Thu, Jan 21, 2010
Parents and Advocates Protest Governorâ€™s $1.4 Billion Cut to Schools On Top of the Broken CFE Promise
Deliver Over 1000 Broken Pencils to Governor Symbolizing Broken CFE Promise
(Albany, NY) The Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), Citizen Action of New York (CANY), New York City Coalition for Educational Justice (NY-CEJ), and Education Voters of New York called Governor Paterson's 2010 executive budget a colossal step in the wrong direction. The governorâ€™s budget proposal would slash $1.4 billion in funding from schools and stretch the original four-year CFE phase-in to ten years. This cut is the biggest cut proposal to education in the history of the state of New York. These cuts come on top of the stateâ€™s failure to deliver any of the promised CFE funding for the current year.
"Today in 2010, we know that preparing all students for success in college and their career is the educational justice issue of our day, and the Coalition for Educational Justice has a clear proposal for redesigning and expanding the school day that would bring our school system to the 21st century. With the Governor proposing the biggest cut in our stateâ€™s history, we would be taking a huge step backwards, that will not only be more expensive later down the road but would instantly hurt our children across the state,â€ť said Gail Gadsden, Parent leader with AQE and CEJ.
â€śThe Governor's budget would make a record funding cut to our schools. The Governor has called for a 21st Century knowledge-based economy, which we need, but these cuts would push knowledge to the back of the class. $1.4 billion in cuts will mean larger class sizes, less programs to get students prepared for college, cutbacks in the arts. The legislature must say no and we are confident they will say no,â€ť said Billy Easton, Executive Director, AQE.
â€śIn 2007, the governor and legislature set out a four year plan to remedy the insufficient and inequitably distributed education resources and provide for the constitutional right to a sound basic education. Instead of making good on that original IOU to our children that was to be paid in full this year, Governor Paterson proposes $1.4 billion dollars in cuts to schools this year and stretching out fulfilling the Campaign for Fiscal Equity promise to 10 years. This means six more years of insufficient resources which will fall most heavily on the neediest schools and students. The increase in school spending referred to by the Governor was catch-up money to begin to address chronic deficiencies. In New York City alone, the sad facts show: 254,603 students attend a school identified as low-performing by the state. Thatâ€™s more students than the Houston School District enrolls; 215,278 students did not meet ELA and/or Math standards. Thatâ€™s more students than the Philadelphia School District enrolls; According to CFE Maxed Out report, 167,274 students attend overcrowded schools designated as low performing by the state. Thatâ€™s more than the Dallas School District enrolls; Class sizes are the largest in the state. On the key classes needed for a NYS Regents diploma: HS students in classes of 34 or more â€“ 21.6% English; 21.2% Math; 23.4% Science and 24.8% Social Science. Citywide â€“ more than 25% of Kindergarten students are in classes of 25 or more. In the middle school years â€“ some of the most challenging years of schooling â€“ more than 80% of 6th, 7th and 8th grade students are in classes of 25 or more. These facts are mirrored throughout the state. While the Governor cites high per capita spending for students, averages mask the critical truth that New York has one of the largest gaps in the nation in per capita funding between high and low wealth schools. In 2005-06, the gap was $2576. Only fulfilling the CFE promise by equitably distributing funds sufficient to provide the instrumentalities of learning will solve this problem. New York cannot afford this proposal that condemns another generation of students to an inadequate education,â€ť said Helaine Doran, Deputy Director, Campaign for Fiscal Equity.
Last year, the legislature delivered flat-level school aid payments forcing school districts across the state to cut vital teaching positions and proven educational programs. Due to the size of the governorâ€™s proposed cuts, it is expected that this year even more program and teaching positions would be eliminated.
â€śYes, we agree with the Governor, these are indeed some of the hardest economic times many of us have ever lived through. Even before this current fiscal crisis hit, there were far too many barriers to lifting families out of poverty and too many were struggling to make ends meet. A quality education has been a life line for many but the reality is that the Governorâ€™s proposed budget will take vital resources from the neediest students. What is lacking in the Governorâ€™s Executive Budget is a plan to not only address the stateâ€™s fiscal reality but also to fully address the resources needed to transform the way we educate every child regardless of race, ethnicity or socio-economic background... If we are going to recover from the failures of Wall Street and prepare a workforce ready for a knowledge based economy, we must reignite the engines of economic prosperity by providing every child with an excellent public school education,â€ť said Glynda C. Carr, Executive Director of Education Voters of New York.
"The Governor's 'Recovery Budget fails to provide the most important ingredient for economic recovery - investment in New Yorkers. School cuts are not only a huge step backward for our kids -- they will also drive our economy even further down. Our children can't wait ten years for a quality education, and our state can't afford the economic impact of layoffs and failing schools,â€ť said Karen Scharff, Executive Director, Citizen Action of New York.
AQE has previously endorsed a set of cost savings and revenue alternatives which include; an elimination of the Empire Zone program, bulk purchasing of prescription drugs, and energy saving programs in schools and state agencies. After a full review of the governorâ€™s proposed budget as well as his cost savings package, AQE will issue a new set of cost saving revenue options for the 2010 budget in the coming weeks and call on the legislature to adopt them.
The press conference was one of five press events being held simultaneously across the state including; Buffalo Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Long Island. In Albany over a thousand broken pencils symbolizing the stateâ€™s broken CFE promise to school children were delivered to the governorâ€™s office.
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 >