Posts Tagged ‘school districts’

An Interns View: Unequal Education for All

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

By Rita Iosefson

It’s true. Not every school district on Long Island gets the same funding from New York State. As an elementary education major, my education and sociology classes have exposed me to the large funding gap between school districts. A study conducted at Columbia University Teachers College in 2009 demonstrated the alarming disparities among Long Island’s school districts. Researchers studied five different Long Island school districts, each representing a different demographic, and interviewed 75 school administrators, teachers, students, parents and school board members of these districts.

It is a known fact that resources are more easily diverted to wealthier districts, allowing these systems to offer a wider selection of courses and higher experienced teachers. Students in these districts have a greater chance of moving onto college than students in poorer districts. Poorer districts are challenged to attract better prepared educators and provide other enrichment opportunities.

I went to school in one of the more affluent school districts on Long Island. It is important that I don’t take for granted the opportunities I was given because of where I live. I was able to broadcast on my district funded radio station in high school and I participated in after school activities in middle school. My teachers encouraged me to take advanced classes that would earn me credit towards my bachelor’s degree. These privileges are unavailable to many students within a short driving distance of where I grew up. The Uniondale School District is about a twenty minute drive from my town. This district, along with other disadvantaged school districts on Long Island, has fewer teachers who have earned a master’s degree, as compared to wealthier districts, where 90% of teachers typically have earned a master’s degree.

As a future educator, I would be thankful to teach in a disadvantaged school district, to help bring its reputation up, in hopes of gaining funds from New York State. This is not the same for every aspiring educator, because of district reputations. High income schools, such as Locust Valley and Syosset, spend about $26,000 per student. Low income school districts, such as Roosevelt and Wyandanch, spend about $18,000 per student. This trend exists because lower funded school districts, on average, have to spend more on ESL programs than wealthier districts, leaving fewer funds available for other programs.

I have learned that many students are disadvantaged because their school district is unable to provide the “perks” that others can on our Island. I firmly support the Long Island Progressive Coalition in its efforts to ensure quality education for all of Long Island’s students.

Click here to read more on the study referenced in this post: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news.htm?articleId=7175

 

Message to Lawmakers: Stick with What Works for Youngest New Yorkers

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

By: Mike Clifford, Public News Service – NY

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been using competitive grants to spur competition among school districts, but today lawmakers are being urged to not rely on that approach for early education funding. The jury is out on competitive grants, according to Danielle Asher, early childhood education campaign coordinator with the Long Island Progressive Coalition; she says maybe they’ll work, maybe not.

That’s why Asher says it’s dangerous to use that system to fund early education programs, which she says have been proved to save the state money and provide a quality education.

“It is proven to reduce grade repetition and disciplinary referrals, special education costs; it will save the state $22 million to $32 million, so we need to invest in Pre-K programs.”

Asher is one of the more than 100 parents, teachers and advocates traveling to Albany to urge lawmakers to restore $53 million in early education funding to the general fund. The Board of Regents also backs that approach, while Governor Cuomo lumped funding for early education into $250 million in competitive grants in his executive budget.

Currently, many of New York’s youngest children are on waiting lists to get into early-learning programs, according to Marsha Basloe, executive director of the Early Care and Learning Council. She says that’s a shame, because decades worth of studies show these programs work.

“Students that participate in quality early-care and learning programs are far more likely to attend college and get higher-paying jobs; avoid teen pregnancy; avoid welfare dependency; avoid delinquency and/or crime.”

Basloe plans to meet with lawmakers to talk about the need to find $20 million to fund a Quality Stars program to rate local early education programs.

A news briefing is planned for 11 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building.

A report is at bit.ly/yqELjA. More on the QUALITYstarsNY program is at qualitystarsny.org.

The Perfect Storm of State Disaster- Education Cuts

Friday, August 27th, 2010

August 27th, 2010 7:18 pm ET

“The perfect storm of state disaster” is what state assemblyman Tom Alfano calls the governor’s proposed budget for schools.  This is a very apt statement, whether you are a parent of a child in a school on Long Island or a teacher.  This statement was made on December 19, 2008 in the Floral Dispatch, online edition.  However, this statement still holds true today as well.  Alfano also stated in his op-ed that these cuts would impact such areas in education as bigger class sizes, cuts in technology, and special education.

In order to decrease the gap in funding versus educational needs, New York attempted to win The Race to the Top.  According to a report by Newsday, New York State went from also-ran to winner in the federal Race To The Top competition, officials said.  New York is one of nine states splitting $3.3 billion.  Timothy Kremer of the state School Boards Association states that “it will not replace the $1.4-billion cut in school aid that forced some school districts to lay off teachers, close schools and cut programs.”

Long Island schools are showing their disagreement with state cuts.  One such district is in Wyandanch had fifty community residents on Saturday August 14, 2010 participate in a rally lad by local activists and the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a regional volunteer group.  Ironically when the state raised passing standards on its tests last month, the number of failed students soared – in Wyandanch and island wide.  So with the passing test score being increased as well as class sizes rising due to budget cuts, students will suffer.  New York state is going to receive some financial help from the federal government of $26 billion.  $607 million of that money – equivalent to more than 40 percent of state-aid cuts will go to New York.  But Albany authorities have not yet announced how the money will be distributed to schools.

Even with all of these cuts, there is still a silver-lining to this cloud.  People are still choosing to teach, and many of them return to the schools they went through.  Michael Arnone returned to teach third grad in the same classroom he had third grade in Glen Cove.  Sari Goldberg Alfano of Levittown returned to her elementary school as well to teach.  These teachers and teachers like them still believe in our education system here in Long Island, and so should you.

From the Desk of … Sen. Brian X. Foley

Monday, July 12th, 2010

State Sen. Brian  X. Foley was joined by education advocates to call on his fellow Long Island senators to join him in  supporting  an  override  of  Gov. Paterson’s  veto of funding for education.

Last  week,  the senate and the assembly approved a budget bill that  included  $600 million in restorations to education funding. Foley  and  Sen. Craig  Johnson  were the only Long Island Senators who voted  in  favor of returning this money to school districts and taxpayers. Paterson had proposed cutting $1.5 billion.  Based on the formulas used  to  calculate  aid to school districts, schools within the 3rd Senate District  were  to  receive  the  highest  restoration amount of any senate district  in  the state.  Paterson vetoed the funding within hours of its passage.

“Funding  for  our  schools  is  not  something we can allow to become  a  proverbial  political  football,”  said  Foley.   “Long Island’s   schools   already   receive   funding   at   a   level  that  is disproportionate  to  the percentage of students we have. When state aid is cut,  the  difference  must  ultimately  be  made up either by our property owners in the form of taxes or by our school children in the form of larger classes, fewer  resources and reduced programs for athletics and the arts. I  hope  that  my Long Island colleagues will join me in voting to override the  governor’s  veto  so  that  our  children  can continue to receive the highest  level  of  educational  opportunity we can provide without schools needing  to  raise  taxes  to a level that will drive residents off of Long Island.”

The  funding  that was restored could be used districts to help offset  the property tax levies that were included in the budgets passed by residents  in  May.   The  original bill passed the senate without a single vote from the Republican minority.

“Even  though all of my Republican colleagues voted no on these restorations  the  first  time  we  considered them, thereby depriving school districts  of  funds  that could be used to reduce property taxes, they now have  a  chance to correct the mistake of their earlier vote,” said Foley.   “I  strongly  implore  them to stop saying no to our taxpayers and children, and start saying no to their leadership by standing up for Long Islanders.”

 “The  legislature  has  supported  restoration  of  school  aid statewide  totaling  $600  million, including approximately $65 million for Long Island school districts,” said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.  “For the state’s neediest districts like Brentwood, Wyandanch,  Central  Islip, William Floyd and Westbury these funds would be available to restore cuts to the classroom.  Governor Paterson vetoed these restorations  to our classrooms.  We have seen gains in student outcomes in needy districts on LI and across the state as a result of the state finally beginning to provide adequate funding to these needy school districts.  The Governor’s  veto  is  a  major  step  backwards  and  both  houses  of  the legislature  should  vote  to  override  it.  Long Island’s legislators, no matter  what party, need to stand together against Governor Paterson’s veto that is so destructive to our local schools.”

The leadership in the senate has indicated that they would only call  an  override  vote  if  it  was certain that there were the necessary number  of  votes available.  The support of Long Island’s senators for the override is crucial.