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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Rebell Says Pataki Continues to Ignore Court Mandate

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Michael Rebell

Michael Rebell

"Governor George Pataki is taking a $2 billion surplus that could fully fund the court-ordered Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) remedy for poor and minority schoolchildren this year and using it to further his own political ambitions. It's an outrage, and his failure to obey a direct order of the highest court in the state and to remedy the severe educational inadequacies in New York State is contemptible," said Michael A. Rebell, Executive Director of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University. "The compliance money is sitting there ready to go, but the Governor has once again abandoned the students with the greatest needs and the least resources."

Governor Pataki's proposed education budget for 2006-2007, announced yesterday in his Executive Budget, puts forward the same less-than-minimal "sound basic education" plan that already has been definitively rejected by both the state legislature and the court, Rebell said. He said that the Governor's  proposed budget shortchanges New York State's schools by almost $2 billion at a time when poor children in this state receive over $2,000 less per pupil than their more affluent peers.

Despite calls to the governor last week from Mayor Bloomberg and state legislative leaders to use the $2 billion budget surplus to comply with a court-ordered remedy for under-funded schools, the governor continues to ignore both the court and the students. "Just last week Mayor Bloomberg and Assembly Speaker Silver made strong statements urging Governor Pataki to dedicate the surplus toward funding a CFE remedy, and Senate Majority Leader Bruno called for new efforts at negotiation to resolve the CFE issue," said Rebell.

The deadline for compliance with the Court of Appeals order in the CFE case is over 500 days past due. "While the governor continues to make a mockery of our entire judicial and legislative processes, the students of New York State are denied their constitutional rights and suffer the consequences of an under-funded educational system," said Rebell.  By now "we should be long past talking about whether our students will get the CFE money and instead about how to best use it on their behalf."

The Campaign for Educational Equity is the public voice, research and action arm of Teachers College, dedicated to promoting equity through improved policy and practice.  A major focus of its work is determining how court-mandated funds awarded in school finance cases like New York's should be spent.  To that end, this coming spring, The Equity Campaign will play a key role in the annual Making Money Matters summit at which participants will discuss best uses for the money awarded in these cases, including CFE.

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