I'm not going to say there isn't some truth to the argument that the opt-out movement has many of its roots in the white suburbs... but it's not the whole truth. In New Jersey, according to SOSNJ, black students, who make up 15.3% of all Grade 3 through 11 students, are 17.0% of all students who didn't test -- not a big difference (also see Bruce Baker's post about socio-economic status and opting-out).
But let's set that aside and get to the meat of the sandwich:
Really? The tests are "helping us reach equality in education"? Please, tell us more:
First of all, Michael Rebell, who led the CFE lawsuits, did indeed say that tests were helpful in making the case for adequate funding. That makes sense; you need some sort of academic measure if you're going to show that districts need a base level of funding if they are to achieve a certain level of educational achievement. But here's the thing:
New York State continues to have "separate and unequal funding" years after the courts, partially on the basis of test scores, demanded otherwise -- but StudentsFirstNY and NYCAN apparently haven't noticed!
Let's have Bruce Baker tell the tale:
The 2007 foundation aid formula was adopted by the state specifically to achieve compliance with the high court’s order in Campaign for Fiscal Equity. The state argued that this new formula was built on sound empirical analysis of the spending behavior of districts that achieved adequate outcomes on state assessments. The state argued that the foundation formula applied this evidence, coupled with additional evidence-based adjustments to address student needs and regional cost variation, in order to identify a specific target level of per pupil spending for each district statewide, which would provide comparable opportunities to achieve adequate educational outcomes. The state determined the share of that target funding to be raised through local tax revenues and estimated the amount to be paid by the state toward achieving each districts’ sound basic funding target.
It's true. The New York foundation aid formula -- which admittedly has plenty of problems (if you want to get into the weeds, read this by Baker -- it's quite eye-opening) -- is still the law of the land. It is what the state itself says schools need to provide adequate educational opportunity. It was set to be phased in over four years. And yet it has never been fully funded, as the Alliance for Quality Education notes when commenting on this year's budget:Then, they simply failed to fund it.
And so it goes in New York State: Angry Andy Cuomo refuses to even consider the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy (he wouldn't even if they begged him -- oh, wait...) while simultaneously denying schools the money the state itself says they need to educate their students.The total aid increase of $1.35 billion is $400 million less than the 2008 record increase of $1.7 billion. The struggle for educational equity is focused on ensuring that high needs schools get enough funding which means Foundation Aid. AQE called for $1.47 billion in Foundation Aid, the Board of Regents called for $1.3 billion and the Assembly’s budget proposal was for $1.1 billion. But the enacted budget included only $627 million in Foundation Aid. To the credit of the Assembly Majority, of the Foundation Aid delivered a higher proportion than usual to high need districts.Unfortunately the enacted budget included no multi-year phase-in of the full $4.4 billion in Foundation Aid that is owed to schools. The Assembly budget proposed a four-year phase in of full foundation aid, but both the Senate the Governor rejected such a plan. Now we must demand that the remaining $3.9 billion is paid over the next three years. [emphasis mine]
Now, keep in mind that StudentsFirstNY lauds the "incredible value these exams provide for helping us reach equality in education." Surely, they must be furious with Cuomo for denying the funding the state itself says is needed for the schools that serve New York's neediest children!
Surely, they must have felt betrayed by Cuomo when he, once again, slighted schools in favor of low taxes for the one percenters!
Surely, after explicitly citing the use of test scores in the CFE lawsuits, SFNY must be pounding the table, demanding that Cuomo come through with adequate and equitable funding for the Empire State's schools!
And there it is: so long as there's "choice," screwing over New York's neediest students is just fine with StudentsFirstNY.
I have to wonder: does StudentsFirstNY even know that New York's schools have been chronically underfunded according to the law the state itself passed? Does NYCAN understand that New York, despite spending an overall high amount per student, does a lousy job distributing more of those funds to districts with high needs?
Do they even care?
It's fine to talk about using tests as a tool to bring equity to school funding. Of course, we could have all the data we need for that purpose with far less intrusion and far less cost... but these fine reformy folks aren't ready to hear about that, are they? So I'll save that argument for another day and merely conclude by pointing out this:
It is utterly cynical to complain about opting-out under the guise of caring about school fiscal equity while simultaneously praising a highly inequitable state budget.
I know SFNY is funded by the wealthiest of the wealthy, and will pretty much defend any horrible policy so as long charter schools get a little more scratch. But even I thought there was a limit to their hypocrisy.
Fool me once...
Angry Andy says: "Thanks, StudentFirstNY!
I couldn't screw over NY's neediest schools without you!"
* Why does Politico New York even have "sponsored posts"? I mean, I can understand why newspapers or magazines have "sponsored content," even if it's a little ethically shady: the buyers are paying to have their message distributed.
But why do that on an internet platform? I mean, anyone can host a website, right? Why not just buy ads on PNY and have them link to your own servers? Why does the content have to be on Politico's server, wrapped in Politico's branding, accompanied by Politico's graphics and links to more Politico content?
Unless the point is to make a reader think the content had gone through Politico's editorial process. But no, that couldn't possibly be the reason...