Education Policy & Practice

Archive for the ‘District Budgets’ Category

Texas school districts are waiting to hear whether the state will provide special relief for low attendance as a result of the swine flu.  School funding in Texas, like other states, is tied to student daily attendance.  Average Daily Attendance (ADA), according to federal legislation, is the aggregate number of days of attendance of all students during the school year divided by the number of days school is in session during that year.

According to The Dallas Morning News, school districts won’t find out until next year whether the state will help. Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott has issued a statement that no decision will be made until he sees whether the flu re-emerges next year.  Some districts could lose up to $2 million.


Lessons From Laid Off Teachers

There may never be another D.C. Council hearing quite like the 18-hour epic last Friday/Saturday that saw more than 40 public school teachers, most of them among the 266 laid off on Oct. 2, come to the witness table.

Whatever level of skill each possessed as an educator– asked by Chairman Vincent C. Gray, nearly all said they had good evaluations. Although it’s difficult to imagine anyone giving a completely candid answer under the circumstances, there was great power in the collective story they told. It was about a group of people who worked against often overwhelming odds to help the District’s schoolchildren.

As they described it, those odds include a DCPS bureaucracy that both terrorizes and infantilizes teachers. The crystallizing image conjured by the marathon roundtable was of Maurice Asuquo, a blind instructor who said he was presented a copy of the system’s new Teaching and Learning Framework in print.

There’s the odyssey of April Battle, “excessed” from her assistant principal post at Winston Education Campus last spring, fired on July 27 and told later it was a mistake. She said was reassigned to Winston before a follow up message that this also was an error. She was sent to Beers Elementary as a classroom teacher, although she is not certified as such, and later received an e-mail to report to there as a counselor. When she arrived at Beers Aug. 21, principal Gwendolyn Payton told her she’d already hired a counselor.

Robin Skulrak came to the public schools from the D.C. Teaching Fellows Program, one of the alternative recruiting organizations Rhee has looked to for fresh ground troops to execute her reforms. She left a career in tech research to be part of Rhee’s movement, and as she prepared for her fourth grade class at Stanton Elementary in Southeast, the message was that she was there to save students from the malpractice of older, ineffective instructors.

“I was told that my colleagues were not as worthy as I was and that I was the future of education,” she told the council.

But Skulrak said promises of mentoring and other support never materialized. The heating system in her classroom sometimes drove temperatures past 100 degrees, she said. Birds flew in through holes in the windows created by missing panes of glass. Because she considered herself “a part of Rhee’s gang,” she e-mailed her directly when the principal didn’t respond to complaints about the conditions. She said maintenance showed up the next day.

She believes that Principal Donald Presswood placed her on a remedial “90-day plan” as payback for going around him to Rhee. She said that after observing a history class she taught on events leading up to the American Revolution, for which she prepared a PowerPoint and excerpts from the HBO “John Adams” miniseries, Presswood told her that the lesson was “perhaps a little too middle class.” He suggested having the students develop a rap as part of their study of the period.

“I thought maybe they should get the basic facts first,” said Skulrak, who was let go in July. This time, her appeal to Rhee didn’t help.

Presswood did not return e-mail or phone messages seeking comment.

Bill Turque


With budget crises intensifying across the country, school districts are considering or have already instituted dramatic solutions to try to stay afloat. Some of those proposals include one or a combination of the following:

The Los Angeles Unified School District has proposed expand the principal’s role to oversee several schools in one area, a strategy to slash expenditures that has been faced with some pretty harsh opposition from parents. LAUSD officials have said they “face difficult choices in cutting the budget to deal with a fiscal crisis facing the district.” Essentially, the district is proposing part-time principals. Is that the least harmful solution? Few would disagree that laying off teachers is a better option.

The article does not reveal the details of this proposal, but the most logical conclusion I’ve come up with is that some principals lost their jobs, because why else would one principal with oversight over one school now be responsible for more than one school? I wonder if district officials considered pay cuts in order to save jobs? How will principal responsibilities be fulfilled when the school leader is out of the building? My guess is that the assistant administrators will be stepping up. I wonder about the implementation of this strategy. Unfortunately, in crises situations, you have very little precious time to debate these issues, subject proposals to extensive analysis, get buy in, etc. It’s unfortunate


Education Policy & Practice

September 2022

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