Kids, defined by income

first_imgThe chasm between the rich and poor has distressed world leaders as both a moral failure and a growing threat to global economic and political stability. In a bold statement last fall, Pope Francis sharply criticized what he saw as the excesses of capitalism, while President Obama called the historic level of wealth disparity and lack of economic mobility in the United States “the defining challenge of our time.”Just as income trend lines for affluent and poor Americans have dramatically diverged over the last 40 years, so too have the educational achievement rates of their children. Today, residential segregation by income means that public schools with high rates of low-income students face spiraling challenges to prepare children for a workforce that demands high-level skills.Research shows that while the correlation between parental education and child achievement has remained fairly stable since the 1960s, the relationship between parental income and child achievement has tightened, with income — rather than race — now a strong predictor of student success.In “Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education” (Harvard Education Press), Richard J. Murnane, Thompson Professor of Education and Society at Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), and Greg J. Duncan, distinguished professor at the University of California, Irvine’s School of Education, examine how income inequality affects students and schools.The book focuses on three innovative institutions that have taken steps to counteract the achievement burdens that wealth disparity places on schools and students: a pre-K school in Boston, a high school in Brooklyn, and a University of Chicago charter school. All have high academic standards, provide substantial and ongoing support for students and teachers, and maintain common-sense systems of accountability. While unusual, the authors say, the philosophies and practices at these schools could serve as models for change at other schools with similar populations.“It can be done. It is not impossible to educate even high concentrations of low-income children well,” Murnane said Thursday evening during an Askwith Forum in HGSE’s Longfellow Hall.Duncan and Murnane spoke about their work and offered some strategic interventions they called “sensible accountability” that schools can adopt. The talk also featured a panel discussion with Martha Minow, Ed.M. ’76, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor at Harvard Law School; Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune; and Paul Reville, the Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration at HGSE and the former Massachusetts secretary of education.Given the increasingly complex skills that students must master to succeed in today’s workforce, Duncan and Murnane suggest, schools need to deliver better instruction and learning opportunities, and be rightfully held to higher achievement standards. But too often, teachers and school leaders are not getting the adequate training and support to make those goals a reality.“At the very time that we’re upping the ante on schools and what they have to do, we’re creating conditions in those schools that make them harder and harder to teach those skills,” Duncan said.Numerous past efforts to address the inadequacies of many public schools, such as more per-pupil spending or the creation of charter schools, have failed to consistently slow the trends of the last few decades.Just as average per-pupil spending in public schools continues to vary widely among communities and states, so does the amount spent on student enrichment outside of school. In 1972-1973, wealthy parents spent $2,857 more per child than low-income parents to supplement learning; in 2005-2006, wealthy parents spent $7,993 more per child, according to the book.While money and how it’s spent matter, Minow noted, that’s not enough. Research shows that rich and poor students spend equal time looking at computer screens, but their skills from that engagement are not equal, she said.“The difference is not time on screens, the difference is access to adults and coaches, and are you in a community with other people who help you as you navigate, whether it’s educational stuff or it’s games or whatever,” said Minow. “That’s the difference, and that’s reflected in those [parental] expenditures.”Minow and Page agreed that one major obstacle to implementing any new idea to improve education broadly is overcoming the public’s disappointment with past reform efforts that simply haven’t delivered on their promises.“I think the danger is there’s this constant effort in school reform to find the magic bullet, the one thing that’s going to fix things,” Minow said, praising Duncan and Murnane’s emphasis on “sustained intervention,” not a quick fix. “Nothing is sustained; there’s no long-term anything.”“The fact is that we’re talking about some deeply rooted problems,” Page said.“Everybody wants better schools. There’s a consensus nationally that we need to improve our schools, that we need to save education,” he said. “There is also a universal disdain for paying for improving schools. However, if we show that change is possible, that change can happen, and can work,” then he thinks we can find “consensus for change.”last_img read more

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New $40M Nassau Police Academy Plan Linked to Cover-up Scandal

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Nassau County officials announced Wednesday plans to build a new $40 million police academy at Nassau Community College four years after affiliates of the nonprofit group helping fund its construction were linked to a burglary cover-up.The Center for Training and Intelligence, as the planned facility is called, would replace the current academy in the retrofitted, half-century-old Hawthorne Elementary School in Massapequa Park that the department rents for $700,000 annually. Officials said they’ll pay for the project with a combination of $10 million in taxpayer funding, $25 million in asset forfeiture funds—money seized from suspects during investigations—and $5 million donated by the nonprofit Nassau County Police Department Foundation. Three ex-Nassau police commanders were convicted of quashing burglary charges for the son of a donor to that nonprofit, including one ex-cop who appealed.“Instead of putting capital improvements in a leased space that would be very hard to retrofit, to take advantage of today’s technologies, we’re moving ahead,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano told reporters during a press conference while flanked by legislators, police brass and members of the nonprofit.The 120,000-square foot facility planned for East Garden City would be the first of its kind for the department’s 80-year history and is slated to debut in two years. It would train new recruits as well as current members in addition to housing the department’s intelligence unit and contain mock “tactical villages,” where police can conduct simulated drug raids and hostage situations. It would be a big step up from the academy as it stands now, police said.“Our current facility, as built and designed, was a grammar school, not a police academy,” said Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, who noted that the building is ill-equipped for its current function. “There are significant differences.”Asked if Nassau—which County Comptroller George Maragos projected is facing a $52-million deficit next year—can afford to spend millions on the new venture, Mangano said the academy was worth the investment.“You really can’t measure it from the dollars of the building,” Mangano said. “It’s what goes on in that building, that’s our investment—that training, that national exposure, that intelligence-led policing model.“We are very, very mindful of the deficiencies here in our county,” he added. “We strive for efficiency…we do not sacrifice quality of life…we do not sacrifice the investment in our police department.”Nassau Police Benevolent Association President James Carver told the Press he’s “in favor of a more modernized facility that will assist in training our police officers, both the recruits that are coming on the job, and providing training for active members.” But, he’d also like to see the county update some of its antiquated precincts, and hire additional officers, given recent retirements, he said. “Building a police academy without hiring makes no sense,” he said.The county needs to cut through plenty of red tape before shovel hits dirt, which could happen as early as this fall, officials said. The county submitted a Request for Proposal seeking contractors to build the facility earlier this month with a deadline of Feb. 18. And federal authorities must provide written approval for the county to use asset forfeiture dollars on the project.A rendering of the planned Nassau Police Academy’s “tactical village,” where officers can simulate mock drug raids or hostage situations.“We are very confident that we’ll receive that approval,” Krumpter said, adding that the department could get the go ahead in the next couple of months.The NCPD Foundation was founded in 2008 by former Nassau police commissioner Lawrence Mulvey specifically to raise money to build the new police academy. In statements made at a June 2010 Long Island Real Estate Group event, Mulvey told attendees that the nonprofit hoped to raise $25 million in two years to build a future police academy, then estimated to cost $48 million for a 75,000-square foot facility, according to the New York Real Estate Journal. The foundation ultimately raised one fifth of that goal.Eric Blumencranz, chairman of the NCPD Foundation, said Mulvey, who retired in 2011, “deserves substantial credit” for his contribution in having the foundation’s dream of a new academy realized. As for the donation, Blumencranz said: “I don’t think we ever committed to $25 million in fundraising, but we committed to raising significant amount of funds.” The $25 million figure likely included a combination of fundraising and asset forfeiture dollars, he said.“The fundraising for this project isn’t over, it’s still in the beginning stages,” Blumencranz explained, adding that he has commitments from several donors who first wanted to see shovels on the ground. Additional donations could come from naming certain academy buildings after donors, he said.The foundation came under scrutiny in 2012 when three Nassau police commanders were charged with quashing the investigation of a 2009 burglary committed by then-police-intern Zachary Parker, of Merrick, who’s father, Gary, donated to and volunteered for the nonprofit.Former Second Deputy Nassau Police Commissioner William Flanagan, convicted of conspiring to cover up a burglary, faced a press swarm after his arrest in March 2012. (Photo by Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)The charges stemmed from a Press expose into the foundation and the covered-up burglary. All three commanders left the department following their arrest and the burglar was convicted after prosecutors picked up the case. Then-Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice cleared the police foundation of wrongdoing, although Gary Parker was named in court as an un-indicted co-conspirator. He resigned from the group.In February 2013, a jury convicted William Flanagan, an ex-deputy Nassau County police commissioner, of conspiracy and official misconduct, but he was acquitted of receiving reward for official misconduct. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, but execution of that sentence was stayed pending the outcome of his appeal.John Hunter, the former deputy chief patrol, and ex-Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe later pleaded guilty to misconduct. They were sentenced to probation and community service.Since the scandal, the foundation has donated funds to help authorities identify residents with cognitive disorders who go missing, donated police equipment and contributed reward money in high-profile cases, such as the recent homicide of a gas station attendant in Jericho.The scandal was not of concern this week when officials thanked each other for bringing the academy project to fruition. The foundation and the department are now hoping to put it all behind them and finally break ground on their original plan.“It’s a very exciting time in the department,” Krumpter said, speaking about the academy. “It’s a long time coming.”—With Timothy Bolgerlast_img read more

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