The Campaign For Fiscal Equity
- In 1993 a group of parents from New York City, led by Robert Jackson, formed the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) and sued New York State for failing to provide students with the quality education that is their right under the New York State Constitution.
- Thirteen years later, after multiple appeals and delays by the state courts at every level, the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that the state was failing to provide students with the classroom resources necessary to receive the “sound basic education” or “meaningful high school education” that is their constitutional right.
- While the CFE case was specific to New York City, the CFE plaintiffs argued for a statewide solution because students in many schools faced the same lack of adequate classroom resources– whether upstate or downstate, rural or suburban, in large cities or small cities. In fact the Court of Appeals recognized that the State, in formulating a remedy to CFE, “may of course address statewide issues if it chooses.”
- In 2007 the New York State Governor and Legislature enacted a statewide resolution to CFE. The statewide CFE resolution enacted in 2007 converted over 30 different school aid formulas into one formula based on student need and school district wealth. The state committed to add $5.5 billion in basic classroom operating aid, or foundation aid, over 4 years with 72% dedicated to high need districts and 23% for average need districts.
- The CFE funding was tied to effective classroom reform strategies through the Contract for Excellence which prioritized pre-kindergarten, class size reduction, middle and high school reform, programs for English language learners, effective teaching, and more time on task (longer school days or school years, tutoring, etc.).
- For two years the state met its obligations, increasing classroom aid by $2.3 billion which resulted in effective reforms in classrooms around the state.
- But then in 2009 as a result of the fiscal crisis school aid was frozen. Then over the following two years the state enacted over $2.7 billion in cuts, including over $2.1 billion in classroom cuts, in effect reversing CFE.
- Now the state is finally adding back some of the funds that were cut, but none are being added to get CFE restarted.
Small Cities Lawsuit
- In November, 2014, New York Supreme Court ruled in a follow-up lawsuit involving eight small cities can move forward. The case involves: Niagara Falls, Jamestown, Utica, Kingston, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh and Mount Vernon. Known as the Small Cities Lawsuit was heard in court in Albany from January to March in 2015. The districts are now awaiting a verdict.
- To read more about the Small Cities Lawsuit, click here.