Friday, January 15, 2010

Tutoring Tab - Any Thoughts?

Waiting for the 59 bus gives a person plenty of time to ponder life's little mysteries, and one of them that came to mind recently was how does the school district's tutoring program work. Just across the street from the Fifth Street bus stop is Open Gates to Fly, one of the providers.

The high cost of public school education has been under scrutiny for some time, but one can bet that Bret Schundler, Gov.-elect Chris Christie's nominee for commissioner of education, is going to bring laser-like focus to the issue. Looking into the tutoring program, it seems that a school's failure to make Adequate Yearly Progress triggers the ability of its poorest students to receive free Supplemental Education Services (SES) at public expense, adding yet another layer of spending to what goes into the classroom. This is part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The storefront center on East Fifth Street, I found out, is one of 26 2009-2010 providers in a variety of settings ranging from home, schools, the public library and online. See the 2009 list here. There is an hourly cost associated with the tutoring, but students who receive free and reduced lunch at schools failing to meet AYP are eligible to take part at no cost to the parents. In the 2008-09 school year, the Plainfield school district received $534,000 in SES funds for 330 students at $1,620 each.

For a glimpse into Open Gates to Fly, click here. And here is information about an SES offering by former Plainfield student Nashad Warfield.

SES is a nationwide program and certainly a commendable attempt to ensure academic success. The question that comes to mind, however, is why more is not being done in the schools. The state Department of Education just released its 2009 list of schools that did and did not make AYP. About two-thirds of 2,222 schools where tests took place made AYP, meaning a third did not. Click here to see a full explanation of the process and links to results.

In Plainfield, Stillman, Clinton, Cook, Washington and Woodland schools and the Academy for Academic & Civic Development made AYP for 2009, meaning eligible students in other schools may receive tutoring.

I don't really recommend standing at a bus stop in winter as a way to engender thoughts and questions. Wherever you do your best thinking, what comes to mind on the issues described above?

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgive me for being a little cynical, but for all of the money spent directly on the PPS we need another 500+ thousand for additional tutoring? Your reference to the new administration taking a hard new look at these costs is key.
Basically the PPS has failed again and again and again and the answer always seems to be spend more money. Frankly I fail to see the value of the BOE. The administration of the PPS is bloated, spends untold amounts of money on "new programs" that yield nothing. You need the schools to be run more like a business, where costs are examined for value, where skills are rewarded and failure is dealt with swiftly.
Bottom line the state needs to take over the district, get rid of most of the administrators and slash the costs. I would bet the scores would either stay the same or go up and the PPS costs would drop by 30 to 40 percent.

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the largest barrier to dealing with poor performance in Plainfield? Unions and tenure.

When teachers failed to perform what is a principal to do? With tenure very little.

That is why the Governor-Elect has publicly blasted the unions recently. Their outright refusal to support reform and accountability through Race to the Top showed that they do not want to be held accountable for student achievement.

Get rid of tenure.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about this Anonymous #2:
Get rid of all corrupt, incompetent and abusive administrators (and board members) prior to EVER imagining the elimination of TENURE. Tenure is that safeguard against poor administrative integrity that is not fool-prrof, but helps immensely.

As for the "SES mess," Bernice,
Someone needs to CLOSELY examine the process for ensuring that the providers, coordinators and school administrators are fairly and equitably selecting students to receive services and teachers to provide them.

Close examination would, I am guess, reveal some improprieties, including but not limited to favoritism, teacher recruitment of students, etc...

Dig, Bernice...Dig!

8:07 PM  

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