Lawmakers Pass Key Child Care Legislation in final push, but leave East Ramapo students high and dry 1

Lawmakers Pass Key Child Care Legislation in final push, but leave East Ramapo students high and dry

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 11, 2024) — Following the conclusion of the New York State legislative session, the public education advocacy organization Alliance for Quality Education released the following statement:

“The three child care bills that the Senate and Assembly passed last week together will fundamentally change for the better the experience families have when they have to apply for child care assistance, especially for low income families,” said Zakiyah Shaakir-Ansari, Co-Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education.

“These bills — which will end a rule tying child care assistance to parents’ exact hours of work, allow families to access assistance immediately while applications are being processed, and end the denial of assistance to parents earning less than minimum wage — will remove some of the most inequitable barriers to access for low income families across the state. Their passage is thanks to the consistent struggle and perseverance of the child care community, educators, parents, and advocates, to push for vital policy changes that will bring us closer to universal child care.

“We commend our legislative champions and bill sponsors — Senators Brisport, Ramos and Brouk and Assemblymembers Hevesi and Clarke — for their leadership, and their colleagues in both houses for pushing these bills across the finish line in the final days and hours of this session. In the case of the decoupling bill in particular, we also recognize the legislature’s persistence, not backing down from the Governor’s attempts to derail it time and again. This is now the third time this bill has passed in the legislature. The Governor now must sign this bill — as well as the presumptive eligibility bill and minimum earnings bill — promptly, to ensure that there is no further delay in implementation and families can begin to benefit from the changes as soon as possible.

“We are disappointed, however, that neither the Assembly nor the Senate took any action to address the drastic situation confronting the East Ramapo School District. East Ramapo’s public school students are 96 percent Black and Brown, and more than half are English language learners. However, with three-quarters of the children in the area attending private schools, voters have year after year rejected tax levy increases to fund the public schools, leaving the district with glaring budget gaps that threaten the district with insolvency.

“There was a clear pathway in the Assembly to addressing this crisis during this session, with the urgency it requires and deserves, through a bill introduced by Assemblymember Zebrowski that would have taken over the fiscal oversight of the school district and addressed the need for local property tax funding and bonding to repair failing buildings. Unfortunately, the Senate Majority failed to introduce a companion bill, leaving students and families high and dry.

“Without this intervention from the State Legislature, the district faces fiscal insolvency, and it is the public school students of East Ramapo who will pay the price for their inaction. East Ramapo is a dramatic and real-time example of the road to privatization that comes from chronic underinvestment in one of our last remaining public goods — our public education system, which is there for ALL students, regardless of race, income, or immigration status.

“We are in strong agreement with the New York State Board of Regents, and call on the State Legislature to reconvene to approve a control board for East Ramapo public schools.”