Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Clerical error" or, more likely, something else.

The following was received from Dollars & Sense Education Advocacy (of which Ridgewood is a member), and they were passing it along from the Education Law Center. I definitely think there was more than a "clerical error" at play here, and the following potential explanation makes a lot of sense to me.

Media coverage of NJ's failure to secure a $400 million federal Race to the Top grant has focused on the "clerical error" that cost the state several critical points in a 500-point rubric used to evaluate RTTT grant applications.

While some reports noted that NJ lost many more points due to its poor data system and failure to secure more district and teacher union support for its plans, several other points have received little attention.

[For example,] When the Christie administration scrapped the compromise application worked out between NJEA and Education Commissioner Bret Schundler, and substituted a new proposal at the last minute, it replaced information about state education funding for 2008 and 2009 with data for 2010 and 2011. Instead of a simple "clerical error," this could have been an effort to disguise a $1.06 billion cut in state education aid. The original application noted that 2010 state education aid was decreased by 7.7% because one-time federal stimulus funds were not replaced by state funds (as required by the state's School Funding Reform Act). By substituting a 2010-11 comparison and playing with the numbers, the Governor's application tried to claim a 2.2% "increase in state revenue-based support for education" and give a grossly misleading answer to a question designed to gauge whether states were maintaining previous levels of support for their public schools.

There's plenty that smells fishy with this RTTT fiasco and I comment on it NOT because I was a proponent of RTTT, but rather as a commentary on the way the current administration seems to do business.

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