievable.”
Wallack told The Post Thursday that he toured his local District 15 schools and was drawn to many of them.
“While my wife and I were impressed with so many of the D15 options, my son, an outspoken and determined young man, fell in love with ICE,” he said. “It is a diverse school in many ways, uses multiple measures for admissions and a progressive teaching approach. It was a uniquely good fit for our family.  We would have been thrilled at any number of schools in D15, but this was my son’s first choice.”
Wallack’s selection comes at a delicate moment in the ongoing war over the future of the city’s screened schools.
Opponents argue that they favor families with resources who are able to better prepare their kids for admission and should be completely eliminated.
Despite their predominance in the school system, many talented black and Hispanic kids are elbowed out of contention unfairly, critics charge.
“This appears to continue a pattern of privileged enrollment for upper echelon DOE staff,” said CUNY education professor David Bloomfield, who opposes screened public schools. “It also undermines confidence in the deputy chancellor’s commitment to diversity.”
Bloomfield argued that Wallack and his colleagues have been largely ineffective in combating entrenched school segregation.
“This is consistent with the foot dragging attitude of the de Blasio administration towards diverse enrollment,” he said.
A member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s School Diversity Advisory Group, which opposes screened schools, also questioned the choice.
“There are a lot of parents committed to undoing this unjust system,” she said. “At some point we are going to need leaders to join us.”
Backers of screened schools contend that academically advanced kids should have the chance to learn in accelerated environments and that an expansion of competitive seats would boost diversity.
Eliminating them altogether, they argue, is misguided.
Veronica Flores, of The Bronx, who normally travels 90 minutes to a Gifted and Talented school in Manhattan each day because there are no local advanced programs for her daughter, questioned Wallack’s choice.
“If he believed in his own rhetoric he would have sent his child to a District 15 school,” she said. “But he is taking advantage of what the DOE speaks against. Hypocrisy is the word here on every level.”
The Institute for Collaborative Education enrolls roughly 500 kids.
It makes a point of not counting state exams towards entry and instead admits kids based on grades and individual interviews conducted by parents.
“Basically they curate as they please and somehow, just somehow, despite the demand, the school is half white,” said a District 15 parent. “It’s the same thing at Beacon and a lot of other places.”
Wallack is one of many top DOE officials who have demonstrated a preference for exclusionary schools.
Deputy Chancellor Cheryl Watson-Harris sent her kids to IS 154 Christa McAuliffe in Dyker Heights and Mark Twain for the Gifted and Talented in Coney Island – both of which are tightly screened. Ms. Watson-Harris will, it now seems, be moving to Georgia. [See prior posts, Ms. Watson-Harris wants to leave the NYC DOE, and Deputy Chancellor Dr. Andre Spencer has already found a job in Texas - Editor Betsy Combier].
Chancellor Richard Carranza sent his child to San Francisco’s top screened high school while leading that city’s school system but has since critiqued the practice during his time in New York.
Chancellor Richard Carranza with Students
NY POST Editorial Board, May 27, 2020
“It might be problematic for word to get out that the DOE is encouraging folks to make noise,” wrote anti-testing activist Miriam Nunberg. But word did get out, and “problematic” isn’t the half of it.
Nunberg, co-chair of the New York City Alliance for School Integration and Desegregation, had already blasted word that top Department of Education officials were actively pushing for opposition to PLACE, a parents’ group trying to maintain standards in the city school system — specifically, the screened admissions at some of the city’s best middle and high schools.
The Post’s Selim Algar got his hands on both Nunberg’s original e-mail enthusiastically passing along the DOE request, and her followup asking people to keep quiet about how the supposedly nonpolitical bureaucrats are playing political hardball.
Chancellor Richard Carranza has gone to war against all selective admissions, charging that any effort to uphold standards is racist. To him, the top schools are bastions of “white privilege” — never mind that white students are usually in the minority at those schools.
And he’s exploiting the pandemic in his war: The state’s cancellation of year-end testing — and his own decision to end serious grading and all attendance-taking — badly complicates screening for the next round of selective middle-school admissions.
Carranza’s on record saying it’s wrong to “waste” this crisis. So when his DOE insists, “We have not yet made any decisions on this policy, and will not do so without hearing first from our students and families,” you’re right to roll your eyes.
Meanwhile, the chancellor still refuses to confront the real problem: Far too many public schools in the city’s poor and minority communities just don’t work — even as public charter schools in the same ’hoods regularly achieve excellence.
Carranza needs to quit trying to undermine schools that work and focus on replacing the ones that don’t.