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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

A "Sound Basic Education"

In its 1995 opinion, the Court of Appeals explained in some detail its idea of the sound basic education guaranteed by the state constitution. The Court issued a "template definition" that is more extensive than those used by most other state courts. Rather than simply making the Regents’ standards their sole criteria for adequacy, the Court declared that a sound basic education should consist of "the basic literacy, calculating, and verbal skills necessary to enable children to eventually function productively as civic participants capable of voting and serving on a jury."

This definition also included a list of essential educational resources that the state is obligated to provide, including adequate physical facilities, up-to-date textbooks and curricula, and a sufficient number of adequately trained teachers. In addition, the Court indicated that it expects the parties to further develop this definition when the case goes to trial. Taking into account the suggestions of its Board of Advisors, the input of participants in Public Engagement Process, and its own research, CFE developed a more comprehensive definition of the constitutional standard for a "sound basic education," which it used to develop its case at trial.

In his ruling, Judge DeGrasse modified the Court of Appeals "template" definition in accordance with the evidence parties presented at trial. Judge DeGrasse held that a sound basic education "should consist of the foundational skills that students need to become productive citizens capable of civic engagement and sustaining competative employment." Judge DeGrasse also expanded the list of essential resources the state must provide all schools in order to adhere to the constitutional standard.

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 >