Heres more info from New York Teacher from 2-14-08
‘Keep the Promises’ coalition forms to reverse city, state ed funding cuts
A diverse coalition of education advocacy groups, community organizations, clergy, labor unions and dozens of elected officials has launched a major campaign to fight state and city budget proposals that could cost New York City public schools $700 million.
Members of more than 60 community groups, parent organizations and unions, as well as some 40 state and city elected officials, gathered on the steps of City Hall on Feb. 10 to announce the formation of the “Keep the Promises” coalition in response to budget reductions and proposed cuts in education for city schools. The list of cuts includes the following:
- The city has imposed an immediate 1.75 percent cut to schools — a $100 million, midyear cut that will disrupt schools’ programs, schedules and staffing.
- The mayor’s 2009 budget proposal cuts New York City education by $324 million.
- The state budget proposes to give city schools nearly $200 million less than was expected in the Contract for Excellence, stalling progress in class size reduction, full-day pre-kindergarten expansion, improving middle schools and other programs and services.
The state is also proposing to cap building aid, which will slow school construction.
“When government promises to safeguard the quality education of our children, parents and the public have a right to expect those promises to be honored,” UFT President Randi Weingarten said to reporters as she stood on the City Hall steps flanked by dozens of her coalition colleagues.
She said that “in the absence of an independent Board of Education and an independent schools chancellor, public school children need champions to intervene and protect them. That’s why we are part of this coalition launching this campaign.” Weingarten said the coalition would fight to have the funds restored because the city’s children deserve the quality education they’ve been promised.
“Make no mistake,” Weingarten added. “School-based educators would never dream of saying, ‘Now that we have less we will do less.’ Instead we will fight the school cuts.”
Geri D. Palast — executive director of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which took the state to court to win increased funding for New York City schools — noted that after 13 years of litigation, New York State “legislated a promise” to add $2.35 billion in classroom operating aid for New York City over four years. At the same time, Mayor Bloomberg said the city would add $2.2 billion. The state also said it would provide $11.2 billion to subsidize the city’s $13.1 billion school construction plan to “finally fund the constitutional right to a sound, basic education,” Palast said.
However, she added, both the state and the city are proposing $700 million in cuts in these commitments. “Long overdue funding of these promises tied to accountability for this catch-up plan must be immunized from short-term economic fluctuations,” Palast said. “A generation of kids has already paid the price for delayed funding with their futures.” (Click for: Full Story)