Education is the greatest civil rights issue in America today. I've reported on this before, as it is truly concerning. New York State spends nearly $15,000 per pupil, yet the majority of the money never seems to make its way into the classroom. With the current financial crisis in mind, New York City is scraping for money, as many teachers and education department staff fear cuts.
One wonders where all the money goes. Amid the budgetary drama came last week's report that the city had allegedly misspent education monies. According to the Gotham Gazette:
"A new report from councilmember and public advocate candidate Bill de Blasio shows the city’s Department of Education spent $57.3 million on “unnecessary” tests, courier services and an expanded press office."
De Blasio's argument is that the city is spending more than required by state and federal regulations. In an interview with WNYC, he said, "We're going far beyond the federal requirements and the basics and spending a lot more on additional testing and pre-testing that we don't need in the middle of a fiscal crisis."
According to a WNYC reporter, de Blasio complained about a number of massive expenses, including an $80 million data-tracking computer network, more than $20 million a year in student testing, and a $1.3 million communications budget. Ironically, de Blasio is a Democrat, so I'm surprised to hear spending complaints coming from his camp (surprised, but nonetheless relieved, that someone agrees that it's time for fiscal restraint).
Perhaps the most perplexing response came from a spokesman for Chancellor Joel Klein (chancellor of the New York City school system). Aside from the expected response -- that de Blasio overstated some of his numbers -- WNYC reported that the spokesman "...noted that President Obama has called on districts to invest more in data systems to help drive student performance."
In this instance the spokesperson is saying (pardon my translation), "Hey, Obama told us to spend some money on tracking, so the $80 million is totally legit." Wrong. A president's word doesn't pave the way for an $80 million tracking system, especially when a district is financially strained.
This appears to be yet another symptom of liberal spending. At the least, it's bad judgment. If children don't have the materials they need in the classroom and lack basic educational necessity, what good will an $80 million tracking system do? Obama is literally running our economy into the ground with new spending galore, and a spokesperson actually had the nerve to say, in simple terms, "Obama said it was okay.”
It’s simple, New Yorkers. If we don’t have the money, we can’t spend! But, with an average of $15,000 per student coming into the system, one wonders why our children are still lacking necessities in many of the state’s public schools.
It's time we ensure a better education for NYC students. de Blasio -- thank you for stepping up to the plate. Let's hope others, regardless of party, work accordingly to shed some light on alleged instances of fiscal irresponsibility.