On Sunday we examined the minutes of the April 4 UFT Executive Board meeting to find the UFT claiming a big victory on charter school funding increasing in the state budget. This seemed strange; in the same summary of President Michael Mulgrew's report there is something else of note:
Now that we have funding we need to move the school system. The funding is supposed to get to the school. They got a much bigger budget than last year. The money is for the schools and it should be utilized in a way that moves our school system forward.
I see this story in light of the big picture of the corruption in New York City Schools that Chaz covered Sunday. He cited the situation at John Dewey that Sue Edelman of the Post has been on for a while as has Ed Notes. A principal had a bogus credit recovery program going and was mistreating staff. She was exonerated.The DOE has conceded that 36 schools had improper credit recovery going on. Can we trust these principals to spend additional funds properly?
Does anyone think that the power obsessed principals who run too many of our schools will use extra funding as Mugrew wants "in a way that moves our school system forward?"
There are a great number of decent principals out there who want to do what is best for their schools, their students and staff. I work for one now and have worked for some others in the past. They will spend extra funding properly I am confident.
However, there are too many others that see their schools as fiefdoms where they have been given license to do what they want virtually unchecked.
The best way to reign them in is to restore power to UFT Chapters to provide a real check on principal authority as it was before former President Weingarten bargained away many of our rights in 2002 and 2005. I don't see that happening in the near future so expect millions of dollars of the new state funding to be thrown away in a way that does not move the school system forward.
As for the Central Department of Education, I have very little confidence that they will do right by our schools and our kids. As this piece on the New York City Public School Contracts blog shows, the DOE is not overly concerned with even tax evasion when doling out money. Our old friend former Panel for Education Policy maverick Patrick Sullivan reports:
The biggest concern revealed in the document may be found in the Addenda (page 132). A provider of pre-K services, Church Avenue Day Care, did not file NYC corporate taxes for 2010-2014. While this transgression would normally disqualify a vendor (categorize them as"non-responsible"), the DOE didn't detect the issue because pre-K providers were put in place for 2014-15 academic year before background checks were completed. The DOE didn't pay the firm, instead the Fund for Public Schools, the DOE's private fundraising arm did. The documents now make clear the firm hasn't corrected the issue: "Unfortunately, the vendor did not resolve it's tax issues". But inexplicably, the DOE wants to reimburse the Fund for Public Schools anyway.
The beat goes on; not much changes at the DOE.
On a somewhat unrelated note, it's primary day. Don't forget to vote if you are a Democrat or Republican. The closed New York system (independents and new voters not welcome) makes a Hillary win likely. However, many of the kids I teach (diverse with a Latino majority) are feeling the Bern as are most of my friends. I'll be voting for Bernie if anyone cares to know. Hillary might win but the vast enthusiasm gap shows that it is not politics as usual.