Archives for category: Budget Cuts

A teacher writes from Utah to explain conditions there:

 

I teach in Utah, the lowest per pupil expenditure state. Ironically, we are also one of the most equitable in funding. We have no money, but ALL of our districts have no money.

I have 256 students. That equals out to over 30 for each class but two (out of nine total). HOURS spent grading, calling parents, etc. In my district, we’ve just been told that if a student fails, it is the teacher’s fault. So more and more paperwork and calling to drag kids to passing.

I wish Bill Gates would come and substitute in my 8th and 9th grade classes for a week, and then, like my lovely state legislature, tell me that money doesn’t matter. Gates, and my legislators for that matter, wouldn’t last a day. Maybe not even a class period.

Emergency meeting on Thursday on behalf of the 97% of New York State students who are not in charter schools:

Anyone who can make it tomorrow should do so. The state budget is hitting crunch time, with the Charter lobby spending millions on behalf of privatization and the 3% in charters, while firmly controlling both the Governor and the State Senate. Support must be given to Speaker Silver and the Assembly Dems to hold fast for the 97% of our kids in public schools and for public education, and to allow Mayor de Blasio to determine his own education policies.

The Senate/Cuomo proposal would force the DOE (and all local public school boards throughout the state) to provide public space for EVERY charter authorized at the state level, or else pay the charter’s rent in private space; a colocation policy that would be worse than anything Bloomberg ever sought. Additionally, the charter lobby boondoggle bill would give Charters more upfront money (aka tuition), and give Albany control of our NYC public school buildings and budget, while sending 25 cents of every new state education dollar to the 3 out of 100 kids in charters. Meanwhile, the City and State public schools are looking at 2009 funding levels which the courts said were $2 billion short – back then. Outrageous.

Please join New York Communities for Change, Public School Parents, Elected Officials, Educators, Community Members.

Thursday, March 27
12 noon
Tweed Courthouse – 52 Chambers

Noah

noah eliot gotbaum
community education council district 3 (cec3)
noah@gotbaum.com
twitter: @noahegotbaum

This is a wide-ranging interview with Salon that started as a discussion of the Network for Public Education, then went on to discuss budget cuts, high-stakes testing, Common Core, Race to the Top, privatization, and much more.

Sometimes it seems that the purpose of the false reform movement is to keep us diverted from the center ring, where America’s public schools are being starved of the resources they need while expected to do more and produce ever higher test scores.

While we battle rearguard actions to stop the attack on teachers and the escalating demands for more testing, elected officials defend privatization and implement tax caps (see Cuomo, Andrew, exhibit A).

Yet not all common sense has departed our fair land! In Kansas, the state’s high court ruled that the state must spend more on its schools.

“TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas must spend more money on its public schools, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday in a decision that could jeopardize Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s desire to make his state a tax-cutting template for the nation.

“The high court’s ruling, which found that Kansas’ school funding isn’t constitutional, came in a 2010 lawsuit filed by parents and school districts. Instead of balking, Brownback and other leaders of the state’s GOP-dominated government said they were pleased because the decision stopped short of telling legislators exactly how much the state must spend on its schools overall, leaving that responsibility to a lower court.

“It was not an unreasonable decision,” Senate President Susan Wagle said. Republican leaders also believe the court left the Legislature substantial leeway in providing adequate aid to poor school districts and pledged to get it done before the session adjourns in late April or early May.

“Education advocates and attorneys for the parents and school districts saw the decision as a rebuke to the GOP-led state and in line with past court decisions that strongly and specifically laid out how much needed to be allocated to provide adequate education for every child.

“This decision is an important one in sending a message to states across the nation that need to reform their financing systems to get their house in order,” said David Sciarra, executive director of the Newark, N.J.-based Education Law Center, which filed a brief in the Kansas case.”

We are a country that likes flowery rhetoric about education and children, yet is unwilling to take care of our children, nearly a quarter of whom live in poverty and unwilling to fund our schools equitably so that all public schools have the resources they need.

Bill Phillis, the leader of the Ohio Coalition for Education & Adequacy is a tireless crusader for equitable funding of public schools. He is a retired after serving as assistant state superintendent of schools.

He writes:

Public education enemy #1

The Gates, Walton Family and Broad Foundations have federated with the U. S. Department of Education to eliminate the public common school system. The Obama administration’s point man, Arne Duncan, is spearheading an assault on public education that is unprecedented in American history. He is attempting to override the education provisions of every state Constitution. All states have one or more constitutional provisions that establish and maintain a public common school system.

It is mindboggling and unconscionable that this federal administration is deferring to the corporate, for-profit agenda to destroy the premier promoter of the public good-the public common school system.

Policies coming out of Washington D.C., and in many state capitols, are demoralizing teachers, undermining the traditional role and governance of boards of education, de-professionalizing the teaching profession, re-segregating American communities and reducing the traditional dynamic of learning to a testing obsession.

Many chief state school officers in recent years are moles of the privatizers or lack the conviction to fight for the public common school system. Hence, state legislatures and governors, in many cases, receive no resistance to their privatization agenda.

Often local public school personnel, including boards of education, feel helpless to stem the tide of public school bashing and the privatization movement.

Enough is enough. It is past time to hold all state officials accountable for their support of policies that lead to the privatization of public education.

Ohioans and the citizens of the nation, when mobilized, can uproot the anti-public education agenda of America’s oligarchs and their plutocratic political allies.

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

Ohio E & A | 100 S. 3rd Street | Columbus | OH | 43215

There is little doubt that Andrew Cuomo will be re-elected, given that he has raised $33 million from New York’s financial titans.

But the latest Wall Street Journal poll shows that Cuomo’s numbers dropped sharply to their lowest point.

Apparently, his claim to be the “lobbyist for students” hasn’t worked so well, especially with black and Latino voters.

His fervent embrace of charter schools in recent days is hardly surprising, given that charter advocates have given him nearly $1million, but less than 5% of the state’s children attend charter schools. Cuomo’s tax caps on public schools across he state have caused fiscal distress in districts that enroll the other 96% of the state’s children.

The story says:

“New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s job performance rating has dropped to its lowest level since he took office in January 2011, tumbling by 10 percentage points since November, according to an NBC 4 New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll.

“Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat facing re-election this year, saw his job approval among voters statewide fall to 42%, according to the poll, from 52% in the fall, with the governor suffering steep declines among Latino and African-American voters.

“Among Latino registered voters, Mr. Cuomo’s rating fell by 21 points—to 41% from 62% in November. And among African-American voters, the governor registered a 42% job approval rating, down from 57%.

“Mr. Cuomo’s favorability remains quite high, at 63%, the poll found. But his overall job-performance rating of 42% was six points lower than his previous lowest-ever rating of 48%, the month he took office.

“On the bright side for the governor, the poll showed Mr. Cuomo far ahead of potential Republican rivals, including Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who threw his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination Wednesday.”

The Los Angeles school district is making short-term and long-term decisions that are fiscally and educationally irresponsible. Having committed to spend $1 billion to give an iPad for Common Core testing to every student and staff member, the district is short changing or eliminating essential programs.

The money for the iPads is mostly from a bond issue intended for construction and facilities. Consequently, there is not enough money for necessary repairs.

As the previous post showed, the libraries in half the district’s elementary and middle schools are closed due to budget cuts.

A reader comments about the failure to plan ahead:

“The closure of libraries comes on the heels of the “Repairs not iPads” facebook page detailing the fiscal priorities of LAUSD.

“There are 55,000 outstanding repair orders at present, school libraries are shut down all over the city, and the district’s proposed arts plan suggests increasing “arts integration” as a cost savings measure instead of bringing back the hundreds of arts specialists let go over the last few years.

“All this while, Deasy still maintains that all students will receive their own device.

“While we now know that superintendents like Deasy believe in the “corporate-style” of education, the one gaping hole in this plan is that corporations want to stay solvent and make decisions that will ensure present and future financial viability. This is the one missing element in Deasy’s iPad project……no plan to pay for it beyond the first few years.

“When asked, district officials provide answers like “we just can’t not do this”(Bernadette Lucas), “this is the cost of doing business in the 21st century” (Board member Tamar Galatzan) and “I can’t speak to that”(project leader Ron Chandler).

“Any business considers what it will take to stay in business, but not LAUSD. The bond funds will be gone, so the only other source of income is the general fund.

“Is the State of California going to bail out LAUSD? They have already demonstrated that they can’t or won’t even provide the basic needed services, like nurses, counselors, libraries, working bathrooms and water fountains, siesmic safety, etc., etc.????

“The problem is that Deasy won’t be around to be held accountable.

“But, we, the citizens of Los Angeles will be left with a totally bankrupt school system and no way to put the pieces back together.”

Peter Greene teaches in a small town in Pennsylvania. He hasn’t studied the research on Cybercharters but he can tell you which students they attract and how they are affecting the public schools in his town.

If he read the research, he would find out that Pennsylvania is utopia for virtual charter schools, having 16 different companies advertising for students. Students drop out almost as fast as they drop in. These “schools” are very profitable. The founder of the first virtual charter in Pennsylvania was charged with the theft of millions of dollars; actually, so was another virtual charter founder.

And the research shows that students learn less in virtual charters in Pennsylvania.

Here is Greene’s take, from a teacher’s perspective.

A respected researcher recently pointed out to me that there is a vast divide between most economists of education–who devoutly believe (it seems) that whatever matters can be measured, and if it can’t be measured, it doesn’t matter–and education researchers, who tend to think about the real world of students and teachers.

Here is an excellent example of the divide.

Bruce Baker takes issue with the currently fashionable idea that education can be dramatically improved by identifying the “best” teachers, giving them larger classes, and getting rid of the loser teachers.

Or, as he puts it:

“The solution to all of our woes is simple and elegant. Just follow these steps.

Step 1: Identify “really great” teachers (using your best VAM or SGP) who happen to be currently teaching inefficiently small classes of 14 to 17 students.

Step 2: Re-assign to those “really great” teachers another 12 or so students, because whatever losses might occur in relation to increased class size, the benefits of the “really great” teacher will far outweigh those losses.

Step 3: Enter underpants Gnomes.

Step 4. Test Score Awesomeness!”

He has a suggestion: Why not try the same at the fancy private and public schools?.

“One might assert that affluent suburban Westchester and Long Island districts with much smaller average class sizes should give more serious consideration to this proposal, that is, if they are a) willing to accept the assertion that they have both “bad” and “good” teachers and b) that parents in their districts are really willing to permit such experimentation with their children? I remain unconvinced.

“As for leading private independent schools which continue to use small class size as a major selling point (& differentiator from public districts), I’m currently pondering the construction of the double-decker Harkness table, to accommodate 12 students sitting on the backs of 12 others. This will be a disruptive innovation like no other!”

I can’t find a link for this story, but I have the newspaper in front of me.

(Thanks to a reader, here is the link:

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/education/84-of-li-school-districts-to-get-less-aid-than-6-years-ago-under-cuomo-budget-plan-1.6973979)

It is dated February 7, 2014, Newsday (published on Long Island, New York), and it is the front-page headline:

“School Aid Slide: 84% of LI Districts to get less from state than 6 years ago.”

“Guv’s aides cite declining enrollment”

Inside, the story says that 68% of districts across the state will get less state aid under Cuomo’s formula in 2014-15 than they received in 2008-09.

That includes 78% of the districts in the Lower and mid-Hudson Valley, and 100% of New York City districts.

The governor’s staff attributed the lower funding to enrollment declines.

School leaders noted the increases in employee pay health insurance, pensions, heating expenses and said: “I can go from 25 students in a classroom to 19 students, and I still need a teacher in that classroom.”

The governor’s budget calls for a rise of 3.8% and includes $100 million for full-day pre-kindergarten, targeted to low-income students.

Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio of New York City have been at odds because de Blasio wants a dedicated tax on residents of New York City who earn over $500,000 a year to pay for pre-kindergarten rather than go hat in hand every year to Albany.

In addition, the governor will ask voters to approve a $2 billion bond issue for new technology.

One local school leader said:

“How are you going to have kids in full-day prekindergarten, and then have them come back to kindergartens that are half-day?”

Some districts may have to cut back to half-day sessions to save money.

Cuomo earlier imposed a 2% tax cap across the state, which districts cannot increase without a vote by 60% of voters.

Cuomo says he is the “students’ lobbyist.”

He views increases in aid as money for bloated administrative salaries and for greedy labor unions.

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