It's been an eventful winter for education organizers in New York State. Because there's been so much going on, here's a quick run down of some of the recent protests, rallies and other inspiring actions.
OTL allies are leading the fight to secure fair funding for the state's public schools, which are struggling in one of the most inequitable schools systems in the country. The funding gap between the state's 100 wealthiest and 100 poorest school districts is huge: $8,601 per student.
In February, the Alliance for Quality Education and Campaign for Fiscal Equity went on a statewide fact-finding tour to document the impact of budget cuts and inequitable school funding. They visited 14 school districts, and the evidence they gathered will be used in an upcoming school funding court case. Read more here.
The other major issue in New York is around pre-k. There are clear benefits to expanding access to pre-k programs and ensuring all students have early learning opportunities that set them up for later success in the K-12 system. While most policymakers in NY agree pre-k is worth funding, there's considerable disagreement on how to do it.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to fund universal pre-k for the city by taxing the rich (but would need the state's approval to implement the tax). NY Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to expand pre-k access across the state but do it without any new taxes. In support of the mayor's plan, advocates and organizers rallied recently in Albany. Read more about it here.
Another rally in Albany took place just this week, when students from Utica and other districts delivered over 10,000 letters to the Governor. The letters detailed the opportunities their schools had lost in recent years, such as arts and music, sports, and Advanced Placement classes. Protesters occupied the hallways outside the Governor's office, and several dozen were arrested over the course of the afternoon. Read more here and follow #AllofUs on Twitter for some great pictures.
Don't miss this great video from the Utica students talking about why their fighting to support and improve their schools: