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This study highlights the significant downside of the introduction of competitive grants into the New York school finance system. It makes a strong case that these grants have actually been substituted for aid programs, such as the Foundation Formula, which distribute school aid based on student need and district wealth. Key FindingsCompetitive grants create a system of educational winners and losers among students, instead the state should be guaranteeing all students access to high quality programs. Competitive grants are inequitable. Only 19 out of 202 high needs school districts even applied for funding through the competitive grants, whereas 100% of them would receive funding had this money been put through the foundation aid formula. While the competitive grants do prioritize high quality educational programs including academically excellent middle schools, college level courses in high school, career and technical education, and increasing the number of students graduating with Regents Diplomas with Advanced Designation, these exact types of programs have been cut from schools statewide as a result of state budget cuts. Test scores are the single largest factor in awarding competitive grants meaning that when students take tests they are competing with each other for access to high quality educational opportunities. Making schools compete for funding based upon test scores will result in more teaching to the test.
Since 2009, the National Governor's Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) have been working to develop common standards -- skills and areas of knowledge -- for English Language Arts and Mathematics in grades K through 12 in the nation's public schools. Adoption of the new "Common Core State Standards" is voluntary for the states. But the federal Department of Education made adoption of the standards a requirement for states to receive certain federal grant monies, so most states, including New York, have adopted them.New York State's Board of Regents formally adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, and will begin to implement them in public schools across the state in September of 2012.What are the Common Core Standards, and why is there so much controversy surrounding them? What are the promises and challenges of Common Core Standards?
Early childhood education is the cornerstone of our educational system. With benefits that include higher academic achievement, higher earnings as adults, a more productive civic life, high quality early childhood education is a proven-to-work strategy for all children. Yet, New York State's investment in early childhood programs and specifically in the Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) program has decreased over the years.
In 2007, New York State made a commitment to finally close the funding gap between rich and poor school districts and to give all students access to the quality education that is their right under the New York State Constitution. This was done as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. But, this promise of educational opportunity for all remains far from fulfilled. For two years, as a result of the 2007 school funding reform, the state kept its obligation to our students and over $2 billion in new classroom aid was invested in classroom improvements. Over the past two years the state has cut $2.7 billion from our schools and these cuts have widened the educational opportunity gap between wealthy and poor districts. These cuts have come directly out of the classroom, hurting students' educational opportunity by raising class sizes, eliminating over 30,000 positions of teachers and other educators, cutting arts, music, sports, advance placement and career and technical courses, tutoring programs and in some cases reducing kindergarten from full-day to halfday. The 2012-13 Executive budget proposes $805 million more in school funding than was contained in last years' budget. But only $555 million are allocated to restoring cuts because $250 million is diverted to competitive grants. As a result the Executive budget would restore only 1 in 5 of dollars in classroom cuts. Reprogramming the competitive grants into classroom funding would restore 1 in 4 dollars of the classroom cuts as well as restarting New York's commitment to prekindergarten as called for by the Board of Regents. Plain and simply the $805 million is a step in the right direction, but are not adequate. The state legislature needs to redistribute the competitive grant funds as classroom aid and add additional funding to get New York back on track with the promise of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.
An effective In-School Suspension program for non-violent offences will provide students with tools to succeed academically and socially. However, there are significant educational consequences to high out-of-school suspension rate. Academic research shows that being suspended from school significantly increases the likelihood of subsequent suspension or expulsion.In fact, we see this in our schools where in 2008-09 17,126 suspensions were given to 8,042 students, a fact that indicates that some students were suspended multiple times.
New York State instituted dramatic cuts to public education two years in a row. Across the state, school districts are cutting programs, teachers, and educational opportunities for students. There has been a lot of talk about cost savings, but little focus on specific proposals. The following is a list of ten realistic proposals to cut costs in public education. Most require changes in state law in order to remove barriers that prevent school districts from implementing these changes. Some require cooperation among school districts and between school districts and other local governments, BOCES and libraries. Even initiatives that do not require legislative action by the state would benefit from statewide leadership to proactively promote significant and sensible cost savings. If New York State, and local school districts do not take the necessary steps to implement these cost saving initiatives, then the cuts will come out of the classrooms and will have permanent and damaging impacts on the education of our students, particularly in the highest need schools.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is right: New York State has a dramatic contrast in the quality of education available in different school districts. Nowhere are these lines of contrast clearer than in the Schools In Need of Improvement (SINI). While the majority of our students are in schools with high rates of student success, too many students in SINI schools are not succeeding. Across the state 92% of students in the highest income districts graduate on time (these districts are classified by the State Education Department as Low Need Districts) and 81% in average need schools, while only 57% graduate on time in SINI schools. Every year, the New York State Education Department publishes a list of SINI schools as an accountability measure to make the public aware. But putting out a list is not enough, where is the plan to improve these schools? Governor Cuomo has warned that he plans to make large cuts to education. This is on top of $1.4 billion cuts last year -- the largest cuts in the history of the New York State. Will large cuts two years in a row improve our schools or undermine schools that are succeeding and increase educational inequity?
Parents recognize that excellent classroom teaching is key to their children's academic success. We also know that our most troubled schools, those in low-income communities, often lack the resources and supports necessary to attract, develop and keep the best teachers. The state's education deficit is, at least in part, a reflection of the disparities in the distribution and support of exceptional teachers in our schools. Our challenge is to provide high quality teaching to every student, in every school, to meet the demands of the 21st century.Effective teachers are developed over time. Effective schools are places that help develop those teachers through a school culture where educators are encouraged to constantly improve their skills -- and are provided with the support and guidance to do so. Effective schools are places where educators can take leadership roles, and where they can look to their peers for guidance. The current trend which promotes identifying and getting rid of "bad" teachers does not address the essential question of how to support the overwhelming majority of good teachers to help them get better. Quality teaching and learning emerge when schools foster a culture of shared leadership and responsibility, high expectations, strong support and fair accountability.
The Department of Education's ("Department") decisions to close or co-locate schools frequently involves the loss of critical space and programs, which can have serious impacts on students' education. Historically, in making these decisions the Department has a poor track record of soliciting and incorporating parental and community input. Despite new parental engagement procedures added to the law in 2009 to facilitate greater parental consultation in major school change decisions, this year's story does not seem to be markedly different. The Department treated these hearings as procedural hurdles in order to satisfy the letter of the law, rather than an opportunity to engage in a productive dialogue about the impacts of proposed school closures and co-locations on students and what is in the best interests of affected students. By examining the New York State Education Law, Educational Impact Statements (EIS), transcripts from public hearings, and by conducting a parent survey of 873 parents at 34 schools affected by co-locations, the report concludes that the Department's parental engagement process provided insufficient information and left too many questions unanswered questions about how students and the school community will be affected by these major school decisions. The report's key finding is that the EIS -- the official document assessing the impact that a proposed change will have on school services -- does not provide adequate information for members of the school community to understand and comment about how students will be affected by these decisions. This finding is consistent with the courts' recent decision that the school closure process is flawed. Further, if not well-planned and coordinated, closures and co-locations can disrupt students' education and decrease their access to school facilities such as classrooms, gymnasiums and cafeterias.
This report is entitled New York City's Contract for Excellence: Closing the Funding Gap or a Funding Shell Game? The answer to the question posed by the title of the report is "both." The state's Contracts for Excellence funds are promoting educational equity and closing the funding gap between the highest-poverty and lowest-poverty schools. However, the City's "shell game" is undermining this important progress through supplanting. To remedy the findings of this report it is incumbent on the state Commissioner of Education to make a determination as to whether supplanting of Contract for Excellence funds occurred and to order a restoration of these funds by New York City. Otherwise the additional funding secured as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity is being undermined and student progress cannot be expected to result.
Moving Towards Educational Equity?: How is New York State's School Funding Reform Impacting Educational Equity on Long Island?September 1, 2009
This report identifies the 11 Long Island districts with the most student poverty and compares them with the 11 districts with middle student poverty, and the 11 districts with the least student poverty. In addition to poverty, this report looks at the demographic composition of these districts, and percentage of English language learners. Historically on Long Island, as elsewhere, there has been a large funding gap between school districts with high poverty and those with little poverty. The funding gap, as examined by The Education Trust and others, documents the difference in educational opportunity between school districts. In order to make this calculation it is necessary to both examine expenditures per pupil and student need (as measured by the proportion of student poverty). Policy makers and researchers across the spectrum agree that it generally costs more to provide equivalent educational opportunity to students from poor households as those from middle class or wealthier households. This report factors student poverty into the measurement of the funding gap. The report examines the effectiveness since 2007 of different state school aid categories at closing the funding gap--specifically looking at foundation aid, high tax aid and all state operating aid as a whole. In addition, this report looks at student outcomes according to 8th grade English Language Arts and Math exams, graduation rates, Regents diploma rates, and college enrollment rates in order to evaluate whether there has been progress at closing the achievement gaps since funding reforms were instituted.
The move to standards-based education reform created a set of federal and state standards by which student performance is defined in an attempt to create more accountability. The intent of these high-stakes test is to promote accountability and learning. Student success on standardized testing is meant to be a measure of the quality of education and student learning, an assumption that is also not always accurate. Students do better on standardized tests when they have had quality education from the time their academic characters are formed, from the age of three (Perry preschool Study; Abecedarian Study). Students do well when they have high quality teachers that can help them overcome potential obstacles they may face (Illinois experience). Students do well when their teachers, schools, and school districts use methods and techniques that have been proven successful (NYSED). And lastly, students do well when their schools are adequately funded and their teachers well paid. A comprehensive approach to accountability using all of these components has the best chance of closing New York State's achievement gap. This report summarizes laws and programs that have been implemented in other states, which could be used to achieve a more comprehensive accountability system in New York. There are three interrelated parts to the present report. The first presents accountability laws and systems from the states of Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. The second part describes the North Carolina preschool program More at Four, the Abbott Preschool in New Jersey, and the New York Universal Pre-Kindergarten program. The third part describes initiatives to hire and retain high-quality teachers that have been implemented in Illinois.
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