NYC Educator covered a bit of that media hysteria in this post here.
But the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal puts that hysteria into some perspective:
New York state warned city officials Tuesday that they are just days away from losing nearly $60 million in federal funds that hinge on an agreement with the teachers union to use test scores in evaluations.
State officials said they would enforce a Dec. 31 deadline for school districts to strike deals with teachers unions over new evaluation plans that count student improvement on state tests for at least 20% of a teacher's score. Ten districts are eligible for about $105 million in federal education funds, but only two—Rochester and Syracuse—have submitted evidence that they've made the required changes.
New York City stands to lose about $58.6 million in federal funds slated for 44 low-performing schools if the deadline passes with no deal. The city and the United Federation of Teachers union agreed in theory last summer to implement a new evaluation system at those schools, but the details are still being negotiated.
The federal funds amount to only about 0.2% of the roughly $20 billion annual schools operating budget.
That's right - all of this fuss over 0.2% of the annual operating budget.
Hell, that's just a little bit more money than former NYCDOE official Judith Hederman helped some consulting firm steal from the DOE ($34 million.)
It's only a couple of months operating budget for the CityTime project that Bloomberg allowed to balloon from $63 million to over $700 million - much of which was stolen by crooks in what the US Attorney called one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated against NYC taxpayers, a project that was "corrupt to the core."
And it's a little over 10% of what Bloomberg is spending this year alone to upgrade the computer systems in the schools so that computerized tests can be used to grade teachers starting in 2014.
That allocation stands at $550 million. How much is being stolen from that fund by the outside consultants? We don't know because Bloomberg has labeled this as part of capital improvements and doesn't have to give any details on how the money is being spent.
But you can be sure that if former DOE computer consultant Willard Lanham stole $3.4 million from the city, former DOE official Judith Hederman helped steal $34 million from the city, and the CityTime crooks stole $700 million, much of the $550 million Bloomberg is spending on computer consultants and upgrades is being stolen.
And let's not forget the $36 million dollars Bloomberg spent on the NYCHA computer system that doesn't work, or the $15 million he spent on GPS systems for the FDNY and the Sanitation Department that also don't work, or the $55 million he spent on the SESIS computer prgoram that also doesn't work, or the millions they fail to recoup to city taxpayers in Medicaid costs for special education services, or...
Well, you get the point.
This money for the turnaround schools is peanuts to Bloomberg and the DOE.
Compared to the money they already waste, it's a drop in the bucket that will barely be noticed.
Except by the test prep companies and online education providers, of course, who stand to make millions from the testing and test prep this money will fund.
And that's the last point I want to hit on here - just what the money CAN and CANNOT be used for.
It CAN be used for tests, data tracking systems, test prep, curriculum consultants, and online education materials related to testing.
Ed Notes points out today what it CANNOT be used for:
We should remember what this money CANNOT be used to do. It CANNOT be used to increase the number of teachers in order to reduce class size. It CANNOT be used to hire more Guidance Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists and other support workers that our students so desperately need. It CANNOT be used to buy new, badly needed textbooks. It CANNOT be used to buy classroom supplies, such as paper or ink, toner or stencil rolls for duplicating machines.
The best thing that could happen is the city LOSES this money, LOSES the harmful education policies like ENDLESS TEST PREP and new city tests added to every subject in every grade in order to evaluate teachers that this money will fund.
Education officials and politicians are using the Shock Doctrine here to gin up a phony crisis that absolutely has to be solved by December 31, 2011 or the world will end.
I hope the UFT sticks to its guns and refuses to agree to a new evaluation system in these 44 schools that will eventually be implemented in every school that will do more harm than good.
As the Wall Street Journal pointed out in its evaluation article:
Unions and statisticians have argued that evaluations have large margins of error—especially for new teachers with only a few years of test scores to analyze. Others worry that some teachers will cheat on behalf of students if pay or layoffs are tied to scores, while other critics say it will encourage teachers to spend more time on test preparations and less on creative thinking.
Indeed, that is EXACTLY some of the problems that will be ushered in with this new system.