Victory in CFE Case Should
Bring Vast New Resources for City Schools
The landmark ruling by the New York
State Court of Appeals in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity
case—in which the Court
held that New York State’s school aid formula unconstitutionally
denies New York City students a sound, basic education and
directed the Legislature to revamp the formula to redress the
injustice by July 2004—is a huge victory for New York
City students and a ringing defeat for Governor George Pataki.
The Court of Appeals ruling means
that the Legislature and the Governor must get to work without
delay on revamping the State’s complicated—and now we know unconstitutional—aid
formula for New York City and, in my opinion, all high-needs
When all is said and done, New York City schools will realize
hundreds of millions of dollars in additional State aid.
Governor Pataki wasted two precious years appealing the case,
years that cost City schools dearly, but worse still, cost
countless children at failing schools a quality education that
can never be replaced. Those two years are gone forever.
I am proud that since I became chair
of the Education Committee we compelled the Governor ultimately
to go along and increase the level of State aid to City schools
to a dollar level that is finally in proportion with the
percentage of students statewide attending New York City
public schools. But as the Court of Appeals held last week—unequivocally—this
in no way substantiates that New York schools are funded
adequately, especially considering our higher costs, greater
poverty levels, the high numbers of children in special education
and our disproportionate number of students whose first or
only language is one other than English.
In her opinion, Justice Kaye rebuked
the state for having argued on appeal that all that is required
by the State Constitution’s
education article is that the state ensure that students achieve
an eighth grade education. Instead, said the Court, state aid
must be high enough to give our students a real opportunity
to acquire the knowledge necessary to meet the state’s
own higher learning standards and pass high-stakes Regents
examinations required for graduation.
With the fruits of this victory,
when the Court’s ordered
remedies are in place, New York City’s students—and,
I am certain, those in similarly under-funded districts across
the state—will benefit from resources that will help
pay to attract and retain quality teachers; to reduce more
class sizes, in more grades; to provide adequate early intervention
services; to have and use modern textbooks and learning materials;
and to deliver overall resources ample enough to give each
and every one of our students a realistic opportunity to acquire
the skills necessary to master the State learning standards,
earn a diploma, and move on to productive lives.
As Chairman of the Assembly Education
Committee, I am ready to get to work to fulfill the Court’s
mandate. Mr. Pataki, are you finally ready?#
You can e-mail Assemblyman Sanders at email@example.com
or phone him at (212) 979-9696.