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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Thomas Sobol

Former Education Commissioner Thomas Sobol resumed his testimony and said that the State’s new Learning Standards, which Mr. Sobol helped to develop, are “the minimum, not the optimum, that students need to function productively in the 21st century.” The Learning Standards, according to Mr. Sobol, “contain the skills and knowledge in each subject area that the state has determined to be the minimum that each student needs to function productively as a citizen and in the workforce.” In their opening statements, State attorneys had argued that the new standards are “optimal”, but not a standard the state is legally obligated to meet.

Mr. Sobol was read verbatim examples from the Learning Standards for Language Arts and asked if they represented “aspirational goals”. These examples included:

Expecting elementary students to demonstrate comprehension by “read[ing] several versions of a familiar fairy tale and recogniz[ing] the differences in the versions.”

Expecting middle school students to show mastery of speaking and reading skills by “us[ing] facts and data from news articles and television reports in an oral report on a current event.”

Expecting high school seniors to demonstrate analytic skills by “listen[ing] to speeches of two political candidates and compar[ing] their stands on several major issues.”

Mr. Sobol answered that none of these was an “aspirational” standard.

Testimony given on October 26, 1999

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 >