For Immediate Release: Billy Easton 518-461-9171
March 29, 2009 Geri Palast 917-647-9135
Alliance for Quality Education and Campaign for Fiscal Equity Criticize State Budget for Providing Zero Dollars for Court-Ordered School Funding
"We applaud the state legislature for providing the critically important leadership to enact Fair Share Tax Reform that is essential to the fiscal health of the state, but the decision to stretch out the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit settlement from four years to seven years is a travesty of justice," said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.
"For the next two years the state plans to pay zero dollars in court-ordered funding to meet the constitutional obligation to provide every child a quality education," said Easton. "The phase-out of Fair Share Tax Reform begs the question: after three years will the state yet again drop back and punt on the constitutional obligation to educate every child as it is doing this year and as it has done so many times in the past?"
"Thankfully President Obama and our congressional delegation delivered federal stimulus dollars that took a bite out of the unbearably devastating school cuts proposed by the Governor," Easton said, "because without the leadership of the federal government to prioritize education in difficult times this painful budget would be absolutely devastating for schools."
"When it comes to the issue of accountability in education," Easton said, "the legislature joined with the Governor in preserving the Contracts for Excellence which are a critically important tool to ensure school funds are invested in best practices designed to provide better outcomes particularly for students with the greatest educational needs. Now the focus on accountability will shift to the next Commissioner of Education who must ensure that the State Education Department does a significantly better job of enforcing educational accountability."
"The state legislature showed leadership in enacting a temporary Fair Share Tax Reform and calling for shared sacrifice and contribution during the economic downturn," said Geri D. Palast, Executive Director, Campaign for Fiscal Equity. "Yet, the school children of New York are being asked to give more than their fair share. The proposed education budget zeros out classroom aid increases for the next two years, and stretches out the Campaign for Fiscal Equity agreement to seven years instead of four. This undermines both the constitutional obligation to provide adequate resources for a sound basic education for every public school child and the President's and the Congressional intent to ensure stimulus funds are used to fund educational equity."
"The legislature and the Governor preserved the Contract for Excellence, the accountability tool that ensures that CFE funds serve the neediest students and schools, that funds are invested in strategies that advance educational achievement, and that progress can be measured. But without investment, the process is stymied," Palast said. "With stimulus funds and the positive addition of the Fair Share Tax Reform, there is no excuse for robbing our children of their fair share of the available resources to provide the education necessary to build their futures. Our fight will continue."
Alliance for Quality Education
94 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12206
P-518-432-5315 Ext 605