Long Island Communities Hit Hardest by COVID-19 Have Most Underfunded Schools 1

Long Island Communities Hit Hardest by COVID-19 Have Most Underfunded Schools

Impacted districts face $46 million in further state cuts

Massapequa, N.Y. (July 28, 2020) — Long Island’s Black, Latinx and low-income children are at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of pre-existing health disparities, limited community resources and chronically underfunded schools. A new report, Sickness, Death & Cuts: The impact of COVID-19 on Long Island Students by the Alliance for Quality Education and Long Island Progressive Coalition, breaks down the overlap in COVID-19 infection rates and the chronic underfunding of public schools in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The report shows that the Long Island communities with the highest infection rates are also the communities that have most underfunded schools, and received a combined $46 million cut in state aid for the 2020-2021 school year. 

School districts have to submit their plans to resume teaching and learning for September to the state by July 31. The Governor plans to make an executive decision on whether in-person learning will resume or not in the fall by August 7. These school districts were in fiscal distress prior to the pandemic. Educating students with such limited resources during a pandemic is an additional hurdle these districts now have to face. 

Long Island’s senators need to stand up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and fight for their schools. There are many bills in the state legislature aiming at raising revenue for education in order to avoid devastating cuts in times of crisis, especially since the 118 billionaires currently residing in New York state are not only not hurting, but continue to make profits. One of the measures of note in the legislature include Senator Robert Jackson’s bill (S7378) which would raise the income tax rate on the ultra wealthy in order to raise revenue specifically for public schools. 

“New York’s students in high-need communities, heavily reliant on state aid, are going to feel the greatest educational strain as a result of this crisis,” said Jasmine Gripper, executive director at the Alliance for Quality Education. “Through illness, death and a financial crisis, children will need more support, not less. Divesting from the educational needs of students now could cause life long setbacks from limited opportunities to untapped potential. Budgets are about priorities, and Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have chosen to allow our most marginalized communities in Long Island to bear the brunt of this crisis in the homes, hospitals and schools. They see the suffering in our communities, and they have chosen to ignore it.  A small tax on New York’s ultra rich would close the budget deficit, without sacrificing our children and their future.”

“For decades, these Long Island communities have been punished by harmful and unnecessary austerity budgets that have decimated their schools and other essential services, all while New York’s wealthiest residents rake in record profits,” Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, said. “Now, Gov. Cuomo and the legislature want to increase the pain in these communities by making further cuts during an economic crisis partially caused by their inaction. It’s time for Long Island’s state lawmakers to step up and do what we sent them to Albany to do: represent the people. They must stop these cuts at all costs, and they can do that by taxing the rich, who have been profiting off the pandemic.”