NYC’s New Public Schools Give Students Choice
The New York City public school system will include 42 new schools this fall according to an announcement made by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in March that has been largely praised by the local education community.
Among the institutions kids can opt to attend are a selective film school, three new transfer schools for high schoolers that have fallen behind (the district has opened 13 such schools since 2006), and three extra vocational high schools.
During the announcement, Mayor Bloomberg stressed the importance of school choice in improving school quality and touted the district’s rising graduation rates and test scores.
“Some students might flourish, for example, in small schools or single-sex schools, while others benefit from the education offered by specialized high schools or theme schools.”
The new career-themed schools may be a sign of the times, as CNN recently reported that strong vocational programs, which are traditionally found only in postsecondary trade schools, are now making a comeback at the K12 level and that colleges are taking notice.
The number of career high schools recognized by the University of California rose from 258 in 2000 to more than 4,700 six years later, and experts agree that from a career standpoint, the fact that technical and vocational schools are being emphasized by high schools indicates that there is a high demand for such professionals.
“We’ve got to keep this process going so that all students in our city get the great education that I’ve always argued is their right,” said Bloomberg.
Striving for a “Grad Nation”
More than one million students drop out of high school each year, but a new initiative launched by America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest partnership of corporations, nonprofit organizations, foundations, policymakers and advocacy groups dedicated to children’s education, is trying to change that.
The Alliance just announced the release of Grad Nation, a first-of-its-kind research-based guidebook for communities seeking to reduce their dropout rate and better support young people through high school and beyond.
“There is no silver bullet for reducing the nation’s dropout rate,” says Alliance CEO Marguerite Kondracke, “but we know what approaches work, and this guidebook is the first one-stop shop ? to impact the problem.”
The guidebook includes information on everything from establishing “early warning” systems and implementing school transformation strategies to building multiple pathways to graduation. It is free and available in limited hard copy or PDF at www.americaspromise.org/gradnation.
Tony Bennett, Indiana’s state superintendent of public instruction, plans to funnel help to struggling schools like never before, but he also has aggressive new plans to take over those that fail and run them himself.
Conn. Gov. Jodi Rell is proposing a merger of the state’s technical high schools and community colleges. She claims it would give 10,000 technical high school students a seamless transition to their associate degree.
Abelardo Saavedra, the Houston Independent School District’s first Hispanic chief, is stepping down after a five-year run leading the district. During his tenure, the number of top-rated HISD schools doubled to 157.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland wants to eliminate the state’s 10th-grade graduation test, which has prevented thousands of students from graduating high school. He plans to replace it with a modified ACT test.
Jeff Weidenaar has been elected president of the board of directors of the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.