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Legislature told to provide NYC schools billions in new funds by April 1

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) -- the organization that brought suit over a decade ago against New York State seeking additional funding for New York City schools -- scored a major court victory on March 23rd when the Appellate Division, 1st Department directed the State to provide the city's schools with $4.7 billion to $5.63 billion in operating aid and $9.2 billion in capital funding by April 1, 2006.

"This is a terrific victory from a court that has been hostile to our position in the past," said Michael Rebell, co-counsel and former head of CFE and now executive director of Teachers College's Campaign for Educational Equity. 

"All five judges -- even those who had said in the past that the Constitution only required an eighth grade level education for New York's students -- made clear that they will no longer tolerate the state's failure to provide New York City students with their constitutionally-protected right to a   sound, basic education. Just as importantly, this decision builds on the growing success of the education adequacy lawsuits nationally, with plaintiffs achieving victory in 21 of 28 cases heard by states' highest courts."

While the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court has repeatedly found in favor of CFE, this intermediate appellate court has supported New York's Governor in past decisions it has rendered on the case. The new decision adds pressure to the budget negotiations currently underway in Albany, with the appellate court ruling that it is "undisputed" that the State has failed to appropriate the amount of funding needed to meet the CFE mandate.

"All the pieces are now in place and no more excuses are possible," said CFE Executive Director Geri D. Palast. "We expect the legislature to adopt a full CFE remedy by April 1, as the court has mandated, and we hope the governor will play a statesman's role and support the final resolution of this long-running case."

Passage of legislation will mean that, next year, students will start to reap the benefits of a CFE remedy that will deliver the resources their schools need to provide the quality education to which New York's children are entitled. Rebell and The Campaign for Educational Equity will be co-organizing a conference later in the spring on how to most effectively use money from the CFE case to improve New York City schools.

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