Monday, December 22, 2008

Budget Cuts Update at Panel for Educational Policy


At last week's meeting we heard the latest on the budget cuts. Click here for the presentation. There is information on page nine about where schools have started to cut. The largest categories are classroom supplies, before/after school per-session funding and substitute teachers.

I again asked for cuts in the Office of Accountability and Press Office. Now that my own children are in third grade, I can see firsthand the excessive test prep and the complete absurdity of paying McGraw Hill $80 million for interim assessments to be presented online in the Acuity system. If we must have test prep, then a paper practice test is infinitely cheaper and far more practical. When I explained to the Chancellor that there was no benefit to teaching or learning, in fact it's harder for parents to see the information, he simply admitted he would not convince me of the benefits, nor I dissuade him.

And so despite the woeful situation of the city and state budgets, the Bloomberg administration is determined to pour money into the Accountability Initiative. Testing materials, test prep, databases for test scores and test-related staff positions devour the education budget. For example, see this expensive position for Knowledge Manager advertised while schools cannot even fund substitutes or tutoring. All this money spent on testing while the mayor himself has vowed to send another $526 million in cuts directly to the classroom. This one on top of the $385 he's already sent us.

Here is an apt photo-illustration by Dave B; Data-Zilla wipes out a city starting with the education budget.

3 comments:

Leonie Haimson said...

Patrick -- did they say which were the 338 positions from Central and Field staff that would be eliminated? I guess no one from the Accountability office. Who are they laying off?

inexile said...

I had the same discussion last year with the gentleman who came to do our SQR. He asked me how we were using "data" to improve student performance. By data he meant the endless test scores coming our way - the midterm testing, the standardized test scores, etc. I told him the data did not give me any new information about my students. I already knew the kids who were strong, struggling and below grade level. Furthermore, there is no silver bullet to help the struggling students. Many of them would benefit greatly from small class size, where they could get more attention from qualified instructors. My opinion fell on deaf ears.

Patrick J. Sullivan said...

Leonie -- The chancellor said they were cutting 475 central positions. That would mean Tweed and ISCs. I don't think the exact positions have been identified, at least not to me.

inexile -- I am continuously told by teachers and parents that they want smaller classes, tutoring, enrichment and after school programs. The Bloomberg is determined to spend on testing. With the budget cuts we need to make our voices heard in the City Council and State Legislature. We must cut testing before cutting in the classroom.