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New York City reverses on controversial high school admissions process

  • New York City Schools Chancellor David C. Banks announced that the city is rolling back a pandemic-era moratorium that allowed more low-income students to enter some of the city’s most elite schools via “random lottery.”
  • The move, which Banks said was based on feedback from families, will regrant selective schools the option to reserve admissions for top-performing students. 
  • “It’s critically important that if you’re working hard and making good grades, you should not be thrown into a lottery with just everybody,” Banks was quoted as saying. 
  • He clarified that since the city is not imposing a blanket rule, it will be left to the district superintendents to work with school communities to implement admissions processes they deem best for them. 

Top high schools in New York City are expected to tighten their admissions criteria with the return of grade-based admissions. 

On Thursday, City Department of Education Chancellor David C. Banks announced that the city is rolling back a controversial pandemic-era moratorium that allowed more low-income students to enter some of the city’s most elite schools.

Indiana teen is only student in the world to receive perfect AP Calculus exam score this past spring

  • An Indiana teen was the only student in the world to receive a perfect score on the Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB exam this past spring.
  • Felix Zhang, who is currently a junior at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana, scored all 108 possible points on the exam as a sophomore.
  • Both of his parents teach university-level mathematics: his father at the University of Notre Dame and his mother at Indiana University South Bend.
  • While 20 percent of the 270,000 students taking the exam received a five — the highest possible mark — Zhang was the only one to receive a perfect score.
  • AP classes and exams are administered to help high school students earn admissions to universities, prepare them for heavier workloads and gain credit for college courses.

An Indiana teen was the only student in the world to receive a perfect score on the Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB exam this past spring.

Felix Zhang, who is currently a junior at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana, scored all 108 possible points on the exam as a sophomore, a feat that not even he was expecting to accomplish. 

UNC apologizes to Sikh student handcuffed over article of faith that resembled weapon

  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) has apologized after campus police placed a student in handcuffs for carrying a kirpan.
  • A kirpan is a dagger that serves as one of the Sikh religion’s five articles of faith, which baptized followers must carry and maintain at all times.
  • A Twitter user who claimed to be the student in question posted a video of his arrest, which has now gone viral with over 3.6 million views.
  • In a joint statement, UNCC Chancellor Sharon apologized for the incident and vowed to use it as a learning opportunity by “engaging in constructive dialogue with Sikh students and employees.”
  • However, the officials maintained that state law and university policy prohibit knives and other “edged instruments” on campus.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) has apologized after campus police placed a Sikh student in handcuffs because he wore an article of faith that looked like a weapon.

The incident, which was caught in a now-viral video, occurred on Thursday after the police received a 911 call about someone carrying a “knife” inside the Student Union Building.

New York state Sen. John Liu pushes for return to merit-based high school admissions

  • Sen. John C. Liu (NY-D) sent a letter to New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David Banks on Friday requesting to remove the high school lottery admissions process from the city's public high school system.
  • “The high school admissions process has been rife with uncertainty and confusion under the current system causing outrage during an already stressful time in families’ lives,” Liu said in a press release on Monday.
  • “The DOE must abandon this lottery as a relic of the pandemic, and reinstate an admissions system that values diligence and achievement,” he continued.
  • Liu noted in his letter to Banks that the uncertainty ingrained in the lottery-based admission process has driven many families out of the public school system, with some even opting to move out of New York.

Sen. John C. Liu (NY-D) has called on New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) to remove the city’s high school lottery-based admissions process and return to a system that “values diligence and achievement.”

In his letter addressed to DOE Chancellor David Banks on Friday, Liu requested that the DOE return to its previous admissions process that considered academic performance for students, calling the current lottery-based process “unpopular and ineffective.”

NASA researcher pleads guilty to hiding Chinese government ties while accepting US funding

  • NASA researcher Zhengdong Cheng pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of violating NASA regulations and falsifying official documents.
  • Cheng, who also worked as a professor at Texas A&M University, was arrested in August 2020 for allegedly hiding his ties with a Chinese university and a Chinese-owned company.
  • Cheng’s arrest came under the Trump-era China Initiative, which sought to counter national security threats such as hacking, trade secret theft and economic espionage associated with China.
  • The program was terminated in February amid claims of stunting academic collaboration and contributing to anti-Asian hate.

A NASA researcher pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges related to hiding ties with the Chinese Communist Party while accepting federal grant money.

Zhengdong Cheng, who also worked as a professor at Texas A&M University (TAMU) from 2004 until he was fired after his arrest in August 2020, was originally charged with wire fraud, conspiracy and making false statements. As part of an agreement with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to new charges of violating NASA regulations and falsifying official documents.

Judge junks major convictions against Kansas researcher accused of secret China work

  • U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Kansas, ruled on Tuesday that there was “no evidence” to convict University of Kansas chemical engineering professor Feng "Franklin" Tao on defrauding the university and two agencies that funded his research.  
  • In April, Tao was convicted by a jury in the same court of not disclosing his affiliation with Fuzhou University in China to the University of Kansas, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation after he allegedly claimed he had no conflicts of interest. 
  • According to prosecutors, Tao signed up to be a full-time employee with Fuzhou University while he was supposed to be working on renewable energy projects at the University of Kansas in 2018.
  • In her recent ruling, Robinson pointed out that while Tao had been "deceptive" in concealing his activities in China, the prosecution did not establish any "evidence that Tao obtained money or property through the alleged scheme to defraud, as required under the wire fraud statute."
  • Tao's lawyer Peter Zeidenberg believes the new decision will put an end to the crackdown on suspected Chinese espionage within the U.S. academe pursued by the Justice Department during former President Donald Trump's administration.

A federal court cited insufficient evidence in junking a scientist’s most serious convictions for doing secret work in China while conducting U.S.-funded research.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City upheld only one count of making a false statement but ruled that there was not any evidence to convict University of Kansas chemical engineering professor Feng “Franklin” Tao on three wire fraud counts.

Math professor convicted of failing to report Chinese bank account gets probation

Xiao Mingqing
  • A math professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale was sentenced on Monday to a year of probation after he was found guilty of tax return errors and failing to disclose a Chinese bank account.
  • District Judge Staci Yandle was asked by prosecutors to impose a one-year prison sentence against professor Xiao Mingqing, but the judge said that served no purpose.
  • The professor was also fined $600 as opposed to the thousands of dollars suggested in the federal sentencing guidelines, according to court documents.
  • He was indicted in April 2021 and charged with three counts of fraud.
  • A GoFundMe campaign with a $350,000 goal has been created to help Xiao with legal expenses.

A math professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale was sentenced on Monday to a year of probation after he was found guilty of tax return errors and failing to disclose a foreign bank account under the China Initiative.

District Judge Staci Yandle was asked by prosecutors to impose a one-year prison sentence against professor Xiao Mingqing, but the judge said that served no purpose.

Harvard asserts notifying insurer about high-profile Asian discrimination lawsuit unnecessary

harvard
  • During a federal-court filing on Monday, lawyers representing Harvard University asserted that the institution did not have to notify Zurich American Insurance Co about the high-profile affirmative action lawsuit the school faced since the insurer “surely knew about” it.
  • The insurance dispute comes from a 2014 lawsuit filed by the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) against the university alleging that its undergraduate admissions practices discriminated against Asian Americans.
  • Harvard filed a lawsuit against its secondary insurer Zurich, demanding that it cover $15 million as part of the expenses it spent defending its admissions practices.
  • Zurich filed a pretrial motion for judgment last month, claiming the excess policy covered only claims that were both “made and reported” between November 2014 and January 2016.
  • While the school admitted to notifying Zurich only in May 2017, it asserted that the insurance company must have already known of SFFA’s lawsuit even before January 2016, thus satisfying the notice requirement.

Lawyers representing Harvard University asserted that the institution did not have to notify Zurich American Insurance Co about the high-profile affirmative action lawsuit the school faced since the insurer “surely knew about” it.

In November 2014, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) filed a lawsuit against the university alleging that its undergraduate admissions practices discriminated against Asian Americans. The case, which was widely covered by mainstream media, resulted in the insurance dispute.

Chinese universities among world’s top schools in producing ultra-rich graduates

chinese universities richest alumni
  • Chinese universities, including Peking University and Tsinghua University, are among the top universities to produce the most “ultra-wealthy” alumni, according to Altrata.
  • Peking University, the alma mater of Baidu co-founder Robin Li, has produced about 1,101 ultra-high net-worth (UHNW) individuals, landing the school at No. 8 on the list.
  • Tsinghua University, the school from which Chinese President Xi Jinping graduated, churned out about 1,100 ultra-wealthy alumni, placing it at No. 9 on the list.
  • Altrata defined ultra wealthy as those with a net worth of $30 million.
  • Harvard University came in at No. 1 among U.S. universities, with 17,660 ultra wealthy graduates.

Chinese universities, including Peking University and Tsinghua University, are among the top universities to produce the most “ultra-wealthy” alumni, according to a recent report from data company Altrata.

Peking University, the alma mater of Baidu co-founder Robin Li, has produced about 1,101 ultra-high net-worth (UHNW) individuals, landing the school at No. 8 on the list. Forbes named the 53-year-old tech company founder the 45th richest person in China, with a net worth of about $7.7 billion.

Kindergarten in Japan teaches preschoolers how to use horn on school buses to prevent hot car deaths

horn
  • The Musashino Junior College-affiliated child care center in Saitama Prefecture, Japan, is holding drills to teach young children how to sound the horn if they are left alone in a vehicle.
  • This drill comes after the death of a 3-year-old girl who died of heatstroke in a school bus.
  • The children were taught how to sound the school bus’ horn by sitting on the steering wheel.
  • Along with their guardians, there were 42 children who participated in the drill on Sept. 12. They are expected to complete the safety class by Sept. 16.

Following the death of a 3-year-old girl who died of heatstroke in a school bus, a child care facility in Japan is holding drills to teach children how to sound the horn if they are left alone in a vehicle.

The Musashino Junior College-affiliated child care center in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, included the drill in its annual traffic safety class to teach children how to seek help by themselves in case of emergency. 

Lawsuit accusing New York City officials of discriminating against Asian American students thrown out by judge

  • Southern District of New York Judge Edgardo Ramos has junked a lawsuit that aimed to stop a 2018 diversity initiative that the plaintiffs say discriminated against Asian American students.
  • The lawsuit, filed by civil rights organizations and Asian American parents of public school students, claimed that the admissions changes made by former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former City Education Chancellor Richard A. Carranza violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • The diversity initiative changed the admissions processes of eight prestigious high schools in a bid to increase the number of low-income students in the most selective high schools in New York.
  • By altering the eligibility criteria to target admissions from lower-income schools, more slots were made available at such schools, resulting in a 5-20 percent increase in each school's incoming class.
  • Several Asian American civic and parent groups argued that the initiative violated the Equal Protection Clause since most of the low-income students who qualify for it are Black or Hispanic.
  • In his ruling, Ramos made note of 2019 and 2020 data that showed the number of Asian American students at selective high schools still rose even after the changes were imposed.

A New York court has junked a lawsuit accusing city officials of discriminating against Asian American students during the 2018 selective high school admissions process in the city. 

According to the lawsuit filed by civil rights organizations and parents of public school students, the admissions changes made by former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former city education chancellor Richard A. Carranza violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

Rhode Island becomes fourth state to require schools to teach AAPI history

  • Effective at the start of the 2023-2024 school year, all public elementary and secondary schools in Rhode Island will be required to teach Asian American history and culture to students, based on the new bill that Governor Dan McKee signed into law on Saturday.
  • Rhode Island is now the fourth state in the U.S, following New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois, to require Asian-American studies in its public school curriculum.
  • McKee signed the piece of legislation during the opening ceremonies of the Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival in the city of Pawtucket.
  • “Rhode Island’s strength is in its diversity and this important legislation will do so much to highlight the rich history and heritage of the Asian American community and the positive impact they’ve had on our state and country,”  the governor said during the event.
  • State Representative Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung (R, RI-15), who sponsored the bill in the House, said: “Combined with the rising bias against Asian Americans, there is a clear need to break this cycle of cultural misunderstandings and this legislation is a good first step in that direction.”

Schools in the state of Rhode Island will now be required to teach Asian American history and culture to students.

According to a new bill signed into law by Governor Dan McKee on Saturday, which is set to take effect at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, all public elementary and secondary schools in the state will be required to each teach at least one unit on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander history and culture.