Tuesday, November 20

More funds going to lower class size, highest-need kids in final Contract for Excellence

After a long delay, news about the Contracts for Excellence has finally come down from Albany — and the verdict is good for advocates who pushed the state to maintain attention on small claze size and other goals of the original court case behind the new money. In the revised plan, the state required the DOE to shift $45 million to the highest-need schools, increase the funds aimed at class size reduction, and cut out the plan to spend $13 million in state aid on standardized testing. The new spending begins now, with the Post reporting that the DOE will hire 1,300 more teachers to reduce class size.

The chancellor said in a press conference yesterday that the new plan is "stronger and better," but he probably isn't thrilled about the Times headline above his quote: "City Bows to State on a School Improvement Plan." Still, as the Sun notes, the revisions are unlikely to change the main thrusts of the DOE's reforms, but at least the state has signaled that it's paying attention to what the DOE is doing and won't rubber stamp just any policy the DOE devises.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity and the Alliance for Quality Education, which brought the original case to court, released a positive statement yesterday, with CFE Executive Director Geri Palast saying, "“After 13 years of CFE litigation, Governor Spitzer broke the Albany gridlock on school finance reform with the Contract for Excellence (also CFE) initiative that drives school aid to districts based on need, not politics, and makes clear that new money must be spent on high-needs students in low-performing school and on strategies proven to boost student achievement."

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