Saturday, March 08, 2008

Accountability Is For The Other Guy Redux

The NY Daily News reports that Chancellor Klein plans to meet with nearly 200 principals over the next couple of weeks about the mayor's current and proposed future budget cuts for the New York City school system.

You see, these New York City principals were given extra money earlier this year for the school budgets "in exchange for higher consequences if they fail to raise test scores" as part of the mayor's and chancellor's vaunted Children First education reform movement.

The extra money could be used for a variety of programs including after-school and Saturday tutoring to help students on the battery of standardized tests the mayor and the chancellor have instituted per year.

Unfortunately for all involved, the U.S. economy has begun to tank (see here) and the mayor has ordered a bunch of city-wide budget cuts including ones in the public school system. Principals were ordered to cut 1.75% from their school budgets this year while much of the central administrative NYCDOE budget was saved. In addition, the mayor has ordered additional cuts to city agency budgets between 5% and 8% for the next fiscal year, although it is unclear just how much schools will have to cut.

Nonetheless you can bet individual schools will be forced to shoulder the fiscal burden while the central administrative budget (and all those yummy, yummy central administrative consultants and even yummier no-bid contracts handed out to Klein and Bloomberg cronies) will see few if any cuts.

And that makes sense. I mean, why cut the $80 million dollar ARIS computer system that doesn't work the way it's supposed to or the no-bid standardized testing contract Bloomberg handed to McGraw-Hill, the company that STILL hasn't delivered on the standardized ELA tests kids are supposed to be taking nearly nine months after the company first got the contract, when you can cut after-school Regents tutoring, arts and enrichment programs, and field trips and force principals to try and raise their test scores and graduation rates with much less money than they were promised.

Oh, and you can bet the mayor's and chancellor's vaunted school report cards and quality review program won't be cut, even if the programs that might help schools improve in some of the categories measured will be.

Remember, it's Children First and children always, as long as Bloomberg's and Klein's corporate cronies are not hurt in the pocketbook or the balance sheet.

No wonder principals are mad as hell over the budget cuts. Unlike the CEO's from Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial who got dragged in front of Congress yesterday after receiving millions in executive "performance" compensation even as they made terrible business mistakes that cost their companies and shareholders hundreds of millions of dollars, you can bet Klein and Bloomberg will hold principals, assistant principals and teachers accountable for "improvement" even as he cuts the school budget by as much as 10% (and perhaps even more if the economy continues to worsen.)

You see, accountability is for everybody except the big-time businessmen, the corporate CEO's, the short-selling hedge fund managers, or billionaire media moguls.
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