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Alliance for Quality Education releases report

11/23/2011, 2:41 p.m.

The Alliance for Quality Education just released a report titled "Back to Inequality: How Students in Poor School Districts are Paying the Price for the State Budget." The report provides a detailed analysis of each of the state's 684 public school districts by examining 2011-2012 school year budget cuts and comparing the correlation between district poverty and wealth with the size of the cuts. Poor districts in the state received cuts that were two to three times larger than the wealthiest school districts. As a result, classroom cuts now being felt by students hit poor districts the hardest whether they are in large or small cities, suburbs or rural communities. A cut of $843 per pupil in poor districts amounts to a cut of $21,075 for a classroom of 25 students-more than three times the size of cuts in wealthy districts.

"My son started his education journey in Yonkers, beginning with full-day pre-kindergarten," said Lekia Hill, Yonkers parent. "Pre-kindergarten prepares our children for a quality and successful grade school education. It is where our children learn their letters, sounds and numbers. It's where they learn the days of the week, the months of the year, and the seasons. Now my son is in the sixth grade, he is bright and is an honor student. Now, I'm upset that my 3-year-old daughter won't have full-day pre-kindergarten, because in Yonkers it was cut to half day. Why? Because Governor Cuomo and the state legislature decided that millionaires and billionaires deserve a tax cut. I'm sure our legislators had an opportunity to receive a quality education and I'm sure those that have children had the same opportunity as well. If 'Education is a Civic Right,' the words of our Governor, not me, then why isn't he making it a number one priority for our future?"

"It is unacceptable for our dollars to be ripped out of classrooms through budget cuts. My school lost our parent coordinator, our art teacher and our after-school program-in order to give tax-breaks to the wealthy. New York City parents and students are anxiously waiting on Governor Cuomo and the legislature to renew the Millionaire's Tax so that we can deliver a quality education to our children," said Carlos Ruiz, Parent Association President of the High School for Law in Manhattan.

"While the Governor ran on a pledge of being the great equalizer in education, we now find in our classrooms that the neediest students sacrificed the most to underwrite tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires," said Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. "Expanding class sizes and cutting arts, music, summer school, and advance placement classes, and in some districts cutting kindergarten or pre-kindergarten to half day, will deny some students the opportunity to get ready for college and the job market."

"The budget cuts to the Troy City School District led to the closing of the largest elementary school in the district. This has caused great overcrowding in all of the other elementary schools. It has resulted in classes being taught in locker rooms and hallways. The District also closed two of the five libraries in the elementary schools. And even with teachers agreeing to a wage freeze, the District laid off eight teachers," said Mark Walsh, Troy Teachers Association President.