Battle over education funding continues in Albany

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 2/15/2012, 7:20 p.m.

"With increasing class sizes, dismal graduation rates for Black and Latino students and dwindling resources in our classrooms, funding our children's right to a quality education continues to take a backseat in the state budget," he said. "We cannot afford to continue to sit by while the opportunity to compete in tomorrow's global economy slips through our children's fingers."

Assemblywoman Barbara M. Clark, who currently chairs the education committee of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian State Legislative Caucus, said, "Every moment lost due to inaction is time that will never be recovered at the detriment of our kids.

"How much more loss and damage can our kids sustain?" she asked. "We fought the legal battle for 13 long years and won. We need to honor the Court of Appeals' decision and fund our children's public education, which is the only way it will be fair and equitable."

State Sen. Malcolm Smith, who represents Southeast Queens, said that schools in his district will be affected as well and that the children should come first.

"In these challenging economic times, we as a state need to be very careful and deliberate spending cuts that are made to ensure that vital areas are not adversely impacted," he said. "The future of our state is dependent upon the success of our educational system, and we need to take very seriously our commitment to our children."

In Harlem, State Sen. Bill Perkins said that lobbyists' promises to look out for city students are not coming through on this issue. He believes that funding schools in a competitive framework, rather than a need-based framework, turns the state government back on city students and parents.

"Such a policy will only further widen educational disparities that currently exist between schools, and I think a good lobbyist is smart enough to know that fact," Perkins said. "Instead of playing Russian roulette by way of competitive grants with school aid, which inevitably means that children will lose, we must get back on track with CFE."