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May 21, 2013
While voters across New York go to polls to determine the fate of proposed school district budgets, the Census Bureau has just released its annual breakdown of public school spending. As of 2010-11, New York once again topped the list, at $19,076 per pupil — a whopping 81 percent above the national average of $10,560 per pupil. The gulf between the Empire State and the national spending average has widened from 63 percent as of 2005-06.
March 6, 2013
Yesterday brought a march on Albany by something called the “Educate NY Now campaign,” in which the union-backed Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) figures prominently. The demonstration served to bring attention to AQE’s latest statistical hobby horse — an “opportunity gap” created by the $8,601 difference in per-pupil spending among the wealthiest and poorest school districts in New York. Their solution: more money. Of course.
A nice corrective for the demonstrators’ rhetoric is provided today in this Post op-ed commentary by Carrie Remis, executive director of the Rochester-based Parent Power Project, and Allen Williams, president of the New York Center for Educational Justice. (more…)
June 26, 2012
The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) litigation of 1993-2006 established the principle that New York State is constitutionally obligated to ensure funding of a “sound, basic education” for pupils in New York City schools. Today, the state’s highest court cleared the way for a lawsuit claiming that funding levels for about a dozen of New York’s small city school districts doesn’t meet that requirement.
And so, here we go again.
May 18, 2012
The Citizens Budget Commission has posted some nifty charts breaking out the difference between New York State and the U.S. averages for different categories of public elementary and secondary school spending. One noteworthy data point: between 1999 and 2009, spending per pupil on employee benefits for instructional staff rose 169 percent in New York, compared to 100 percent nationally.
As noted in my recent Newsday op-ed on this topic, “the big bucks in K-12 education [in New York] are tied up in the comparatively high salaries and benefits of teachers” — not in administrative overhead, despite our large number of school districts.
April 5, 2012
The Charlotte Valley School District in Delaware County had a tough employment situation on their hands until just last week. Former building principal Edgar Whaley had been a focus of controversy — going back at least a year. But that’s all settled now, thanks to a secret, lucrative contract settlement passed by the school’s board of education late last week.
At a special meeting, the board of education approved a $328,000 contract settlement with the School Administrators Association of New York State, which resulted in Whaley’s resignation. The parties also agreed not to disclose the terms of the agreement.
November 4, 2011
New York doesn’t look so hot in the just-released 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) report cards in math and reading, designed to show “what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.”
Generally, the trending shows improvements (both in New York and nationwide) between 1992 and 2007. However, while schools have held the line nationally since 2007, New York has been falling off. Examining the 2011 math report card, we found:
- Twenty percent of fourth graders rank as below basic. That’s up from 15 percent in 2007, while nationally 18 percent are considered below basic, down from 19 percent in 2007;
October 28, 2011
Some leaders of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union received double-digit raises — despite a faltering economy, the Albany Times Union reports. But at least these union bosses aren’t paid with taxpayer money…
Oh, wait, union pres. Richard Iannuzzi, whose nearly $45,000 raise brought his base salary to more than $240,000, also collects a $102,000 taxpayer-funded pension (according to data available at SeeThroughNY). VP Kathleen Donahue collects more than $200,000 from NYSUT and a $60,000 taxpayer-funded pension.
September 23, 2011
Time to raise their taxes?
The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and its lobbying partner, the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), are holding news conferences around the state to complain about this year’s school aid cuts and about the state’s newly enacted local property tax cap. Yesterday’s NYSUT-AQE event in Albany featured an odd new twist on one of the groups’ favorite anti-cap arguments.
Today’s Albany Times Union offers this partial paraphrase of remarks by Martin Messner, president of the teachers’ union in the Schoharie School District, which was hit especially hard by Hurricane Irene:
Messner, who said he had to write down his words because he was exhausted from all the cleanup work after Tropical Storm Irene heavily damaged Schoharie, called the tax cap “mean-spirited” and said it will worsen the school budget season dramatically. He challenged any politician who supported the cap to come to Schoharie to see the destruction of virtually every business in town and more than 100 homes to see how many tax dollars would be gone.
September 7, 2011
Miss Crabtree lacked a master's?
The start of another school year also marks another automatic step up the salary scale for most of New York’s 225,000 public school teachers, typically producing a raise of at least 1 to 2 percent in addition to any base pay increase called for by their union contracts. Teachers can also move laterally, to better-paid “lanes” on the salary scale, by earning a master’s degree and additional post-graduate credits. But a new study by the Manhattan Institute’s Marcus Winters, confirming a wealth of other research, shows that the credentials valued under teacher contracts don’t equate to better teaching. (more…)
August 24, 2011
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Reporting today on New York City’s plan to lay off 780 school employees in October, an article in The New York Times explains: “The layoffs are a direct consequence of budget cuts to schools, which have occurred in each of the last four years, forcing principals to make tough decisions about what and whom to do without.”
In fact, while city agencies have endured a series of mid-year reductions, annual spending on city schools has not been cut over the past four years. The Department of Education (DoE) budget has increased every single year since fiscal 2008, rising a total of nearly 15 percent during that period. The chart at right tells the story for the past decade. Those pending layoffs aren’t occurring because the budget was cut, but because this year’s increase of 2.6 percent isn’t enough to cover rising costs (and, according to the mayor, because DC 37 refused to make concessions that might temporarily have saved their jobs).