En EspaƱol Know Your Rights
Source: New York Post
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

8th-Grade 'Fail' Plan is Passed

Education
officials voted at a raucous meeting last night to hold back eighth-graders who
don’t meet education standards.

By an 11-1
vote, the Panel for Education Policy ended the practice of allowing students
who don’t score at least a 2 out of 4 on annual state reading and math tests,
or who flunk major academic courses, to move on to ninth grade.

"Passing
kids through the system without making sure they’re prepared for the next level
is not a formula for success," Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said.

The old
practice, known as "social promotion," had previously been eliminated
for students in grades 3, 5 and 7.

The vote
was conducted before an overflow crowd of parent and student protesters* who wanted to postpone the decision
until officials put forward a comprehensive plan to educate middle-schoolers.

A proposal
to delay the vote indefinitely failed by a 12-2 count, paving the way for the
final vote by the board, whose members are appointed by the mayor and five
borough presidents.

Zakiyah
Ansari, a parent leader with the advocacy group Coalition for Educational
Justice,** which has been pushing
for middle-school reform for several years, said board members have been
burying their head in the sand.

"To
me, it seems like they don’t understand it as a crisis," she said.

Board
member Patrick Sullivan, who was appointed by Manhattan Borough President Scott
Stringer, cast the lone dissenting vote.

"There’s
no reason to wait for kids to fail and keep them in the same environment for
another useless year," he said.

But mayoral
appointee Edison Jackson said the new policy "is a step in the right
direction."

"If we
don’t have high expectations for all our children, too many of our children
will be relegated to the margins of society," Jackson said.

If the
policy had been in effect at the end of the last school year, up to 18,000
students could have been affected.

Under the
new system, students who flunk during the school year may still be promoted if
they pass the state tests after taking summer-school courses.

After the
meeting, Klein said an advisory board will be set up to monitor the
implementation of a plan for improving middle schools. It will include parent
advocates and representatives of the five borough presidents.

* Including Make
the Road New York.
** Make the Road New York
is a founding and active member.