Educators across New York State are beginning to get politically active. Don’t get confused, this is not a Teacher Contract concerned. School Boards, Administrators, Teachers, and Unions are on the same side—protecting our students from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Education Reform.
What’s all the fuss about?
- 35,000 fewer educators in classrooms than six years ago
- Wealthy districts are now spending $8,733 more per pupil than poorer districts
- More than half the state’s districts are operating with less state aid than in 2008
- Cuomo’s referral to public education as “one of the only remaining public monopolies”
- School Districts are in the dark when it comes to how much State Aid they will receive. They were told to plan on the same amount as last year, but it might increase. The State Budget’s School Aid ranges from $377 million to more than $1 billion
- In 2006 The New York Court of Appeals found that NYS violated students’ constitutional rights to a “sound and basic education” by underfunding schools. They created a Foundation Aid program, to be phased in by 2011. It has been delayed
- NYS, since the 2009-10 school year, has deducted from each school district’s state aid allocation an amount known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). These cuts were much larger to poorer districts. The State committed to reinstate the fundings later
- Looking at the Foundation Aid and the GEA funding together, NYS owes schools districts $5.9 Billion. That includes $181 million to Southern Tier Schools, $437 million to Western New York Schools, and $428 million to Finger Lakes Schools. Your local School Districts will be able to tell you how much NYS owes them. (In other words, Governor Cuomo is holding the schools highly accountable with less funding
- Governor Cuomo has pushed for more Charter Schools, which takes public funds away from public schools and gives it to for-profit schools
- Common Core requirements
Zephyr Teachout, Governor Cuomo’s Primary election opponent in 2014, summarized the education community problems as:
“The fight for public schools in New York gets more tense every day. Here’s where we are:
Andrew Cuomo proposed a budget that is bad for our children and our future. He proposed some money for education funding, but only if it comes with more testing, and more diversion of public money to privately-run schools. His budget doesn’t come close to the amount required by the state constitution to provide a basic education to all children.”
She goes on to report that “the people-powered movement for schools around the state is on fire. Over 200 schools protested last week. Finger Lakes’ teachers sent 1,000 apples to Governor Cuomo. In Manhattan, parents, teachers and community members formed a human chain around Spruce Street School to protect it from Cuomo’s policies. Similar protests took place in over 80 other schools across the city.”
Locally, last Thursday (March 12) Southern Tier Educators met in Painted Post to discuss the education reforms that Governor Cuomo proposed.
“We’re like that dog that’s been kicked and kicked and kicked, and now we’re going to start fighting back,” Corning-Painted Post School District Superintendent Mike Ginalski said.
“We’re starting to get fed up. We have implemented every reform this governor has asked us to in good faith, and I think in every district teachers are working extremely hard.”
Finger Lakes Educators will hold a “Community Forum for Public Education” on Thursday (March 19) at 7:00 in Geneva in the Albright Auditorium at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. One of the organizers, Tina Webber, Penn Yan Middle School teacher and Co-Chair of the Penn Yan Teacher Association said,
“Under the control of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, schools and our school children are being treated as pawns in a sick game that favors wealthier districts, flawed testing protocols and ridiculous rhetoric. Enough is enough. We can no longer stand idly by, hoping that someone else will put a stop to the punitive and manipulative ways of a governor who is misrepresenting our schools and blaming teachers for problems that don’t exists and for problems he creates.”
There will also be an Education Forum in Lansing on Thursday, March 19. Be on the look out for others near you to attend.
Dedicated Educators, besides doing their jobs helping our children to develop into tomorrow’s adults, now have to fight our government for the resources that they are legally required to provide to our schools.