News, commentary and analysis by leaders of the Communist Party USA in New York State. We discuss State politics and issues in New York City, covering developments in labor, civil rights education, housing and more.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Make Your Voice Heard this Week for School Funding Priorities

The long winding battle for equitable school funding in New York has entered a new phase. Now that the State has been forced to pay up millions of dollars due to underfunded schools—mostly in New York City—the struggle begins for where and how the funds will be spent.

Last Friday, New York City Department of Education revealed their plan for the money, the Contracts for Excellence and Class Size Reduction. You can go to their web page, log in, and see how the new funds will effect your school and community.

The folks at Class Size Matters think the plan stinks, and held a press conference on the steps of City Hall saying so.

The plan is definitely weak. While we achieved a huge victory when in 2003 the New York Supreme Court ruled that unequal funding of school is unconstitutional, that was only the beginning of the battle. Now we have to make sure that Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein have a concrete plan to use the money to reduce class size, allocate resources to the lowest-performing schools, and address long-standing deficiencies. I am not sure the "contract" approach can meet the task. It goes back to having schools competing to prove their worth, instead of spending the money where it is most needed in a way that will have the biggest effect on teaching and learning.

I think four-point plan developed by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) and the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) is a good start:

Four-Point Plan
for Contracts for Excellence
  1. High need students first

  2. Make parents' voices count

  3. Accountability and transparency

  4. Follow the money to the schools

If you agree, you have to move quick to make your voice heard.

The public hearings on the allocations will only be held this week and written comments can be emailed until Saturday, July 14. You can also use the form email developed by AQE.

Check out the Campaign for Fiscal Equality for more information about the time and location of the hearings, the ongoing struggle for just funding and school funding generally.

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