Posts tagged "Michael Rebell"
February 27, 2013
A court order and support from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver aren’t enough to stop the city from slashing its schools budget this year.
City officials said today that they were fiscally obligated to move forward in making a midyear budget adjustment to account for an expected $250 million deficit during the final months of the school year, even though a judge has for now barred the state from taking back the funds.
The move has the attorney who convinced the judge to halt the state budget cuts planning to sue the city, too. (more…)
February 21, 2013
Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t be able to penalize New York City for failing to adopt teacher evaluations while a lawsuit against the penalty makes its way through the courts, a State Supreme Court judge ruled today.
The judge said Cuomo’s latest ultimatum — that the city adopt a system or have one imposed — proved that a financial penalty was not the only way to motivate districts to adopt new evaluations.
Cuomo announced last year that he would withhold increases in state school aid from districts that did not adopt new teacher evaluation systems by Jan. 17. New York City missed the deadline, and Cuomo said he would take back $250 million from the city’s schools.
But parents and advocates of equitable school funding sued, and a judge today issued an injunction against the penalty, at least until he has had more time to consider the merits of the lawsuit. (more…)
February 13, 2013
The outcome in the lawsuit to reclaim lost state aid for New York City schools will hinge largely on the argument of what scale of educational impact that sum could have on students.
If New York County Supreme Court Judge Manuel Mendez sides with attorney Michael Rebell, who is suing the state, he’ll agree that the lack of roughly $250 million will cause “irreparable harm” to students. If he sides with lawyers representing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Education Commissioner John King, he’ll concur that the total is just a fraction of what the city spends annually on education, and therefore won’t do much more than put a dent in school budgets.
Rebell filed the lawsuit earlier this month after Cuomo said he would not seek to extend a deadline that awarded increased state aid only to districts that agreed to a teacher evaluation system. New York City was one of six districts that did not meet the deadline, which Cuomo signed into law last year to force districts and their unions to negotiate the controversial plans. (more…)
April 30, 2012
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in January that he would convene a commission to set a course for reforming New York’s schools, insiders said many members would likely come from out of state.
That wasn’t true when Cuomo revealed the composition of the commission in Albany today. All but a handful of the 20 commission members are based in New York, and about half are based in New York CIty.
But the commission is still a far cry from the last panel Cuomo convened, a “think tank” of educators and advocates who advised the state in its bid to escape some federal accountability measures. Few of its members work in organizations that interact directly with children, even fewer are advocates, and there are no district representatives. There is also no parent advocate on the commission, even it is being asked to devise strategies to increase parent engagement.
Instead, commission members are drawn from the highest levels of state government, the state and city university systems, and nonprofit organizations. They include State Education Commissioner John King, Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan, and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.
“It’s very blue-ribbon,” said CUNY education professor David Bloomfield about the panel’s composition. “The establishment nature of the commission makes it less likely that they will come up with anti-establishment recommendations.”
Working under the leadership of chair Richard Parsons, a former head of CitiGroup and Time Warner; and top Cuomo deputies, they will have seven months to make recommendations about how to boost student achievement and make education spending more efficient. Cuomo said today that he wanted the recommendations to form “an action plan” for his administration. (more…)
March 30, 2012
Poor students and their families should get the health care, counseling, and other services they need.
That idea sparked little dissent at a panel discussion Tuesday about students’ non-academic needs. But exactly how to deliver those services was up for debate.
Advocates of the “Broader, Bolder Approach” — a coalition that formed in 2008 to counter the “no excuses” message of former chancellor Joel Klein’s Education Equality Project — said responsibility for providing and paying for the services should fall to the city. But a top city official said it should be up to individual schools to assess their students’ needs and find ways to meet them.
The panel discussion took place at the Salomé Ureña de Henríquez Campus, a Washington Heights campus that works with the Children’s Aid Society, the social services provider that is launching its own school this fall to model a setting with “wraparound” services, and it was moderated by the CAS president, Rich Buery. It was hosted by the Campaign for Educational Equity, a think tank aimed at influencing policy, whose director, Michael Rebell, was one of four panelists.
Rebell stuck to an argument he has outlined before in policy papers and court documents as part of the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity case that resulted in new funds for city schools. Students have a constitutional right to receive access to more resources in schools, and it is the state and city’s responsibilities to provide them, he said. (more…)
October 12, 2011
Michael Rebell led the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s landmark school finance lawsuit for 13 years, but for a long time the lawyer was conflicted about the case.
He believed what he ultimately convinced the courts: that the state had given New York City schools less than their fair share of funding. But he was also persuaded by a counter-argument that he heard during the litigation: that more money wouldn’t help schools whose biggest problem was poverty. And the lawsuit itself wasn’t helping him reconcile the tension.
“We have this adversary system for dealing with legal matters in our courts, where two warring sides take firm and opposite opinions,” he said. “The truth is sometimes more complicated than that.”
Now, months after CFE laid off its last employee and the state trimmed the equity dollars for the second time, Rebell is trying a different approach to advocate for poor students. As the director of the Campaign for Educational Equity, a think tank housed at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Rebell is setting out to win not a legal victory but the hearts and minds of policymakers.
His first step: To solicit a set of academic papers, released this week and discussed at Teachers College Tuesday night, that make the case for what he calls “comprehensive educational equity.” A main point of the papers is, as the CFE lawsuit contended and the New York Times reported earlier this week, that the state should give more to its schools — $4,750 per poor student, to be precise. But they also sketch out a policy platform that Rebell said could help close racial and class achievement gaps. (more…)
January 27, 2009
Neil deMause and I have a story in the latest Village Voice education supplement about the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. The headline declares boldly that the lawsuit was a “failure.” Specifically:
“The Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit Was the Best Hope for City Schools. It Failed.”
Michael Rebell, the lead attorney on the lawsuit and a professor at Teachers College at Columbia, is objecting to this headline, on the grounds that CFE succeeded at its goal of pumping money into the system and at setting a legal precedent for how much money is constitutionally required. (For the record, Rebell says he does agree with the “basic thrust” of the piece, which takes the subtler tack of listing advocates’ many disappointments with the lawsuit’s aftermath.)
Now, as a blogger I have pretty much permanently lost access to the “I don’t write the headlines” excuse. But in this case, I did not, in fact, write the headline. I wouldn’t have, either. I like to be provocative. But I don’t think that the CFE lawsuit was necessarily the “best hope” for the city schools, and I don’t think that what has happened since should necessarily be labeled a total failure.
I bet other people might disagree with me and with Rebell, though. Anyone?
Footnote: Neil, who did write the headline, tells me it is a reference to the television show Babylon 5.
UPDATE: The print-version headline is a little less strong, calling the lawsuit the “last, best hope,” rather than just “best hope,” which is a little jokier.
UPDATE2: Leonie Haimson’s thoughts on the subject are here.
December 19, 2008
After more than 15 years arguing in courts that the city’s public schools are illegally under-funded, a long lawsuit that ended in 2006 in a victory, could the financial crisis and the budget cuts it’s causing pull education advocates back to court? Hard to imagine, but increasingly it does seem possible.
When I talked earlier this week to the Helaine Doran, the deputy director of the group that filed the lawsuit, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, she was cautious about legal action. “We have no process of like, ‘Oh yes, we’re going back to court immediately,’” she said. “You have to look at the numbers and figure it out.” But there’s growing momentum suggesting court may be a possibility.
Michael Rebell’s editorial in the Daily News today uses stronger language. (more…)