Community calls on NYS to provide adequate and equitable funding for schools
Posted on 01/04/2018
Photo from January 04 2018 press conference calling for equitable school fundingParents, teachers, students and community members from Schenectady came together for a press conference at Mont Pleasant Middle School on Thursday, January 4 to express support for public schools and to publicly demand that New York State provide adequate funding to schools in the upcoming budget.

The conference was attended by Schenectady Superintendent Larry Spring, President of the Schenectady Federation of Teachers Juliet Benaquisto, members of the Schenectady Equity in Education Coalition, Alliance for Quality Education and Citizen Action of New York.  Other speakers included Mikayla Foster, a 2017 Schenectady High School graduate, Reverend Dustin Wright of Messiah Lutheran Church and Jamaica Miles, lead organizer with Citizen Action of New York and a Schenectady parent.

This comes in advance of a January 9 Education Advocacy Day in Albany where several parents will travel to the New York State Capitol to speak to Senator Jim Tedisco about the importance of education issues including restorative practices and community schools across the Capital District.  These programs and many others rely on the state's school funding formula, the Foundation Aid Formula, being fully funded in the forthcoming state budget.

New York has failed to adequately fund schools according to the Foundation Aid Formula for more than a decade, failing to address vast inequities in educational opportunities across the state, especially for black, brown and low-income students.  

According to the New York State Board of Regents, New York still owes students $4.2 billion in Foundation Aid.

"We are grateful to AQE and Citizen Action of New York for their unwavering commitment and hard work to bring awareness to the importance of equitable school funding and demand that state leaders fully fund public schools," said Spring.  "We must continue to urge our state leaders to make education funding a priority and to take aggressive steps toward ensuring that high need districts have the funding necessary to provide services, resources and supports that give every student in Schenectady, and across the state, an opportunity to be academically successful.  We appreciate the support of many Schenectady community groups, residents and state lawmakers who also continue to advocate on our behalf.  Please continue to stand strong, make your voices heard and hold lawmakers accountable to our students with a promise of equity and by fully funding the Foundation Aid, as per its original design."

"Another year behind us, nearly seven full months since I graduated from high school, and we still have seen no change," said Foster." We cannot afford to be set behind another generation due to lack of funding, or rather lack of commitment to the youth that reside in this area.  Your zip code should not dictate your future."

Wright spoke about how the ancient teaching of all faiths can help everyone understand today's issues.  "In our rapidly changing world, to live an abundant life, our young people need equitable access to quality, well-funded education," he said.

Miles said there is no excuse for NYS, which has some of the biggest corporations and wealthiest residents,  to underfund public schools.  "Each year, schools in black and brown communities have to make do with less," added Miles.  "Less guidance counselors, less restorative justice coordinator and less enrichment programs in arts and music.  Our children deserve the same resources and supports as students in wealthier districts."  

She added, "we call on Governor Cuomo and state leaders to deliver the $4.2 billion in Foundation Aid that are owed to the children of New York."

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