Home > Uncategorized > ESSA Requirement for School-by-School Spending Will Reveal Schools With High Seniority Teachers… and Not Much Else

ESSA Requirement for School-by-School Spending Will Reveal Schools With High Seniority Teachers… and Not Much Else

March 20, 2018

In an example of the spreadsheet mentality that pervades political thinking about public education– or even worse, an example of the desire to determine the costs assigned to each individual student— one of ESSA’s mandates is for school districts to measure school-by-school costs beginning with the 2019 school year..

Having led two large school districts (i.e. districts that served over 10,000 students and had multiple schools at each organizational level), it is obvious that this will capture one and only one data point: the seniority levels of the staff. The biggest driver in any school is the cost to pay for staffing, and the biggest variable in staffing costs is the teachers’ seniority for teachers at the top of the pay scale typically outran teachers at the bottom the pay scale by almost 2:1. One would hope that someone in the USDOE would have pointed out this obvious flaw in using this data for determining school-by-school costs within  a district, but a quote from Mario Cuomo in a recent Newsday article by John Hildebrand indicates that some other factor may be behind this need to collect school-by-school costs:

Cuomo, in a statement issued March 12 argued for his own plan that would require 15 large school systems statewide, including Brentwood and Hempstead on the Island, to begin submitting school-by-school spending plans to the state for review and approval over the next two years.

I believe the funds should follow student need, and poorer schools have greater needs,” the governor declared.

The governor doesn’t need school-by-school data from large Long Island districts to know that poorer schools in his state— the ones he acknowledges have greater needs— are NOT receiving sufficient funds. If he believes that funds should follow student needs he doesn’t need any additional data from ESSA: he can look now at the data the State Department has and see that affluent districts pay more per student than poverty stricken ones and take one look at the high school curricula and see that affluent students have a far wider array of courses and activities to choose from than students raised in poverty. He’s been in office for nearly two full terms. If he wants to avoid a candidate from the progressive wing running against him in 2018 he might find a way to channel more resources to underfunded schools instead of trying to pave the way for “funds to follow student need”… a phrase that sounds a lot like one Eva Moskovitz would coin.

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