Budget cuts throughout New York State threaten to disproportionately impact low-income students of color, much like the COVID-19 crisis itself, warn TC’s Michael Rebell and New York State Senator Robert Jackson in an op-ed for the New York Daily News.
“The pandemic has starkly exposed the terrible extent of social vulnerabilities and inequities New York has long ignored or thought too complex or politically risky to confront. This is not a time to perpetuate and magnify these inequities,” argue Rebell and Jackson, who co-founded the Campaign for Fiscal Equity — a coalition of parents and community groups — which successfully obtained a landmark ruling from the state’s highest court in 2003 that aimed to address the long-standing inequitable funding issue.
Despite the court mandating that New York implement an equitable, needs-based funding formula for schools to fulfill the case’s established constitutional right to an education, high-need communities have lacked adequate funding, the authors assert, due to the actions of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has underfunded the foundation aid formula by about $3.8 billion each year.
Now, a coalition of statewide education organizations, parents and students is preparing to go to trial (with Rebell as co-counsel) to continue the fight for education funding in New Yorkers for Students’ Educational Rights (NYSER) vs. State of New York.
Arguing that public understanding of the value of education and teachers is greater than ever, Rebell and Jackson assert that the public will support efforts to meet students’ needs and to fund education. They call on New York’s governor and attorney general (Letitia James) to join the coalition to “establish a new funding system that will ensure on a permanent basis an equitable and cost-effective system for ending opportunity gaps and educating all of the state’s children.”
[Read the full op-ed in the New York Daily News here. Read about a report co-authored by Michael Rebell calling for media literacy education to become a requirement in K-12 schools throughout the state, and a story on Rebell's effort as lead attorney of a federal lawsuit asserting that students have the right to an education that prepares them to be capable citizens. ]