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Teachers College, Columbia University
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TC's Huerta Discusses NYC School Funding Case

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TC faculty member Luis Huerta recently appeared on "Urban Agenda," a CUNY television program, to discuss a decade-long lawsuit aimed at bringing New York City billions of dollars in additional school funding.

The suit -- brought by a coalition of parents, community school boards and advocates known as the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) -- is the most prominent school finance suit among the more than 45 ongoing nationwide. In June 2003, New York State's highest court found for CFE and ordered state lawmakers to fix New York's school funding system. When the state legislature missed the deadline for determining a specific increase in education funding, Judge Leland DeGrasse appointed a panel of Special Masters to do so. In November, the Masters recommended that the city receive an additional $5.6 billion from New York State over four years for school operations and $9.2 billion for facilities.

"This case is unprecedented in a variety of factors," said Huerta, Assistant Professor of Education, who appeared on the CUNY show with Melorra Sochet, Deputy Director of the New City Council's Commission on the Implementation of CFE. "The most important is that Justice DeGrasse is in a position to order the amount of revenues which should be spent on public schools in New York City, rather than the legislature deciding this, which has been the trend nationwide. So that's something that's signaling a very important change in how schools are funded, and all states are actually watching New York in what's happening here." Huerta noted that the issue of how the additional funds will be generated still remains to be resolved.

The non-partisan independent City Council Commission on CFE Implementation - which is co-chaired by TC President Arthur Levine and directed by former New York City schools chancellor Anthony Alvarado - has been holding a series of public hearings to develop recommendations on how the city should spend money from the CFE suit. Thehearings have focused on teacher retention and recruitment, class and school size, pre-K and after-school programs, school facilities, and accountability for use of the additional funds, and have included testimony from experts such as Randi Weingarten, President of the United Federation of Teachers, and Linda Darling Hammond, Professor of Education, Stanford University, who formerly taught at Teachers College.

The remaining two hearings will be held on January 13 and 26, from 2-7 p.m., at Council Chambers at City Hall. For more information, visit the Commission's web site.

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