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Rebell Urges Court of Appeals to

"When the [trial] court's order has been scorned essentially for over two years, I think it is important for this Court to speak out. The audience is not just those of us here, it is millions of children in New York who cannot understand why the highest court in the state says that something should happen and years later they are still deprived of the benefits of the sound basic education they were promised," said Michael Rebell, Executive Director of TC's Campaign for Educational Equity, before the New York State Court of Appeals.

On October 10th, in their oral argument before the state's highest court, Rebell and Joseph Wayland, co-counsels for the plaintiffs in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York, urged the court to affirm an order from an appellate court that requires the governor and the legislature to add between $4.7 billion and $5.63 billion in operating aid, phased in over four years, to New York City's schools. Rebell and Wayland also asked the highest court to order strong accountability measures to ensure that when additional dollars begin to flow they are spent in ways that make a difference in the lives of the children who need them most. The arguments were the latest round in a 13-year legal battle.

This is not the first time the Court of Appeals has ruled in this case.  In 2003, the court mandated extensive reforms by the State of New York to the school finance system to ensure every New York City child a meaningful high school education.

In February 2005, a lower court ordered New York State to spend an additional $5.63 billion a year for operating aid, to be phased in over four years, and to provide another $9.2 billion over five years for school construction and repairs. Last year, an appellate court revised that decision by ordering the state to increase annual spending by $4.7 billion to $5.6 billion for operating aid. 

Even though this year, the state added substantial increases to fund capital construction costs, it has continued to fail to budget the operating aid dollars and pass the accountability reforms ordered by the Court of Appeals in 2003.

As a result, last Tuesday, the plaintiffs were back before the Court of Appeals urging the court to ensure every New York child a meaningful high school education as the court promised three years ago.

A decision is not expected for several months.

The argument can be viewed in its entirety on the New York State Court of Appeals' web site at

To learn more about the case and the issue see: The New York State School Finance Reform Archive, an initiative of The Gottesman Libraries at TC at This comprehensive digital archive collects a broad range of documents chronicling the events and school finance issues associated with theCampaign for Fiscal Equity v. State of New York begun in December of 1999.

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