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Fund our Future

New York Teacher

New York State continues to shortchange its students in high-needs schools. There’s no other way to read Gov. Cuomo’s Jan. 21 preliminary budget, which proposes an increase in Foundation Aid that falls far short of the $2.1 billion that the UFT, New York State United Teachers and other education advocates are calling for.

The roaring bull market on Wall Street has fattened the pockets of the wealthiest 1 percent, while our public schools have never received their full allotment of state aid based on the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court decision in 2006.

You could hear what’s at stake during NYSUT’s Fund Our Future bus tour, which has traveled around the state to highlight the real-world consequences of annual shortfalls in state education spending, especially in the Foundation Aid that most helps the neediest schools.

On Jan. 24, the bus stopped at MS 181 in the Bronx and PS 5 in Inwood, Manhattan, where state elected officials, accompanied by NYSUT President Andy Pallotta and UFT President Michael Mulgrew, listened to teachers and administrators.

At PS 5, which is owed $635,000 in foundation aid, one teacher described how students who don’t have exposure to the arts at home don’t have the opportunity to participate in chorus or other arts programs at the school due to lack of state funding. At MS 181, which is owed $925,000, there aren’t enough staff so everyone is required to wear multiple hats to get things done, according to the principal.

Across the city, schools serving students most in need, including a rising number of homeless students, do not have the funds for arts, music, small group instruction, social workers and so much more that would enable these students to reach their full potential. Now is not the time for the state to skimp on its investment in public education. Albany must deliver a state budget on April 1 that addresses the needs of our neediest students.