Students, parents and teachers from around New York converged on Albany on Wednesday on the final stop of the Educate NY Now tour, a campaign to restore funding to public education and reduce inequalities between poor and wealthy school districts. Organized by the Alliance for Quality Education and Citizen Action of New York, the 800 rowdy protesters demanded that remove the cap on state school aid and reform the property tax cap that limits funding to schools provided by local governments.
Educate NY Now organizers say that current state policy clearly undermines a 2006 Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which established that New York State had a constitutional obligation to provide funding for the neediest of school districts and a sound education for all students. New York City Councilmember Robert Jackson said “Now, nearly a decade later, the State has failed to keep its fiscal commitment to protect the educational rights of the children of New York.” Jackson was also a lead plaintiff in the successful CFE case.
“Bringing the state back into compliance with the CFE remedy must be a top priority for the Governor and Legislature this session,” said Wendy Lecker, lawyer for Campaign for Fiscal Equity. “We cannot afford to sacrifice another generation of students before the State meets its constitutional duty to provide every child with a ‘sound basic education.’”
The New York State Council of School Superintendents reported that half of all school districts could face insolvency in the near future, implying that the absence of state support and policies to reduce property tax burdens had left school districts critically underfunded.