PRESS RELEASE: New Report Fact Checks Governor Cuomo on School Funding Issues
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Alternative Facts & Historical Fiction
New Report Fact Checks Governor Cuomo on School Funding Issues
Albany, NY (February 2, 2017) — The Alliance for Quality Education released a new report on Thursday fact-checking Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration regarding state education funding.
The report, titled Alternative Facts & Historical Fiction: Fact Checking Governor Cuomo on School Aid, exposes a pattern of falsehoods and distortions by Governor Cuomo and his Administration in 2017 on topics including the Foundation Aid formula, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) and the Governor’s education funding record. The report documents that when the Foundation Aid formula was enacted in 2007, Governor Spitzer and the Majority Conferences in both the Senate and the Assembly publicly asserted that the Foundation Aid formula was the settlement of CFE. Read the full report here.
The report provides extensive documentation proving these falsehoods by the Governor and his Administration. It provides clear proof that this pattern dates throughout Governor Cuomo’s tenure dating back as far as his first month in office.
Among the falsehoods exposed from the past month are:
- “The Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision had no bearing on Spitzer’s decision in 2007 to create a formula for operating aid for education called foundation aid.”
- “Any suggestion that the foundation aid formula has or will be eliminated is a direct attempt to mislead the public and factually untrue.”
- CFE is only for New York City and the State has fulfilled its CFE obligations.
- Governor Cuomo has increased school aid by ‘$6.1 billion, or 31%, increase over six years. His current budget proposes an additional $1 billion in school funding.”
The Governor has used these distortions to avoid addressing the extensive evidence in our schools that hundreds of thousands of children are not receiving the opportunity for a “sound basic education” which is their constitutional right. New York State still owes $4.3 billion in Foundation Aid according to the State Education Department.
In addition, the Governor’s assertion that he has “put more funding in education than the last four governors” is technically accurate, but nonetheless very misleading. On an annual basis Governor Spitzer’s increases were three times as large as those under Governor Cuomo and that does not even count inflation. Accounting for inflation, Governor Cuomo would have to propose a $2.1 billion increase this year to be comparable to the increase enacted under Governor Spitzer, but he is proposing less than half of that.
“Governor Cuomo has systematically distorted the facts to justify why he is failing to provide hundreds of thousands of children without the educational opportunities that is their constitutional right. The negative consequences have been the most dramatic for black and brown children who are owed 58% of the Foundation Aid he now proposes to permanently repeal,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “The consistent reliance on falsehoods about school funding may serve the Governor’s short term political interests, but it does not serve our children well.”
Chronic underfunding of schools deprives generations of students of educational opportunities and programs that help them succeed in school and later in their careers. As a result of Governor Cuomo’s failure to fully fund the Foundation Aid formula, students across New York attend schools with unacceptably large class sizes, and have been forced to cut arts and music programs, as well as sports and other extracurricular activities. School districts frequently resort to cutting back to part-time teachers, specialists, and other staff, reducing the number of guidance counselors, eliminating programming in technology, health, and other essential subjects, shortening class time and even closing schools to make ends meet with the constitutionally inadequate level of funding they receive from the state.
“Due to New York State’s failure to fully fund Schenectady’s schools, we have students who have already missed opportunities to be college and career ready when they graduate from high school,” said Jamaica Miles, Capital District Organizer of Citizen Action of New York, and a public school mom. “Our students are left without the basic resources and support necessary for them to be at grade level. While our students share textbooks, schools just a few districts away are able to offer horseback-riding as part of their educational programming. We have sacrificed our children’s education, and their future, for too long. The Governor needs to start prioritizing our children, and that begins with fully and equitably funding our public schools.”
Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York, said, “Students in communities of color and low-income communities aren’t getting the sound, basic education that they’re constitutionally guaranteed. We can’t keep providing tax breaks to CEOs and big campaign donors while ignoring our children. Governor Cuomo can decide to fairly fund all of New York’s public schools, or he can continue the shell game that allows wealthy schools to spend $10,000 more per student every year.”
New York has the second largest spending gap in the nation between rich and poor schools. The spending gap is nearly $10,000 per pupil between rich and poor districts, and it’s that gap — not education funding — that has grown to record levels under Governor Cuomo.