Sun, Feb 10, 2008
Community Organizations, Education Advocates, Clergy and Labor
Coalition Launches Campaign to Protect Schools from $700 Million Cuts
A diverse coalition of education advocacy groups, community organizations, clergy, labor unions and dozens of elected officials gathered on the steps of City Hall today to launch a campaign against state and city budget proposals that would cost New York City public schools about $700 million.
Members of more than 60 community groups, parent organizations and unions, as well as some 40 state and city elected officials, have formed the ‚ÄúKeep the Promises‚ÄĚ Coalition in response to proposed budget reductions in education for city schools:
‚ÄĘ The city has imposed an immediate 1.75 percent cut to schools ‚Äď a $100 million, mid-year cut that will disrupt schools‚Äô programs, schedules and staffing.
‚ÄúAfter 13 years of litigation, New York State legislated a promise to add $2.35 billion in classroom operating aid for New York City over four years, Mayor Bloomberg promised to add $2.2 billion and the state further promised to provide $11.2 billion to subsidize the city‚Äôs $13.1 billion school construction plan to finally fund the constitutional right to a sound, basic education,‚ÄĚ said Geri D. Palast, Executive Director of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which took the state to court to win increased funding for New York City schools.
‚ÄúBoth the state and the city are proposing $700 million in cuts in these commitments,‚ÄĚ Palast continued. ‚ÄúLong overdue funding of these promises tied to accountability for this ‚Äėcatch up‚Äô plan must be immunized from short-term economic fluctuations. A generation of kids has already paid the price for delayed funding with their futures.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWhen government promises to safeguard the quality education of our children, parents and the public have a right to expect those promises to be honored,‚ÄĚ said Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers.
The campaign will raise public awareness, lobby city and state elected officials and will include a large rally to be held in mid-March.
‚ÄúThe elected leadership of the city and the state promised to finally end the delays and excuses for not educating every child. Only one year after historic school funding commitments by both the city and the state, we must not break the promises to our kids. Every dollar promised must be delivered to our classrooms, and this coalition is demanding that a promise made is a promise kept.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe city‚Äôs and the state‚Äôs proposed budget cuts to city public schools are extremely damaging for our kids,‚ÄĚ said Ocynthia Williams of the New York City Coalition for Education Justice. ‚ÄúThe promise to fund programs like comprehensive middle school reforms and class-size reduction is broken, and their broken promise is a broken dream for all of our children,‚ÄĚ she added. ‚ÄúParents are not going to sit back and do nothing about this. We‚Äôre going to join the public in organizing and fighting to restore the budget.‚ÄĚ
The mid-year budget cuts are particularly troubling and could not come at a worse time, said Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan.
‚ÄúSince the Department of Education‚Äôs devastating mid-year school budget cuts were announced, there‚Äôs been much frustration and anger,‚ÄĚ Logan said. ‚ÄúBudget cuts at the school level should have been the last resort, especially considering there‚Äôs been little transparency in the DOE‚Äôs central administration cuts. Principals should not have been put in a position where the intervention programs and other school activities they vested time and money into now run the risk of being considerably downsized or eliminated altogether.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúImmigrant kids will be among the hardest hit by these broken promises,‚ÄĚ said Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. ‚ÄúHow can we ask immigrant kids to study hard and learn English when the city and state budgets are heading in the wrong direction and are undercutting English language learner programs?‚ÄĚ
Other members of the coalition include: Hispanic Federation of New York State Executive Director Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, New York City Central Labor Council Executive Director Ed Ott, ACORN Head Organizer Jon Kest, representatives of the Chancellor‚Äôs Parents Advisory Committee, UNITE HERE, SEIU Local 32-BJ, New York Immigration Coalition, NAACP Metropolitan Council, El Centro de la Hospitalidad, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Coalition for Asian American children, Advocates for Children, the Center for Arts Education, Coalition for Educational Excellence for English Language Learners, Education Voters of New York, Make the Road by Walking New York, New Settlement Parent Action Committee, Crotona Committee to Stop the Violence, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, South Brooklyn Youth Consortium Inc., Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Highbridge Community Life Center.
Elected officials on-hand to support the Coalition included State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and City Council Members Joseph Addabbo Jr., Charles Barron, Gale Brewer, Bill de Blasio, Alan Gerson, Eric Gioia, Sara Gonzalez, Vincent Ignizio, Letitia James, Melinda Katz, Oliver Koppell, Jessica Lappin, John Liu, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Darlene Mealy, James Oddo, James Vacca and David Yassky.
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 state‚Äôs responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >