Notes from the Education Budget Battle

Things are decidedly heating up in the battle to stop Governor Cuomo’s plan to cut $1,500,000,000 from our state’s school system.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s $600,000,000 for NYC alone.  We’re fighting as fast as we can, but we need YOUR help.  

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page: Governor Cuomo’s plan to cut our state’s education budget by $1.5B (this after the $1.4B stolen from our kid’s classrooms last year) would not be necessary if Governor Cuomo would agree to the common-sense extension of the existing “millionaires tax”.  We have this silly notion around NYCC that our government should protect our children, not millionaires.

From the NY Daily News comes an article from Michael Rebell, Professor at Teacher’s College, Columbia University.  He was one of the lead attorneys for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which argued back in 2007 that how the state funds public education is fundamentally unfair to urban, working class neighborhoods.  Anyway, they won and now all New Yorkers have the constitutional right to “the opportunity for a sound basic education.”  What’s this guy’s take on the Governor’s budget plan?  It’s unconstitutional.

From a constitutional point of view, however, the governor and the Legislature have an obligation not merely to exhort school districts to “do more with less,” but to demonstrate that constitutionally appropriate services can and will actually be maintained despite the budget cuts they are putting into effect.

Next, from the Times Union, we get a story that all these protests are getting to Governor Cuomo.  He thinks we’re using “scare tactics” and “threats” that will hurt kids, all so we can play some political game.  The good Governor thinks school districts should dip into their reserve funds to cover the shortfalls created by his budget.  That’s sort of like living off your savings when you get laid off: It’ll work for a while but that’s just delaying the inevitable.  We think the Governor’s running scared.  Anyway, here’s the story.

Lastly, if you were not, you should have been with us last night.  We joined with the Alliance for Quality Education and the NY Charter Parents Association and rallied at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall.  Parents and educators both let out elected representatives know that we elected them with the promise they’d watch out for our schools, and now we need to hold them to their promise.  Much as we’d loved to have had you join us last night, we’re holding another press conference / rally March 27th at 1:00PM.  Don’t worry, it’s a Sunday…

And, as always, we need you to join our fight!

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