Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Christine Quinn, Robert Jackson and UFT president Randy Weingarten reached agreement on compromise to the Mayor's third major school reorganization plan.
Under the agreement, schools wont lose money during the next school year. That had been a major danger in the Bloomberg-Klein plan -- that the effect would be actual reductions in money available even as billions more are added the the education budget.
In addition the UFT appears to have won concessions that may mitigate the incentive built into the reorganization which will encourage principals to shed higher paid senior teachers. Other crucial areas: class size, parent engagement, middle school reform etc. appear to be adjourned to later with precatory language. Community leaders who were at the announcement included: Director of the New York Immigration Coalition Chung-Wha Hong, NY ACORN Director Bertha Lewis, and Irania Sanchez representing the Coalition for Economic Justice and Make the Road by Walking. They were the ones clustered around the Working Families Party which, along with the UFT, put considerable resources into the anti-reorganization effort. .
Consistent with the long Bloomberg-Klein hostility to parent groups, it appears that no leader of a Parent Association was present. The press announcment is here while press accounts from the New York Times and Daily News are here and here. read more »
At Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Thursday night, public school advocates, parents, principals and politicians gathered to support the school spending plan proposed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer. The meeting, sponsored by the Alliance for Quality Education, the NAACP, the UFT and New Yorkers For Smaller Classes, featured AQE director Billy Easton and Campaign for Fiscal Equity dirctor Geri Palast who have been at so many meeting together they finish each others sentences.
The task at hand: focus the crowd to pressure Queens GOP Senators Maltese and Padavan to support the Spitzer scheme (which I'll describe below).
The key issue: class size. I think that the reason that Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein don't care about it, and refuse to spend money on it is that they see our children as objects to be processed by the schools not as individuals, each with her or his own needs. Assemby members Nolan and Lancman have introduced a bill to require our Mayor to reduce class size.
The big news: GOP Senator Maltese will support the class size limits. Almost losing his re-election, seems to have woken him up. Senator Padavan is rumored to be supporting the class size intitiative as well. read more »
Parents of public school children, like me, and those concerned with quality education (or the lack of it) should be looking with both significant hope and anxiety at the education budget proposals made by Gov. Spitzer. If enacted, the proposed budget will, over the next few years, increase funds dramatically. If that money is spent wisely, it will overcome the years of underfunding which have afflicted NYC schools (and those of lower income school districts across NYS). Of course the anxiety comes from the fact that we know that government is capable of wasting money on a grand scale. (Consider the still unbuilt 2nd Ave. Subway).
Advocates for adequate school funding, including groups which I like and support respect, have signed on Gov. Spitzerâ€™s proposals hook, line and sinker. One in particular, the Alliance for Quality Education , a coalition of community groups which has, for years, been a steady lobbying force statewide, has been leading the charge to gather support for the Spitzer proposal.
AQE, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the NAACP and New Yorkers For Smaller Class Size others are holding two forums (fora?) this Thursday, March 8, 2007 (in the Bronx and in Queens.) . The sharp-eyed will notice that the Queens event features Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan and Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith both of whom can play keys roles in getting the Spitzer education budget passed and in making sure safeguards are in place to ensure the new money is spent carefully. Directions after the break.I am definitely going, -- even if it means taping by favorite TV programs. You should consider coming, too. read more »
Those of you with children in New York City's public schools may have been watching Mayor Bloomberg's current school-bus-fiasco with a sense that it's deja-vu all over again.
The Mayor hired a no-bid private consultant for $17 million or more to save money. The consultant told him to reorganize school buses so as to save $12 million. (So far a loss of $5 million, even if these pretend savings were real). No people in the public school community were consulted. Instead, they are notified in an incoherent manner. Chaos ensued. Courtly, elegantly dressed Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott was called out to defend a totally irrational program change. The Mayor sneered at protesting parents and, in time-honored fashion, fled to Israel. See, for example, the front-page story from Friday's Daily News and Gail Robinson's good round-up in the Gotham Gazette.
The reason why Mr. Bloomberg's constant and irratic reorganizations are always wrong is that he imposes them from above. Chancellor Klein and some consultants and aides with no experience in public education cook up a scheme. The Mayor okays it and they're off -- playing 52-pick-up again with thousands of schools, hundreds of thousands of employees and more than 1 million children. Check out the NY Times story of a few days ago concerning the departure of one of the last remaining actual educators from the Klein coterie Rose Albanese DePinto. read more »
When Vice-Chancellor Adelaide L. Sanford said it yesterday at the Drum Major Institute, it sounded like a wise crack but it wasn't. She said
"Is the Robin Hood System Ok?" implying that richer districts are being robbed to fund poorer ones. Regent Sanford won't abide by that framing;
"It's not Robin Hood, the truth of the matter is you rob the hood" (As quoted by DMI's Elana Levin.)
What Ms. Stanford was referring to is a difficult debate about how to fairly fund public education in New York State. Should the $5.7 Billion due NYC schools out of the CFE litigation (and perhaps a comparable amount state-wide) be taken from wealthier New Yorkers so as to improve the schools of poorer people? Ms. Sanford and I had both attended a Baruch College debate of the "Robin Hood" solution where educrats, progressive politicians and political scientists seemed to agree that no one was going to take money from the rich. Will everything change from day one? I personally doubt it because, to mangle Fred Douglas, powerful interests will give up nothing without a demand.
Education funding in NYS is boring and opaque for a reason: poor people pay for the schools of the rich. New York State's funding formula for schools rewards wealthy communities with lower tax rates and higher per-pupil expenditures (and, as a result, better schools) than poorer commmunities. This result, odd from a public policy point of view but completely understandable as an expression of raw political power, means that poor people pay much higher taxes for much worse schools. read more »