Thu, Jan 3, 2008
Editorial, The New York Sun
Embarking on his second year in office, Governor Spitzer finds himself immured within the walls of an ill-conceived campaign promise. As a candidate, Mr. Spitzer asserted with confidence that he would find the money to silence the long-running complaint of the education industry that Albany was underfunding New York City public schools. He insisted that not only would he deliver the billions of dollars in new aid demanded in court by the unions and other education activists, but would do so without raising taxes.
As what his gubernatorial challengers predicted, Mr. Spitzer is unlikely to honor that pledge. With the state deficit standing at $4.3 billion, the governor has two choices: He can either increase taxes on the most heavily taxed people in the nation or reduce the money he said he would deliver to schools. We predict the governor will opt for the second. Education activists who still think that Mr. Spitzer will stick with his plan to add $7 billion over four years to the education budget are in for a disappointment.
Mr. Spitzer's position on education spending has always been the greatest policy contradiction of his administration. "New York spends more on education per capita than all but one state in America, yet offers our children an education that is nowhere near the top," he said a year ago. That fact didn't stop the governor from increasing school aid by $1.8 billion this fiscal year, helping to create the current fiscal crisis. The new money came attached to a concept called "Contracts for Excellence," which the administration insisted would "inject greater accountability."
The so-called contracts are nothing more than an agreement made by lower-performing school districts to spend their extra dollars on a delineated set of "strategies," such as lowering class sizes or providing teachers with more training. Given the fungible nature of school budgets, the contract has little impact on expenditures. The bigger problem is that it has little to do with accountability. The money will continue to flow to school districts regardless of their performance.
If Mr. Spitzer proposes anything less than the $1.4 billion in new school aid in the upcoming budget, he can expect an outpouring of complaints from the state's teachers unions and from state lawmakers. The more significant response will be from Mayor Bloomberg, who unlike the speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, understands that a deficit cannot be closed without cutting spending and that money isn't the only factor that determines the quality of public education.
Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
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 stateâ€™s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >