Friday, March 9, 2007

At Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Thursday night, public school advocates, parents, principals and politicians gathered to support the school spending plan proposed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer. The meeting, sponsored by the Alliance for Quality Education, the NAACP, the UFT and New Yorkers For Smaller Classes, featured AQE director Billy Easton and Campaign for Fiscal Equity dirctor Geri Palast who have been at so many meeting together they finish each others sentences.

The task at hand: focus the crowd to pressure Queens GOP Senators Maltese and Padavan to support the Spitzer scheme (which I'll describe below).

The key issue: class size. I think that the reason that Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein don't care about it, and refuse to spend money on it is that they see our children as obejcts to be processed by the schools not as individuals, each with her or his own needs. Assembymembers Nolan and Lancman have introduced a bill to require our Mayor to reduce class size.

The "one house" budget bills from the Senate and Assembly are due out Friday. These are the bills used for bargaining. Everyone at the meeting was certain that the Assembly bill would have class-size language. Will the Senate's bill have this language?

The big news: GOP Senator Maltese will support the class size limits. Almost losing his re-election, seems to have woken him up. Senator Padavan is rumored to be supporting the class size intitiative as well.

What can you do: call and write Senators Padavan and Maltese and other NYC GOP State Senators. On St. Patrick's Day, March 17, join the carvan to visit their offices. For information on how to do all this call the Alliance for Quality Education at 718-222-1089 or email them:

Some Highlights of the Spitzer Plan*$3.4 Billion increase for NYC schools over 4 years -- to be matched by $2.2 Billion in NY City funds. (with a somewhat larger amount for other school districts around NY State.)

*A new needs-driven funding formula which would, for the first time provice money for districts which needed it. At present, NYS money has been allocated by a strict-politically-bargained-for formula under which NYC gets 38.8% of state aid regardless of need. (To give you a sense of how this concept strikes Republicans, consider Joe Bruno's characterization of it "class warfare," -- even though no school district, not even the richest, would lose money under the Spitzer plan.

*Specific limits on what the new cash could be spent no (No Mayor Bloomberg, no no-bid consultants, no $80 million computer systems). Class size reduction, all day pre-k, more time on task (extended school day/year), teacher training and middle/high school reorganization.

*Some public/parent participation in the planning process. At present, parents, teachers, principals and the public are completely locked out while Mr. Bloomberg. Mr. Klein and their privatizers play 52-pick-up with the schools.

I've cross-posted this from my more regular blog-spot: The Daily Gotham .

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