As we noted then, questions were quickly raised about how the Foundation’s conservative positions on issues such as the right to organize might influence the recipients of these huge grants. (For background on the Walton family and their foundation’s positions on education, this new website offers a great primer and lots of helpful links.) Now that the full list has been released, the evidence confirms that many organizations active in New York City and New York State received large grants from the Waltons last year — including a million-dollar grant to Eva Moskowitz’s Success Charter Network, listed under the Foundation’s efforts to “Shape Public Policy.” The huge amounts in play here (over $159 million nationally in 2011 alone) should give pause to those concerned about the influence of corporate money in school reform in our community.
This video from The Story of Stuff Project asks: “Why is there always enough money for the “dinosaur economy” — from Big Oil to bailouts to big banks — but when it comes to building a better future we’re supposedly broke?”
Michael Mulgrew has an op-ed in today’s Daily News on why the State Senate and Assembly must extend the state tax on upper-income earners.
Hedge fund magnate John Paulson — who reportedly made $5 billion personally last year — reacted recently to Occupy Wall Street protesters by talking about how much the top 1% of New York City families pay in income taxes. What he didn’t talk about was how the same 1% made nearly half (44%) of all the income in the city, or that when all state and local taxes are taken into account, the richest taxpayers in fact pay a lower percentage of their total income in taxes than do people in the middle.
Meanwhile, with unemployment levels stubbornly high, median family income declining and public services under budget pressure, times are getting tougher for almost everyone else.
Public school class sizes in New York City — already far higher than in surrounding communities — are getting bigger still. Our annual survey in September showed that an estimated one-quarter of the city’s public school children were in one or more oversize classes as the school year began. After-school programs are disappearing. Art and music have become things of the past in our schools. Hundreds of school aides are on the unemployment line.
Overall, the Foundation’s largest grants last year went almost exclusively to organizations which support vouchers and charter schools, including over $2 million dollars to two New York state organizations with the most explicit commitments to supporting for-profit corporate charter schools and weakening teachers unions — the New York Charter Schools Association and the Brighter Choice Foundation. And interestingly enough, the $1.3 million that Eva Moskowitz’s Success Charter Network received from Walton almost exactly matches the amount the Network spent on advertising her schools last year — an average of $1,300 per new student:
Walton Foundation 2010 Grant Totals (for Selected Groups):
Teach for America (National) — $16,652,436
KIPP Foundation — $8,650,000
New Teacher Project — $2,250,000
Education Reform Now, Inc. — $1,325,000
Success Charter Network — $1,310,000
New York Charter Schools Association (NYCSA) — $1,045,459
A postal record, obtained by a Times Union Freedom of Information request, lists the customer who paid for the mailings as “School Performance.” Tom Carroll, who founded the Brighter Choice Foundation — which supports all of the city’s 11 charter schools — is on the board of School Performance Inc., according to the most recent public records available. Chris Bender, executive director of Brighter Choice, has also served on the School Performance board.
Two mailings sent out by Mail Works, a direct to mail company, went to 32,178 city residents, records show. Postage alone cost $6,766. However, the total cost spent by the charter affiliate to defeat the Albany budget is likely far greater because a third mailing went out and the push poll was conducted over a few weeks. The professionally printed cards could have also cost thousands of dollars.
Rally at City Hall, followed by a march down Broadway and through Wall Street
Financial institutions wrecked the economy, and we paid for it. Now, if the mayor gets his way, they will get another round of tax breaks, on top of record profits and bonuses. The UFT will join scores of other community groups and unions to say no to layoffs and cuts and to demand that the big banks and millionaires pay their fair share. Our assembly location, City Hall, is one of eight different gathering points. Together, we will all converge with a unified message to demand a fair budget.
Class sizes citywide rose a average 2 percent, or 0.6 student per class. The increases were especially large in elementary schools, up to 23.7 students per class from 22.9 last year, and middle schools, up to 27 kids per class from 26.1 last year. High schools had a small increase.
The 4.2% budget cut is to blame this year, but this marks the third consecutive year of increases. Through 2008, class sizes were decreasing — very slowly, but they were decreasing. But since then they’ve been up in every grade every year. Since 2008, the average third grade class has swelled by 13 percent. The average first grade class is 9 percent larger. This wasn’t what the Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision was supposed to bring about.
The UFT’s new TV ad began airing Saturday, May 22. The ad asks parents, teachers and community members to call, write and e-mail their legislators to urge them to protect after-school programs, save schools from teacher layoffs and urges the “blame the teacher crowd and the Wall Street Hedge Funds behind them,” to stop playing politics with New York’s children.
It’s early May, and things in Albany are really tough right now. Our state is facing yawning budget gaps, while political stalemate stymies any effort to raise significant new revenues.
In this environment, the UFT’s message to our elected representatives in the Assembly and Senate has been clear: they must oppose the governor’s drastic proposed cuts to the education budget. Lawmakers are considering a $600 million cut to state funding for our city’s public schools. If we lose that much state funding, class sizes will skyrocket, tutoring and after-school programs will be eliminated, and great teachers will be laid off.
Kids don’t get a second chance at an education. If we allow our school system to be decimated like it was in the ‘70s, another generation of young New Yorkers will lose their opportunity for a better life. More »
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich proposes a bailout for public education. “After all, the government bailed out Wall Street. What our kids learn — America’s human capital — is more important to our economy than Wall Street’s financial capital.”
Right now, the New York State Senate proposed budget is a disaster in the making for the children in New York’s public schools.
If the cuts go through, we can expect class sizes of 28 in the first grade; the loss of most after-school programs; elimination of what’s left of music, art and other enrichment programs; no summer school; and a return to conditions after the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, as schools put off necessary maintenance and buildings get dirtier and more dilapidated.
We can’t ask kids to pay the price for the mistakes that adults have made with our economy. The kids deserve better than this.
We need you to call your state senator TODAY to voice your opposition to devastating cuts in this budget proposal.
With last week’s announcement that New York was a Race to the Top Finalist, shocked charter management bosses were attempting to explain away weeks of argumentation that a failure to capitulate to their agenda would keep New York from achieving that goal. Spinning faster than the magic teacup ride at Disney World, Peter Murphy of the New York Charter School Association absurdly postulated that New York’s initial success will have a negative impact on education funding. This insight came from the same crystal ball which had Murphy prophesying that New York’s RttT proposal was too weak to become a finalist not two weeks ago. Joining Murphy on the magic teacup ride was Thomas Carroll, the proprietor of the Brighter Choice charter schools recently exposed for denying admissions to students with special needs; Carroll had been madly promoting his list of RttT finalists — sans New York — a few days before the announcement. Charter management’s hours organs — the pueriletabloid and Wall Street press — were called in. Fresh from its visit to Disney World, the Daily News decided that it would take a “magic spell” to win funding. And the usualcoterie of anti-unionbloggers were brought in for reinforcements. All in all, it’s a sight that would leave any teacher with her feet on the ground quite dizzy. More »