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Where's the logic in tutoring eligibility?

To its credit, the media in general has caught on to the strategy of the New York State Education Department that continues to issue blanket news releases proclaiming that schools are in need of improvement due to either poor math or English language arts scores without having the courtesy to identify the particular subgroups experiencing difficulties on the state assessments.

A few weeks ago, after receiving the typical blanket new release from the State Education Department relative to a small North Syracuse Junior High School subgroup, two reporters called me to determine the identity of the subgroup. To counter this unfair indictment of an entire school being classified as a School in Need of Improvement, I continue to include the category "students with disability" immediately after the state designation "English Language Arts," so as to set the record straight.

Sad to say, I have no idea when Congress will act on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Law, which continues to fascinate me with the amount of federal money and attention allocated to a very small number of students in our schools.

I continue to be amazed that we must allocate up to 20 percent of our entire Title I allocation, $380,000, for after school tutoring through outside agencies due to test results of approximately 60 students with disabilities on the State English language arts tests. Likewise, up to 20 percent of the Title I Stimulus Fund money is also allocated for after school tutoring to outside agencies.

The result of all this is the lack of money for important programs for a much larger group of students.

But here is the real contradiction: some of the very disabled students who need help will not be able to receive after school tutoring. That's right - students with disabilities who don't qualify for free and reduced lunch are ineligible. Thus, a student on free and reduced lunch with a high test score qualifies for after school tutoring while a youngster with a disability, but not on free and reduced lunch, is ineligible. Is this logical?

Hopefully, saner heads will prevail when Congress finally gets around to evaluating and reauthorizing No Child Left Behind.

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