New Data Shows Record Level School Inequities: Gap Between Wealthiest & Poorest Students Has Grown Under Cuomo

ALBANY, NY (March 20, 2018) — The public school advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education released new data showing that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s education policies have created a record gap in education spending between the wealthiest and poorest school districts in New York, an astounding 24% growth in inequity over his time in office to $9,923 per pupil. The new data refutes Governor Cuomo claim that his policies have worked to address education equity.

When Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, the gap between the average per pupil spending in the 100 wealthiest and 100 poorest districts was $8,024 per pupil. AQE has calculated that that gap has grown to $9,923 per pupil as of the 2015-16 school year. (See chart below). In underfunded high need districts, this gap translates into students in classrooms with over 30 students, guidance counsellors who are responsible for as many as 730 students, a severe shortage of teachers for English language learners, not enough access to music or art, and other shortage of other essential educational and enrichment opportunities.

While Governor Cuomo often repeats the claim that he has increased school funding by 35 percent, that number is a distortion because it excludes his first year in office when he slashed $1.3 billion from our schools. In reality, Governor Cuomo’s school aid increases have barely exceeded inflation (see chart below). The annual inflation adjusted average increases amount to $265 million, with only $58 million in Foundation Aid annually. Seventy-four percent of Foundation Aid is owed to school districts with high proportions of Black and Brown students.

“Governor Cuomo is right about one thing, that we have two public schools systems in New York, one for wealthy and one for poor students — but his policies have only made educational inequity worse,” said Jasmine Gripper, Alliance for Quality Education. “Throughout his two terms as Governor of the State of New York, he has refused to address inequity and fund the state’s own Foundation Aid formula. The result is record inequality in New York’s public schools, leaving Black, Brown and low income students with fewer opportunities, fewer resources and overcrowded classrooms.”

“The shocking fact that the gap between wealthy and high need districts has grown to a record high of $9,923 per pupil requires urgent action from the Governor and State Legislature. New York’s leaders should adopt the State Assembly’s equitable education proposal and reject the Governor’s inadequate proposal,” said Gripper.