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    PRESS RELEASE: Under Gov. Cuomo, Gap Between Rich and Poor Schools Rises To Historic Levels

    For Immediate Release:

    Wendy Liberatore
    Statewide Communications Coordinator, AQE
    wendy@aqeny.org / (518) 432-5315 ext. 102; cell-(518) 491-0454

    ALBANY (February 17, 2016) – The Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) and the Public Policy and Education Fund (PPEF) released a report today titled No Appetite to Educate: Stacking the Deck against Children in Poverty that finds the gap between New York State’s 100 wealthiest school districts and the 100 poorest school districts has widened to $9,796 per pupil—a record setting level. New York State has a child poverty crisis with one in two children living in poverty. Adequate state funding for public schools is tackling this crisis.

    The report release comes in the wake of the State Assembly proposing a tax on millionaires to fund schools. Despite the tremendous educational need documented by this report, Governor Cuomo responded by saying there is no “reason or appetite” to raise taxes on millionaires.

    This funding gap has consistently grown since Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office in 2011. The gap amounts to $4.9 million in a school of 500 students. Data from the State Education Departments shows that New York State schools are owed $4.4 billion in Foundation Aid which was the funding created as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit where the state Court of Appeals ruled the state was violating students’ constitutional right to a “sound basic education.” The report finds that fully funding the Foundation Aid formula would close the gap by $2,824 per pupil.

    The report goes on to find that the inequities in funding correlates with lower graduation rates. Wealthy school districts have a 92 percent graduation rate while poorer schools average a 66 percent graduation rate. Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization, shows that a sustained 10% increase in funding results in an 11% increase in graduation rates.

    The gap also strips schools of programs and opportunities. Half of the graduating cohorts in well-funded schools leave high school with a coveted Advanced Regents diploma while only 1 in 5 students in poor school districts graduated with an Advanced Regents diploma.

    This reflects what The Education Trust, a national education policy group, has found. It reports that New York State ranks at No. 2 in the nation for educational inequity.

    The AQE report also finds that the state’s lack of commitment to its Foundation Aid Formula is the cause of the funding inequities. The report recommends $2.9 billion in additional school aid funding to close the gap.

    “The teachers and principals are paying out of pocket for a lot of things like school supplies and school events,” said Beverly Usher, a Rochester City School district grandparent. “I know they have big hearts, but they cannot pay for extra reading teachers and after school programs out of pocket. We need the funding.”

    “The inequities between rich and poor schools are shocking and distressing,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “Students in high need districts are being deprived of things we know help students to learn such as smaller classes sizes, arts and music, school technology and extracurricular activities. It’s heartbreaking that a generation of students is being robbed of so many opportunities. In 2016, we must fund schools fully. New York’s students can no longer wait. This can be done with small income tax hike on millionaires—clearly in New York State there is a need to adequately fund our schools and an appetite to tax millionaires in order to do it.”

    To read the report, click here.



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