Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My 20 questions to DOE about their failure to live up to their commitments to our children and in the C4E law to reduce class size

According to the Contracts for Excellence (C4E) law, the DOE is supposed to be reducing class size in all grades, and in the fall of 2007, submitted a plan to do so in along with annual targets and five year goals.  Yet class sizes have risen every year since then.  The DOE finally released its latest proposed C4E plan for the current (2012-2013) school year on Feb. 18 for public comment, long after most of the C4E funding has been spent.   The deadline for public comment is March 18; please send your comments to the DOE by emailing contractsforexcellence@schools.nyc.gov ; please copy Commissioner King at jking@mail.nysed.gov   
The DOE has failed NYC children in many ways but in no way more disappointing  than in its failure to live up to its legal and ethical commitments to our children to reduce class size.  See my 20 questions sent to DOE below. 

From: Leonie Haimson [mailto:leonie@att.net]
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2013 4:21 PM
To: contractsforexcellence@schools.nyc.gov
Cc: leonie@att.net
Subject: twenty C4E questions

1. Why do you not present any data on class size in your proposed citywide plan, your failure to meet class size reduction targets in the past, or any information about your goals for class size moving forward? 

2. Why is there no mention on the C4E webpage about the provision in the state law that obligates NYC to have a plan to reduce class sizes in all grades? 

3. What happened to last year’s class size reduction proposal?  Was it approved by the state and if so, where is it posted?  There is no approved C4E plan posted on your website since 2009-2010.

4. What does this statement mean: “Due to major fiscal changes and challenges since the induction of C4E, NYCDOE and SED are having ongoing communication about NYCDOE’s class size requirements.”  What does the state want you to accomplish in the area of class size, and if so, what is the problem?

5.       5. Why is there is NO deadline for public comment noted either on the C4E   homepage or on the public comment page.  Nor is the deadline mentioned on any of the individual documents in English and foreign languages linked to on that page.  How do you expect the public to know about the deadline if it is not mentioned on these documents?

6.     6. Of the list of public hearings at CECs on the public comment page:  seven are missing, and of those listed, eight are scheduled after the March 18 deadline for public comment has passed.  What is the purpose of a public hearing to give feedback if it occurs after the deadline has already occurred?

7.  7.  Have you made any attempt to alert parents of your C4E proposal and/or inform them as to how they can comment on it, other than posting these documents on your website? 

8.     8. Why have you not scheduled any borough-wide hearings as required by the C4E law? 

9.    9. Given that it is already the end of February and the funds have already been allocated and mostly spent, what is the purpose of holding hearings at all? 

         10. Can you explain the following statement on your C4E proposal: “Please note, as indicated in the FY12 SAM, NYSED allowed NYCDOE to take a portion of the 17.53% reduction from year 1 Maintenance of Effort funds. This leaves $348 million for school allocations and district-wide programs in FY13 and $182 million of year 1 MoE embedded in Fair Student Funding for a FY13 total C4E amount of $530 million. This presentation represents the $348 million.”  What does this mean, and how exactly are the rest of the C4E funds being spent?

1     11. What is the relationship of the maintenance of efforts funds referred to   above, to the $30 Million in Maintenance of Effort funds listed on p. 10 of your summary

 12.  What does maintenance of effort actually mean, given that DOE has not maintained effort on its own support for staffing, but has cut school budgets repeatedly over the last five years, leading to sharp increases in class size

13.  Why have you not allocated any “targeted” or district-wide funds for class size reduction in this or any previous C4E plan, given that reducing class size is a requirement in the law, the top priority of NYC parents in the DOE’s learning environment surveys, and the state’s highest court in the CFE case said that lower class sizes would be necessary to provide NYC students with their constitutional right to a sound basic education?

14.  How do you expect to track whether principals have used their available C4E funds appropriately, given vague assurances like “minimize class size growth”?

15.  You write: “With the guidance and approval of the State Education Department, the NYCDOE has remained committed to monitoring class size through a cross section of schools that represent high class sizes and low performance.”  Which schools are these are why are you just promising to “monitor” class size?  Shouldn’t you be monitoring and reducing class size in these schools and citywide?

16.  Why did the DOE eliminate the Early grade class size funding program in 2010, despite the promise in your C4E plan to keep it?

17.   Why did DOE decide in 2011 to stop capping class sizes at 28 for grades 1-3?

18.  Why did you instruct principals to raise class sizes to the contractual maximum in general ed and inclusion classes, as part of your special education initiative?  Don’t these students need especially small classes to be successful?

19.  Why has the DOE failed to align the “Blue Book” utilization formula or its school capital plan to any class size reduction goals, other than those in K-3 , even though this is required by state law?

20.   How will schools ever be able to reduce class size if DOE insists on co-locating new schools in their buildings, taking up every available inch of space?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that an organization representing the rights of Special Ed students might want to pursue a RICO prosecution of Bloomberg and Walcott for conspiring to deny FAPE to thouands of students with IEPs?Even if pursued solely civilly,if it were open to the public and press .it would go a long way towards establishing Bloomberg's TRUE legacy!