Given their recent tortured history on a slew of issues, New York education officials aren't exactly inspiring public confidence by messing up one of the most important aspects of their jobs — distributing money to school districts as intended.
But such a mistake has occurred, as the state Education Department acknowledged last week. In fact, the department incorrectly distributed $12 million in federal funds to nearly 1,000 schools in New York. Some of those schools got more than they were supposed to receive, some got less.
The department says it will recalibrate the federal aid funding to even out this matter and pledges to strengthen "internal controls" so something like this doesn't happen again. The money in question is supposed to go to professional development for school staff and education enrichment.
And for champions of traditional public education, there was an added insult to these miscalculations: The state awarded more than it should have to 275 charter schools in the process. Charter schools that owe the state money will have four years to pay it back.
Over the last decade, the state's education system has given parents and students enough blows. The rollout of the Common Core initiative was disastrous, and state education officials are still trying to right that ship. As they do, they have greatly lessened the impact of the exams by not using them to gauge the overall performance of students and teachers.
On the broader funding scale, the governor and state legislators have their own issues when it comes to education.
School funding lawsuits have confounded New York for years and likely will well into the future unless elected officials take notice and actually fix certain problems. For decades, the state has struggled to see significant improvements among many "high-need" districts. Advocates say not enough resources are going to these schools, some of which are located in small cities such as Poughkeepsie. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that state's school aid formula is overly complex, despite efforts to streamline it.
The state Education Department's mishandling of this federal money can and will be corrected. But the mistake is also a stiff reminder of the larger work that remains on the education front — both in cycling through the crisis created by the implementation of Common Core and taking a profound look at education spending to ensure there is actual equity in the system.
— The Poughkeepsie Journal
High-ranking members of the Trump administration on Thursday rejected one of the president's most frequent and damaging lies — the one about Russian interference in our elections.
The White House briefing by intelligence and law enforcement leaders was meant to dispel concerns of cybersecurity experts and election officials that President Donald Trump does not take seriously Russia's attempts to continue its meddling in the 2018 midterms. But in stressing their efforts to protect the election, the officials said flatly that Russia did interfere in 2016 and, as FBI Director Christopher Wray put it, was continuing to work in "malign" ways.
It was a far better use of the White House podium than Wednesday's debacle, when press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to a question about threats to reporters from Trump backers by trying to show the media is fake news — with a thoroughly discredited claim that media reports in the 1990s led to a loss of important intel about Osama bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks. The insinuation of blame was disgusting, and utterly false. Sanders continued her attack after the briefing.
The media assault orchestrated by Trump has incited his supporters, who are growing increasingly hostile to the press, as happened at an event Tuesday in Tampa. First daughter Ivanka Trump said Thursday that she does "not feel like the media is the enemy of the people," but son Eric Trump and his father tweeted out support for the rough treatment. When asked point-blank on Thursday to declare that the press is not the enemy of the people, Sanders twice declined.
If this keeps up, someone could get hurt. The administration needs to speak with one voice and remind America that the press always has had an important role to play in holding accountable those in power, even the president himself.
— Newsday, Long Island
Apparently figuring its reputation isn't bad enough, Facebook has been asking banks to share customer data — including bank balances and recent purchases. Enough, already.
Over the past year, the social-media giant has asked JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and US Bancorp, as well as Google and Amazon, to discuss a feature that would show users their checking-account balances, The Wall Street Journal reports. Facebook has also pitched the idea of sending fraud alerts.
The banks have declined, citing their duty to keep customers' data private. Yay — and duh, too.
Consumers don't need Facebook snooping, however "helpfully." And while financial institutions can likely make e-banking easier and more convenient (but still safe), bringing Facebook's Messenger app into the mix seems beyond superfluous.
Anyway, Team Zuckerberg has a long way to go to restore trust, what with its ongoing "shadow profile" issues, not to mention the no-consent abuse of some 87 million Facebook users' data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
We understand the company's in a pickle just now — signs its profits are decelerating have slammed its stock of late. But really, it's high time Facebook starts thinking about growth that isn't based on a creepy stalker model.
— The New York Post