AQE joins 83 legislators in calling for Cuomo to add $1.9 billion in school aid to budget

1/16/2014, 5:05 p.m.

This Monday January 13 in Albany, 83 senators and assemblymembers released a letter calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase school aid by $1.9 billion when he releases the Executive Budget next week. Initiated by Assembly Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan, Assemblymember Karim Camara and state Sen. Kevin Parker, the letter details the sweeping cuts that schools across the state have endured each of the past five years. It calls for the support of suburban, rural, small city and large city schools across the state and for a budget that closes the funding inequality between rich and poor school districts.

“Fully funding our schools is one of the most important things we can do in Albany,” said Parker. “Our children need more investment in their future, not the cuts that their classrooms have been receiving since 2008.”

“It is important that the state honors its pledge for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity,” said Nolan. “As the chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee and the mother of a public school student, I know how important it is for the various school districts around the state to be adequately funded.”

“With the release of this letter, my colleagues and I are renewing our efforts to push for more education funding to be included in the 2014-2015 state budget,” said Nolan. “I would like to thank the leadership of Speaker [Sheldon] Silver on this issue, and we look forward to having these conversations during the budget season.”

The letter warns, “If we continue to disinvest in our children and their schools, we will be sacrificing the economic future of our state and the well-being of our children and families.” New York is ranked fifth in the nation in inequity of educational opportunities between wealthy and poor school districts. This gap has been exacerbated over each of the past five years due to cuts in classroom aid followed by consecutive years of insufficient funding to schools.

“We cannot continue down this road of inadequate investment in public education,” said Camara, chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus. “Today’s students are the future of this state, and denying them the quality education they need and deserve will not only harm them today, but this state for years to come. That’s why we are calling for a budget that will fully and fairly invest in their education and futures.”

“Albany can no longer deny the urgent need to invest in schools,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “A system of haves and have-nots has been created in New York schools and counters the state’s constitutional obligation of providing every student with a ‘sound, basic education.’ We are looking for Gov. Cuomo’s budget next week to finally address the glaring inequality between rich and poor schools that have been swept under the rug for far too long. No more excuses.”

Among the issues highlighted in the letter were:

• 90 percent of schools have less classroom operating aid than in 2008-09.

• School aid increases in the last two years have been inadequate to prevent additional classroom cuts.

• As a result, class sizes have soared and schools have been forced to cut many areas, including arts, music, Advanced Placement courses, tutoring and even pre-K and kindergarten.