Thursday, May 22, 2008

Miami-Dade Chess Teachers Association Refutes Claim

Dear Ms. Dean,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me on Saturday during the Title I CHESS tournament. I was with the group of parents and students that showed up to support all Chess programs because of our concern that Chess funds will be cut. You said that Title I CHESS would not be effected by the budget cuts. I want to make you aware that things will drastically change for all chess programs including and especially Title I CHESS next year. There will be much less participation and many programs will drop out altogether because without the continued support from all the chess funding we will lose valuable chess coaches that in turn will affect the entire chess program.
As you know, site administrators are authorized to use Title I money to support chess including to pay teachers, pay for entry fees to tournaments, and transportation etc. Principals also have the discretion to use Title I money to hire teachers, improve technology, or pay FCAT tutors among many other needs. Title I money is to support and not supplant. Many Title I schools don't even use Title I money for chess. They use AEP Chess allocations.
When AEP allocations get cut, the school will be left without funds to pay chess coaches. Without coaches to provide classes after school, organize field trips to tournaments, and recruit parent support, the chess program will lose the steady success we have seen in the past few years.
According to a Dade Chess Teacher's Association survey and the Division of Advanced Academics records, there are 100 schools using AEP (Academic Excellence Program) chess allocations. Of those 100 schools, 90 are Title I schools. The fact is that each of those Title I schools receives at least $3400 AEP money to pay a chess teacher for the year and a $250 dollar allocation for materials. Many schools, including co-national champion Edison Park Elementary (Title I school) do not use any funds from the Title I school wide allocation.
In fact, the most active and successful elementary chess programs are AEP funded including Edison Park, Amelia Earhart, Olympia Heights, Flagami, Riverside, Scott Lake, and Norwood. These schools dominated the Title I tournament this past Saturday. These schools have been paying their teachers through Advanced Academics/AEP. That is a fact. Any cuts will seriously affect these Title I schools and others less inclined to participate in authentic assessments.
The reality is that chess programs in the district are a combination of AEP, Title I, and the Division of Life Skills. There has been unprecedented growth and participation over the past three years. It has been through a combination of all these programs. Any cuts will greatly affect all of chess. Title I schools who use AEP chess allocations will be forced to dip into already budgeted resources to continue programs. With all the cuts, this seems highly unlikely. Please support NOT cutting any chess positions or programs.

Miami-Dade Chess Teachers Association

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