"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, April 08, 2006

In Pataki and Spellings We Do Not Trust

Spellings was in New York this week trying to lend support for Pataki's plan to use public money for corporate charters and vouchers. This is the same Pataki described last week by his own party in a NY Times piece as "weak, moribund, unprincipled, corrupt." Two peas in a pod, as they say down South.

The Secretary's other mission was to investigate the small number of students using transfers and tutoring in the poor schools that are to intended be first on her chopping block of privatization. Why are these students not transferring out to other schools or using the tutoring provisions of NCLB that were supposed to be worth billions to the ed tutoring industry? She was looking for answers and repeating her charming quip, "in God we trust, all others bring data."

Well, Maggie, here is some data that could shine some light for you on the lack of excitement by the poorest schools to offer transfers and tutoring: these poorest schools have to pay for it from their own Title 1 funds. Yes, that's right. The schools who are watch-listed as not meeting their testing goals, the most vulnerable schools needing the greatest infusion of resources, must use chunks of their own Title 1 funds to provide the mandated transfers and tutoring:
How much money is available for my child's supplemental services?
This will vary, depending on how much Title I money your specific school receives and how many students will receive supplemental services from the school. In order to fund school choice and supplemental services. The LEA must spend an amount equal to 20%, unless a lesser amount is needed, of its Title I allotment, with at least 5% going to public school choice for transportation costs, at least 5% to supplemental educational services, and not less than an additional 10% on either of the two services. Funds for both services may also come from other federal, state, and local sources.
Here is how Alpha Elementary's principal explained the situation after Year 2 on the Needs Improvement List:
The school system is responsible for paying the transportation cost if those students have to be bussed to the new schools. That means more man hours for bus drivers and higher gasoline bills. It also may mean additional staffing at the schools they are choosing to send the children to. They can't simply send teachers from the low performing school to the new school. It is said that those teachers are the cause of the low scores. The school system has to cover the cost of the additional staff. The school that did not meet their target has to be assigned some Central Office staff members who are charged with the task of improving the school. Those additional positions had to be funded. The rest of the schools that have just kept their heads above water, get the overage of teachers from the schools that did not meet their target. I lost one early childhood class and my geography/social studies lab.
Of course, Spellings knows all of this, but she continues her parade around poor communities repeating her cynical mantra about closing the achievement gap while, in fact, acting as overseer of a policy that is sacrificing the poor for a craven and malicious policy to undercut public education. She would much rather, however, paint a picture lazy, shiftless, foot-dragging in these urban communities rather than telling the truth about federal mandates that require the poorest schools to cough up precious funds for corporate tutoring services and transportation fees to the corporate welfare charters that she and her friend, Pataki, are so eager to expand.

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