Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"We Don't Spend Our Day Looking At Flow- Charts,"

But maybe Mike does. Big budget cuts for NYC schools this week, averaging $70,000 per school. An article from the nysun from New York's hardest working education writer, Elizabeth Green

In a letter to members this week, the president of the principals union, Ernest Logan, said he was "deeply troubled" by Mr. Bloomberg's budget proposal.
"So many costly initiatives and no-bid contracts have been rolled out in recent years," Mr. Logan wrote. "It simply makes no sense that despite all the progress we've made that schools will have to bear the brunt of this economic downturn."
In an e-mail message to Mr. Klein yesterday, another union leader, Brian De Vale, decried the cuts. Mr. De Vale, a principal at P.S. 257 in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, said he learned that he would have to make budget cuts by reading newspaper reports over the weekend. He said he was particularly enraged by a statement from Mr. Klein that after-school programs might be cut. His letter listed several multimillion-dollar expenses the Department of Education might cut from its central office budget instead, including ramped-up testing; a new data warehousing program called ARIS, and a process of reviewing schools through an outside contractor based in Britain. The ARIS system is costing the Department of Education $12.2 million this year, and the review process is costing $5.9 million, Mr. Cantor said. The new interim tests were to cost $80 million over five years.
To save money, Mr. Bloomberg's budget calls for scaling back the tests to four a semester from five. Mr. Klein hails all three programs as innovations that put New York City schools ahead of the country in terms of their ability to individualize teaching. In an interview yesterday, Mr. De Vale, whose school received an A grade on its progress report, said the emphasis on data did not match his priorities. "We don't spend our day looking at flow- charts," he said. "My priority is keeping kids off the street." The criticisms come a week after Mr. Klein released a survey showing wide approval among principals for the programs Mr. De Vale disparaged.
The survey was given anonymously, and about 70% of principals responded.
Mr. De Vale said the results were distorted because many principals were not under the impression that their answers were actually anonymous. "This is a climate of fear," he said. "Principals don't speak the truth." A historian of the New York City public schools, Diane Ravitch, reached a similar conclusion after giving a speech to a group of more than 500 principals on Saturday. She said the principals applauded loudly when she criticized Mr. Bloomberg's education record. Puzzled, she asked some principals afterward why the survey results had been so positive.
"They said, 'Everybody is afraid to say that they're dissatisfied,'" Ms. R


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