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The inequity of adequacy.

Much appreciated is Joe Williams's excellent account of the fiscal-equity juggernaut that has rolled through New York State ("The Legal Cash Machine," Features, Summer 2005). The depressing results that are sure to follow from this ill-advised lawsuit will be equally unwelcome.

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The tragedy of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit is that it has resulted in mindless simplification of all debate surrounding education. By making more spending the only path to better results, we forgo the more important discussions of how, for instance, better pedagogy might improve outcomes, or how better management can direct more money to classrooms by creating transportation and procurement efficiencies.

The promise of what seems to be unlimited funds on the horizon has also created a "we can have it all" mentality. We can pay teachers more and also have more teachers (even though the number of qualified teachers in the job pool is a very finite commodity). We can build new schoolhouses rather than more efficiently use the ones we already have. We can increase available technology regardless of the capacity of the schools, their staff, and their students to absorb it. The sky is the limit. Don't worry. The new money will be here soon.

As recounted by Mr. Williams, the lawsuit began during a period when city schools were indeed being shortchanged in the allocation of state funds. But the shortchanging of the city by about $400 per student 15 years ago is ancient history. Both the state's and the city's share of education funding in New York City have skyrocketed. Education outcomes are still mixed.

Finally, in New York City, as Williams made clear, the drumbeat continues for the State of New York to assume the full $5.6 billion annual school funding increase. But few in Gotham seem to realize that beyond the sphere of economic influence and affluence of the city is a world of dire economic crisis: boarded-up strip malls lining the upstate highways and byways and devastated cities with crippled economies, unable to support their own schools, much less subsidize ours. At the same time, these are the districts that are already eyeing the CFE lawsuit as a model for their own fiscal ambitions. All will discover that there is no pot of gold buried outside Albany.

ANDREW WOLF

Columnist

The New York Sun
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Article Details
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Author:Wolf, Andrew
Publication:Education Next
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Sep 22, 2005
Words:389
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