• Hang onto Your Hat, the Wind is Blowing… and Hard!
     
    Author: Timothy T. Eagen, Superintendent, Kings Park USD President, NYSASCD
     
    In the words of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, “May you have a strong foundation when the winds of change shift.” This advice could not be more appropriate in the political context of public education today. The recent spring 2017 edition of neaToday, which is published by the National Education Association, is entitled, “Stormy Weather: Anti-Public School Activity is Heading Your Way.” The edition focuses on the attempt of the federal government to defund public schools in our country. Vouches, school choice, and Charter Schools, things that Betsy DeVos openly supports, operate on the concept known as portability of funding. In other words, the money follows the student. What is even more worrisome is that the federal government is looking to fund this movement and others with a $9.2 billion reduction in U.S. Department of Education funding. Amongst other important funding, the so called “Skinny Budget” would eliminate $2.35 billion in Title IIA funding. Included in the U.S.D.E. FY 2018 Budget is the following funding for school choice and charter schools:
    • Approximately $1.4 billion in new funds for school choice initiatives
    • $1 billion in ESEA Title I funds that must be used for school choice
    • New $250 million private school choice program
    • $168 million in ESEA Charter School Programs
    Let’s just consider the elimination of Title IIA funds. Title IIA funds support class size reduction (staffing) and professional development. In the Kings Park CSD (3,300 students), this amounts to $89,876 annually. Under a 2% tax cap in New York State, the immediate and real impact of this elimination of this funding source will be the local elimination of programs and services for students. So, our taxes won’t go down, and our students will get less.
     
    President Trump recently signed an executive order that requires Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to study whether and how ”the federal government has overstepped its legal authority in K-12 schools, a move he framed as part of a broader effort to shift power from Washington to states and local communities” (Washington Post). While the shift in power to the local level in the context of education might be one to embrace, if this means that Washington is doing this to shed itself of funding liability and/or siphon money into voucher and charter school programs, then this is a SERIOUS problem. Regardless of your political views, in New York State we pay some of the highest taxes in the nation. Defunding public education in the manner that Washington is proposing will only exacerbate this problem.
Last Modified on June 20, 2017