November 16, 2010

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December 17, 2009

MaxedOut: New York City School Overcrowding Crisis


Report prepared by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity
May 2009

(All files are pdf's unless otherwise noted.)
Maxed Out: New York City School Overcrowding Crisis (full narrative)
Appendix (tables included in print version - entire set)

To download a specific section of the report, just click on the section below:

April 8, 2009

Danielle LeSure

Danielle LeSure, Ph.D.

Danielle LeSure is the Director of Policy for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

With a passion for policy analysis and education research in urban communities, Danielle LeSure joined the Campaign for Fiscal Equity in Spring 2009. LeSure began her work in education policy at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy (AYSP) in 2001where she conducted research on alternative teacher certification programs in Georgia and Massachusetts. She later became a research assistant for the Universal Pre-k study at the AYSP’s Applied Research Center. LeSure’s initial experiences in Georgia provided the foundation for her research in urban education issues and the role of political stakeholder groups, such as the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

LeSure broadened her research interests and experiences while completing a Ph.D. in Educational Policy at Michigan State University (MSU). She conducted research on No Child Left Behind (NCLB), teacher retention, and urban school district academic performance at MSU’s Education Policy Center (EPC). LeSure’s work at EPC critically grounded her understanding of the political and social dynamics that shape urban education reform in Michigan. She then worked as the direct assistant to former education policy advisor Sue Carnell in Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Administration. She contributed to initiatives on early childhood development, teaching, high school achievement, and family resource centers serving at-risk student populations. This experience led to more opportunities to work with policy at the national level, where she began to link policy analysis to education after being awarded the Politics of Education Association (PEA) Fellowship.

As a PEA fellow, LeSure developed and conducted qualitative research on mayoral involvement at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C. for over a year. This experience led to writing case studies and producing reports on both formal and informal mayoral influence in education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Broad Foundation. She was awarded a small individual grant from the Broad Foundation to conduct research on the educational and economic impacts of mayoral control.

Through a Congressional Black Caucus Fellowship, she later explored federal efforts in education as a legislative fellow for Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA) for a year. While on the Hill, she developed briefing materials and conducted research for the Congressman’s interests in education and housing. Afterward, LeSure returned to the U.S. Conference of Mayors as an Education Policy Analyst conducting research on mayoral roles in education and developing forums, such as the Mayors’ National Forum on Education, to increase mayors’ awareness of and engagement in their school districts’ efforts through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Additionally, LeSure has worked on grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Wal-Mart Foundation at the U.S. Conference of Mayors where she conducted best practice studies on mayoral engagement in addressing the needs of working families and building green economies by collaborating with local workforce investment board directors in urban areas across the nation through the Conference’s Workforce Development Council (WDC).

Publications & Presentations
Edelstein, F., LeSure, D., and Schneer, M. (2008). Mayoral leadership and involvement in education: Case studies of urban high school reform. Washington, D.C.: US Conference of Mayors.

LeSure, D. (2008). Informal mayoral involvement in education. (Doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University, 2008).

Edelstein, F. et al. (2006). Mayoral leadership and involvement in education: An action guide for success. Washington, D.C.: US Conference of Mayors.

LeSure, D. (2004). The core conflicts between special education and general education in an era of implementation burden under No Child Left Behind: Addressing disproportionate minority representation in special education by dropping the ax rather then wielding the scalpel. In S. Peters (Chair), No Child Left Behind – A critical analysis. Symposium conducted at the 4th Annual Second City Conference on Disability Studies and Education at Louisiana Tech University.

LeSure, D. (2004). Minority overrepresentation in special education: Dropping the ax of awareness and wielding the scalpel of excellence. In S. Raudenbush (Chair), Exploring innovations and limitations in learning. Symposium conducted at the 14th Annual Students of Color Rackham Conference at the University of Michigan.

January 9, 2009


What is Costing Out?

A costing-out study determines the actual amount of money needed to provide every child a reasonable opportunity to meet state education standards by, first, identifying the specific resources and conditions necessary and, then, systematically calculating the amounts necessary to fund each of these prerequisites. In recent years, many states have undertaken costing-out studies, including Alaska, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, and Wyoming --- in some cases as part of the development of a new funding system ordered by a state court.

How is Costing Out done?

Although a variety of methodologies have been devised in the states that have already performed cost-based funding studies, these approaches tend to fall into two main categories: "successful schools" (Empirical) and "professional judgment."1 In Maryland, costing-out studies were performed using both the successful schools and professional judgment methodologies. The studies relied on costs in 59 successful schools and on panels of experienced educators. A Maryland commission on education finance reviewed the studies and used results from both methodologies in its recommendations to the legislature to restructure the state's school finance system.

The empirical method. The empirical approach seeks to identify those school districts that have actually achieved a specified level of student performance, such as meeting state standards. The average actual level of expenditures in these districts is then used to estimate the level of expenditure that would be required to achieve a similar level of student performance in other districts throughout the state. Typically, differences in cost of living and in the numbers of students with extraordinary needs are also taken into account in these calculations.

The empirical approach is best illustrated by a system devised by a panel in Ohio in response to the initial trial court order in De Rolph v. State. 2 In its basic iteration, the Ohio methodology chose its sample of successful school districts by reference to six specific measures of student achievement, and eight input measures such as pupil teacher ratio and average class size.3 Another example of the empirical methodology is the approach used in a report prepared for the New Hampshire Adequate Education Costs and Municipal Grant Distribution Commission. It offered four alternative ways of identifying well-performing districts based on various combinations of input and output factors. One of these alternatives uses "efficiency factors" that eliminate from the pool of model school districts those which provide services beyond a specified maximum level.4 An inverse variation is the model proposed by the Council of Great City School Districts that bases the adequacy amount on the total per pupil expenditures of the 10% highest achieving districts in the state. 5

The professional judgment method. The judgmental approach accepts as its premise that the determination of an adequate cost basis will involve a large number of judgments; it seeks to establish a process that will comprehensively review the range of judgmental factors involved and ensure that those judgments are made openly, fairly, and independently. Typically this is done by assembling panels of educators to identify the specific instructional components deemed necessary to meet state standards and then having economists determine the price of each of the identified components.

The professional judgmental approach was first developed by Jay Chambers and Thomas Parrish for the states of Illinois and Alaska in the early >80s in order to develop cost-based adjustments to the education funding allocations school districts received from the state.6 Its most well-known recent application was the model utilized by James Guthrie and Richard Rothstein in Wyoming, in response to the court order in Campbell v. State.7 The Wyoming model involved extensive meetings of groups of local Wyoming educators and then of educators from surrounding states who were asked to identify all of the specific components of an instructional system that could deliver an adequate education. Once the expert panels had identified such "a basket of education goods and services," economists determined the cost of obtaining those good and services for Wyoming school districts through a series of market pricing analyses.8

Professional judgment was also the methodology used by the Oregon Council on the Oregon Quality Education Model in constructing its funding model. There, the Council, a 23- person body of legislators, educators, business leaders, advocates, and other community representatives, appointed an expert staff and four separate subject-area work groups who devised prototype elementary, middle, and high schools. For each prototype the Council set forth a detailed list of "program elements," such as core staff, program staff, additional instructional time for students to achieve standards, and district administrative overhead. "Tangible assumptions" having a direct relation to cost, such as class size, age of building, and numbers of computers per pupil were then determined and specific cost assumptions for each prototype school calculated. 9

Historical Background for the New York Adequacy Study

On January 10, 2001, Justice Leland DeGrasse of the New York State Supreme Court issued a decision in favor of the plaintiffs in CFE v. the State of New York, declaring the state education finance system at the time unconstitutional. The State had until September 15, 2001 to come up with a new system. The "threshold task" for developing such a new system, the Court held, is a determination of the actual costs of providing a sound basic education in districts around the State.

Historically, most state education finance systems, including New York's, have purported to establish, as their basic building block, a "foundation amount" that presumably would guarantee sufficient funding for each child to obtain an adequate education. In its first incarnation, state aid to local schools took the form of a flat state grant for each school child. But, because of the inequity of providing the same amount of funding for students in both poor and wealthy districts, during the 1920s many states began adopting "foundation" programs. These required local school districts to levy taxes at a rate aimed at generating enough revenue to fund a basic education, with the state supplementing the amount actually raised by poor districts when their tax base did not yield the predetermined "foundation level." 10

From the beginning, however, no real methodology was used to determine what the foundation amount should be. Instead legislatures tended to establish the foundation based on the amount of funding they were willing to allocate for educational services with little regard for actual needs. Moreover, the base amounts that initially were established eroded dramatically over time because of budget pressures, competing political priorities, and inflation. Thus, in New York State, the current foundation amount is about $3900, even though the average district expenditure is over $ 9800 and the lowest spending 10% of all districts in the state spend about $7700. 11

Costing Out in New York State

The Court's decision invalidated the state education finance system at the moment and required the State to develop a new costs-based system that ensures that every school in the state has sufficient resources to provide the opportunity for a sound basic education to all of its students. CFE immediately called on the Governor and the Legislature should immediately appoint an impartial panel of education and economic experts to promptly develop such a system using an objective costing-out methodology, either the empirical or the professional judgment approach.

A subcommittee of the State Education Department's State Aid Group had, in fact, had undertaken a preliminary costing-out analysis for New York State, utilizing the empirical approach. They defined a successful district for modeling purposes as one in which 80% or more of the students passed the Regents Examinations in five subjects. There were 66 districts in the State of New York that met this definition. The average instructional cost of these districts was then adjusted by regional cost factors and by weightings for the extra costs of educating students who are limited English proficient, low income, or from sparsely populated areas to come up with specific estimates of the actual cost of providing an adequate education in the different areas of the state.12

The expert panel should further assess and develop this empirical approach. Or, if the panel believes that the professional judgment approach is preferable, it should convene appropriate panels of educators and community representatives to deliberate on the specific resources and conditions needed by New York State students to meet the standard for a sound basic education set by the Court. Before making its final decision, however, the panel should organize a series of public meetings in various areas around the state to explain its preliminary perspectives and to obtain input from all interested parties on these critical issues. The panel's final report should be submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for prompt action.

1 A third approach is a statistical modeling methodology that attempts to determine through analyses of performance measures and cost indices how much a given school district would need to spend, relative to the average district, to obtain any given performance target. See, e.g., William D. Duncombe and John M. Yinger, "Performance Standards and Educational Cost Indexes: You Can't Have One Without the Other," in Equity and Adequacy in Education Finance: Issues and Perspectives (Helen F. Ladd, Rosemary Chalk and Janet S. Hansen, editors, 1999); Andrew Reschovsky and Jennifer Imazeki, Achieving Educational Adequacy Through School Finance Reform (CPRE Research Report, Oct. 2000). Because these models are based on a variety of theoretical assumptions that have not actually been implemented in any states, a detailed account of this methodology has not been included in the text.
2 No. 22043 ( C.P Ohio Perry County July 1, 1994).
3 See Kern Alexander et al, Proposals for the Elimination of Wealth-Based Disparities in Public Education, Report to the Ohio Legislature (July, 1995). A subsequent iteration of this model prepared for the legislature two years later, eliminated the input variables and changed the achievement standard from a norm-referenced a criterion-referenced measure (based on the percent of students achieving minimum competency levels). See John Augenblick, Recommendations for a Base Figure and Pupil-Weighted Adjustments to the Base Figure for Use in a New School Finance System in Ohio (1997 ).
4 John Augenblick, John Myers and Justin Silverstein, Alternative Approaches for Determining a Base Figure and Pupil-Weighted Adjustments for Use In a School Finance System in New Hampshire (1998).
5 See, e.g., Council of Large City School Districts, Adequate State Financing of Urban Schools: An Analysis of State Funding of the Buffalo Public Schools (1999).
6 See Jay Chambers and Thomas Parrish, "State Level Education Finance in Advances in Educational Productivity: Cost Analysis for Education Decision: Methods and Examples" ( W. Steven Barnett, ed., 1994).
7 907 P.2d 1238 (Wyo. 1995).
8 The complex methodology actually used to carry out these tasks is summarized by James W. Guthrie and Richard Rothstein, in "Enabling 'Adequacy' to Achieve Reality: Translating Adequacy into State School Finance Distribution Arrangements," 225-226 in Equity and Adequacy, supra, note 5 . A related approach is the model utilized in the State of Washington to cost out a "basic education" in response to the Court Order in Seattle School District No. 1 v. State, 585 P.2d 71 ( Wash. 1978). The legislature, using the average statewide cost of educating "the normal range ability student" as its standard, defined the costs of a basic education by reference to ratios of teachers and other employees per 1,000 students, in accordance with a state salary scale, plus additional compensation for non-employee-related costs such as books, supplies and utilities. See Diane W. Cipollone, Defining a "Basic Education": Equity and Adequacy Litigation in the State of Washington (CFE Studies in Judicial Remedies and Public Engagement, 1998).
9 Legislative Council on the Oregon Quality Education Model, The Oregon Quality Education Model: Relating Funding and Performance (June, 1999).
10 The idea of the foundation program originated with a proposal to a New York State Educational Finance Inquiry Commission. George D. Strayer and Robert M. Haig, Financing of Education in the State of New York 173-74 (1923). See also, James W. Guthrie, Walter I Garms and Lawrence C. Pierce, School Finance and Education Policy : Enhancing Educational Efficiency, Equality and Choice 133-137 (2d ed.1988).
11 The State Education Department, New York: The State of Learning, A Report to The Governor and the Legislature on the Educational Status of the State's Schools (2000). (Figures are for 1997-98, the latest audited school year reported by SED.)
12 Equity and Adequacy Subcommittee, State Aid Work Group, Preliminary Approaches to Estimating the Cost of Adequacy (Draft, May, 1999).

NY Adequacy Report Press Release - March 30, 2004 | NY Adequacy Study Proposal and Methodology | NY Adequacy Study Final Report | Council on Costing Out

Additional Resources:

Final Report of the Governor's Commission on Education Reform (Zarb Report)
S&P's Resource Adequacy Study for the Governor's Commission on Education Reform

December 9, 2008

Jean A. Laupus

Jean A. Laupus

Laupus first began working with CFE in the fall of 2006 overseeing the organization’s move from midtown to its current location in the Wall Street area. In February 2008, Laupus joined CFE’s staff as Director of Special Projects.

Prior to joining CFE, Laupus served as the parent coordinator at PS 183, the Robert Louis Stevenson School in Manhattan. Beginning in 2003 with the position’s introduction as a key element of the Department of Education’s “Children First” reform initiative, Laupus quickly became recognized as the school’s “go-to” person for parents and staff alike. Working closely with the principal and teaching staff, Laupus organized and lead workshops for parents on subjects ranging from test prep to helping with homework to the new sex education curriculum, managed a re-launch of the school’s website, and produced the bulk of the school’s communication materials, including weekly newsletters, first day packets and family handbooks. The experience affirmed Laupus’ belief in the transformative power of a good education and the critical need for every school to have adequate funding to provide its students with the support they need to learn.

Laupus began her professional career in financial public relations, followed by a three year stint as Director of Marketing for the American importer of a luxury French product. A desire to be her own boss, led her to the world of television commercial production and a busy career as a New York City-based freelance line producer. Over a period of 15 years, Laupus produced commercials for a wide variety of local, national and international products and services.

A graduate of Duke University, Laupus is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Baruch College School for Public Affairs. Laupus is the proud parent of a New York City public school student.

October 24, 2008

Public Participation

Public Participation

Supporting public participation has been an important component of CFE's work since the organization's inception. CFE has worked with partnering organizations across the state to see that the CFE solution benefits students across the entire state as well as those living in New York City. In addition to publishing extensive studies and reports on school finance policy and education costs, CFE, in concert with its allies, has conducted major public education campaigns like “Fair Funding, Better Schools,” and “100 Days to Educational Excellence” mobilizing parents and education advocates to participate in rallies, community forums and recruitment drives, and other special events.

CFE worked hard side-by-side with our education reform allies to ensure that the State Education Budget and Reform Act of 2007-08 includes unprecedented public participation measures.

Check this section regularly for public participation tools and resources, like the Know Your Rights Handbook and information on upcoming events.



CFE Reports/The Newsletter of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity

February 2004, Vol. 11, No. 1
December 2003, Vol. 10, No. 6
October 2003, Vol. 10, No. 5
July 2003, Vol. 10, No. 4
May 2003, Vol. 10, No. 3
March 2003, Vol. 10, No. 2
January 2003, Vol. 10, No. 1,

2002 CFE Reports
2001 CFE Reports
2000 CFE Reports
1999 CFE Reports
1998 CFE Reports
1997 CFE Reports
1996 CFE Reports
1995 CFE Reports

September 15, 2008

Know Your Rights Handbook


CFE's Know Your Rights Handbooks were created so that parents, concerned community members and education stakeholders across the state can understand their right to participate in developing their district's Contract for Excellence and monitoring the Contract process and district spending to ensure that it leads to student improvement.

During the 2008 state legislative session, the legislature amended the Education Act. CFE created an updated 2nd edition to include these changes as well as a version specifically for New York City.

You can download the Handbooks below:

Know Your Rights Handbook - 2nd Edition: The 2007-08 State Education Budget and Reform Law and State Education Department Regulations, as amended in 2008-09(pdf)

Know Your Rights Handbook - New York City Edition: The 2007-08 State Education Budget and Reform Law and State Education Department Regulations, as amended in 2008-09(pdf)


Manual Conozca Sus Derechos - 2a edición: La Ley Presupuestaria y Reforma Edicativa del Estado de Nueva York y las Reglamentaciones del Departamento Estatal de Educación 2007-08, según fueron enmendadas en el 2008-09(pdf)

Manual Conozca Sus Derechos - Edición para la Ciudad de Nueva York: La Ley Presupuestaria y Reforma Edicativa del Estado de Nueva York y las Reglamentaciones del Departamento Estatal de Educación 2007-08, según fueron enmendadas en el 2008-09(pdf)

May 22, 2008

Related Research

RElated research

This page is currently under construction.

May 21, 2008

CFE Archive


The Schools for New York's Future Act of 2005
CFE and a coalition of organizations formed a task force and drafted a bill that would transform the court's New York City-focused order into visionary statewide school funding legislation.

Sound Basic Education Task Force Proposals

Today's Students, Tomorrow's Citizens: Preparing Students for Civic Engagement, Spring 2003.

In Evidence: Policy Reports from the CFE Trial

Running on Empty:High Standards and Missing Resources in New York City Public Schools, March 1999