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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Wed, Dec 2, 2009

Parents and Education Advocacy Groups Praise Legislature for Rejecting Mid-Year School Cuts

Cite Years of Underfunding and State's Failure to Meet CFE Settlement Committment for 2009-10 School Year

The Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), the leading statewide parent and community-based education coalition, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), New York’s leading education litigation and policy organization that established the state constitutional right to a sound basic education, and the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ), New York City’s largest parent organizing group, praised the state legislature for rejecting mid-year school cuts. The proposed cuts follow years of school underfunding confirmed by the state’s highest court in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit and a failure earlier this year to meet the state’s 2009-10 school funding obligations under the CFE settlement.

“The Senate and the Assembly listened to what New Yorkers had to say about the state's budget crisis—in bad times we have to protect our school children,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director of AQE. “Education is the key to our economic recovery and the state legislature has provided the responsible leadership needed to protect our school children against devastating cuts. Our courts have already determined that for decades the state left too many school children in under-funded schools in order to balance the state budget. The court ordered solution to ensure every child's opportunity to learn has already been delayed due to the fiscal crisis, taking money back now would have been unacceptable.”

“Senator Sampson and the Senate provided the leadership that was needed to protect our school children and to stop cuts to our schools from being passed on to local homeowners in the form of property tax hikes," said Easton. "Speaker Silver and the Assembly agreed that these school cuts would be too damaging to contemplate and joined with the Senate in stopping them. By acting together, the legislature took responsible action to close the deficit. As we head into 2010 we need to focus on practical solutions. Lately the Governor has used a lot of rhetoric about taking unilateral action, some of which would overstep his constitutional authority; this type of posturing is not helpful to finding reasonable and responsible solutions to difficult fiscal challenges."

“The Senate and the Assembly have acted responsibly in rejecting mid-year cuts to schools. The proposed cuts would have continued to undermine the education of our children and the future of our economy. New York’s highest court, in the face of evidence demonstrating years of severe school underfunding, affirmed a constitutional right and a standard for what every school child in New York must receive: qualified teachers, principals and school personnel; appropriate class sizes; adequate and accessible school buildings with sufficient space to ensure appropriate class size and implementation of a sound curriculum; sufficient and up-to-date books, supplies, libraries, educational technology and laboratories; suitable curricula, including an expanded platform of programs to help at risk students by giving them “more time on task;” adequate resources for students with extraordinary needs; and a safe orderly environment. The State’s commitment to fund this right and standard must continue to be a priority that guides the decisions of our state's leaders in these difficult times. Tough times do require tough choices. In 2010, prioritizing education, particularly closing the resource and achievement gaps for our neediest schools and students must be a primary factor in decision-making,” said Geri D. Palast, Executive Director, CFE.

“As a grandparent of children in NYC schools and a member of the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, I am very excited that the legislature heard our voices and decided against major budget cuts to our educational system in the middle of the year. These would have been devastating. CEJ understands that the state is in a serious budget crisis but this is not the time to take needed resources away from our children. In fact, it is a time when they need them the most,” said Lenore Brown, CEJ.

In the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, the New York State Court of Appeals - the state's highest court - ruled that the state was failing its constitutional obligation to provide the funding necessary to ensure every child has access to a quality education. Though the CFE case only applied to New York City, the legislature and the governor enacted a statewide CFE settlement at the urging of both AQE and CFE. This settlement, enacted in 2007, committed the state to increase basic classroom operating aid, also called foundation aid, by $5.5 billion over four years. This settlement followed 14 years of delays and inaction that left schools under-funded. After two years of payments the state failed to meet its obligations in the 2009 budget. The proposed cuts that the legislature rejected would have been in addition to the failure to fulfill the CFE commitment for the 2009-10 school year.

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 >