Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Another Year, Another Lawsuit

In 1993, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity brought suit against the state of New York for its inequitable funding of schools and won. It helped that there is a line in the state constitution guaranteeing NYS students the right to a "sound basic education." The case wound its way through a variety of challenges and appeals, and CFE won at every stage. In 2007, the state legislature enacted a reform act that promised the schools another $7 billion by 2010-11 and vowed to make foundation aid equitable and based solely on need.

Well, guess what. The year 2008 was a fiscal nightmare in NYS, and the state decided that all bets were off, lawsuit or no lawsuit. The result has been that in our region, no school today has the level of state funding it had back in 2007, much less the additional monies promised by the reform act. Via the so-called Gap Elimination Adjustment, the state saw fit to fill its own budget gap by taking money from the schools, again in a way that caused more damage to poorer schools and less to richer schools. Our major request to the legislature this year is to kill the GEA. After all, the governor now claims we have a surplus!

Enter the CFE again, or at least its erstwhile leader, Michael Rebell, who is a real hero. His new organization, New Yorkers for Students' Educational Rights, has launched another suit. Stay tuned, perhaps for another 20 years.

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