Sound Basic Education? NYSED – Show Your Work!

With regard to Common Core, I have heard relentlessly over and over and over from teachers, administrators and others courageous enough to admit that “We’re building the plane while flying it!”

How many of us have heard this phrase in presentations about the need for schools to move more quickly toward an uncertain and unknowable future?

Chiacgo Teacher Union Prez Karen Lewis doesn’t mince words when she boldly asserts that the plane is being built on the fly and that “we don’t know what will happen next.”

This is not comforting to me. And you?

Last year, I realized that my district, like many others, is likely to experience fiscal insolvency in just a few years.

Most districts survived last year with the tax cap by spending down reserves at a fiscally irresponsible rate just in order to keep the tax levy within the tax cap. But that’s not going to be possible as we move forward.

Districts are facing a host of challenges: soaring pension and health care costs, a 2 percent tax cap, cuts in state aid and what some say is an unfair aid distribution formula.

What has not been said, is the cost associated with Common Core, PARCC tests and the fees schools will accrue above and beyond existing challenges. What has also not been said, is that budgets will be especially tight particularly in those districts who are forced to participate in RTT, for the funds, at the outset who are then mandated to use NYSEDs required service dashboard portal that feeds into InBloom. NYSED glosses over the fact that the dashboard and use of InBloom is for a fee, once the initial funding runs out. Thats right, read the fine print.

A recent study by the Alliance for Quality Education shows that New York’s wealthiest school districts spend $8,600 more per student than the poorest ones.

Dr. Rick Timbs of the Statewide School Finance Consortium says state aid cuts have done the most damage.

While the formula for state aid to school districts needs changing, it’s not enough to say that you understand the problem, and it’s not enough to write a letter to the governor. Our senior senators need to do their jobs. They need to demand, not ask, that the formula for school aid be changed. And they need to be held accountable for getting results.

In a nutshell, advocates are asking for more aid for less wealthy upstate school districts claiming that there is disparate aid between the “have and have nots.”

The “haves” in this scenario, are the wealthy districts on Long Island, where a politically powerful bloc of Republican senators has protected the interests of their own school districts for years.

“It’s always been an upstate-downstate type thing. The “have nots” are everyone else. It is argued that LI has more influential people representing them than the Hudson Valley, for instance.

Have post code envy yet?

Today the Legislature has several distribution methodologies to pick from, including the foundation aid formula, which was created in response to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. But a “shares agreement” is also sometimes used.

Which brings me to the CFE lawsuit. In the lawsuit filed by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc., on behalf of New York City public schoolchildren, CFE charged that New York State underfunded the New York City public schools, and as a result, denied city students their constitutional right to a sound basic education. New York State argued that an 8th grade education was sufficient, while the Campaign for Fiscal Equity argued for a higher standard, it is significant to note.

A “sound basic education” was defined as “the basic literacy, calculating, and verbal skills necessary to enable children to eventually function productively as civic participants capable of voting and serving on a jury.”

Under New York State Education law §3202, all people over the age of five and under the age of twenty-one who have not received a high school diploma have the right to attend the public schools in their district at no cost. The New York State Constitution also provides that all students are entitled to a sound, basic education.

Constitutional challenges may be raised against the local board of education and the commissioner of education and state board of education when there is an appeal from a local board decision. The education clause, by its very language, guarantees a state system of public education. The state may delegate the operation of schools to local school districts, but districts act as an instrumentality of the state in fulfilling the state’s obligation for assuring a thorough and efficient system of public education.The fact that the state has delegated authority to local districts does not relieve it from its constitutional mandate to assure that every student receives a sound basic education. The state may, therefore, be held responsible for constitutional violations of the same at the district level.

Although authors of the Core standards purport to provide students with disabilities the support they need while demanding that they reach their potential, the USDE and PARCC and Smarter Balance consortiums have been limiting these accommodations and/or issuing disclaimers against those students who suffer a disability and need them.

Are they infringing on 504/IEP/ADA/IDEA rights promulgated by the federal govt?

Do the Core standards undermine these inherent federally protected rights?

How are districts going to provide each and every student their right to a “sound basic education” given the fiscal and amendments to USDE developing as a direct result of implementation of Common Core?

The impact core standards and core aligned tests are having on students, especially special education students and/or those with learning disability are very disturbing.

Which begs the question, given Common Core amounts to a curriculum that has never been field tested nor piloted and there are no studies that have been done with integrity that demonstrate that it is developmentally appropriate or that students will show results in the form of success given this is nothing more than a massive experiment, does Core amount to a “sound basic education” as Constitutionally required in this first instance?

If NYSED argues yes, I would have to ask ……how? The evidence doesn’t support that it does.

Like teachers have taught students for decades, NYSED, please show us your work so we can see for ourselves that you truly understand.

See References:


One thought on “Sound Basic Education? NYSED – Show Your Work!

  1. Reblogged this on Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY and commented:

    An earlier piece I wrote about CFE and Sound basic education updated with links to reflect the NYSER v NYSED, Cuomo Regents suit.

    Hudson Valley Parent Educator Initiative is one of the co-Plaintiffs in this action.
    New Yorkers for Students’ Educational Rights (NYSER)
    ​is a statewide coalition of parents, concerned citizens and community groups, advocacy organizations, and school boards that seeks to ensure the opportunity for a sound basic education for all students attending public schools in New York State through policy analysis, advocacy, and legal action.

    Amended Complaint:

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