Under the mayor's proposal, the city's 10 regions would be eliminated and principals would have these options: ¥Designate their school as an empowerment school, where principals have autonomy over their school budget and curriculum, or¥Team up with a not-for-profit or for-profit organizations that will supply the school with support services or ¥Join one of four Learning Support Organizations, which will be headed by four former superintendents who will have their own support resources.Robert Gordon from Chancellor Joel Klein's office spoke about a part of Bloomberg's plan, dubbed "Fair Student Funding," which creates a formula that gives money to schools based on the needs of individual pupils."Right now, we really don't do a good job of funding schools on an even basis," he said.He said the mayor's proposal, known as "Children First," was created "to drive up student achievement."We want to make sure there's a fair playing field for every kid," Gordon said. He said the new structure "is enabling every school to choose the support they will use."Andrew Bauman, president of Community Education Council 27, which covers Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Howard Beach and Richmond Hill, criticized the proposed school funding formula that gives added money for students from impoverished families. He did not offer any statistics to support his position."Is that saying poor children are dumb? Is that what you're saying?" Bauman asked."I think what we're saying is that children from poor families cost more to educate," Gordon responded Ð an answer that angered CEC 27 member David Hooks."Where does that come from?" Hooks said, also noting that it was "obvious" to him that the plan is set in stone."It's a proposal that we're now getting public comment on," Gordon said, noting that the poverty component of the formula is relatively small."What are you guys doing?" Hooks said, calling the plan "a joke."Residents also questioned a part of the proposal that seeks parent feedback as a way to evaluate teachers and schools through surveys.One forum attendee asked why the city Department of Education would discuss what parents think if student grades are the biggest factor in judging school performance, but Gordon said the surveys would be one component of evaluating schools.Another suggested he did not have confidence that the questionnaires would be completed by parents."They have a hard enough time filling out a lunch form," he said.David Quintana, a parent, questioned whether Bloomberg's plan is a step toward school vouchers, but Gordon said the mayor and Klein are against a voucher system.Following the discussion, Bauman said he was disappointed that the DOE did not go to the CECs and parents as the proposal was being developed."Parents have no say. Who decided to cut the parents out?" he said. "I think we're doomed. I'm ready to move to New Jersey."Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@times
©2007 Community News Group
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