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Education Panel Rejects NYC School Funding Formula

HOST INTRO: The Panel for Educational Policy, or PEP, was expected to once again rubberstamp the New York City school funding formula at their meeting last night… But they didn’t. The formula is the main source of funding for the City’s schools. It’s based on student enrollment and needs. Apparently that’s not a straightforward equation. The panel surprisingly voted down the formula, dealing another blow to the Adams’ administration’s policy goals.

I spoke with Allison Roda, Assistant Professor of Education at Molloy College in Long Island, and I asked her.. What is the PEP?

ALLISON RODA: The Panel for Educational Policy is like a school board. It's a way to have checks and balances over education policy decisions being made from the mayor and the chancellor … they're in charge of approving or voting down education policies.

GRUNNET: Often the proposals will be approved by this panel?

RODA: Yes, most of the time those policies are approved. I've attended meetings before they sometimes go late into the night, if it's a contentious or highly debated policy.

GRUNNET: What happened last night? What was the proposal and why was it rejected?

RODA: New York City has a fair student funding formula. But critics have said that it's outdated. It doesn't provide full funding to schools that need it the most. So right now, the fair funding formula gives more money to schools with poor students, special education populations, multilingual learners learning English. The one part of this formula is that, and this is highly debated, extra money goes to selective schools with high achieving students. And often those schools have low numbers of Black Latinx low income students. And I read in one report that they get 1000 extra dollars per student in those schools. So that's a piece of the formula that seems to be inequitable.

So at last night's meeting, one of the CEC presidents from District 16, Nick Kwan McLean. He brought up that there was a Task Force started in 2019 to change the formula. And they wanted additional weights, put on the formula for other student groups for students living in temporary housing or in foster care. And they wanted to stop the practice of sending more money to selective schools. But that task force and the report that they came up with, was never released by Mayor de Blasio.

GRUNNET: Could this disruption have consequences for New York City pupils and parents next year?

RODA: I can't imagine that it would be stalled you know, long enough to really disrupt you know, school opening or, or that kind of thing. I think right now it's just going to delay principals from making budget decisions for the next school year.

GRUNNET: It's the second policy that the panel has rejected from mayor Adams’ office. What does the signal in terms of the way he's perceived by the panel and the way his policies are, are able to be implemented?

RODA: I think it's signals the call for the end of mayoral control of the New York City public schools. The DOE and the CEC's and all of the policymakers in the school system itself, have the authority, have the expertise, to run the schools. When you have a mayor, a politician, running a school system, you infuse even more politics into the equation and we see what the effect is on that.

GRUNNET: Thank you, Alison.

RODA: You're welcome. Have a great day, thanks for inviting me!

HOST OUTTRO: That was Allison Roda, Assistant Professor of Education at Molloy College.

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