Friday, April 25, 2014
How The DOE Budgeting Process Forces Principals To Cut Corners At The Expense Of Their Students.
Under the Bloomberg Administration there were many changes to the decades old Board of Education. Most of them bad. First it became the Department of Education, then the Superintendent staff was replaced by the useless and money sucking "Children First Networks" (CFN) effectively excluding parents since many of the CFN's were located in different Boroughs than their child's school. The administrative quality of school leadership saw a sharp decline as the Bloomberg administration tried to use a "corporate model" that saw non-educators take charge of the DOE at Tweed. The DOE experienced large increases in hiring accountability managers, lawyers and no-bid high priced consultant contracts. All this took away money that could have went to the schools and the students. Additionally, under Michael Bloomberg's tenure approximately 163 schools closed, including most of the large comprehensive high schools and the DOE, through the "Leadership Academy" was giving principal positions to people with little or no classroom experience for the newly created small schools. However, the worst was the new DOE budgeting process that dumped the salaries of staff on the schools and combined with the "fair student funding" forced principals to seriously consider salary when hiring teachers. The result was a younger, cheaper, and inexperienced staff which is what Mayor Bloomberg was hoping for but didn't result in better academic outcomes for the students but then it never was about he students.
In the last term of Michael Bloomberg's tenure class sizes rose, schools closed, and veteran teachers found themselves out of their classrooms with little hope of landing a new one because of age and salary. Combine that with the "Leadership Academy Principals" who are encouraged by their CFN's to hire "newbie teachers", and the demonetization of veteran teachers the ATR pool exploded and is 2,000+ strong. Has this helped student academic achievement? The answer is no. In fact the income/racial academic achievement gap actually widened over the Bloomberg years.
Why hasn't student academic achievement improved? Let me count the ways. Under the DOE budgeting process here are just some of the ways principals have cut corners and saved money but hurt student academic achievement in the process.
First, the principals are hiring the "cheapest" and not the "best teachers" for their students due to DOE budget restrictions.
Second, class sizes are getting larger as principals are "packing students in" to save on teacher salaries.
Third, Science courses have been and are being reduced from five instructional days, with lab to four instructional days weekly.
Fourth, Advanced Placement courses are being reduced from double periods to single periods. How many students will get college credit with that handicap?
Fifth, inclusion or co-teaching classes not having a second teacher in the room. In many schools the weekly rotating ATR becomes the second teacher in these classes.
Sixth, teachers teaching outside their subject area. Very common in Science, especially Earth Science.
Seventh, employing "F" status people to fill teaching positions.
Finally, the widespread use of teaching a "sixth period" tires out teachers since the DOE pays for the "sixth period" Principals push teachers to take the extra period.
What is the solution for Principals to do "the right thing" for their students? Simple, eliminate the "fair student funding" and make teacher salaries as units and coming from DOE Central. This will eliminate many of the "shortcuts" that Principals must do to save on their budget and help improve student academic achievement. Its "children first"...right?