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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Benno C. Schmidt, Jr.

Benno C. Schmidt, Jr., former president of Yale University and current Chairman of Edison Schools, a for-profit company that manages schools around the country, testified about the June 1999 report, “The City University of New York: An Institution Adrift.” Mr. Schmidt was appointed by Mayor Giuliani to chair the Mayor’s Advisory Task Force on the City University of New York, the agency that compiled the report.

The task force found that 87% of CUNY’s community college freshmen fail one or more placement tests and 55% of CUNY freshmen fail at least two. Sixty percent of CUNY’s incoming freshmen are NYC public school graduates. Mr. Schmidt stated that most of the entering students requiring heavy remediation are recent graduates of NYC public schools and that fact should be a “call to arms to the City’s public schools.” He testified that many of CUNY’s problems are directly attributable to the NYC public schools’ failure to ensure that students achieve minimal standards of literacy and math proficiency.

Mr. Schmidt also expressed the task force’s concern about the quality of teacher education that CUNY provides. The report found that 25 to 30% of all NYC public school teachers are CUNY graduates and that these teachers are not as prepared as they should be. Also, the report found that while these teachers are heavily represented in many of the City’s troubled schools, only a small percentage are in the City’s best schools. The report concluded that many CUNY students pursuing education degrees are “wanting in basic education knowledge.”

Schmidt testified that while the task force recommendations for NYC public schools (including aligning standards across the K - 16 continuum, early intervention for students who fall behind, efforts to build English proficiency for ESL students and ending social promotion) did not directly call for the additional spending, the recommendations would indeed require more funds.

Testimony given on February 2, 2000

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 >