The Executive Budget proposal for education funding for next year that Governor Kathy Hochul released last week was extremely disappointing. It includes a minimal 2.1% increase ($507 million) in foundation aid (which provides core operation aid for all school districts), compared with the $2.7 billion that was added last year. This year’s small increase does not keep up with inflation. It also fails to allow school districts to continue to make up for pandemic learning loss, as federal aid is being phased out. Finally, her proposal calls for reducing the current save harmless provision, a measure that ensures districts will receive at least as much funding as they did the previous year, even if their school population has declined in a way that will devastate the budgets of many small and rural schools that have had big population losses.
In his latest column, the Center's Associate Director, Jonathan Collins, discusses how Edtech companies can add paid advisory board seats for teachers, helping teachers earn more and improving the quality of technology.
The Center for Educational Equity, along with the Education Law Center, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Center for Youth Law and Education Law prepared an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiffs in Branford, et al v. State of Maryland in their case regarding students' right under the state constitution to an adequate education. The case is with the Appellate division after a judge recently ruled that Maryland is only obligated to provide students with a "basic" education, bucking a trend in which many states recognize students' right to an education that provides them with the skills necessary to pursue a livelihood, and engage in civic participation by voting and serving on a jury.
Here’s a New Year’s resolution that is within reach: let the Hasidic leaders who are denying educational opportunities to tens of thousands of students attending Hasidic schools in New York State stop blocking these children’s right, guaranteed by the state Constitution, to the opportunity for a sound basic education.
For more than a decade, leaders of the Hasidic community have been engaged in a protracted struggle to deny these children a meaningful opportunity to learn, in addition to their religious studies, basic English, social studies, civics, science and math that would allow them to earn a decent living and be prepared to be knowledgeable citizens.
In this recent article, the Center's founder and Executive Director, Michael Rebell, discusses the headwinds associated with civic learning assessments.
“It is really challenging to do an accurate, full-scope assessment of civic preparation.... It’s not all skills that you can test with a good paper-and-pencil test—you need to test dispositions, experiences, skills like media literacy — and it takes a lot of creativity to figure out a fair, valid way to do that.”
Jessica Wolff, the Center's Director of Policy and Research, makes a distinction between short-response tests and authentic assessments: “For naturalization tests, the conclusion that they lead to is that you just need to know some facts about how the government runs and the history of the country in order to be an effective civic participant.... Civic-seal projects assume and help to develop a much more extensive understanding of what it really takes to be an effective #civic participant, the full set of skills and dispositions and knowledge and behaviors. Within that, you also begin to create these continuums for the kinds of behaviors that you want to see in later adulthood but that you can see authentic instances of in middle school and high school-aged people.”
Actions by policymakers earlier this month raised - and then dashed - the hopes and aspirations of New York City students and families. On November 13, the State Board of Regents released the report of its Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures. That document calls for rigorous but flexible new approaches to diploma and graduation requirements, emphasizing performance assessments, and adding real-world writing skills, civic readiness, media literacy, financial literacy, and performing arts, among other things, to existing diploma requirements. The report stresses that, for these new approaches to be fully and equitably realized, “adequate funding must be provided to local school districts to implement these important shifts” (p. 33.)
Three days later, however, Mayor Eric Adams announced that the City’s deteriorating financial circumstances necessitated mid-year budget cuts for the New York City Public Schools totaling $547 million this fiscal year and $600 million next year. The cuts are expected to force immediate reductions in the Summer Rising program for middle school students, eliminate thousands of universal prekindergarten slots, and afford less funding for community schools, as well as the City’s highly successful Civics for All program.
The Center for Educational Equity is excited to announce that been we've selected to join the inaugural cohort of the Responsible Technology Youth Power Fund. We are grateful to RTYPF for funding us to advance our partnership with DemocracyReady NY youth members to promote civic learning and media literacy within the context of the responsible tech movement.