Angry Andy’s Failing Schools & the Finger of Blame

Posted on February 27, 2015



NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office has released a report in which it identifies what it refers to in bold type on the cover as “Failing Schools.”

Report here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/NYSFailingSchoolsReport.pdf

Presumably, these are the very schools on which Angy Andy would like to impose death penalties – or so he has opined in the past.

The report identifies 17 districts in particular that are home to failing schools. The point of the report is to assert that the incompetent bureaucrats, high paid administrators and lazy teachers in these schools simply aren’t getting the job done and must be punished/relieved of their duties. Angry Andy has repeatedly vociferously asserted that he and his less rabid predecessors have poured obscene sums of funding into these districts for decades. Thus – it’s their fault – certainly not his, for why they stink!

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I have addressed over and over again on this blog the plight of high need, specifically small city school districts under Governor Cuomo.

  1. On how New York State crafted a low-ball estimate of what districts needed to achieve adequate outcomes and then still completely failed to fund it.
  2. On how New York State maintains one of the least equitable state school finance systems in the nation.
  3. On how New York State’s systemic, persistent underfunding of high need districts has led to significant increases of numbers of children attending school with excessively large class sizes.
  4. On how New York State officials crafted a completely bogus, racially and economically disparate school classification scheme in order to justify intervening in the very schools they have most deprived over time.

I have also written reports on New York State’s underfunding of the school finance formula – a formula adopted to comply with prior court order in CFE v. State.

  1. Statewide Policy Brief with NYC Supplement: BBaker.NYPolicyBrief_NYC
  2. 50 Biggest Funding Gaps Supplement: 50 Biggest Aid Gaps 2013-14_15_FINAL

Among my reports is one in which I identified the 50 districts with the biggest state aid shortfalls with respect to what the state itself says these districts require for providing a sound basic (constitutional standard) education.  Districts across NY state have funding gaps for a variety of reasons, but I have shown in the past that it is generally districts with greater needs – high poverty concentrations & more children with limited English language proficiency, as well as more minority children – which tend to have larger funding gaps.

I have also pointed out very recently on this blog that some high need upstate cities in NY have had persistently inequitable/inadequate funding for decades, including this one from Angry Andy’s hit list.

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Personally, even I was shocked to see the relationship between my 50 most underfunded districts list and Angry Andy’s 17 districts that suck.

NY State has over 650 school districts, many of which may be showing relatively low test scores for a variety of reasons, including & especially due to serving high concentrations of needy students.

Based on my updated 2015 runs (final adopted budget) of 50 biggest state aid shortfalls, 12 of Angry Andy’s sucky 17 had among the 50 largest state aid shortfalls.

Yeah… that’s right… 12 of 17 had really big funding shortfalls.

5 of the top 10 biggest funding shortfall districts are on Angry Andy’s list. Yeah.. the list of schools that have supposedly been subjected to obscene amounts of support and additional funding, but due only to their own ineptitude, have failed.

So how big are those funding shortfalls? How much state aid is supposed to be allocated to these districts to provide a sound basic education? Here are a few cuts at the numbers. First, here are the failing 17, by their state aid gap rank for 2014 and 2015. Included also are their state aid gaps per Aidable Foundation Pupil Unit. Note that their gaps per actual warm body – enrolled pupil – are larger (TAFPU includes some additional “weighted” pupils).

But even with this conservative figure, Hempstead’s gap – the amount of state aid they are not getting with respect to their calculated target – is over $6,000 per pupil. Yes – OVER $6,000 PER PUPIL!  (where’s that NY lottery guy when you need him?). Note that the apparent reduction in gaps from 2014 to 2015 occurs due to a manipulation by the state of funding targets and required local contributions – with a smaller share of that reduction actually coming from new state aid.

Slide2All of these are high need districts, having Pupil Need Index values well above 1.5.

Here’s what it looks like in graph form, with local contribution, actual state aid and the gap identified.

Slide1In some cases, the actual state aid received is not a whole lot more than the gap. All of Angry Andy’s failing districts have substantial shortfalls from the funding targets.  Funding targets that were specifically identified as funding needed to achieve desired outcome levels.

Notably, as I’ve explained in the past – the outcome levels used for determining those funding targets were much lower than the outcome levels expected under the state’s current testing and accountability system.

Even then, the state’s approach to estimating the cost of achieving those (much lower) outcomes results in a low-ball manipulated number. (I actually have a book chapter that explains this as an exemplar of classic school finance manipulation)

So, where should that finger of blame point here? 

Or is this just how things work these days – slash the funding of the highest need districts – call them failing – close their schools – give their property and their teacher’s jobs to someone else – and claim victory – leaving others, years down the line to clean up your mess?

Angry Andy – this is your mess. Now do the right thing and fix it!

 

 

Disclaimer: Yes, I spent all day Monday this week testifying at trial about the funding shortfalls for New York State districts, specifically Small City districts with a pending lawsuit against the state. My opinions are the same here as they were there, and have been for several years as reflected in numerous published sources. That’s because my opinions here merely reflect the factual status of the state school finance system in New York, as represented by the state’s own formula calculations and data.

 

 

 

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