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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The NYC DOE Gives Money Bonuses To Schools Which Need It The Least

The swimming pool at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan:

and the well-funded library of PS 6 on the Upper East Side:

When I asked the School Leadership Team, Parents Association, and Principal Stanley Teitel where the money was being allocated at Stuyvesant High School, the AP for Special Education Jay Biegelson, the AP for Guidance Gene Blaufarb (now at CUNY), and AP Eleanor Archie put Jay Biegelson's name on the parent line of my oldest daughter's Individualized Education Plan which decertified her, all without telling me anything.

These administrators told the NYC DOE Committee on Special Education that I would not respond to their requests to meet with them, even though I was the Editor of the PA Bulletin and on the Executive Board of the school.

The Stuyvesant PA turned on me and attacked me (Paola De Kock led the attacks on the Chinese parents at Stuy and now is, ironically, the Senior Director of NYC DOE Parent Engagement) and the chinese coalition I  was helping, who uncovered the missing money.

Stuy parent Paola De Kock who became the ally of Leonie Haimson
When I cited the missing $13,000 missing from the PTA at Booker T. Washington MS 54, I was attacked by the white parents who saw their precious entitlement being threatened.

When I asked where the money was that Carmen Farina was, as Principal, in control of at PS 6 as the grant from the Annenberg Challenge For The Arts, Carmen called me up on May 23, 2000 and screamed that I was a bitch, a witch, a thief, a liar and much worse. I listened to her screaming for 20 minutes then hung up on her, and a few weeks later reported her for violation of SLT rules  (the NYC DOE reprimanded her, then removed her as principal in February, 2001) by having only 4 hand-picked people on the School Leadership Team.

So if anyone finds out about theft in their school I suggest going immediately to the police. Dont stop at the principal's office on the way there, but on the way back after you file a complaint.

FYI: my 4 daughters attended Stuyvesant High School (2), the "FAME" HS La Guardia, and the G&T school NEST+M

Betsy Combier
Editor, Advocatz
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

Mysterious Bonus Makes Rich NYC Schools Richer, Critics Say
· by Mike Elsen-Rooney

When New York City officials revamped the way public schools were funded more than a decade ago, they emphasized one goal above the others: Making school spending more equitable in the nation’s largest system.
They also included a provision that critics say is doing just the opposite: an annual bonus of almost $1,000 per student at 13 of the city’s elite high schools, where students are wealthier than the city average and alumni foundations can raise millions of dollars for extras.
That means that students at these schools — where only 15 percent of students are black or Hispanic, compared to almost 70 percent citywide — are getting almost $18 million more this year than they would have without the bonus, according to Department of Education data. Since 2012, when the department began publishing complete information on how schools are funded, the group of 13 schools has received more than $100 million from the bonus.
That group includes the city’s eight exam-based specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant High School, the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School, where admission is based on a single, three-hour multiple-choice test known as the SHSAT.
It also includes two highly competitive early college high schools, Bard Manhattan and Bard Queens, and two newer schools, Millennium Brooklyn and the NYC iSchool, both of which screen students based on middle school grades and test scores. Townsend Harris in Queens, which has its own competitive screening process, also gets the targeted bonus.
Critics worry that the bonus exacerbates inequality by giving the city’s most exclusive high schools a financial boost unavailable to most schools in the city.
“Students that have made their way into the specialized high schools have largely done so as a result of advantages their families have been able to give to them already,” said Lazar Treschan, director of youth policy at the Community Service Society of New York, a nonprofit advocacy group that joined a legal complaint filed by the NAACP in 2012 challenging the SHSAT as discriminatory (the complaint is still pending with the U.S.Department of Education).
“They don’t need even more additional resources from the DOE at this point,” he said.
But many educators and parents defended the additional money for the schools, saying they are vastly underfunded and have trouble meeting higher academic demands.
“Too often in this country, we’re sticking to the middle and mediocrity,” said Elissa Stein, a former PTA co-president at Brooklyn Tech. “But I also believe there are kids who are high achievers who deserve the opportunity to achieve. And sometimes they need extra funds to go above and beyond.”
The Department of Education defends allocating the funds to the 13 schools, saying that they incur more costs by exceeding the academic requirements of traditional high schools. But department spokesman Will Mantell could not explain specific criteria for which schools receive the bonus.
The bonus, like the bulk of funds for school budgets, is distributed through a formula that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein rolled out in 2007, called “Fair Student Funding.” The funding guide stipulates only that the money go to “academically challenging high schools.” But Mantell could not say why, for example, Millennium Brooklyn receives the bonus, but its sister school, Millennium Manhattan, which has a similar curriculum and admissions criteria, does not, or why the iSchool was added to the list. 
Before the formula was instituted, the department’s central office gave most schools a fixed number of teachers per student, rather than dollars. But schools with more veteran teachers, who earn more, ended up getting more money to cover those larger salaries.
The net effect, according to Klein, was that schools with similar populations of students ended up with vastly different amounts of city money. The new formula gave all schools a fixed number of dollars per student, allowing principals the freedom to spend the money as they chose.
Currently, city schools are supposed to get about $4,000 of city money for every student on their register. They get additional dollars based on the number of students who need extra academic support. Students who are learning English, for example, bring an extra 12 to 55 cents on the dollar. Special education students and students who are struggling academically bring extra money as well.
Separately, schools get state and federal funds, and money for special city initiatives, such as the drive to offer Advanced Placement classes in all high schools.
But critics of the formula say it has never achieved the equity it promised. And they point to the bonus for specialized academic schools as one reason why.
“The idea behind Fair Student Funding was that the driver for school budgets was student characteristics, rather than the type of school,” said David Bloomfield, a professor of Education Leadership at Brooklyn College. “By creating, or re-creating, a system based on favored school labels, the DOE is somehow saying that all schools are equal but some are more equal than others.”
The specialized schools are part of a larger group of schools that get extra money from the formula because they offer alternative models of education that cost more to operate, according to the Fair Student Funding guide. These include performing arts high schools that require auditions for admission, career and technical schools and transfer schools for students who have dropped out of traditional public schools.
Critics say that extra funding for certain schools, and especially already-thriving ones, undermines the logic of Fair Student Funding.
“What needs to be ‘specialized’ about academics?” said Jill Bloomberg, principal of Park Slope Collegiate High School in Brooklyn, which shares a building with Millennium, but does not get the bonus. “What does an English class at Millennium need that one at Park Slope Collegiate doesn’t?”
Even with the bonus, the specialized high schools often get far less money per pupil than most schools. That’s because they serve few students learning English, special education students or low achievers. And like almost all city schools, they don’t receive 100 percent of the funding the formula calls for. That is a legacy of years of state budget shortfalls that routinely leave the city with less from the state than promised.
For example, Brooklyn Tech gets about 88 percent of the amount it is supposed to based on the Fair Student Funding formula (or $5,328 per pupil this year). Adam Stevens, a history teacher there, has seen both sides, having taught in schools that receive the academic bonus as well as those that do not. When Stevens compares Brooklyn Tech with Paul Robeson High School, the almost entirely black and Hispanic high school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where he taught before it was closed in 2014 for poor performance, he comes to this conclusion: “The kids at the regular, segregated schools need [the additional money] more.” 
At Brooklyn Tech, there’s both a genetics lab and a robotics program that are rewarding for students and teachers; Robeson High had neither. “The entire city should have these courses,” Stevens said.
Principals whose schools don’t get the bonus money say they have less ability to provide the kind of intellectual enrichment offered at the specialized academic schools – and that makes it harder to attract students at the annual open houses and high school fairs.
Each fall, some 80,000 New York City eighth-graders select from a dizzying array of more than 400 high schools, and rank their top choices. Choices can include schools required to accept anyone in their geographic zone and those that screen applicants based on grades, attendance and standardized test scores.
In such a competitive high school choice system, less established and less selective schools face constant pressure to attract more students, and say that even a little bit of extra money could help.
Harvest Collegiate, a small high school near Union Square that doesn’t screen applicants, gets $7,644 per student from the formula. Kate Burch, the principal and founder of Harvest Collegiate, points out that almost a third of the school’s students are in special education, and another third have serious academic needs. The money, she said, pays for bilingual teachers for English-language learners, case managers for special education students and extra tutoring for struggling students. 
That leaves little for after-school clubs, additional teacher training, advanced electives or the full-time guidance counselor Burch would love to hire. “To do all those things just takes extra money, period,” she said.
The differential funding has perhaps the biggest effect on schools that aren’t considered elite enough to qualify for the bonus, but don’t have the deficits that bring in extra money.
They are places like Forest Hills High School in Queens which does not get federal Title I funding, provided to schools with concentrated amounts of poverty. The Title I cutoff is around 60 percent; at Forest Hills, 53 percent are eligible, according to the principal, Ben Sherman. 
“We are in deep financial pain right now,” said Sherman. The school received $5,446 per student through the formula this year.
Townsend Harris High School, gets the specialized academic bonus – and gets almost $600 more per student from the formula than Forest Hills does, even though it had only four students below grade level and two students learning English this school year, according to the department’s data.
Critics say the specialized academic schools have a financial advantage even without the city bonus: well-resourced and well-connected parents and alumni. In addition, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science and Stuyvesant maintain endowments of $13 million, $6 million and $2.4 million, respectively, to help fund extracurricular activities.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.