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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Mon, Feb 5, 2007

Groups Endorse Key Provisions of Education Budget

Governor Spitzer and parents call on state legislature to deliver educational excellence for New York State’s school children

The Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) announced their strong endorsement of the historic four year funding levels, accountability, and formula reform provisions included in Governor Spitzer’s 2007 education budget at a news conference today with the Governor at the Capitol and called upon the legislature to adopt these measures.

“Governor Spitzer has proposed an historic $7 billion budget increase in state education aid over four years tied to a fair, transparent formula based on need not politics, investment in strategies that work and accountability for results. Speaker Silver has led the Assembly in supporting full education funding and formula reform. Senate Majority Leader Bruno has called for new investment with accountability, but has expressed reservations regarding formula reform. We urge legislators in both houses to take a fresh look at the Governor’s proposal, join forces and enact these reforms that express the spirit of the CFE litigation in taking the politics out of school finance and putting excellence in education first," stated CFE Executive Director Geri D. Palast.

"The school my children are currently in starts to prepare them for college in pre-kindergarten," said Tanika Jones, a parent with children in pre-kindergarten and fifth grade in Syracuse public schools. "They are encouraged to read and introduced to computers in pre-kindergarten. The school has the resources to provide enrichment programs like after school foreign language and photography field trips. This school creates a community of caring so children value coming to school and learning. My daughter's old school did not have the resources to provide the kids with a good foundation to prepare them for college or even the next level of school."

“The Governor’s budget represents a commitment to full and fair funding for the schools of each and every child,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director of AQE. “The balloons we are delivering to every legislator today represent the hope that New York State will finally accept its responsibility to provide an excellent education for every child. We are encouraged that Speaker Silver has consistently supported this type of reform. However, in the past Majority Leader Bruno has opposed this type of reform even though it greatly benefits hundreds of thousands of students represented by the Senate Majority."

At a news conference at the Capitol today with the Governor, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and the Alliance for Quality Education shifted the focus to the legislature. With 212 green balloons reading, “Day One Begins With Me,” in hand (one for each member of the state legislature), parents and advocates called on the legislature to adopt the four year funding levels, formula reform provisions, and accountability included in Governor Spitzer’s education budget.

"In fifth grade my son Jamahl was in a classroom with thirty-one children. So much time was spent on classroom management, rather than education, that my son got lost," said Victoria Bousquet, a parent of a fifth grader and a seventh grader from Brooklyn. "The next year I was fortunate to get my son into a middle school where he has twenty-three kids in his class, rather than having him stuck in another middle school in our community which has thirty-three kids per class. If my son had been stuck in another overcrowded classroom, he would have become a statistic. My biggest concern is for those kids who end up stuck in those larger classes."

The new budget proposal includes a $3.2 billion increased investment in New York City schools and a $3.8 billion increase for schools in suburban and upstate New York. New York City will also invest an additional $2.2 billion in the New York City school system bringing the total new investment in education to $9.2 billion statewide including $5.4 billion for New York City.

This means that districts like Buffalo ($48.6 million), Rochester ($35.9 million) Syracuse ($20 million), Schenectady ($12.4 million), Kingston ($3.6 million) and Brentwood ($21 million) will all receive large increases in the first year and over four times as much in the fourth year. Governor Spitzer’s budget proposal will not take away money from any school district and every district would in fact receive an increase in foundation aid.

AQE and CFE are strongly endorsing several key aspects of Governor Spitzer’s Executive Budget including:

• New Funding: Governor Spitzer is proposing a one-year public education increase of $1.4 billion statewide as part of a four-year package that phases up to a $7 billion increase in annual education funding. This represents the type of historic increase in education funding that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit sought to secure and that parents, students and communities around the state have organized to demand.

• Foundation Formula: AQE & CFE have always supported a foundation formula because such a formula is fair, simple and transparent. The Governor's proposed formula targets funding based upon student needs, not politics. In addition to the foundation formula for K to 12 education, Governor Spitzer is proposing an additional foundation formula that will make four year old pre-kindergarten universally available throughout New York State over the next four years.

• Accountability: AQE & CFE have always advocated strong accountability reforms tied to new funding. Governor Spitzer's accountability expands the measures of educational success beyond testing to include high school graduation rates and college enrollment of students of our public schools. The Contracts for Excellence the Governor proposes combine the types of planning and oversight AQE and CFE have always advocated.

In each of the last three years the Assembly has adopted education budgets that would have dramatically increased aid to schools across the state and replaced the convoluted school aid system with a fair, transparent foundation formula such as that proposed by Governor Spitzer. The State Senate Majority has refused to enact similar reforms.

Today's event marks Day 36 of the 100 Days to Educational Excellence Campaign launched by AQE and CFE on January 1, 2007, which was Day 1 of the Spitzer administration.

Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation 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 state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >