Back in 2008, ex-Chancellor Joel Klein and his flunkies at Tweed come up with a program to encourage principals to hire "cheaper teachers" and force them to put the school's budget first and their children last. This program is known as the "fair student funding formula" and required the school to take on the actual salary of their teachers in the school's budget.
The DOE's "fair student funding formula" replaces the past teacher budget process that treated teachers as a unit rather than their actual salaries. Under the previous teacher budget process, schools competed with each other for the "best teachers", who, for the most part had high salaries. Therefore, it was quite common to see the good schools gobble up the "best teachers", while the struggling schools saw a turnstile of "newbie teachers" come and go. The reason was that the smart principals knew how to sell their schools to attract the "best teachers". For these principals it was and always will be their ,school's students first. However, the "fair student funding formula" changed all that. The actual teacher salaries were now assigned to the school's budget and if a school wanted to hire a teacher for $20,000 above the salary that a teacher who left the school had, the school's budget is now charged for the $20,000 for the cost of the teacher. The result is that principals must choose between what is best for the school's students or what is best for the school's budget? Unfortunately, many principals choose the budget.
While the DOE and UFT claim the "fair student funding formula" has a "hold harmless provision" the reality is very different. According to the DOE and UFT, the salary of an experienced teacher is averaged into the existing staff and counts for any upward increase in salary due to steps, differentials, and longevity. However, the school, is still responsible for the additional $20,000 in the teacher's salary. Therefore, the Principal is put in a vise and must chose between their budget and the children the school serves.
It takes a truly great Principal to hire the "best teachers" and these great principals have one thing in common, they care about their students and will do what it takes even if the "fair student funding formula" makes it painful to their budget.
Rich Gibson on Ken Burns' Vietnam
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