New York Times has an interesting article about how NY is in trouble and might loose it’s race to the top funding
New York is one of three states on the federal government’s watch list because it has not yet complied with the goals it set when applying for financial assistance through the federal Race to the Top program.
News, data and conversation about education in New York.
In a strongly worded statement on Monday, the education secretary, Arne Duncan, said that despite “significant progress,” New York had “hit a roadblock” in recent months, failing to put in place a planned database to track student records across school districts and failing to fulfill a promise to adopt a system to evaluate the work of teachers and principals.
The state has not fallen as far behind as Hawaii, which was warned last month that it risked losing its federal grant over delays in adopting a teacher evaluation system. But New York’s progress, along with that of Florida, has been slow enough to raise concerns.
“New York has a chance to be a national leader, or a laggard, and we are only interested in supporting real courage and bold leadership,” Mr. Duncan said. “Backtracking on reform commitments could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Through the Race to the Top program, New York has received about $700 million, at least half of which was to go directly to school districts.
Keeping track of how the state plans to spend its share of the financing has been a challenge, though. According to the federal government’s assessment, the first it has released since New York entered the program in August 2010, the complexities of reviewing and approving budgets and expenditures “presented a formidable task.”
One of the problems is purely logistical. The state has 713 school districts, regional education consortiums and charter schools that have signed up for the program, and every one of them has to adopt all of the changes promised by the state.
The most challenging is the development of the evaluation system, which depends on agreements between individual districts and their teachers’ unions. That task has already jeopardized a smaller pot of federal money meant to help struggling schools.
The state said it was working to fix the problems. It has grouped districts that serve similar student populations under networks, offering training to help their leaders address specific challenges, and it has rolled out an online help desk of sorts, listing answers for commonly asked questions district officials might have over the many requirements of the program.
The state’s education commissioner, John B. King Jr., said in a statement that the federal assessment was “disappointing, but not discouraging.”
“We have to get this done, and we will,” Dr. King said.
Last week, Dr. King suspended about $100 million in federal grants to failing schools in New York City and in nine other school districts to pressure them to reach an agreement with union officials on an evaluation system that could serve as a model statewide. On Monday, outside a Board of Regents meeting in Albany, protesters convened to criticize Dr. King’s decision. The gathering was notable not because of its size — about 20 people attended — but because it brought together school officials and representatives of teachers’ unions, the two sides whose disagreements have been blamed for the suspension of the grants.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, the president of the state’s teachers’ union, got things started by calling Dr. King a “bully.” The Albany schools superintendent, Raymond Colucciello, took a more pragmatic approach, warning that 13 teachers would get layoff notices if the grant money did not resume.
Negotiations between New York City officials and the United Federation of Teachers collapsed two days before Dec. 31, the deadline for the 10 districts receiving the federal grants to have committed to an evaluation system. The city’s schools chancellor, Dennis M. Walcott, said last week that there seemed to be no chance for a resolution. On Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo rejected the union’s call to intervene.
“I’m not going to go between Mayor Bloomberg and the U.F.T.,” Mr. Cuomo told the listeners of Talk 1300 AM. He also said he would not play any role in helping broker the compromises needed for the statewide evaluation systems.
“I can’t negotiate 700 union contracts,” Mr. Cuomo said.