Friday, May 29, 2009

My Notes from Non-title One School Summit with Tamar Galatzan

These are my notes from the May 16th meeting w/ Tamar Galatzan for those of you who couldn't make it.

THE GIST OF THE MEETING WAS TO GET NON-TITLE ONE SCHOOLS, THEIR PARENTS, THEIR TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS TO BAND TOGETHER AND FORM ONE GROUP THAT TACKLES THE ISSUES AS ONE "POLITICAL UNIT."--

There has been some progress this year, we're getting some extra money in the form of Title II funds for 4th ,5th, and 6th grades. Also for 9th - 12th.-- Title One schools with 65%-100% poverty will receive $919 per student (combined Title One and Stimulus), schools with 40%-64.99% will receive $629 Per student. Those schools with under 40% poverty will get none of those funds. We were going to get $50 per English Learner, but they changed their minds and took that away.

--Peggy Barber from the State Legislative Office spent some time explaining Title One, its history, purpose and how it has changed over the years.

-- The intended purpose of T1 is to give each and every child access to a quality education and close the achievement gap.

-- ESEA --stands for Elementary Secondary Education Act. It has evolved into what is now "No Child Left Behind"-- At the state level, Title One is based on the concentrated # of students living in poverty.--Title II - is for teachers- based on the # of Title One students (this can be used to buy back teachers, reduce class size - it funds "Highly Qualified Teachers"-- Title III is for English Learners-- LAUSD has 2 1/2% of the population of poor children living in California.-- California has 6% of the nation's English Learners.

--The federal government uses a formula to figure out how each state will be funded. It is based on two factors: Equity and Effort. California is good for Equity - poor for Effort. Equity is not determined by poverty. It means that the level of funding is distributed equally throughout the state. Effort is determined by the amount of money spent per pupil. California used to be #6 in the nation. Now we are #49 or 50! Our schools get 1/2 as much per student as schools in say Conneticut or New Jersey.

-- 2010 Census is extremely important to California and to the district. The higher the Census count, the more money we get. That is how money is allocated to the different school districts.

-- No such thing as Title One children, only Title One schools.

-- Title One schools are determined by where the district places its cut-off. LAUSD places ours at 40%. By law it can be as low as 35% but will have more restrictions.

-- There are two types of programs for Title One: Targeted and Schoolwide. Targeted is when you only spend the money on the students who qualify. You can't use the money to benefit other students who don't qualify. For ex: you can't spend it on reducing class size, b/c that benefits all students. Schoolwide programs, on the other hand are not limited to spending only on poor students. They can use the money for everyone as long as it is towards something that will raise student achievement. All schools are considered targeted for the first year they receive Title One money. After that it is determined by the percentage of students living in poverty for each qualified school.

-- No Child Left Behind requires accountability but doesn't provide the funding for it.-- At the federal level, School Improvement Funds are Title One funds but not limited to Title One students. The money goes to the state and is determined by the # of poor children in the district.--Federal Title II funds- The district spreads equally across the board - all schools in the district get the same amount of money per pupil. But not limited to poor students.

-- Reauthorization of NCLB is coming up sometime in the near future.

-- District is cutting State Legislative Office -Peggy Barber's office which is the office we would go to for help lobbying for our cause.-- Unfotunately for our children, California is so far in debt that we don't even have enough money to run our schools. These compensatory funds are supposed to be "additional" funds on top of the basic school funds, but our schools have to use it for things like buying back teachers and reducing class size. Other states get to use theirs for all of these innovative programs and we get stuck using ours to cover bread and butter, well , those who are lucky to get these additional funds. The problem with California is that in the State Assembly you need a 2/3 majority to get anything passed. That's why we can't get a budget passed.

-- California needs to fund education at a reasonable level. CA funds far below rest of the Nation.

-- NCLB took out the Follow-the-child part of the Title One bill.

-- For Title II money, whatever you spend on Non-Title One schools you have to spend equal amount on Title One schools. Special Ed money spent only on Special Ed.

TAMAR GALATZAN URGED US TO START THINKING OF A MESSAGE FOR OUR CAUSE. SHE THINKS WE SHOULD STEER AWAY FROM, THE TITLE ONE AND NON-TITLE ONE LABELS BECAUSE WE ARE MARGINALIZED ENOUGH AS IT IS.

MOST PEOPLE DON'T THINK SCHOOLS LIKE OURS EXIST - POOR SCHOOLS IN RICH NEIGHBORHOODS. THERE ARE A LOT OF MISCONCEPTIONS THAT WE WILL HAVE TO BE READY TO ADDRESS.

WHAT WE NEED TO DO: ADVANCE OUR MESSAGE BY CHANGING PUBLIC OPINION AND COUNTERING MISCONCEPTIONS. FIND ALLIES AT LAUSD - BOARD AND DISTRICT. FIND THE ONES WHO HAVE EMPATHY ANT TURN IT INTO ACTION. WE ARE A SMALL MINORITY. KEEP AWAY FROM "US VS. THEM" SENARIOS. WASHINGTON AND SACRAMENTO - DON'T RECOGNIZE OUR SCHOOLS AS A SEPARATE GROUP OR COMPONENT. THAT IS WHY WE MUST COME TOGETHER AS A SINGLE DRIVING FORCE.

2 comments:

Angel said...

Thanks, Dana, for this great update. Our school was unable to attend. Someone from Tamar's office is getting materials together to be made available for the folks who missed it, but you've done a great job.

Was there any discussion on what it would take to create per pupil funding for things like Title I? For instance, what you've heard about Nobel missing by a percentage point, yet there is 39% Title I there. Funding would come with each student--regardless of plateau. So even a school with 25% or 20% (my school is in that area) would get some additional funding.

I realize Tamar doesn't want it to become an us vs. them argument, but the reality is we're there. Other schools are able to buy back positions (note the plural). We were left with so little we could only purchase a great writing program (after seeing it in practice at Beckford), and hire a retired teacher for one day a week to monitor GATE and all the other categorical programs.

We need to start asking the really hard questions--like how do Simi Valley and Conejo school districts do so well without Title I funding? Those schools are much more similar to our North Valley Non-Title I schools in size and demographics. And maybe it is time we start discussing breaking up the district to better manage our funds. Or discuss the charter idea more seriously. Either way, the cuts aren't done yet, and what our schools will be left with will not be acceptable to any of us.

Dana Dickey said...

There was some discussion regarding the "follow-the-child" method of Title One funding. NCLB requires accountability for these children but does not provide the funding with which to do it (those schools that fall below the 40% poverty threshold). That's an issue we would be tackling as a banded group. The thinking behind the idea of not calling ourselves "non-Title One" is that it almost gives the impression that we are "anti-Title One". The reality is not that we want to take anything away from those schools who qualify for Title One funds.Tamar mentioned the fact that no one has really sat down and figured exactly how much money it takes to operate a school effectively. She said that currently, there is no floor or bottom line beneath which funds could not fall, the absolute minimum just for the basic can't-do-without kind of things that are not optional but necessary in order for a school to operate. Until someone comes up with this figure, it appears that they will just keep cutting and cutting.

The other point brought up at the meeting is that this system of giving money only to schools who are not producing results is flawed. Because a school like Nobel, who consistently out scores other middle schools on state tests, gets nothing (as in zero) for this accomplishment. Well, that's not completely true, we get to call ourselves a "Distinquished School". Whoop-ti-doo! I'd rather they give us some money and keep their stupid title because that title won't buy back any teachers, or pay for a school nurse which, by the way, Nobel can only afford for one day a week next year. We can only hope and pray that no one gets sick or injured on the four days a week she won't be at school!! You think you broke your arm? Gee, sorry, but the school nurse isn't in today...or tomorrow...or Wednesday. You'll have to come back Friday, she is in on Fridays! This is insane, shouldn't a school nurse be a basic requirement, a "given? Isn't not having a school nurse a health and safety issue? Kids are still going to get injured whether or not the nurse is there. The school will have to rely on the fire department and paramedics - and if don't think that will be costly to taxpayers...

This flawed system only rewards undesired behavior and doesn't have any incentives for schools to make progress. At Nobel, we would be much better off if we had all of our students totally bomb the test-then they would see some money. The system itself is flawed and needs to be changed.

I like your idea about taking a closer look into Simi and Conejo schools. Maybe we can learn something from them.

Thanks for the comment, Angel.