Public Policy Term Paper

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Public Policy-Making: Public School Funding (K-12) in New York State

The objective of this work is to demonstrate an understanding of the policy process as well as key policy terminology and policy concepts. Additionally this work will demonstrate an understanding of some subtle issues in the policy making process.

According to the work "Recommended Policies for Public School Facilities: Best Collaborative Section 4: Facilities Funding" published in May 2005 the responsibility of every U.S. state is to guarantee that each student has "access to a quality education." (Recommended Policies for Public School Facilities, nd) Inclusive in this as stated in court rulings and related within this report schools are now responsible as well to assure that the facilities of the schools fall within what constitutes a "quality education."

Recommended Policies for Public School Facilities, nd) in the past it has been traditional for school districts to delegate and regulate the facility provision. There are many states reported in the study to increase "funding to local districts" as well as putting policies in place that set standards including technical assistance in enabling the facility provision adequate for education standards.

I. BEST (Building Educational Success Together)

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In 2001 it is reported that the 21st Century School Fund (21CSF) upheld by the support of the Ford Foundation collaborated in BEST or 'Building Educational Success Together." Partners include: (1) 21 CSF; the Education Law Center (Newark, NJ); (2) Neighborhood Capital Budget Group (Chicago, IL); the Knowledgeworks Foundation (Cincinnati, OH); (3) the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Washington, DC); (4) the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (Washington, DC), (5) New Schools Better Neighborhoods (Los Angeles, CA), (6) New Visions for Public Schools (New York, NY), and (7) Mark Schneider (State University of New York at Stony Brook" (Ibid)

Developed by BEST is a 'four-part policy agenda' as follows:

1) Increase public participation in facilities planning;

Term Paper on Public Policy Making Assignment

2) Create and support schools as center of community that offer school-based supports to children to eliminate barriers to success and serve the broader community;

3) Improve facilities management, including maintenance and capital improvement programs; and 4) Secure adequate and equitable facilities funding." (Ibid)

The BEST report states: "State policy reform is one tool for affecting the planning, design, construction, maintenance and funding practices and processes at the state and local school district levels. However, state level standards and control must be carefully developed and applied, so that creativity, public participation, and local priorities can drive the facility planning and design outcomes." (Ibid) School facilities policies may be utilized in the endeavor of: (1) assessing state and local policy matter and in making comparison of recommended policy matter in state and local school district; or to (2) "facilitate a discussion among teachers, parents, students, principals, facility mangers, community and business leaders, about any policy barriers to well-maintained, educationally adequate school facilities; (3) Identify policy or funding incentives that can be adopted to support high quality educational facilities for all children; and (4) build consensus for state level mandates that require local school districts to engage in best practice for school facility condition, design and utilization."(Ibid)

II. STATE of AFFAIRS in NEW YORK STATE SCHOOLS

Policy issues in New York State Schools are inclusive of use of chemical and pesticides in school and recently Education Law 409-I has been enacted which establishes the department as being responsible to report "on the status of utilizing environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance (green) products in all public and nonpublic schools by June 1, 2007." (University of the State of New York: School Operations and Management Services, 2007) Policy such as this is shaped by the stated needs of certain socio-political view and in one such case the need for facility alignment for quality education is upheld by educators. A February 2004 report published by the Department of Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation author Jack Buckley reports that: "The attrition of both new and experienced teachers is a great challenge for schools and school administrators throughout the United States, particularly in large urban districts. Because of the importance of this issue, there is a large empirical literature that investigates why teachers quit and how they might be better induced to stay. Here we build upon this literature by suggesting another important factor: the quality of school facilities. We investigate the importance of facility quality using data from a survey of K-12 teachers in Washington, D.C. We find in our sample that facility quality is an important predictor of the decision of teachers to leave their current position." (Buckley, 2004) the research is stated to have been supported "in part by the Ford Foundation and the 21st Century School Fund through its BEST program." (National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, nd) the problem of retaining teachers is a problem in schools in many areas of the country and if New York State is to retain quality teachers and provide quality education then it is certain that the school environment plays a major role. Stated in the work of Buckley is: "In addition, some qualitative research indicates that more general factors, including government policies, portrayal of teachers in the mass media, and community attitudes, also influence teachers' general esteem and status in society, which features largely in their professional commitment and morale." (Buckley, 2004)

It is related by Buckley that the work of Hanushek, Kain, and Rivkin state that it is not always the salary that keeps a teacher from leaving but salaries in lower amounts might be more acceptable for teachers in exchange for working conditions that were superior to the school, which they left. Another factor that is related to school environment is the resource- availability levels and it is found in research that lack of resources "contributes to teacher job dissatisfaction." (Ibid) Buckley states that it may be that the 'No Child Left Behind' Act (NCLB) has actually worked "against the improvement of the nation's stock of quality teachers." (Buckley, 2004) Education policies of the government are held by Buckley to have been "erratic" and the bureaucracies to have been "unresponsive...[and a],,source of frustration for teachers." (Buckley, 2004) Buckley relates that while "myriad factors affect teacher retention..." because school and teaching take place at a certain place (within the school) and the quality of that place has the capacity to impact the teachers in terms of: "...the ability to teach, teacher morale, and the very health and safety of teachers." (Buckley, 2004) Poor indoor air quality is cited as well as the fact that this is a "widespread" problem and results in schools suffering from "sick building syndrome." (Buckley, 2004) the ability to maintain control over temperatures in the classroom have been cited by teachers as important in student and teacher performance. Lighting in the classroom plays a large role in the performance of teachers and students according to Buckley (2004). Illumination in the nation's schoolrooms are seeing a return to natural lighting stated to have been the norm prior to the decade of the 1950s which witnessed a decline in costs of power and a decline in use of natural illumination in schools as well. For the impact this policy being set would have in all schools across New York State in terms of costs this would certainly be sound policy agenda. Added to the reduction in electricity and power costs is the fact that a synthesis of 53 studies was conducted by Lemaster (1997) relating to school facilities and student behavior and achievement as related to daylight exposure and state that daylight "fosters higher student achievement." (Buckley, 2004) Teachers state that while receiving exposure to the natural light that teachers report not being able to see through the windows in the classroom. Next related in the work of Buckley relating to school facility adequacy is the noise levels that are present in certain schools. Buckley states that research exists which links acoustics to learning and that this research is "consistent and convincing: good acoustics are fundamental to good academic performance." (Buckley, 2004)

III. INEQUALITY in QUALITY of CLASSROOM PROVISION

The inequality in funding for school district in New York State was challenged in 1978 by "a group of property-poor school districts, joined by the five large urban New York districts, filed Levittown v. Nyquist, to challenge the state's education finance system." (Hunter, 2004) the decision rendered in 1982 439 N.E.2d359, the Court of Appeals - the highest Court in New York State was a ruling that "while substantial inequities in funding did exist, the state constitutions does not require equal funding for education. However, the court also held that the state constitution guarantees students the right to the opportunity for a 'sound basic education.'" (Hunter, 2004) in 1993 the case CFE v. State was filed and made the assortment that "New York State was failing in its constitutional duty to provide the opportunity for a sound basic education to hundreds of thousands of its schoolchildren." (Hunter, 2004) in what is termed a 'landmark' decision the Court of Appeals, in 1995, remanded the Levvittown… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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