Buses from across New York State converged on the capitol Dec. 5, carrying hundreds of school supporters with a message for state lawmakers: Stop the fiscal crisis before it’s too late.
More than 700 participants in the Educate N.Y. Now bus tour called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature to address the looming crisis and increase funding for underprivileged school districts. The Educate N.Y. Now Express picked up supporters en route to Albany, while speakers at each bus stop expounded on classroom cuts and the loss of opportunities in their area.
As the governor prepares his 2013 state budget, Educate N.Y. Now is asking for the removal of the cap on state school aid, a commitment to phasing in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) settlement and reform of the cap on local property tax levies that is "damaging" the state's schools.
“As lead plaintiff in the CFE lawsuit, my goal was to bring equity to low-income students who were short-changed from the opportunity to receive a sound basic education,” said New York City Councilmember Robert Jackson, who chairs the Education Committee. “Now, nearly a decade later, the state has failed to keep its fiscal commitment to protect the educational rights of the children of New York.”
Jackson added that Wednesday’s walk to Albany put a spotlight on the unacceptable funding disparities in the public education system.
“The mere trickling of dollars in our public school system has barely had an impact on our children’s education. They can’t afford to wait any longer!” he said.
Recently, the New York State Council of School Superintendents reported that half of all school districts could face insolvency in the near future. Widespread damage from Superstorm Sandy has only deepened the budget crisis for hard-hit schools along the coast.
Amparo Sadler, the grandparent of a 3-year-old in Central Islip, noted that many children have already lost their homes to Sandy and shouldn’t have to weather more classroom cuts.
“We know the governor is working hard to provide recovery and relief, but if students’ schools take more classroom cuts, then they will be twice victimized. Investing in our schools is critical to providing stability and hope in students’ lives and to supporting the economic recovery,” said Sadler.
The Educate N.Y. Now Express made more than 25 stops across the state to highlight the fiscal crisis affecting school districts, whether urban or suburban, high need or low need.
The bus tour is over, but the group said the fight for quality education is not, and urged New Yorkers to take action.