A growing body of research shows that the typical six-hour school day just doesn’t cut it for many students. Too many schools lack the time and funds for arts, recess or inquiry-driven projects that inspire a life-long love of learning and provide skills needed to be competitive in the 21st century.
The challenges and needs are particularly dramatic in low-income communities where students are the most likely to be behind grade level and who stand to benefit most from additional learning time.
Recent data continue to show that in New York City, the nation’s largest school district, a student’s opportunity to learn in a school “In Good Standing,” as measured by the state’s own tests, depends on the financial status of the student’s family.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo got the attention of public school advocates across the Empire State when he campaigned as “the Great Equalizer” for schools that would not be afraid to steer money from wealthy districts to poor under-resourced districts.
It seemed reasonable to believe that as a self-proclaimed progressive candidate he would continue to keep New York schools on the path to equity started in 2007 after the successful Campaign for Fiscal Equity school funding lawsuit.
It’s a sad state of affairs when only one in four students attending high school in New York City are ready for college four years later, and even sadder that only half of those even enroll. But that’s exactly the state of affairs, according to the A-through-F high school report cards recently released.
In Lost Opportunity: A 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America, the Schott Foundation for Public Education establishes a metric for determining the opportunity to learn for students. Providing a state-by-state comparison of both academic proficiency (percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on the eighth grade NAEP reading exam) and equity (as measured by the Schott Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn Index, or OTLI), Lost Opportunity identifies the four baseline minimum resources that are necessary for a child – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – to have a fair and substantive Opportunity to Learn.
In the United States, every student should have the equal right to a high-quality education. But as our most recent data demonstrates, for far too many students, quality and equity are aspirations, not realities. Few states are providing public school educations that result in academic proficiency for students. And even fewer states are providing access to a high-quality education to all students, particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups.
Organizers deliver an unfurled banner of 30,000
signatures to the state capitol.
Grassroots organizers in New York City have been fighting for school discipline reform for years, and their hard work paid off this week when the City Council passed next year's budget with $2.4 million in funding for restorative justice programs.
The New York City Council is considering a bill that would use public school funding to provide NY Police Department safety agents to private schools. In response, Kesi Foster, Coordinator for the Urban Youth Collaborative, wrote an op-ed recently arguing this bill not only hurts public schools financially, but also directly contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline.
Jaritza Geigel, picture via Make the Road NY