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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Fair Share for Our Schools: A Multidisciplinary Curriculum: Provision of Education: Lesson 2
View the Short Video: Campaign for Fiscal Equality: Students Speak Out

Lesson Materials (word document)

Does New York State adequately provide for the education of its youth?

This lesson is the second of three lessons in a small Social Studies unit on the Campaign for Fiscal Equity [CFE] lawsuit. The unit was formulated with the New York State curriculum in mind, to be used in an 11th grade class in U.S. History and Government, a 12th grade class Participation in Government class or an Advanced Placement US Government and Politics class. It is particularly suited for the study of state government.

The focus of this second lesson is how New York State provides for education for its youth. The lesson examines the division of governmental responsibility for providing education laid out in the U.S. Constitution, noting that primary power over and responsibility for education is reserved to the state governments. It considers how, notwithstanding that constitutional arrangement, the national government has played an increasing role in education since World War II, and has students inquire into whether the interests of educational equity should lead to an even greater role for Washington DC. The lesson then discusses what state governments must do to deliver education, and how the organization of government in New York State impacts on the delivery of education by the state and local governments. The lesson concludes with an investigation of how the sharing of governmental responsibility for education between the state and local governments in New York has contributed to inequities in education across the state.

The lesson plan was written in the format of a developmental lesson, with parallel columns of contents, the concepts and information students should be learning, and questions, which the teacher should employ to initiate student discussion and induce higher order student thought. Those questions could just as easily be used as a basis for leading a seminar discussion of the topic. The lesson plan contains two full days of material, so it should be edited down if the teacher wishes to teach it in one day.

Standard 1: History of the United States and New York [Commencement Level]
1. Students will describe the evolution of American democratic values and beliefs as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the New York State Constitution, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other important historical documents.

Standard 5: Civics, Citizenship and Government: [Commencement Level]
2. Students will trace the evolution of American values, beliefs, and institutions; analyze the disparities between civic values expressed in the United States Constitution and the United Nation Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the realities as evidenced in the political, social, and economic life in the United States and throughout the world; identify, respect, and model those core civic values inherent in our founding documents that have been forces for unity in American society; compare and contrast the Constitutions of the United States and New York State; and understand the dynamic relationship between federalism and state’s rights.

3. Students will analyze issues at the local, state, and national levels and prescribe responses that promote the public interest or general welfare, such as planning and carrying out a voter registration campaign.

4. Students will evaluate, take, and defend positions on what the fundamental values and principles of American political life are and their importance to the maintenance of constitutional democracy; take, defend, and evaluate positions about attitudes that facilitate thoughtful and effective participation in public affairs; participate in school/classroom/community activities that focus on an issue or problem; prepare a plan of action that defines an issue or problem, suggests alternative solutions or courses of action, evaluates the consequences for each alternative solution or course of action, prioritizes the solutions based on established criteria, and proposes an action plan to address the issue or to resolve the problem; and explain how democratic principles have been used in resolving an issue or problem.

Does New York State adequately provide for the education of its youth?

Instructional Objectives:
Students will be able to:

  1. describe the structure and functioning of government in New York State, identifying the separate branches and the different levels of government;
  2. explain why a state government would divide and share powers between the central government and the local government;
  3. define the doctrine of ‘reserved powers’ in the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution, and explain why it accords primary responsibility for education to state governments;
  4. explain why the national government has come to intervene more and more in the field of education since WW II, notwithstanding the constitutional arrangement, and offer a reasoned opinion on whether or not this is a positive development;
  5. identify the four primary functions of government provision of education;
  6. explain how the four primary functions of government provision of education are shared by the central state government and local governments in New York;
  7. explain how the sharing of governmental responsibility for education in New York State results in an unequal funding of — and thus, unequal quality — of public schools across the state;
  8. take and defend a position on the best way to meet governmental responsibility to provide for universal, free public schools and to fund public education.

Suppose that your mother wants the kitchen cleaned up. Is the kitchen more likely to be fully cleaned if she just tells both of you to do it, or just one of you? Why? If she tells both of you to do it, would it be more fully done if she gives each of you specific jobs [i.e., you are to mop the floor, your sister is to clean all of the dirty dishes], or if she just tells both of you to do what you have to do? Why?

To Lesson 3

Subject Areas:
Social Studies

Grade Levels:  9-12

About the teacher:

Leo Casey is currently Special Representative for High Schools at the United Federation of Teachers. Prior to his work at the UFT, he spent 14 years teaching Social Studies at Clara Barton High School in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, NY. During his teaching stint, his classes of inner city students regularly won New York City and New York State championships, and placed as high as fourth in the nation, in the national "We The People: The Citizen and the Constitution" competition. He has received several awards for his teaching, including being named the Social Studies Teacher of the Year in 1992 by the American Teacher Awards. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Toronto, and is the author of several published articles on politics and education.




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