Wed, May 21, 2008
Chancellor Says State Must Change Contract for Excellence to Absorb City Education Budget Cuts
Education Advocates and State Elected Officials Voice Opposition
On May 21, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced the City's plan to ask Albany for â€śflexibilityâ€ť to $63 million of the Contract for Excellence funds that are supposed to provide additional funding for high-need low-performing schools. Klein stated that without that flexibility some of the city's highest performing schools would face budget reductions of up to 6 percent. CFE Executive Director Geri D. Palast and other members of the Keep the Promises Coalition immediately voiced their strong opposition to the plan. Governor David A. Paterson and NY State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver issued statements calling on the city to solve the problem by keeping the City's education spending at the promised level.
The following statements were released in response to Chancellor Klein's announcement.
CFE Executive Director Geri D. Palast:
Governor David A. Paterson:
Speaker Sheldon Silver, NY State Assembly:
As part of the resolution of the CFE case, the state and city agreed to provide additional funding for specific programs including class size reduction. We kept our end of the bargain, providing an increase of $622 million in Foundation Aid for the city this year alone. But the city does not want to keep its end of the bargain, and is looking to cut its support for education by $500 million.
The quality of our children's education cannot and must not run up and down with economic cycles. In a year of significant fiscal challenges for the state, the Assembly fought for and delivered funding to provide a decent education for children. The city agreed to accept the state support for schools with certain requirements, but now Chancellor Klein and Mayor Bloomberg want to renege on that agreement. We have kept the promise to New York City's schoolchildren. Now the city must do the same.
United Federation of Teachers (UFT ) President Randi Weingarten:
Mayor Bloomberg understands the need to use surplus money when it comes to the important priority of increasing salaries for our police force. I think all would agree that our children's education is equally important.
The Department of Education claims it wants the flexibility to spend state education funds as it sees fit, but what it really wants is the flexibility to mask the extent of the cuts because it's the city's budget formula that's causing the problem. Rather than playing games with the budget, the Mayor and the Chancellor should do right by our kids by providing the resources necessary to help schools most in need and immunizing schools that are doing well against budget cuts.
Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) President Ernest A. Logan:
We strongly oppose any outcome that would pit schools against one another - the haves and the have-nots. It is the DoE's responsibility to provide a base-level funding to schools that keeps everyone on the same footing. Not doing that years ago led to the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.
We strongly oppose holding back C4E funding. Principals need that money now to plan, and the DoE needs to stay true to the court-ordered purpose of that money - Which was to enhance the programs and services at chronically under-funded high-needs, low-performing schools.
We urge the DoE to find ways to cut nonessential programs and put new initiatives on hold - recommendations that have been made by principals and others all across the city including City Council Speaker Quinn earlier this week. Nothing is more important than the programs, personnel and services in schools that directly affect children.
In the spirit of collaboration and transparency, we urge the DoE to open its books and provide a comprehensive look at its finances. If we could see how they arrived at their numbers and understand their decisions thus far, we could provide a great deal of assistance in helping to find areas where more savings could be realized.
Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the stateâ€™s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >