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VIDEO: Protest at Governor’s Mansion Against $1.5 Billion in Education Cuts

February 21, 2011

On Saturday, over 200 parents and community members from Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Schenectady, Syracuse, and Yonkers protested Governor Cuomo’s $1.5 billion education cuts at the Governor’s mansion in Albany. Robert Jackson, who, as a New York City parent filed the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit in 1993 and went on to become the Chairman of the New York City Council Education Committee, led the march from the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus conference to the Governor’s mansion. Cuomo’s budget cuts will take back the CFE funding that was delivered to schools statewide because of the lawsuit.

Wearing t-shirts saying Protect Kids Not Millionaires, public school parents delivered thousands of letters from New York voters demanding that Governor Cuomo restore education cuts by renewing a tax on the wealthiest 3% of New Yorkers that currently brings in $4-5 billion in state revenue annually. The education cuts are expected to result in elimination of 10,000 teachers and other school personnel as well as school closings, and elimination of arts, music, sports programs, after school tutoring, college prep courses and career and technical courses.

“In 2003, I walked 150 miles to Albany because an eighth grade education was not a ‘sound basic education’ for our children,” said Robert Jackson, CFE plaintiff and New York City Council Education Chair.  “The Campaign for Fiscal Equity won that legal battle in New York’s highest court and in 2011 an eighth grade education is still not enough!  It is unconscionable for Governor Cuomo to balance the budget on the backs of our children—their future is at stake.  How can he be setting our school children back while offering tax cuts to New York’s highest income earners?  This budget would take back every dollar in CFE funding ever delivered by the state.  I ask all the New York State legislators to stand up for our children and protect their right to quality schools.”

The CFE lawsuit was filed in 1993 because Black and Latino children across the state had been deprived of their fair share of education funding for years. The lawsuit was finally resolved in 2007 with the enactment of a four-year commitment to increase school aid statewide by $7 billion including $5.5 billion in basic classroom operating aid, known as foundation aid. Seventy percent of the new classroom aid was designated for high need schools and students. After two years of meeting the funding commitment the state froze funding in 2009 and made $1.4 billion in school cuts last year. Governor Cuomo’s $1.5 billion in cuts would take back the remaining CFE funds.

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