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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Fair Share for Our Schools: A Multidisciplinary Curriculum: How much money do we spend on education in New York State? Is it fair?  
View the Short Video: Campaign for Fiscal Equality: Students Speak Out

Lesson Materials (word document)

Essential Questions: What does the amount of money spent on education in different counties in New York State depend on?

Description: This is a math lesson designed to encourage student understanding that there exists a mathematical relationship between median income and per pupil expenditure in New York State. It allows students to examine the data from 7 counties and make connections between the amount of money spent per pupil and other factors such as median family income, race, attendance and percentage of college-bound students. It reinforces the mathematical concepts of independent and dependent variables, trends of best fit and graphing while encouraging students to use mathematics calculations as evidence when advocating for a more fair funding system.

Obiectives: Students will be able to:

  • Plot points and create graphs from a set of data
  • Analyze the mathematical fairness of the NY State funding formula
  • Determine the equation of the trend model of best fit for the data given.
  • Identify independent and dependent variables.

Students will know and understand:

  • That there exists a mathematical relationship between median income and expenditure per pupil;
  • That mathematical modeling will help to illustrate the inequity in school funding.

NY State Mathematics Standards (from www.nysed.gov):
Standard 1: Students will use mathematical analysis as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.
Standard 2: Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.
Standard 3: Students will understand mathematics and become mathematically confident by communicating and reasoning mathematically, by applying mathematics in real world settings, and by solving problems through data analysis.

Students will:

  • Represent problem situations symbolically by using algebraic expressions and graphs;
  • Understand and apply ratios, proportions, and percents through a wide variety of hands on explorations;
  • Model real world situations with the appropriate function;
  • Use computers and graphing calculators to analyze mathematical phenomena; and
  • Describe and represent patterns and functional relationships using tables, charts and graphs, algebraic expressions, rules, and verbal descriptions.

Standard 7: Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science, and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.

Lesson Length: 3 periods

Suggested Grade Level: 9 – 12

Materials: Chart paper, graph paper, pencils, rulers, TI 83 calculator or above (optional), "The State of Learning" in New York (pdf file), copies of handout: "Who Gets a Fair Share?"

Subject Areas:

Grade Levels:  9-12

About the teacher:

Erica Litke is in her 3rd year at East Side Community HS where she teaches 12th grade math and economics. She holds a BA in Mathematics and English from Oberlin College and an ED. M in Administration, Planning and Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. While at Harvard, she worked closely with the Partnership for after school education, working at and running after school programs in Boston and the Bronx.
Before becoming a teacher, Erica was Program Director for National Dance Institute, an arts education organization that works with the NYC public schools. She continues to dance and perform, and teaches a tap class after school at East Side. Erica was a 2003 recipient of the Fund for Teachers Grant, allowing her to spend the sum studying Spanish and traveling in Ecuador.



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