Thursday, February 14

Budget cuts reflective of bigger problems, speakers say

While the response to the budget cuts started quietly and informally, it's now shaping up to be a loud, organized expression of years of frustration with the way the mayor and chancellor have managed the city's schools.

At the Borough Hall meeting last night, it was the repeated calls for transparency at the DOE and meaningful inclusion of parent opinion in decision-making that received the most applause.

City Council Member Bill DeBlasio recited a litany of circumstances when the public has found out that "policy decisions have been made that don't reflect the on-the-ground reality" and when DOE officials "didn't get approval from anybody" but went ahead with their plans nonetheless, including last year's school bus fiasco, the cell phone ban, increased testing, and the progress reports.

Describing Time Out From Testing's six-point plan for how the DOE can save money without hurting students, Martha Foote said the DOE should open its books to the public, creating greater transparency about who works at the DOE and how much they're paid.

The rest of the plan: eliminate the $80 million contract to create interim assessments; cut ARIS, the $80 million data tracking system the DOE bought from IBM; cut the $16.6 million contract to provide security for ARIS; stop hiring expensive consultants; and stop accepting no-bid contracts.

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