Free School Lunch Increase Reflects Bad Economy!

According to a recent New York Times article titled, ” Lines Grow for Free School Meals Thanks to Economy,” by Sam Dillion there is a breathtaking increase in the number of students now enrolling in the free meals program.

Last Year, the Department of Agriculture, the department responsible for administering the meals programs throughout the nation’s public schools, cited a 17 percent increase in students receiving subsidized lunch. In 2010 there were 21 million students enrolled in the program. This increased from 18 million enrolled in the program during the 2006-2007 academic school year.

To qualify for free lunch, a family must be in the 130 percent of poverty level bracket. This equates to a family household income of $29,055 for a family of 4 members. To receive reduced lunch the family income must not surpass $41,348 for a household of 4 members. If the family’s income meets this standard then the reduce rate is 40 cents for the meal daily.

Although, most experts believe that most of the increase enrollment in the meals program is directly related to increase poverty being experienced by families across the nation, the experts also say it is not the only factor to consider.

In 2004 congress passed what is known as the direct certificate requirement. This requires schools districts to essentially match the students receiving food stamps with their enrollment records and automatically enroll these students in the meals program. It is noted that more and more school districts are following the congressional requirement.… <Read More>

Unions…Bullies in NYC Schools?

In his 11th State of the City speech, Mayor Bloomberg announced last Thursday of his intention to form “school-based committees” that would evaluate teachers at 33 struggling schools in the NYC public school system. The city stands to lose $60 million in School Improvement Grants from the state due to the lack of agreement between the teachers union and Mayor Bloomberg concerning a teacher evaluation process. By establishing these committees, Mayor Bloomberg hopes to bypass this dispute and allow the schools to receive the funding. Also at stake are the districts’ share of federal Race to the Top funds, which include several more million for improvements in instruction.

The school district signed a commitment with the grant application promising to revise labor contracts for teachers in grades 4 through 8 and require that personnel be evaluated as highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective. Student performance was required to make up at least 20 percent of the evaluation.

Bloomberg said that under the existing union contract, the city has the authority to form school-based committees to evaluate teachers on merit and replace up to half of the faculty in those schools. The President of the United Federation of Teachers asserts that the mayor lacks the authority to set up the committees and start evaluating teachers, noting that this kind of initiative has to be negotiated with the union. Will a legal battle over this issue delay the process even further?

The recent documentary “Waiting for Superman” shed light on the issue of teachers in charter schools, where such teachers generally do not need to join existing collective bargaining units, a sore spot for teachers unions. … <Read More>

Do charter schools help NYC children?

In December the New York City Panel for Educational Policy approved three new charter schools, all of which are part of a network of charter schools run by Success Academy Charter Schools, which is run by former city councilwoman Eva Moskowitz. This decision is part of an initiative undertaken by the New York City Board of Education to house multiple schools within one NYC Department of Education building in order to fill what it sees as underutilized facilities.

Many of these new schools, including these three charter schools, have been opposed by parents and teachers from the schools which are already located in these buildings. Those opposing these “co-locations” argue that the students of the district schools located in the buildings are adversely affected by the addition of the charter schools in the same building. These effects include limited access to facilities such as the gym, library and lunch room, increased class sizes as well as a disparity in the amount spent on the students of each school.<Read More>

Lunch at 10 A.M. due to Overcrowded Classrooms


overcrowded classroom

Bagels, eggs, pancakes and orange juice seems to be the correct food to eat at 10 A.M. It’s breakfast time right? Not so much the case at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers, in Lower Manhattan. At 10 A.M it is the beginning of the lunch time periods.

Due to overcrowding and the fiscal budget crisis students all around New York City are experiencing earlier lunch times, tighter classroom seating arrangements, less personalized instruction, and higher building student to teacher ratios.

According to the United Federation of Teachers’ survey  released on Thursday, September 22, 2011, New York City Public School classrooms are overcrowded. Classroom size is at its highest in 10 years. The survey notes that nearly 7,000 classrooms are over their contractual limits. The contractual limit for Kindergarten classroom is 25 students; for grades one to six the limit is 32; for middle schools it is 33; and for high schools it is 34.The overcrowding in New York City Public School is said to stem from attrition, budget cuts and increased enrollment.

All across the New York City district the education system is feeling the increase. Most notable are High Schools in Queens. About 2,600 classrooms are overcrowded, with more than 34 students in each room. Some schools have imposed class schedules based on shifts to deal with lack of teachers and limited classroom space.

The teachers at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers, use the method of shifting a handful of students into Advanced Placement classes, whether or not they wanted to take them, to deal with overcrowding classrooms.… <Read More>