Picture via Citizen Action of NY
Chanting "We Can't Wait!" and marching through downtown Albany, over 2,000 teachers, advocates, parents, and students rallied last Wednesday for an increase in state funding for public schools. Despite a 2006 ruling from the New York state supreme court that held that New York had failed to provide public schools with adequate educational resources under the state constitution, many schools have yet to receive the required level of funding. The Alliance for Quality Education organized the Albany rally to pushed the governor and the legislature to support a $2 billion funding increase.
Part of the discussion over school funding focuses on the prevalence of charter schools. Governor Cuomo wants to increase the state cap on charters, which would further deprive public schools of much needed funding. (Another big issue for education organizers across the state is high stakes testing, as Governor Cuomo's plans would lead to standardized test scores counting for up to 50% of teacher evaluations.) This is in sharp contrast to New York City Mayor de Blasio, who is planning major investments in the city's public schools including using a "community schools" reform model to strengthen struggling schools and communities with wraparound supports like health clinics and tutoring. He is also overseeing a huge expansion of pre-k and after-school programs across the city.
The Albany march and rally culminated at the state capitol building where organizers climbed the stairs outside Gov. Cuomo's office and dropped three 50-foot-long banners with the names of all the schools across the state that are being denied the court-mandated funds.