ALBANY, N.Y. (January 9, 2024) — In response to Governor Kathy Hochul’s State of the State address, the public education advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education released the following statement:
“The priorities that Governor Hochul outlined for education and child care today do not go far enough to address our childrens’ most pressing needs, from early education until they graduate high school.
“The funding for reading instruction and student mental health supports that the Governor included in her address are important and needed. In fact, many school districts are already investing in such programs using federal pandemic aid. But with federal aid expiring this year, we will need a much bigger investment from the state to fill the gap — and our children’s needs extend far beyond literacy alone. Public schools, educators, and students are still reeling from the aftermath of the pandemic’s impacts on education, and the Governor’s budget needs to better reflect that. School districts are currently using the expiring federal money to provide students with mental health supports, social workers, nurses, summer tutoring, and early education programs. We need to fund what districts are doing now, not force them to close existing programs that are working, and start over. The Governor missed the opportunity today to commit to continue funding all of those existing programs, to ensure school districts do not have to make cuts,” said Zakiyah Shaakir-Ansari, interim Co-Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.
“To excel in our K-12 school system, New York’s children need quality early care and learning. The only way to ensure that children thrive regardless of their family’s income is by providing access to quality early childhood programs. The Governor likes to tout her commitment to expanding child care access, but she does not follow through with the financial investments necessary to make that more than a talking point. The state’s lack of investment in increasing wages for early educators continues to result in a lack of programs for the many children and families who need them.
“The Governor herself acknowledged that taxes do not drive families from New York — it’s the lack of affordability and access to services. To make New York livable for the people who live here, we need to raise revenue to invest in good schools, child care, and affordable housing.
“Governor Hochul fully implemented Foundation Aid, but she did not get there on her own; it took three decades of advocacy on the part of parents, educators, and students. Budgets are about priorities. If the Governor truly is committed to fighting for our children, we need more than small gestures or policy tweaks. It cannot take us another 30 years to take the next step toward educational equity for all New York’s children,” said Marina Marcou-O’Malley, interim Co-Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.