For New York City Schools, How Much MORE Money Do You Want, Mr. Klein?
The New York POST editorial page is "Just Asking"
New York Post
KLEIN'S KOOKY CALCULATION
May 24, 2004 -- Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, who spends far more per student than other public-school districts do, was crying poverty last week, big time, at a City Council hearing.
Klein claimed that state lawmakers stiffed Gotham's schools out of $17 billion over the past decade.
He even linked Albany's funding to the racist "separate but equal" doctrine that the Supreme Court found unconstitutional 50 years ago last week.
"The bitter irony of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision is not lost on any of us as we meet today," Klein said.
"And yet, more than a generation later . . . New York state is not providing New York City public schools with the financial resources necessary to give all our students a sound basic education."
The linkage is a bit of a stretch.
For one thing, City Hall for years would skim mega-bucks off the top of Albany's school-aid appropriations - and spend the dough on welfare and file clerks.
That little secret rarely makes it into the school-aid debate.
But, for the sake of argument, assume that Klein's $17-billion estimate is in the ballpark.
He says the number was arrived at using methodology devised by Standard & Poor's to ascertain how much is needed for schools, going forward.
That question became critical in 2002, when a zealous Manhattan judge, Leland DeGrasse, ordered yet more spending for the schools and gave officials until July 30 to craft a new funding plan.
S&P was retained to help determine how much needs to be spent - so, in that sense, Klein's figure has standing.
But if Klein is going to base his charges on S&P's analysis, then he needs to acknowledge what else the securities-rating and financial-consulting firm said.
Such as: "There is no guarantee that the replication of higher spending levels will replicate higher achievement levels across the state."
In fact, S&P specifically cited "decades of evidence" showing that not money, but other factors - "students' socioeconomic and demographic circumstances, parent education levels . . . family-school relations" - are really what's key.
The truth, which Klein conveniently ignored in his big-bucks poverty plea, is that no serious study has ever - ever - found a correlation between funding and student achievement.
So if Albany stiffed Gotham, as Klein claims, maybe it did state taxpayers a favor. After all, if cash can't fix the schools, isn't it better that it wasn't spent?