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A recent report from the National Parents Union (NPU) has unmasked a stark reality for education in New York key cities. Less than 20% of students in crucial New York cities can read or perform math at their grade level.

This revelation serves as a deafening alarm bell. NY’s education system is facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions. Moreover, the recent annual state assessments bear grim witness to this alarming reality.

Despite urgency, the State has yet to deploy more than half of its COVID relief funding to address the issue. NPU members are demanding swift and strategic allocation of remaining COVID relief federal funds to combat academic inequities.

In the wake of the pandemic, test scores across the entire state have plummeted. Reading proficiency has nosedived by nearly 10 percentage points between 2021 and 2022. Math scores have seen a 2.5 percentage point decline for students in grades 3rd-8th.

Education in New York Key Cities shows academic despair

The highest inequities are in New York’s five largest school districts: Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, and Syracuse. In Albany and Buffalo, less than a quarter of 3rd grade students are proficient in reading. In New York City, just over half of the students can read at grade level. However, the situation is the worst in Rochester and Syracuse, where only 11% and 13% of 3rd graders are reading at their grade level.

The stark reality continues into the 8th grade, where a mere 2% of students in Rochester, Albany, and Syracuse are proficient in math. In Buffalo, this number rises to just 12%, and even in New York City, only 26% of 8th graders can claim proficiency in math.

Education in New York, less than 20 percent of students proficient
Sam Radford III, Ashara Baker, Debra Lashaun, Dwain Parker, and Shanai Lee at the National Parents Union convening outside of Lone Rock, Colorado on September 5, 2022.

Empowering Parents and Communities

Parents and communities are at the heart of this battle for educational equity. Ashara Baker, NPU, New York State Director, says they must be actively engaged in district improvement planning. She says that transparency around student progress is essential.

“The lack of proficiency in core subjects such as reading and math needs to be a wake-up call for all stakeholders. While they are not surprising, given various factors, they are still shocking. We must immediately surge resources to get students the support they need,” said Baker.

NPU supports President Biden’s call to action. The Biden-Harris Administration is advocating for high-impact tutoring, extended learning opportunities, and transparency for parents about student achievement. These research-based solutions aim to bridge the chasm of inequity in education.

NPU applauds New York State’s efforts to enhance curriculum and standards. They are emphasizing the importance of professional development, coaching, and support for effective implementation.

As far as education in New York cities, Baker says, “We believe that the future belongs to those who are prepared for it. If we don’t take decisive and concrete action now to address inequities in education, we’ll be sacrificing the livelihood of far too many children.”

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...

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