Tomorrow, groups of parents, students, educators, administrators, unions, school board members, community organizations, civil rights groups and education advocates launch a yearlong, statewide campaign. Calling themselves Educate NY Now!, this new coalition will demand that state government fulfills New York’s constitutional obligation to provide all students with a quality education. Here’s a link to its website, which has the group’s core principles on it and will soon include a list of events.
One reason I like the name of the group is because it reminds me of the students who spoke at the Feb. 29 lobbying efforts, and especially Liz Ruddy and “Educate Me” cry to fix funding of public schools.
This coalition hopes to get out the facts about the state’s educational crisis. Hint: It’s not graduation rates. Such facts like:
- New York state has significantly reduced funding of public schools and passed the burden on to local communities. The state used to cover almost 50 percent of the cost of educating students, now it is only 40 percent.
- State funding for schools is now below what it was four years ago. This does not even account for inflation.
- Class sizes have grown, schools have closed and districts have cut Advanced Placement courses, career and technical education, arts, music, sports, foreign languages, kindergarten, pre-kindergarten, high school electivs and more.
The group will call on lawmakers to prioritize successful student achievement, ensure educational equity and fulfill the constitutional imperative to provide every student a “sound, basic education.”
Columnists, like Fred LeBrun in the Albany Times-Union, are starting to connect the dots on how the combination of the new cap on local funding combined with stagnant state aid is cutting the quality of education. Perhaps, with the creation of this coalition, more facts will get out.