REPORT: Educational Racism: Cuomo’s Record of Underfunding Schools in Black & Latino Communities

Executive summary

The numbers tell the truth: the schools with the most need are being shortchanged the most. American history has confirmed this time and time again, even though it was supposed to be rectified with Brown v. Board of Education. Educational racism explains the fact that two dozen school districts are owed the most Foundation Aid by the state.  

• Foundation Aid was created in response to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, which went through all levels of the courts in New York State over the course of thirteen years. In 2006, the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, ruled that the state was violating its own constitution by chronically underfunding the neediest schools. The Foundation Aid formula was enacted into law by the legislature in 2007. It a needs based funding formula driving more funding to school districts that have more students in poverty, more students with disabilities, and more English Language Learners. 

• According to the New York State Education Department and the Board of Regents, and based on current law, the state owes school districts $4.2 billion in Foundation Aid. 

• Two thirds of the districts in New York State are still owed Foundation Aid. By contrast, 100 percent of high needs school districts with majority Black and Latino students are owed Foundation Aid. 

• There 25 school districts that are both high need and majority Black and Latino.  

• The students in these 25 districts represent 80 percent of the Black and Latino (Latinx) students in the state and 69 percent of the economically disadvantaged students in the state 

• These 25 school districts are owed 62 percent ($2.6 billion) of all Foundation Aid. The failure to fully fund Foundation Aid results in the failure to adequately fund schools that are majority Black and Latino.

• Research proves that increases in funding improve student outcomes. A 10 percent increase in funding results in 10 percent increase in graduation rates.

• The graduation rate for these 25 school districts is 69 percent compared to the 95 percent graduation rate wealthy districts in New York State have. Just 13 percent of the graduates in these 25 districts earn an Advanced Regents diploma whereas 58 percent of the graduating cohort in wealthy districts earn an Advanced Regents diploma. The spending gap between wealthy and poor school districts in New York State is nearly $10,000 per pupil and has grown by 24 percent under Governor Cuomo.

• Governor Andrew Cuomo has consistently argued against fully funding Foundation Aid. In 2017, Cuomo attempted to repeal the Foundation Aid formula. 

• Andrew Cuomo’s failure to fund Foundation Aid perpetuates systemic educational racism. 

Systemic racism in education = educational racism.

Systemic racism is “a system of social structures that produces and reproduces cumulative, durable, race-based inequalities.” Systemic racism in education is best described as educational racism.

In New York State, the chronic underfunding of schools, and the unwillingness to recognize and rectify the impact that this practice has, results in disparate outcomes for students. Regardless of the intent of a policy or law, if it is results in inequities, then it has a discriminatory impact. New York State has one of the most inequitable education funding systems in the nation. It ranks 49th in the nation. This huge inequality, that is largely based upon race, is an example of systemic educational racism. The conclusion that Governor Cuomo’s policies perpetuate educational racism is based upon the impact of his policies. 

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