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Campaign for Fiscal Equity
 

In 1995, the Court of Appeals stated that, when CFE v. State went to trial, CFE needed to "establish a correlation between funding and educational opportunity" -- that is, show that more money will make a difference. Not only did CFE need to prove that a lack of resources has been a prime reason why many of New York’s schoolchildren have not obtained a sound basic education, but that additional funds will bring about demonstrable improvements in student learning.

For this reason, CFE developed, through its Public Engagement Process, reform positions containing strong accountability measures to assure the court, the legislature and the public-at-large that additional funds for poor and minority students will be spent on effective, responsible programs.

The recent court decision, which is based on the 1995 Court of Appeals decision and evidence introduced at trial, incorporates some of the ideas generated by this public engagement process.

Remedial Order in CFE v. State

The historic decision issued January 10, 2001 by Justice Leland DeGrasse of New York Supreme Court declares that

"New York State has over the course of many years consistently violated the State Constitution by failing to provide the opportunity for a sound basic education to New York City public school students."

The court then ordered the State to reform the school funding system by September 15, 2001, stating that

"The following parameters must guide defendants' reform of the current system. This court has held that a sound basic education mandated by the Education Article consists of the foundational skills that students need to become productive citizens capable of civic engagement and sustaining competitive employment. In order to ensure that public schools offer a sound basic education the State must take steps to ensure at least the following resources, which, as described in the body of this opinion, are for the most part currently not given to New York City's public school students:

1. Sufficient numbers of qualified teachers, principals and other personnel.

2. Appropriate class sizes.

3. Adequate and accessible school buildings with sufficient space to ensure appropriate class size and implementation of a sound curriculum.

4. Sufficient and up to date books, supplies, libraries, educational technology and laboratories.

5. Suitable curricula, including an expanded platform of programs to help at risk students by giving them "more time on task."

6. Adequate resources for students with extraordinary needs.

7. A safe orderly environment.

In the course of reforming the school finance system, a threshold task that must be performed by defendants is ascertaining, to the extent possible, the actual costs of providing a sound basic education in districts around the State [More on costing-out]. Once this is done, reforms to the current system of financing school funding should address the shortcomings of the current system, by, inter alia:

1. Ensuring that every school district has the resources necessary for providing the opportunity for a sound basic education.

2. Taking into account variations in local costs.

3. Providing sustained and stable funding in order to promote long-term planning by schools and school districts.

4. Providing as much transparency as possible so that the public may understand how the State distributes School aid.

5. Ensuring a system of accountability to measure whether the reforms implemented by the legislature actually provide the opportunity for a sound basic education and remedy the disparate impact of the current finance system.

Finally, the court directs defendants to examine the effects of racial isolation on many of the City's school children. There is significant social science research that indicates that this isolation has a negative effect on student achievement. There is also some nascent research that indicates that steps to increase racial and socio-economic integration may be more cost effective in raising student achievement than simply increasing funds allocated to high percentage minority schools (see James Ryan, Schools, Race & Money, 109 Yale L J 249).

The court hereby declares that defendants' method for funding education in the State of New York violates plaintiffs' rights under The Education Article of the New York State Constitution, (Article XI, Section 1); and

The court further declares that defendants' method for funding education in the State of New York violates plaintiffs' rights under regulations passed by the U.S. Department of Education pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 USC § 2000d; 34 CFR § 100.3[b][1], [2]); and

The court orders that the defendants shall put in place reforms of school financing and governance designed to redress the constitutional and regulatory violations set forth in this opinion. Defendants shall have until September 15, 2001 to implement these reforms. The parties shall appear before the court on June 15, 2001 to describe the progress of these reforms. The court will retain jurisdiction over this matter for as long as necessary to ensure that the constitutional and statutory/regulatory violations set forth herein have been corrected."


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 >