New York Governor Cuomo gave his State of the State address on January 13th, mentioning numerous plans to increase educational opportunities for students in the state. He discussed community schools, preK programs, and increasing education funding. However, some education advocates have argued that the proposed funding increase still falls under what New York owes its public schools. One of our grantees, The Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), has released a new report that talks about the now decade-old Supreme Court case that mandated New York fully fund its education system, and shows what steps are really necessary to ensure that happens.
In his address, Governor Cuomo didn't spend too much time on education, but he did make some significant promises to New York schools: a one billion dollar funding increase, a preK program that includes three year olds, and an increase in community schools. This indicates a shift in focus from Governor Cuomo's now-embattled position on standardized testing, and appears to support some of the education initiatives Mayor Bill de Blasio has been implementing in New York City. But these plans do not seem substantive enough to AQE and their allies, or to many parents, students, and educators. The day before Cuomo's address, AQE helped organize a rally in the capitol building to try and encourage Cuomo to dedicate more funding to their public schools.
Cuomo's announcement failed to meet these hopes, as the one billion dollar funding increase still falls far short of what schools really need to provide a fair and equitable education to all their students. AQE lays out the history behind their fight for fair funding in a new report released this January, which shares the story of their original victory in a Supreme Court decision that mandated a fully funded public education system.In their report, they found that close to 30 percent of school districts still receive less funding than they did before the recession. AQE estimates that the state owes New York City students 2.05 billion dollars, and students outside the city 2.75 billion dollars. That combined number is far greater than the one billion promised by Governor Cuomo. Another major problem is who receives the benefits from Governor Cuomo's proposed funding increase. AQE found that 72% of the money owed by the state should go to high-needs schools. These schools need to be fully funded in order to provide the resources necessary for their students to succeed.
2016 is the 10-year anniversary of the original court decision, and AQE intends to continue to keep working together with other organizations and allies until all New York students have the funding they need to receive a high quality education, despite Governor Cuomo's disappointing proposal. For more information on the original court case and to find out exactly how much New York schools are being shortchanged, read their entire report here.