Teachers Saved by Washington?
February 19th, 2009

The economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday could save the 14,000 teachers the Bloomberg administration said were threatened by state spending cuts.

Out of the $787 billion stimulus package, the city estimates it would see $535 million in grants for public schools in both 2009 and 2010. While that doesn’t fill the $770 million hole left by state cuts — a figure reported by the Bloomberg administration which is disputed — it puts a serious shovel in the ground. According to a release from the mayor’s office, the city could also be eligible for another $425 million for high needs students, disability education and technology.

Because the funding filters through the state, the city’s total allocation is a bit hazy still. According to statements in the release, educators will still have to fight for their jobs.

How would you balance the budget? Play Gotham Gazette’s new game: BALANCE.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who attended the press conference with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the mayor and schools Chancellor Joel Klein, said in a prepared statement: While this aid is exactly what our schools need, parents must understand that we are not out of the woods yet. The State has to make sure that the stimulus money is spent wisely and actually gets into classrooms.”

We’re waiting to hear from the administration on how many teachers could be saved by this federal boost.

The full release is after the jump.

Here it is:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today to announce how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will help New York City public schools in the coming years. Based on preliminary analysis, the City estimates it will receive $535 million in State Fiscal Stabilization Grants in each of the next two years, if the funds are allocated to local school aid through the traditional formulas. In addition to the stabilization grants, the Citys preliminary analysis estimates that its schools are eligible to receive in each of the next two years approximately $300 million from an expansion of Title I funds for high-needs students, approximately $100 million from the expansion of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding, and more than $25 million in educational technology funds. At todays announcement, the Mayor, Secretary, and Chancellor were joined by State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith, Assemblywoman Rhoda S. Jacobs, the American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan, and Explore Charter School Founder and Director Morty Ballen in Brooklyn.

Support from Washington will help us to weather this economic crisis. Working with the State, we hope well be able to keep more of our teachers in our public school classrooms, said Mayor Bloomberg. We all want to ensure that our schools keep innovating and that our students keep learning while shielding our schools and classrooms from potential harm. I am confident our colleagues in Albany will join me in making our difficult budget situation as tolerable as possible for all of our schools.

Were not just facing an economic crisis in America. Were facing an education crisis. A University of Washington report says up to 600,000 education jobs are at risk, said Secretary Duncan. But were also facing a historic opportunity to remake public education a once-in-a-lifetime chance to lift the quality of education for every child in America.

Stimulus dollars will go a long way in helping us to prevent our countrys financial crisis from turning into a crisis in our classrooms, said Chancellor Klein. We look forward to working with our partners at the State level to ensure this money is directed equitably and where its needed the most our classrooms.

The passage of the federal stimulus bill will allow New York school children, their parents and their teachers, to rest easier in the coming budget year, said State Senate Majority Leader Smith. With the influx of desperately needed funding, I am confident that we will continue to make a meaningful investment in our most critical resource our children. Our schools, from Binghamton to Brentwood, and every town in between, will benefit from the investments in the bill, particularly for our high needs districts throughout the state. I am hopeful that between the direct school grants, expanded state aid and opportunities for additional funding, we can continue to improve student performance while ensuring a wise and productive use of public funds.

Parents and teachers here in New York City and all across America are applauding President Obama for his strong and steadfast commitment to our nations children and public schools, and rightly so. In addition to providing a much needed boost for the economy, the stimulus package also represents an investment in education that will help prevent severe cuts to public services a huge step to averting layoffs in schools and providing teachers and students with the tools and supports they need to succeed, said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. While this aid is exactly what our schools need, parents must understand that we are not out of the woods yet. The State has to make sure that the stimulus money is spent wisely and actually gets into classrooms. Even so, the package is truly a bold first step, and we are grateful to President Obama and Secretary Duncan for their recognition and support of public education.

We applaud President Obama and Congress for making education an important priority of the stimulus package and paying close attention to the needs of economically disadvantaged youngsters and special education students, said Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan. During this time of severe economic crisis, we look forward to working with the city and state to ensure that this funding goes as far as possible to protect our children’s education.

In addition to the stabilization funds, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also allows states and school districts to apply for $5 billion in grants to support new approaches to closing the achievement gap and boosting student achievement . Working in cooperation with the -New York State Education Department, New York City would be able to use these funds to -continue building on the momentum of the reform efforts and enormous progress in improving graduation rates. These grants, which will be allocated by the U.S. Department of Education, are known as the Race to the Top Fund. This includes $650 million to provide funds to school districts that have made significant gains in closing the achievement gap to expand their work and to document and share their successful practices. These funds could help further implementation of the New York City Department of Educations (DOE) computer system that allows teachers to share effective instructional strategies between schools. The remaining $4.35 billion in the fund will be awarded to states, working with local districts, that have demonstrated innovative ways to boost student performance and closing the achievement gap. New York City can also apply for grants to expand its Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program, which rewards educators for improving student achievement, from the $200 million Teacher Incentive Funds.

Charter schools such as Brooklyns Explore Charter School may also be eligible to apply for funding for renovation and repair of school facilities. Named a National Charter School of the Year by the Center for Education Reform, Explore Charter earned an A on its 2007-2008 Progress Report. The school serves 425 students, and more than 1,700 families are on the schools waiting list.

By on February 19, 2009, 5:24 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Education,Gotham City,Public Finance | 2 Comments »

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2 Responses to “Teachers Saved by Washington?”

  1. Larry Littlefield Says:
    February 23rd, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Looks like based on the stimulus package, my younger daughter will be able to get through here junior year of high school before the city’s schools collapse. Unless things get so bad the federal government is unable to borrow.

    Frankly, that’s a relief. BUT she’ll be paying for it the rest of her life, and so will I. And between the debts, the pensions, and the “right” of all those extra school employees in the rest of the state to their jobs, there isn’t much hope for the long term.

  2. frank m Says:
    February 26th, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Klein is lying. There are no guarantees at all in this stimulus thing. He and Bloomberg want word to spread that teachers are safe so that they won’t attend the rally planned in NYC. Then, in July or something, they’ll sneak the cuts in and screw the teachers as usual, or at least try to force them to take cuts in health care

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