Albany, NY – In response to state lawmakers reaching an agreement to fully fund Foundation Aid and strengthen tenant protections in the final state budget, Rosemary Rivera, Co-Executive Director at Citizen Action of New York and Chair of the Alliance for Quality Education, released the following statement:
“Perhaps 14 years is the magic number for long-term fights to win in New York State. In 1993, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, a lawsuit brought by parents, including now Senator Robert Jackson, was filed and a movement for education equity commenced. Thirteen years later, in 2006, education advocates rejoiced as the highest court in New York affirmed what parents everywhere were saying, that money matters and that without the proper resources, schools could not provide the excellent education every child, no matter what zip code they live in, deserved. The following year, 2007, was met with the first down payment toward that. It took 14 years to achieve that victory, and then the recession hit and education advocates found themselves right back at square one. This time with a Governor who denied the validity of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and called it a ‘ghost of the past.’
“Here we are 14 years later and the legislature has once again vowed to fully fund public schools. This time, we want to make sure that we keep this promise to make sure our schools are well equipped, fully staffed and that our students and teachers have the resources they need. In a state and nation as wealthy as ours, there should be no reason why any child has to go without reading materials or school lunch. For decades, funding for schools in Black, Brown and low-income communities was on a decline.
“I was one of many parents who joined the fight to make sure that the state was fulfilling its constitutional obligation to ensure all children receive a sound, basic education in New York. Today, as the Chair of the board of Alliance for Quality Education, which was co-founded by Citizen Action of New York, I am extremely proud that our decades-long fight to fully fund public schools has ended here with this budget. We finally got an agreement from our state to fully fund Foundation Aid for New York’s public schools. The work parents, students and organizers have done has resulted in this historic victory. The payments will be phased-in to bring New York up to what its current funding levels should be, and from there, the formula will be permanent so that children are not short-changed again. Now our work turns to localities to make sure that money is spent with those parents and students at the table.
“While this education victory is huge, housing stability is also critical for children and families. We are grateful to our legislative partners and the tenants across the state who helped us win a rent relief package in the final budget that will ensure tenants can stay housed while we remain in the midst of a public health crisis. With the inclusion of accessible application options and expanded tenant protections, we are hopeful that the billions of dollars allocated to address the rental crisis will finally translate to real relief for tenants who are on the brink of eviction. We thank our legislative allies for their recognition that housing justice is racial justice, and for demonstrating that commitment by standing up to Governor Cuomo. We also ask that they extend the current eviction moratorium until this program can be fully implemented.”