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Performance gap, not funding gap, hurts schools


First published: Wednesday, October 2, 2002

The Sept. 22 editorial "Education in New York" shows that you, like so many New Yorkers, gladly bite the red herring, the so-called "funding gap" argument, dangled before us by a group of teachers, parents, unions and education advocates known as the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

It is so silly and has no validity. In fact it is counterproductive because it distracts everyone from the real problem, which has nothing at all to do with funding.

According to the American Federation of Teachers, New York City, which your editors specifically name as a victim of the state's inequitable school funding, has a salary structure that gives its teachers the seventh highest salary in the 100 largest cities of the entire country. Did the Campaign for Fiscal Equity point this out? I don't think so.

Where do you suppose the highest-paid teachers on that list of 100 largest cities can be found? Give up? They are in Yonkers. Yonkers also has about 25 percent of its schools on the state Education Department's list of the worst schools. Rochester's teachers are the third highest-paid teachers on the salary ranking. About a third of the Rochester schools are on the Education Department's list. Did the Campaign for Fiscal Equity point this out? No.

If teachers, parents, unions and education advocates organizing this "funding distraction" kept their eyes on the real issue, they would sue the teachers in New York City, Yonkers and Rochester for being paid so well while their results are so poor. If they really cared about education in this state instead of education money, they would have organized the "Campaign for Equal Results" instead of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

We don't have a funding gap. We have a performance gap. More funding of poor performance will simply encourage worse performance. Government schools resemble Soviet collective farms. As with all monopolies, a lack of competition leads to a lack of good results.

WERNER HETZNER

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