Four big education equity stories to watch this school year

by | Aug 28, 2017 | Blog

As students across New York head back to class, here are the big issues educators, policy makers and advocates will be keeping an eye on to ensure all students receive a high quality education:

New York State standards and ESSA plan

In September, the New York State Board of Regents will vote on new Next Generation Learning Standards as well as a new accountability plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Both items are critically important as part of the framework of our education system. While academic standards describe the knowledge and skills that students should master at each grade level, the accountability plan sets the expectations for schools to meet to ensure all students – not just some – are successful. If approved, the plans will drive what areas schools focus on and how they allocate resources, making it a critical moment for the future of accountability and improvement in New York.

Protecting immigrant students in a climate of uncertainty

This month school districts across New York will welcome thousands of immigrant students into their classrooms. But are they taking steps to protect and support those students and their families, particularly when they enroll in the system and if the district is contacted by immigration enforcement? Our Safe Havens report reviewed the policies and procedures in the 25 districts that together enroll 80 percent of the state’s immigrant students, finding both positive practices as well as troubling trends. Read more about the districts in your region, and our recommendations, in the report.

The Excelsior scholarship: Who stands to benefit?

Thousands of college students are returning to campus this fall with help from New York’s new free college tuition benefit. But are those dollars reaching students who most need them? Our data analysis revealed that while lower-income communities shoulder $35 billion in student loan debt, students in those communities will see little benefit from the new scholarship program. We offer recommendations to strengthen supports for those students in To “Exclesior” and Beyond.

Efforts to integrate schools

State education leaders have made it a priority to better integrate New York’s schools, and we’re eager to support efforts to address school segregation. New York has the most segregated schools in the country. According to the New York State Education Department, white students on average attend schools where 80 percent of their peers are white, and just 30 percent of students are low-income. By contrast, more than half of Black and Latino students attend schools where fewer than 10 percent of their peers are white, and roughly 70 percent of students are low-income.

With these and other issues on the table – and so much at stake – it promises to be a busy year. Keep up to date on these and other statewide equity issues by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook and visiting our web site to sign up for our Equity Express newsletter.