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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Definition of a Sound Basic Education


A sound basic education consists of the skills students need to meet the Regents’ learning standards, sustain competitive employment, and function productively as civic participants capable of voting and serving on a jury. To provide the opportunity for a sound basic education to all students, every school must have essential resources and a climate conducive to serious teaching and learning.


Essential resources include:

1. Teachers, principals and other personnel who have appropriate skills, training, and professional supports.

All teachers should be trained and certified in accordance with the Regents’ learning standards. Teachers should also be provided with additional professional supports, such as mentoring for new teachers, appropriate supplies, and opportunities for staff collaboration.

2. Small classes.

Recent research has demonstrated the strong link -- long known to parents, students and teachers -- between small classes and student achievement. Based on this research and on state and national goals, classes in New York State should be no larger than 18 students in grades K-3, 20 students in grades 4-6 and 24 students in grades 7-12. Class sizes and instructional groupings for students with disabilities should reflect their individual learning needs.

3. Sufficient and up-to-date curricula, books, libraries, technology and laboratories.

To be prepared for competitive employment and to function as productive citizens, all students need access not only to a full curriculum as defined by the Regents’ learning standards, but also to computers, laboratories and performance facilities that will allow them to develop a full range of important basic skills.

4. Appropriate support services for all students and supplemental aids, services and suitable instructional programs for students who are at risk of academic failure due to concentrated poverty, or who have disabilities or limited English language skills.

Under the Commissioner’s Regulations, all students are entitled to appropriate guidance, health and other support services. The Regents have declared that virtually all students, including those with special needs, can meet the new learning standards. Students who live in concentrated poverty, or who have disabilities or limited English language skills, often require additional instructional programming, instructional modifications, and/or supplementary aids and services in order to meet the Regents’ learning standards.

5. Adequate and accessible physical facilities, maintained in good repair.

Adequate facilities means buildings that are not overcrowded, that include the necessary space (such as laboratories, gymnasiums, and art studios) for all essential curriculum areas, and that are accessible to students with physical disabilities.

A climate conducive to serious teaching and learning requires:

1. Effective school leadership.

Research on effective schools has demonstrated that the presence of a skilled, highly motivated principal and other school leaders is the most important element in a climate conducive to successful teaching and learning.

2. On-going professional development.

A culture of continuing professional development which creates dynamic collegial support and interactions is necessary to motivate and equip teachers, principals and other personnel to provide consistent, effective instructional services for all students.

3. A safe, orderly, and respectful environment.

Recent studies consistently show that a safe, orderly environment is a pre-requisite for effective teaching and learning. Schools should create this environment by ensuring physical safety, promoting peaceful dispute resolution and respecting the needs of all members of the school community.

4. A range of extra-curricular activities.

Students should have access to a range of extra-curricular activities that prepare them for civic participation and full, productive lives.

5. Effective partnerships between parents and school staff, as well as the active involvement of the local community.

Parent and community involvement is a key determinant of a school’s success. Schools should encourage parents and community members to be actively involved in the life of the school and to promote positive learning attitudes in their children.

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 >