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Campaign for Fiscal Equity
 

Tue, Sep 26, 2006

New Data: Long Island's School System Still Separate and Unequal

Elected Officials, Parents, Leaders Urge Albany to Fix System through Statewide CFE v. State Solution

Long Island’s poorest districts, which serve high concentrations of African American and Hispanic children, receive substantially fewer education dollars and score lower on state exams than in its wealthiest districts, according to new data released by education groups and elected officials at a press conference on September 26.

The new analysis looked at eleven of the poorest and wealthiest districts on Long Island. The study found that the eleven poorest districts receive about $12,500 per pupil, compared with over $19,000 per pupil in the wealthiest districts. The data also showed that just 42 percent of fourth-graders in the poorest districts passed the most recent state English exam, while 77 percent passed in the wealthiest districts. The study reveals that in the poorest districts, African American and Hispanic children make up about 80 percent of the student population. In the wealthiest districts, the student population is about 85 percent white.

The press conference––sponsored by CFE, the Alliance for Quality Education, the Long Island Progressive Coalition, and Long Island ACORN––united elected officials, parents from the wealthiest and poorest districts, and organizational leaders in an urgent plea to lawmakers. They called on Albany to end the unfair disparities in schools through a statewide political resolution of the 13-year Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit. A CFE resolution would result in an influx of hundreds of millions of dollars in additional education funding to Long Island’s schools. Districts seeing increases in state education aid include: Brentwood (97 percent increase); Copiague (101 percent increase); Uniondale (194 percent increase); and Westbury (189 percent increase).

“We are cutting the cord to Long Island's economic future if we do not ensure that every child receives a quality education. Local taxpayers are doing all they can. Through a statewide solution to CFE, the state must provide the resources invested in effective educational programming so that we can end educational inequity on Long Island and across the state,” said Assemblymember Charles Lavine of the 13th assembly district.

"Education is the key to the future for our children. The State of New York is not fulfilling its responsibilities to provide every child with a quality education. That is why we need a statewide settlement to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case,” said Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams from the 1st legislative district.

“This tragic story of neglect of the education of children in poverty, largely African American and Hispanic, could have been different had their constitutional rights been enforced and CFE resources distributed statewide by now. Further delay is unconscionable,” said CFE Executive Director Geri D. Palast.

“This data shows that Long Island has two separate and unequal school systems. While students in largely white and well-off districts receive excellent educations, students in poorer districts with large concentrations of African American and Hispanic children have fewer resources than they need to meet children’s needs. A statewide solution to CFE would provide the resources and the educational accountability necessary to level the playing field without lowering the quality of education in high-performing districts,” said Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Billy Easton.

“Our global competitors are providing their five-year-olds with junior MBA programs, while here Central Islip my son is faced with the possibility of having his gifted and talented program cut,” said Kraig Knibb, a parent in the Central Islip School District.

“We are tired of waiting for our kids to get a good education. Right now, hundreds of kids in Hempstead are learning in trailers. If the funding disparity was resolved, Hempstead would get an extra $40 million from the state; homeowners wouldn't face such a terrible tax burden; and our kids would receive an education that is as good as what the kids in Garden City now receive. We’re not trying to bring other schools down. We just want a fair chance for our children,” said Beatrice Braxton, ACORN member and Hempstead parent.

The Long Island press conference was part of a month-long action agenda called “Act for Education Month” that aims to secure an immediate final statewide resolution to the CFE case. The month of action precedes two major events that are expected to force a CFE solution: (1) a decisive October 10 court hearing in the case at the New York State Court of Appeals and (2) the election of a new governor who is committed to a statewide school-funding settlement.

For more information on “Act for Education Month”––which will culminate with a statewide bus tour on October 9 and 10––and to see the new Long Island data in full, please visit www.aqeny.org or 216.92.199.229.


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 >