En Español Know Your Rights
Source: The New York Sun
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Education Panel Extends Ban on School Social Promotion

Middle-school
students will have to pass two tests and four core subjects next year before
they can move on to high school, under a new policy approved last night despite
objections from two borough presidents and a crowd of rowdy parents who said
they spoke on behalf of 5,000 city residents.

Mayor
Bloomberg proposed the policy in his State of the City address in January as a
way to extend his ban on so-called social promotion, but the Panel for
Education Policy had to approve it before it could become official.

The
group, which has not vetoed a mayoral plan since it was created to replace the
Board of Education in 2002, voted 11–1 to pass the policy last night.

The Manhattan president’s
representative, Patrick Sullivan, voted against the plan. The representative of
President Adolfo Carrion of the Bronx
originally proposed delaying the vote, saying the panel had not had enough time
to review the decision. He then appeared to oppose the plan, but quickly
changed his vote to a yes, citing a misunderstanding. The other 10 members,
eight people appointed by Mr. Bloomberg and two appointed by the presidents of
Staten Island and Brooklyn, voted for the
plan. (The president of Queens currently has
no appointee on the panel.)

The
schools chancellor, Joel Klein, applauded the decision. He cited data on
previously installed retention policies for third-, fifth-, and
seventh-graders, which he said show retention helps students improve.

Mr.
Sullivan called that data "statistical malpractice," asking: "If
these programs were so effective, why do we have 18,000 children in eighth
grade you are proposing to hold back?" He referred to the number of
eighth-graders the city estimates would have been affected by the retention
policy had it been in place last year.

About 85
community members* who had filed
into the Department of Education headquarters at Tweed Courthouse to protest
the policy booed and chanted against the vote, creating such a disruption that
Mr. Klein decided to adjourn the meeting prematurely.

The
group, organized by the Coalition for Educational Justice,** presented Mr. Klein with 5,000 ballots in support of its
position, which is that retaining eighth-graders who do not pass standardized
tests does nothing to help them succeed, and indeed could move them to drop out
of school. Speaking to reporters later, Mr. Klein said he believes the new
policy has "widespread support throughout the city." "There’s
always going to be a small group of people who don’t like the policy and feel
the need to express it," he said.

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