Rebell on the City's Education Funding Plans
Supporters of the lawsuit that resulted in increased funding for the city's public schools are trying to force the city to rewrite its plan for how to spend the money, and one source said there has even been talk of another lawsuit if the city does not relent.
The original lawsuit, brought by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, ended last year with a state agreement to pour $5.4 billion extra dollars into the city schools. The city made its first proposal for how to spend a portion of those funds, the $228 million governed by a state accountability plan, last Friday. The CFE's executive director, Geri Palast; the city teachers union; an advocacy group, Class Size Matters, and the lawsuit's original plaintiff, City Council Member Robert Jackson, have all criticized the plan.
"There's a fundamental clash here between the way the city went about doing this and what the clear intent of the law was," another critic, Michael Rebell, who was the lead lawyer for the CFE, said.
One portion of funds, $17 million, will finance a new testing program. The city says the plan meets the goal of raising students' "time on-task," but the president of the teachers union, Randi Weingarten, challenged whether a testing system would contribute to instruction.
Another portion of the funds, more than $133 million, will be allocated at principals' discretion. A Department of Education spokeswoman, Debra Wexler, said officials worked closely with principals to guide their choices, which were restricted by the state goals. The city describes the funding as guided empowerment, but critics, including Mr. Rebell, characterize it as a lack of a coherent plan.
A final plan is due to be submitted to the state July 15, following a series of hearings this week. Ms. Wexler said the department would listen to the public feedback and "make refinements to the proposal as appropriate."
This article appeared in the July 11, 2007 edition of the NY Sun.previous page