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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Mon, Aug 13, 2007

School Reform Must Set Goals to Be Effective

By Geri D. Palast, Letter to the Editor, Times Union

Last April, the state Legislature enacted the 2007-2008 Education Budget and Reform Act, which allocated a historic increase in school funding (more than $7 billion during the next four years), created a new distribution formula based on need, and established new transparency and accountability measures in school finance, notably the Contract for Excellence.

By the end of September, the New York State Department of Education and the state Board of Regents must finalize and adopt regulations governing the implementation of this law.
The Campaign For Fiscal Equity, the nonprofit that brought the landmark litigation that established the constitutional right to a sound basic education, urges these state bodies to issue regulations that ensure these funds are spent on high-need, low-performing students and schools; to require the affected districts to set clear goals and measurement for accountability; and to ensure there are specific requirements for meaningful public input, comment and grievances.

In the meantime, the NYSED is obligated to either approve or call for modifications to the Contract(s) for Excellence plans submitted by the affected 56 low-performing school districts for this coming school year.

CFE urges the NYSED to hold approval of any submitted contracts that do not clearly demonstrate that high-need, low-performing students will benefit from the increased funding and that do not clearly delineate the accountability goals, bench marks and measurements to be used.

In the absence of final regulations, the NYSED must nonetheless stand firm if this 2007-08 school year is to truly to mark the beginning of a new era in our quest for an excellent education for New York's children.

Executive Director
Campaign for Fiscal Equity
New York

Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >