Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What about school funding? Will we lose our Blue Ribbon Status?: A report from the front lines of the NY Opt Out Movement - Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

What about school funding?  Will we lose our Blue Ribbon Status?:  A report from the front lines of the NY Opt Out Movement

NYS has a robust opt out movement.  Last year over 260,000 students refused the NYS tests in Grades 3-8.  Each year some NY Boards of Education, Superintendents, and Principals try to use scare tactics to get parents to opt back into testing. Two scare tactics are that the school will lose funding (NO school in NYS has ever lost funding due to opt out) or the school will not be eligible for the Blue Ribbon Award (aka   a NY  Reward School).  Here is a bit of information for NY parents and educators.  Don't believe the scare tactics and don't sell your child out for a blue ribbon that steals their education and childhood!

NYC Opt Out member Tracy Peel -

But what about school funding?

It’s a favorite line of people who want your kid to take the test, but so far, no NYS school has ever lost any of its funding due to the number of kids who opted out of testing. The next time someone tells you this, ask them which school lost any of its funding. For each of the past two years, more than 200,000 kids in NY State have opted out of the state tests and their schools did not lose funding because of opt-out.

So, where does the rumor come from?

The NYS Department of Education names “Reward Schools” each year based on test scores. For most schools, the only “reward” is being named to the “Reward School” list. Gee, thanks!

For the past several years, the NYSDOE has announced a grant application for Reward Schools that are also Title I schools (schools with lots of poor kids.) These schools must have at least 95 percent testing to apply for the small grant. So, if a Reward School has less than 95 percent test participation, it can’t apply for the grant.

But wouldn’t it be great to get more money?

The application for “Reward School” Title I grants takes a lot of staff time, with no guarantee the school will get money, many strings attached, and little to no benefit to the applying school.  The NYS DOE has never publicized its grant winners, just the grant application, and it is possible no eligible school has ever applied for this money!

NYC DOE, desperate to keep down opt-out, has pitched that not getting to apply for these small potatoes, strings-attached grants is a “penalty.” They have been forwarding around an article from last year. The article is deceptive (not because of the reporter) but because of the DOE's misleading statements to the reporter.

In past years the use of the grant money was restricted so the money had to be used for the school that got the grant to share its techniques for achieving high test scores with other Title I schools.  The old grant application is not available (links are broken or send you to the current grant program), but the grant was only to a district with a Reward School, and was only “up to” $75,000 per successful applicant school, some of which could have gone to the school, to, 
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