Mar 29, 2009

The Haves And The Have Nots: The Strange and Unexplained In Rhee's DC Schools Budget

4/8/08 quote from Chancellor Rhee's City Council testimony "Sixty of our schools are either in corrective action or restructuring status for failure to consistently meet AYP. The only humane response to such a number includes a significant financial investment to find out what is going wrong in these schools, and correct it. By adding (increased aid) 4 million to create a school improvement cluster and 7 million increase to support reconstituted schools FY 09 funding will help us identify and correct problems that are blocking student achievement in these schools."

On Saturday, the WaPo featured a story- "Study Questions Disparities in Funding Among Some Schools" by reporter Bill Turque." This article was based on a study of 112 DC public schools conducted by Mary Levy, Education Finance Specialist from the Wash. Lawyers Comm. on Civil Rights. Turque's story featured several elementary schools and middle schools to make the illustrations of financial disparities that existed in DC schools '08-09 budget. Shaw middle school at Garnett Patterson received $12, 383 in tax dollars for each of its 257 students while Hart middle school only received $7,128 per pupil for its 619 students. It was noted that both schools have high concentrations of children from low-income families.Typically funding is provided to DC schools based on a per pupil rate between $8,700 and $10,000. Of course some of the funds go to the central office functions and the rest typically get distributed to local schools.

What is significant about Levy's study which by the way came out at the end of last school year is that it revealed that "gaps in support grew substantially over last year.... 31 schools ended up with less money than they were due." It was reported that this funding disparity is due to a failure to adhere to a new funding formula initiated by Rhee at the end of last school year which promised art teachers, librarians, school social workers, etc.

Unfortunately in schools where there are high needs, financial inequities such as those noted in the article adversely impact student achievement. Without the needed funding, schools like Hart faced teacher and staff shortages and over sized classrooms amongst a host of other ills. Of course the ripple effect as we have read about in the news and watched on television are school-wide safety issues, student discipline problems, students being taught by uncertified substitutes, and assaults on teachers. The news about financial disparities is too little too late for this school year. Noah Wepman, DC Schools CFO promises us that these anomalies will now be corrected in the proposed school budget before next school year. You tell me what is wrong with this picture. (Posted by The Washington Teacher). Story courtesy of www.washingtonpost.com , picture courtesy of flicker.com.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shaw and Hart; Moten and Patterson (Or: How a funding algorithm lost its way in Ward 8):

So, the chancellor says that Shaw got more funds than Hart because of Shaw’s autism program. Let’s see if that’s holds up with Moten and Patterson.

In late October of this school year, Shaw had 13 autistic children and Hart had none, but while Shaw had one (1) ED child, Hart had 24 ED students.

Maybe someone can tell us if that was a factor in the disturbances several months ago.

The Shaw autism explanation falls apart when looking at the Moten – Patterson comparison. Both schools have almost identical enrollment numbers, around 450. Moten, the better funded school, has no autistic students, while Patterson, which received $2269 less per pupil than Moten, has seven (7).

There must be a hidden algorithm. If the autistic children at Patterson received the same level of service as those at Shaw, the rest of the children had to share a much smaller pot of money.

So, why didn’t the chancellor respond to reports of inequitable funding at Hart and Patterson in September or October?

Could the real reason be that Shaw was going to be the model restructured middle school and that the chancellor’s money people did know what they were doing and were just doing exactly as they were told?

The total Special Education Population in October was:
Shaw: 82
Hart: 133

The numbers of sped students requiring specialized services are those whose IEP's include:

Autism, Emotional Disturbance, Mental Retardation, Hearing, Speech/Language, and Visual and sometimes other categories.The totals for those categories are:

Shaw: 33
Hart: 46

The numbers and categories at Moten and Patterson challenge the chancellor's explanation.

The numbers of sped receiving those same specialized services at Moten and Patterson are:

Moten: 17 (total sped: 34)
Patterson: 23 (total sped: 49)

Despite equal enrollment numbers, a larger sped population, a larger number of specialized needs students than Moten, and seven autistic students to Moten’s none (zero), Patterson got $2269 less per student. If one attempts a very rough comparison between Patterson and Shaw (since Shaw was proposed as the standard for autistic students), the gap more than doubles to $5816.

Anonymous said...

Rhee knows exactly what she doing playing politics with the lives of African American children and teachers. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and do your homework. Her lies and justifications are coming apart faster than Humpty Dumpty.

Macy said...

Too bad this article was on B2 in Saturday's paper. They should have put it on page A1 in the Sunday edition.

I am wondering what took so long for the Post to cover this story. The Levy report came out quite awhile ago.

Anonymous said...

Bill Turque is right on the money. I am glad he is there to cover the stories that so many won't cover about Rhee and DC Schools. Sounds like Rhee has got some explaining to do that is if she holds herself to the same accountability standard as principals, teachers and DC Central office staff.

Anonymous said...

Totally unrelated to the thread Candi- did you see your mention on http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2009/03/washington-teacher-comments.html

Old School DCPS said...

Also unrelated, but Candi, you need to hear about this and blog about it. I've been teaching summer school for 15 years. I like the money and the opportunity to teach outside of my school, work with new students and teachers. And yes, to positively impact student achievement. I've been in summer schools with no materials, no problem, I've designed my own. No textbooks, I brought them over from my winter school in the trunk of my car. No classroom library, student notebooks, supplies or math manipulatives? Same thing. Well now DCPS is MAKING DCPS TEACHERS INTERVIEW FOR SUMMER SCHOOL!! Like we're new hires. Many teachers I've talked to who always work summer school have said forget it, I'm not subjecting myself to that. We'll have to take our resum├ęs and copies of our certification and go to a summer school job fair. If Rhee likes DCPS teachers so much, why are we being treated like outsiders to OUR SYSTEM?