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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Allocating Money is a Personal Thing For Joel Klein

It seems that Joel Klein believes in using public funds for private use, or at least for his personal allocation. This means that the public in New York City school system is meaningless, as Mr. Klein cannot be Chancellor without a contract (see "The "Who Are You Kidding??" Award Goes To: Joel Klein, New York City Board of Education Pretender" and therefore Mayor Bloomberg appointed an individual to be CEO (use any title you want) to make policy and allocate money "on behalf of the Mayor, any way that he wants." I do not believe that this is what the NY State legislature agreed to.

Also, remember that New York City has no school board. When we protest, as I (TAGny and many people) do, policies that are voted on by the Panel For Educational Leadership (PEP), I do it to be heard by the audience, not the Panel members, who have no jurisdiction over voting or policy and are not listening. They are imune from hearing anything, anyway. (I filed in 2007 a Freedom of Information request of the PEP training materials, and the job description includes a period of time - June 2004 to July 2009 - during which voting rights for members of the NYC school district board members are suspended). People who desperately try to get a favorable ruling from this "panel of puppets" are, and always will be, out of luck. The Panel is not there to vote for the public nor to deny Joel Klein anything.

I attended the annual conference of The New York State School Boards Association at the Hilton Hotel, and the only people there from New York City were: Michael Best, General Counsel for the NYC BOE, several Attorneys who work for the Office of Legal Services, and me (attending as press, not representing the NYC school district). Why the public believes that taxation without representation is suddenly ok is beyond my understanding, but those of us who DO get it will continue to speak up, rest assured of that.

It seems that as soon as the general public stops pandering to the whims of Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein the changes that we seek - because WE say so - will start...and not before. We need a structural re-organization before the deaf can or will hear us. See "Editorial: The New York City Department of Education is a Sham and Mike Bloomberg is the Flim-Flam Man"

By YOAV GONEN Education Reporter, NY POST

June 18, 2008 --
The city Department of Education's method of doling out $211 million in state aid wrongly benefits schools that are already succeeding, a new report charged.

Despite a state regulation that sets the ceiling for the funds going to high-performing schools at 25 percent, an analysis of the bulk of those distributions shows that 41 percent of the money has been assigned to successful schools, according to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

Additionally, nearly every school is getting an allotment of the money - even though it was intended primarily for high-need schools and students, advocates said.

"The thing that was startling was that the money you can see on the school level is being distributed to 1,439 schools - virtually all schools," said Helaine Doran, deputy director of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

"We're worried that they're violating the regulations about how to direct the money."

Difficulties distributing the Contracts for Excellence money - which stem from a 14-year lawsuit that found the state had been shortchanging city schools - were compounded this year by a nearly $300 million city Education Department budget shortfall.

In addition to the restrictions on which schools and students can receive the money, the state funds must be spent on one of six methods for improving student achievement - including reducing class size or adding pre-kindergarten programs.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has held back $63 million of the state aid from schools for the 2008-09 school year, arguing that the state's restrictions would shortchange the higher-performing schools, such as Stuyvesant HS and Brooklyn Tech.

Klein has been seeking permission from Albany to distribute the money the way the city sees fit - but to this point, state legislators have given no indication that they're willing to grant the OK.

The report raises questions about whether the chancellor's appeal to Albany was in fact an effort to address budget shortfalls rather than an attempt at fairness, say education advocates.

"The Campaign for Fiscal Equity's analysis clearly shows the double-whammy being perpetuated on our students by the Department of Education," said LeRoy Barr, a staff director for the United Federation of Teachers.

"First, it is falling woefully short of properly funding low-performing schools and second, it is depriving kids who need the most help by playing a budgetary shell game instead of spending $63 million in targeted [state] funds as the governor and state legislature intended."

A department spokeswoman disputed the report's findings.

She said the city is in compliance if high- and low-performing schools are properly defined and if a bigger pool of state funds, $386 million, is examined.

If distributions from the bigger pool are reviewed, the city is allocating $83 million of $386 million to less needy schools - "well under the maximum allowable distribution of $96 million," she said.

Campaign for Fiscal Equity officials acknowledged that their formula approximated the city and state distributions - but they said that was because education officials wouldn't release critical data.

They also blasted education officials for not sharing more specific information on how the state money is being spent.

The city has been hosting public hearings on its proposal for distributing the Contracts for Excellence funds over the past two weeks - with the final forum being held tonight in Queens.

City education officials have until mid-July to submit a final proposal to the state Education Department for approval.

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