Short changing (students) us all
There is another version of the funding gap, too, that the governor did not address. It concerns the inequity of distribution for how the state applies its school aid formula to wealthy versus poor districts. Currently, seven school districts are suing the State of New York for underfunding their schools, among them the Port Jervis, New York School District in the Upper Delaware River Region. The case is scheduled for trial this fall. (In the past, New York State courts have ruled that constitutional rights to a basic education cannot be denied because of state budget constraints and budgetary pressures. It will be interesting to see how the court decides.)
In all fairness, New York State pays more to educate its students than most states. Further, New York State is not alone in feeling the pinch; studies show that a majority of all states are now funding schools at lower levels than before the recession.
Still, one cannot deny that state cuts have had big consequences for local school districts, resulting in long-term negative consequences both for students and for the state’s economic competitiveness.
We believe that restoring more school funds should be an urgent priority and that Gov. Cuomo should have found other places in his budget to make cuts. We question the wisdom and timing of the governor’s proposed $2.2 billion in tax cuts while school funding still lags behind needed levels. Fully funding education is an investment not only in our students and their futures, but in the state and nation’s future. Doing any less is short-changing not only students, but all of society.