Wed, Jun 18, 2008
Money for Needy Goes to Wealthy Schools, Report Says
Jennifer Medina, The New York Times
Even as students, parents and teachers continue to protest school budget cuts, there is another debate brewing â€” just what makes a high-need school?
The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the advocacy group that successfully battled a 13-year lawsuit for billions of dollars more for New York City schools, released a report on Tuesday evening detailing how the city is spending roughly $230 million in new education money from the state.
According to the analysis, the Education Department is distributing much of that money -â€“ more than 40 percent -â€“ to schools that are either high-performing, wealthy, or both. Under state law, 75 percent of the money should be distributed to schools with the â€śgreatest educational needs.â€ť
Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has asked the state to loosen its regulations on $63 million in state money to distribute it to wealthier schools, saying that such rules unfairly hurt some of the cityâ€™s most coveted schools. But the report indicates that Mr. Klein is already distributing the money to those kinds of schools. (In a brief article about the report in The Daily News, school officials disputed the methodology.)
â€śTheyâ€™re already trying to do whatever they want and ignoring state law,â€ť said Geri D. Palast, the executive director of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, who added that the State Education Department should demand that the city revise its allocations.
â€śThe community rallied together to obtain this funding not to plug budgets gaps or enable the city to spend less on education but to level the playing field for our cityâ€™s most vulnerable students,â€ť said Kim Sweet, the executive director of Advocates for Children, an advocacy group.
This evening, David Cantor, a spokesman for the Deaprtment of Education, issued this statement explaining in more detail the departmentâ€™s concerns about the reportâ€™s methodology:
The $386 million is $242 restricted C4E + $30 Maintenance of Effort C4E + $113 new needs that are eligible for C4E. We have distributed $231 million of it so far; it appears that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity report is analyzing an incomplete data set, which would return invalid results.
Also, it should be noted that â€śless needyâ€ť does not equal â€śhigh performing.â€ť There are SINI schools in there, as well as schools serving large populations of ELLs, students with disabilities, students in poverty, and low academic achievers. SED treats all of these things equallyâ€“so if you are a small school with 30% ELLs, you may not wind up considered high-needs according to this index because you donâ€™t have the cumulative numbers to get you into the top 50 percent.
Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the stateâ€™s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >