Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Separate and Unequal: When Parents Hire the Teachers

Recent articles (NY Post) have pointed to the enormous disparity in the amount of money raised between Parent Associations in wealthy and poor areas of NYC. Read Leonie's full comments at the NYC PSP blog.

I talked to the Post reporter at length who was researching this practice, and pointed out to her that it was DOE's failure to provide reasonable class sizes that put NYC parents in this impossible situation- having to decide whether to raise money to hire assistant teachers, or move to the suburbs or transfer their kids to private schools, in an effort to ensure that their children do not suffer in substandard conditions of classes of 25, 30 or more.

Unfortunately, the editors cut my quote from the final article.
Manhattan PEP rep Patrick Sullivan wrote a blog pointing to how much higher per pupil spending was at charter schools. On the first day of school Leonie pointed to these differences in spending.

So what does it all amount to for those sterling advocates of the civil rights issue of our time (see John McCain say same in a major education policy speech today)?


A NYC parent activist responded on the parent listserve:
...so much for the "Fair Student Funding formula" which we all know is anything but.

If these guys cared about equitable funding then the hard fought for CFE funds would be used to improve the conditions and resources of the schools with the historically most disadvantaged kids.

Instead the politically arrived at (by special interests) budget formula is aimed at union busting and punishing schools for hiring ands retaining experienced teachers.

PTA's in the wealthiest zip codes fund raise to supplant school staffing budgets because this administration only thinks charter schools should get to cap class size at reasonable numbers, leaving budget decisions (such as spending on art, music, phys ed and after school) totally up to individual principals.

This emperor has no clothes- only rhetoric.
Catchy buzz words and tons of PR do not accountability or transparency make.

Where is the data driving these decisions?
Where is the evidence that any of this never ending re-tooling and experimentation is effective?
Are graduation rates and college readiness, or any other meaningful measure of learning, actually improving?

How has mayoral control removed corruption, cronyism, political agendas or special interests?

It has only magnified the power of a very narrow ideological force by removing all mechanisms for dissent or even dialogue.

Essential public services like education are too important to be left in the hands of technocrats and lawyers.

We can not afford a winners and losers free market based approach to public education.

Use your vote today, if your are a registered Democrat, to support any candidate that is opposed to continuing mayoral control and the neo-liberal ideology that has driven " education reform" for our one million children for the past 7 years.

Lisa Donlan
CEC One ( LES/ East Village)

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