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Elissa Stein
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Elissa Stein’s bookshelf includes an educational and eclectic mix of projects she’s written and art directed. Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, with Susan Kim, is now on sale. Recently she’s put together NYC adventures with kids, interactive thank you notes, and visual histories of iconic pop culture –– two of which were featured in Entertainment Weekly’s Must Have list. In addition to writing, she runs her own graphic design business. To balance all of the above, she practices yoga, knits with enthusiasm, and shops for vintage coats on eBay. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two children.

Entries by Elissa Stein

Equality in Education

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 6:23 PM

On Tuesday New York State Senate Bill S1787 proposing to get rid of the Specialized High School Admission Test (SHSAT) didn't make it past the State Senate Education Committee. This means the test only admissions policy that's been in place for over 40 years remains isn't going anywhere. For now.

...
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Don't Blame the Test

(1) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 3:32 PM

The debate surrounding NYC's esteemed specialized high schools continues - a reworked bill was reintroduced recently in Albany challenging the current test only admissions policy. Instead of maintaining the merit based, purely objective system now in place, going forward, should the bill pass, admissions criteria would include, "grade point averages...

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The Illusion of Choice

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2015 | 8:12 AM

At the moment 68,000 or so NYC 8th graders are anxiously waiting to find out where they'll be offered seats for high school. Word just hit the street that match letters will be released this Thursday, the culmination of what for many families was months of tours, open houses, testing,...

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Making Objectivity Unfair

(4) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 9:41 PM

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to give testimony to the Education Committee, headed up by Councilmen Daniel Dromm and Brad Lander, at the New York City Council hearing focused on admissions to NYC's specialized high schools, an issue I feel strongly about. Honored to participate, I was glad to...

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Mr. Mayor, It's Time to Take Racism Out of the Equation

(1) Comments | Posted December 6, 2014 | 3:16 PM

Mr. Mayor, race has been a heartbreaking conversation in the city lately, justifiably so. You've spoken passionately about your own son and fearing for his safety as a person of color. I can understand how racism is a part of your daily life.

But race isn't the center of...

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An Open Letter to NYC's Mayor

(0) Comments | Posted October 28, 2014 | 4:22 PM

Hello Mr. Mayor,

I saw you on the subway this morning, the M train heading towards Brooklyn. Actually, before I realized it was you I noticed several men in suits, purposefully looking like they were trying not to look at anything, most facing away from a very tall man reading...

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Taking a Break From the Negative

(1) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 5:54 PM

This coming weekend close to 30,000 of NYC's 8th (as well as some 9th) graders will be taking the specialized high school test (SHSAT), trying to earn seats at one of the city's eight specialized high schools, some of the top institutions not just in the city but country. The...

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Hindsight Doesn't Protect Our Children

(3) Comments | Posted October 2, 2014 | 4:26 PM

Tuesday Sean Shaynak, a teacher at one of NYC's specialized high schools was indicted on 36 charges including kidnapping, criminal sexual act, obscenity, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse. This follows an arrest last August for sending a photo of his genitals to an underage student over...

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Defining Objectivity

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 7:48 PM

objective
[uh b-jek-tiv]
adjective
- Not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased (from dictionary.com)

- Based on facts rather than feelings or opinions : not influenced by feelings (from Merriam-Webster)

It seems NYC's Department of Education (DOE) could use a vocabulary...

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Asking Questions Later

(1) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 2:42 PM

People are working very hard to change the admissions policy and standards for New York City's esteemed specialized high schools, including Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science and Stuyvesant. While a battle is being waged in Albany about changing admissions criteria -- a 1971 law placing responsibility in the hands...

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The Problem With Sweeping Reform

(3) Comments | Posted September 18, 2014 | 1:06 PM

It was just announced that New York City is creating a new and "improved" version of the SHSAT, the sole admissions test to NYC's esteemed specialized high schools. A Request for Proposals was just posted on the Department of Educations's (DOE) website giving interested companies just over a...

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Fixing What Wasn't Broken

(0) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 3:50 PM

NYC students headed back to school this morning for a year full of new challenges -- some to new schools, to new teachers, new subjects, new experiences. Unfortunately, one of those experiences will be learning without extra academic support.

When NYC and the UFT ratified a new contract last...

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Laughing at Periods

(0) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 4:55 PM

I, like millions of others, laughed out loud at Hello Flo's latest ad that went viral. It was sassy, funny and well-written with moments of brilliance. I was amused.

I was also uncomfortable.

Snappy and engaging as the commercial was, in the end it reeked of...

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Messing with Success

(9) Comments | Posted June 16, 2014 | 12:18 PM

For many within the system, as well as to those looking in from the outside, New York City's specialized high schools represent the very best of what the city has to offer students and families. These schools are academically rigorous with opportunities not found elsewhere. Admission to these eight schools...

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Not Whispering About Breastfeeding

(5) Comments | Posted October 10, 2013 | 5:21 PM

Yesterday I found myself in the middle of a conversation about breast feeding. It's been a long time since I was an active participant. Ten-plus years since the last time my younger one, with great disinterest, turned away from my left breast. He'd given up the right a month before...

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Failing is the New Passing

(23) Comments | Posted August 9, 2013 | 11:00 AM

New York State test scores were released this week. It was reported that 26 percent of 3rd-8th graders in NYC passed the English test while 30 percent passed math.

Flipping that around, 74 percent failed English and 70 failed math.

Fingers are being pointed, excuses made, and silver...

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The New Normal

(0) Comments | Posted December 21, 2012 | 9:02 AM

Yesterday afternoon I got the following text from my daughter:

Hey there is a lockdown at my school could you find out what is happening

The lack of punctuation and capitalization flew through my mind as I processed what I was reading.

Hey there is a lockdown...

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We're All in This Together

(2) Comments | Posted November 6, 2012 | 12:20 PM

I've had that line, a lyric from a High School Musical song, stuck in my head for days (apologies if it's now stuck in yours). Watching the Sandy relief effort unfold, both from far away -- we left our powerless, waterless, heatless downtown NYC apartment after the storm -- to...

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Testing, Testing, 1 ... 2 ... 3

(6) Comments | Posted April 18, 2012 | 10:38 AM

Yesterday, all across New York, students from 3rd through 8th grade sat for the first day of the state mandated ELA (English Language Arts) test. While I don't know how important these tests are in other parts of the state, in New York City their significance has taken on epic,...

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Calling It a Choice Doesn't Make It One

(41) Comments | Posted March 4, 2012 | 3:51 PM

Last week tens of thousands of New York City public school students received high school offer letters. For almost half of them, dreams came true. But too many others were disappointed, not to mention devastated by the results. Yes, that statement sounds extreme. But as the parent of one of...

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