Hundreds of Students Still Missing

Power of Ten Update
In This Issue:
1. Hundreds of Students Still Missing
2. A 76 Million Dollar Question
3. Many 58 Million Dollar Questions

1) Hundreds of Students Still Missing

As reported by Power of Ten last year, hundreds of East Ramapo students went missing during the pandemic. Now new data just released by the state indicates that the graduating class size fell by 22% from 2020 to 2021. The 2020 graduating class size as reported by NYSED was 759, and in 2021 it was 589. These students are not reported as either still enrolled or dropped out. This artificially raised the graduation rate, but there is still the question, if they didn’t graduate, and they aren’t still enrolled, and they didn’t drop out, where are they???

The students who went missing were likely the most vulnerable, and concerns have been raised by community groups, especially Proyecto Faro, which has developed a program called “Every Child Counts” after discovering a child who was suffering abuse in the home after over 100 days of being absent from school.

Proyecto Faro has continued to be involved, and is holding regular community meetings on topics such as the Dignity for All Students Act

2) A 76 Million Dollar Question

As a result of the landmark civil rights trial won by the NAACP against the East Ramapo school board, we learned that Rabbi Hersh Horowitz support seems to guarantee a position on the board. As revealed in the trial, according to an elected board member, the major difference between winning and losing election to the board was that Rabbi Hersh Horowitz supported their candidacy, 

The Journal News has reported that the school board members who received Rabbi Horowitz support have voted to award his CEC organization at least $76 million of Federal Funds over the past decade.

Rabbi Horowitz has responded that “CEC will continue … providing myriad essential educational services to thousands of children … attending private schools”. However, as revealed by the trial transcripts, in his private conversations with school board president Grossman, he says Science and Social Studies are “Hard. We are at basic literacy and math”.

Students in private schools are entitled to an education which is substantially equivalent to public school. The school board is responsible to ensure this right, but they are put in place by someone who profits from the status quo. This is why the system of governance in East Ramapo is dysfunctional, and why systemic change is needed. 

3) Many 58 Million Dollar Questions

In 2015 voters rejected a bond to borrow money to repair schools, because no one trusted the school board with money. In 2016 the NY State Education Dept. provided written assurance they would monitor that the funds were spent correctly, and East Ramapo voters agreed to spend $58 million of their tax dollars.

How was this money spent? Who reviewed all the buildings and grounds, and produced a report on the conditions and repairs and cost estimates for each? What criteria were used to decide which jobs to do, and when did the state review the plans? Who was the project manager? How were the jobs bid out? What controls were put in place to prevent fraud, waste and abuse? Where is the final report that includes all of the details? 

This year we have experienced two school closures due to mold, asbestos, leaking roofs, and a boiler fire. Many areas in our schools are in disrepair and even closed for use. At one school, new equipment installed is so oversized that the noise is irritating neighbors hundreds of feet away. NY State officials must hold the Education Department responsible for their cozy relationship with the school board. They have given us 58 million more reasons that they cannot be trusted with even one dollar.