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Our Students Deserve College and Careers, Not Cuts!

January 26, 2011

Clockwise: AQE Executive Director Billy Easton, Assemblymembers, Brennan, Jaffee, Nolan, Lifton, Weprin, and Crespo.

Today the Alliance for Quality Education released the report ‘Unequal Opportunity = Unequal Results’ and warned Governor Cuomo that large cuts to education would increase inequity. Over 15 New York State Assemblymembers and Senators showed up to the press conference in the State Legislative Office Building today to demonstrate their support of the Alliance for Quality Education’s “College & Careers, Not More Cuts” Campaign.

*Complete report with graphs and tables can be found here

During his campaign for governor Andrew Cuomo asserted that, “There are two education systems in this state. Not public-private. One for the rich and one for the poor and they are both public systems.” Based on the findings of the report AQE warned that large cuts to education in next week‟s Executive Budget would increase educational inequity and would hurt students living in poverty and students of color the most.

Key Findings-

  • The higher wealth districts (classified as Low Need Schools) spend $1,712 more per pupil than the state‟s neediest schools—the Schools in Need of Improvement (SINI). This difference amounts to a $788 million funding gap between these schools.
  • Less than 57% of students in SINI schools graduate on time, as opposed to more than 92% in Low Needs schools.
  • In SINI schools 21% of graduates receive an Advanced Regents Diploma, an indication of college readiness, compared with 61% in Low Need Schools.
  • In SINI schools 68% of students live in poverty compared with 6% in Low Needs Schools, 69% of students in SINI schools are African American and Hispanic compared to 9.73% in Low Needs schools.
  • According to a new national study by Education Week, New York State schools are “a perennial top-ranking state,” ranking 8th out of 50 states in K-12 achievement and 2nd in overall policy and performance.
  • Education cuts will have a long range impact on the income of New York‟s work force: the income difference between people holding a Bachelors Degree and people holding a High School diploma is $21,424 a year.

“The gap in educational opportunity that this report illustrates is dramatic. It is based on many factors, but one of the most important is inequitable school funding, if Governor Cuomo‟s budget proposes large education cuts it will disproportionately hurt African American and Hispanic students and the students in poverty of all races,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, AQE. “But it will also undercut high quality schools where over 90% of students graduate on time. Neither of these outcomes will restore confidence in state government or turn around our economy.”

“We cannot continue to perpetuate our 2-tiered system in 2011. Free public education is a civil right. Delivery of it should not be based on race, class, or zip code as this new report demonstrates tragically that it still is. It is up to the governor to ensure that even in these terrible budget times that current inequities in schools are not made worse. In fact, he needs to give serious consideration to how to reduce inequities through the budget he is about to propose,” said Carol Boyd, Coalition for Educational Justice Parent Leader.

“In far too many schools, across New York State, particularly in districts that are highly populated by low income families and communities of color it is acceptable for them to be deprived of the necessary resources to graduate on time and be fully prepared for college and careers. In other communities, that would be unacceptable and certainly not the way we’d extend learning opportunities for children. Why is this?” said Dr. Pedro Noguera, NYU Professor of Education.

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