Posts Tagged ‘AQE’

1200 Parents and Students Rally Against Governor Cuomo’s $1.5 Billion in Education Cuts

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

(Albany, N.Y.) 1200 parents and students from across the state were joined by elected officials, clergy, teachers and community organizations in a rally against the proposal by Governor Cuomo to enact $1.5 billion in cuts to schools combined with $4.6 billion in tax cuts for wealthy New Yorkers. The rally, at the Albany Armory, was followed by a march to the Capitol and Legislative Office Building and lobby visits with legislators. Governor Cuomo’s cuts are the largest ever proposed in the history of New York State, the tax cuts for the state’s highest income earners are supported by the Senate Republican Majority as well as the Governor. Polls show that three-quarters of New Yorkers oppose the education cuts and two-thirds of New Yorkers oppose tax cuts for high income earners.  If the cuts are enacted, schools across the state will need to get rid of thousands of teachers, guidance counselors and librarians, cut arts, sports, music, college and career prep courses and basic educational services.  School closings are also proposed in districts across the state as a result of the proposed cuts.  The rally was sponsored by the Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York, New York Communities for Change, New York City Coalition for Educational Justice, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Metro Justice of Rochester, Make the Road New York, and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

“Education is the most fundamental obligation government has to society’s children. If we have to move mountains to make sure our children have a quality education, then that’s what we’ll do. I’m asking ALL elected officials to step up and uphold what the Campaign for Fiscal Equity is all about. A budget crisis is never an excuse to turn our backs on our kids,” said New York Council Education Chairman Robert Jackson, Lead Plaintiff in Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

“The Governor’s budget is a travesty for New York’s students, particularly poor children and children of color who have been systematically disadvantaged for years.  It strips away the initial investments of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity promise and makes it significantly harder for them to receive their Constitutional right to an opportunity to learn,” said Dr. John Jackson, President and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education.
“Overwhelmingly New Yorkers disagree with Governor Cuomo’s record setting cuts to schools and with the plan by the Governor and the Senate Majority to give the wealthiest New Yorkers a tax cut,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “Tax cuts for the rich, and massive school cuts for our kids? It’s nonsensical.”

 “A $24 million cut to Buffalo City schools will mean that our district may be forced to eliminate instruction to students in their native language, a program offered by bilingual aides to %12 of students.  Too many children that rely heavily on this and other programs to achieve their dreams of on-time graduation will be let down if Governor Cuomo’s tax break to the wealthy makes it in the final budget,” said Bryon McIntyre, of Citizen Action of New York, a parent from Buffalo.

 ”It’s irresponsible for the Governor to balance the budget on the backs of those of us who need funding the most, while allowing the wealthiest New Yorkers continue to ride the wave of prosperity. We demand that he make them pay their fair share so that teachers can keep their jobs and resources and programs can be provided for our children so they can be college and career ready!” said Ocynthia Williams, a New York City parent and member of the Coalition for Educational Justice.

 “The governor’s education budget proposals are well far off from what most of us believe and know to be right for our children.  I am optimistic however that this governor, which we elected, will listen, and he will get our message, which we must deliver loud and clear, I do believe we have a governor who understands the value of a sound education, and will provide the appropriate funding to make sure our children really do not get left behind,” said Assemblyman N. Nick Perry of Brooklyn, Deputy Majority Leader and Chairman of the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.  “We must commit to our children from pre-K through college.  I stand together with the many concerned parents that traveled to our state capital today, and assure them that I will tenaciously advocate on their behalf and work towards passing an education budget that provides every single one of our children with not just a sound, basic education – but a first-class, quality education that will help them be successful in life and firmly plant their feet on the path to success.”

“Working families and communities of color like the ones I represent in the Bronx are being disproportionately impacted by proposed budget cuts to education funding and crucial state services. They are the ones that send their children to public schools and depend on English as a second language programs and special education programs that are facing drastic cuts. My neighbors understand the need to sacrifice during tough times, but we cannot ask them to bear the brunt of these budget cuts and then give a tax cut to the wealthiest New Yorkers. We have to work toward a budget that is about shared responsibility and shared sacrifice – minimizing cuts to education funding,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx.

“Last year’s massive education budget cuts meant a loss of lost teachers, educational staff and programs that students need to be college and career ready, such as after school, tutoring, math, reading and English as a second language. Now, Governor Cuomo’s budget proposes to take an additional $1.5 billion from school children. How much more can we take and still expect our students to excel?” said Marie Pierre, New York Communities for Change board member.

“I am delighted to join with other religious leaders in support of the AQE and CEJ fight to challenge the Governor and legislators that the state’s financial crises should not be solved by destroying the communities that are most in need and vulnerable.  We urge Albany legislators not to cut Education, Senior Services and Healthcare,” said Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Churches United to Save and Heal.

“It is unthinkable that we would continue to break the promise we made in 2007 to our schools and the children they teach to properly fund our low-and middle-income districts in order to give the multi-millionaires and billionaires of our state a tax break. That new yacht can wait — kindergarten only happens once. Most New Yorkers are clear on what’s more important,” said Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton of Ithaca.

“When politicians demagogue about public servants, their pensions, collective bargaining or other hard earned benefits, it is our democracy that is being attacked. This must stop. Tax the rich!” said Senator Bill Perkins of Manhattan.

“Allowing the rich to benefit at the expense of school children will mean that so many of our children will face heart break while the rich welcome a $1 billion tax break and continue to become wealthy.  The state budget should be balanced in a way that allows everyone to pay their fair share and the only way to do this is to extend the millionaire’s tax,” said Javier Valdés, Deputy Director Make the Road the Road New York.

“With a $1.5 billion cut in aid to schools, now is not the time for a tax cut for the state’s wealthiest,” said Senator Jose Peralta of Queens.  “This is not about creating a new tax or raising taxes.  This is about shared sacrifice.  Balancing the budget will require many difficult choices.  Extending the surcharge will not be one of them.”

“We need to make sure that people in every community on Long Island realize how damaging these cuts will be to their children. Every district is looking at cuts. In some districts the students will be losing an opportunity for a second language. Others it will mean no pre-k program at all. What will happen to my granddaughter when there is no program offered for her?” said Amparo Sadler, Central Islip grandmother and Long Island Progressive Coalition member.

“The Committee to Save NY has it backwards. The best investment we can make is in the people of NY, especially our children. Give our kids the education they need and our communities, and all of NY, will flourish. Committee to Save NY?   Real Estate moguls and Wall St. Executives?   I am not impressed. I would be more impressed if they were saying, ‘Yes. These are tough times and we will help. We believe in the people of NY.’ When times are tough, everyone has to pull together. That includes the wealthiest among us. What makes this state great is the belief in the value of every New Yorker, and the potential for each person to do great things, a good education is key to that,” said Cathy Fahey, 7th Ward Councilmember, Albany.

AQE Organizer Speaks Out Against Proposed Budget Cuts

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

The video can be seen here.
Related website: http://news12.com/LI/topstories/article?id=222403#

AQE Asks: "Will Education Promises be Broken?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Joined by parents, children and education advocates the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) released a report today entitled, “Will Education Funding Promises be Broken?” The report exposes disproportionately high cuts in promised foundation aid funding for school districts with high enrollment rates of poor children, students of color and English language learners. Advocates called on state legislators to restore the $350 million in cuts in promised foundation aid (basic classroom operating aid) in the proposed state budget this year. Following the press conference parents and children delivered Valentine’s cards stating, “Don’t break our hearts – Keep the promise,” to every member of the state legislature. The press conference was part of six simultaneous press events across the state.

Click here to read the full report…
Related website: http://www.aqeny.org

AQE Releases Report: "Contracts for Excellence Year One: Grading the State Education Department"

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Expects More than Twice as Much Money to be Covered by Contracts for Excellence in 2008.

In four press conferences across the state, the Alliance for Quality Education released a report entitled Contracts for Excellence Year One: Grading the State Education Department, which evaluates the State Education Department’s oversight of the 2007 Contracts for Excellence. The report praises the State Education Department (SED) for overseeing the creation of new education programs in school districts around the state, playing an assertive oversight role with school districts, and making school districts target funds to needy schools. The report determines the SED fell short in the areas of public participation, full information disclosure and meeting the needs of English language learners. The Contract for Excellence is the new accountability system designed by Governor Spitzer that ties record increases in education aid to the best educational practices. While the report makes several recommendations for improvements to the Contracts based on the findings, AQE, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and others, note that the funding for the Contracts is scheduled to more than double next year as part of the $1.24 billion foundation aid increase expected to be in the Governor’s budget. The 2008 funding is the second installment of the state’s four-year commitment to increase classroom-operating aid (called foundation aid) by $5.5 billion.

“Our report shows that while there is room for improvement, the Contracts for Excellence are essential to the educational success of students,” said Maurice Mitchell of the Alliance for Quality Education. “The Contracts for Excellence focus on delivering educational results. Like any other contract in the world the Contract for Excellence ties funds to results. The increase of $1.24 billion expected in 2008 means we can expect school districts to deliver more in terms of educational results.”

The report finds that the New York State Education Department (SED) required districts to target funds to students in low performing schools, students with disabilities, English language learners and students from low income families. These students—as defined by law—are students with the greatest educational needs. However, the report also points out SED’s shortcomings surrounding public participation and transparency requirements.

Key Findings in Grading the State Education Department

A wide variety of education reforms were implemented across the state under the Contracts for Excellence.
School districts were required to target 75% of Contract for Excellence funds to schools with the highest concentrations of high need students and to guarantee that all low performing schools received a fair proportion of total Contract dollars.

The State Education Department played an effective oversight role by requiring several districts, most notably New York City, to reallocate funds within their Contracts.
Very few districts articulated in their Contracts specific programs to meet the needs of English language learners despite the fact that over 200,000 English language learners are in our schools.

Eighty-nine percent (89%) of school districts did not comply with the public participation requirements of the Contracts for Excellence.

The State Education Department, and most school districts, fell considerably short of full disclosure of Contract for Excellence documents and procedures.

Commenting on proposals to increase Long Island’s share of state aid, Rosa Quiles of the Puerto Rican Coalition said, “We support additional state aid for Long Island’s schools but not without accountability measures and assurance that it will target students with the highest needs like English Language Learners and students with disabilities, that’s what the Contract for Excellence give us.”

“The contracts are showing promise. There’s a chance our kids can get the tools they need to succeed. We just need to make sure that the voice of parents are heard when deciding how to use the resources” said Camille Serrano, parent of children in the Brentwood school district. Serrano went on to say, “It’s a shame that Central Islip, Hempstead, and other local school districts don’t also have a contract. We need to make sure more schools get these contracts.”

The 2007 Contracts for Excellence expenditures statewide totaled $428 million in 55 school districts with schools the state has classified as needing improvement. The Governor and Legislature enacted legislation this year that commits the state to a $7 billion four-year phased-in increase in education aid. AQE estimates that approximately $500 million additional dollars will be covered by the Contracts for Excellence as a result of the 2008 state budget, more than doubling the total funds covered by the Contracts.

AQE Releases Report: "Property Taxes on Long Island"

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Tuesday October 16, 2007

Mineola, NY

AQE Releases report: “Property Taxes On Long Island: Zeroing In On The Problems And Solutions”

Report:

http://www.aqeny.org/cms_files/File/PropertyTaxes%20on%20Long%20Island12.pdf

Press Release:

http://www.aqeny.org/cms_files/File/LI%20Property%20Tax%20Report%20News%20Release%2010.16.07statewide.pdf

While the issues of funding quality schools and property tax reform on Long Island remain top priorities of elected leaders and taxpayers alike, common misconceptions, and flawed evaluations have led to reform proposals that fail to address the real property tax crisis on Long Island and across the state according to a new report released today by a coalition education and tax reform groups

“Property Taxes On Long Island: Zeroing In On The Problems And Solutions” exposes the common misconceptions that have driven the property tax debate in the past and explores Long Island’s property tax issues in depth.

The report concludes by examining and comparing a wide range of reform ideas introduced on Long Island and within the State Legislature as well as looking at these proposals’ advantages and disadvantages, who benefits, and how these reforms impact efforts to provide a quality school on Long Island and throughout the state.
Along with an in depth examination of the impact of property taxes on Long Island, the report offers five main conclusions.
Related website: http://www.aqeny.org/cms_files/File/PropertyTaxes%20on%

Central Islip, Brentwood, and Wyandanch unite to support Governor Spitzer's fair funding budget

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Brentwood, NY)- The members of Long Island Progressive Coalition’s Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) gathered Tuesday, March 20 to rally the communities of Brentwood, Central Islip and Wyandanch in support of Governor Spitzer’s proposed education budget. The State Senate voted for a counter budget that would largely reverse the Governor’s basic funding reforms. It was this charge that lead an overflowing crowd to voice their emphatic claim that the State Senate budget was both unfair and immoral.

A diverse mix of speakers ranging from students, parents, teachers, and school superintendents followed the theme of the night by answering the question “What if our schools had the fair funding we deserved?” Amparo Stadler a Central Islip parent said, “We’re only asking for our share, nothing more and nothing less. If we got our fair share we could at least know that every kid here has a fighting chance. The status quo has them fighting against the odds.” School superintendent Michael Cohen added, “The Governor’s budget takes bold steps to address the shameful history of separate and unequal schools right here on Long Island.”

The Governor’s education budget is nothing short of an historic investment that will deliver a $3.8 billion increase for schools on Long Island and upstate. These increases will be phased in over four years. For example, the schools in Senator Trunzo’s district alone will receive $157 million in annual classroom operating aid by 2010. More importantly, the Governor’s budget proposal would create a new funding formula that is fair and equitable and targets future investments at the state’s most needy districts. While the Senate Majority’s plan would provide many high needs districts, including many on Long Island, an increase in 2007-08 that is on par with the Governor’s plan, in future years the Senate Majority plan would mean wealthy districts receive a substantially higher percentage increase than poorer districts.

The State Senate had released their version of the budget, which they were referring to as “Foundation plus”. This budget offers 1.2 billion dollars more in school aid. Schools like Central Islip and Brentwood stand to receive little of that increase while the wealthiest school districts in the state would receive a 96% increase in school aid on average. “We support increases in school aid and we want every school district to benefit, but only if it’s given in a fair and equitable way. The Senate is purposing a bill that locks in a lifetime of inequality. Why would Senators Trunzo and Johnson support this budget?” said Leila Warren of North Bay Shore. Though the State Senate bill provides more dollars, students in high needs districts will lose out in the long run due to a fundamental shift away from basing aid on need. Bree Wright, a sophomore from Wyandanch emphatically stated, “It’s like the Senate is offering us $20 today instead of $5 more in our allowance. I’ll take the $5 extra allowance money every time.”

Just as the Governor’s budget places a focus on the educational needs of high needs districts, there is new tax relief in other parts of the budget designed to focus on the needs of those communities of average needs. The result means Long Island as a region will truly benefit. Schools that need smaller class sizes, more programs, and better strategies to boost student achievement will get the attention they need. While communities that are being crippled by property taxes, largely a result of school costs, get significant tax relief. Mr. Andres Rios, a Brentwood resident, sums it up like this, “Our kids finally get money to make sure they graduate and folks who live in districts with high graduation rates and good programs get a break on their crazy property taxes. It’s like we all get what we need.”

The Alliance for Quality education saw this last budget fight as a question of basic justice and ethics, not simple funding increases. “The lack of consideration to high needs districts is unacceptable. The Governor’s formula will give every school district an increase while targeting funds in high needs districts. Included in this are accountability measures to make sure every dollar reaches the classroom,” says Danielle Asher of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “It’s not about the money, it’s about basic fairness.”

Many of the students from Central Islip, Brentwood and Wyandanch are highly aware of the circumstance around what was being invested in this budget decision. Most of the pupils have a real interest in the future of educational achievement. Maria Peña, a senior at Central Islip high school had this to say at the end of the event, “Governor Spitzer’s proposal is the first time in all my school years I do not feel ignored by the State. We need to make sure they do right by us and the next generation.”

On April 2, 2007 Governor Spitzer held a press conference in Manhattan announcing the substantial breakthrough of our fourteen year struggle to deliver a quality education to every child. Based upon Governor Spitzer’s proposal New York State is making a record statewide increase in school funding this year. Parents have gained the strong system of accountability proposed by Governor Spitzer that will drive funding to key educational strategies including smaller classes, full day pre-kindergarten, teacher quality, after school program and other reforms.

The fair school aid formula proposed by Governor Spitzer has been adopted largely intact. We have established the essential tool we have always lacked in order to fairly and fully fund our schools. In this budget we partially use that tool, next year, we must fully use the tool. The formula adopted this year makes an historic commitment to a fivefold growth in classroom operating aid by 2010-2011 with the lion’s share of this money going to high needs schools.

“This year, by adding his voice to the struggle for quality education, Eliot Spitzer forged a fair funding formula against fierce opposition,” said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “Now the Governor and our communities must continue hand in hand to secure an enduring legacy of educational excellence by ensuring this formula becomes the centerpiece for how we distribute every dollar of classroom funding.”

LIPC's Current Campaigns

Monday, June 14th, 2004

LIPC Voting Booth Campaign

In coalition with other statewide and national groups LIPC is working to make sure Nassau and Suffolk counties use auditation and reliable voting machines rather than touch-screen machines that are vulnerable to tampering and hacking. Read side bar for more information.

Transportation

LIPC is fighting for a reliable, accessible, affordable and community-friendly public transportation system that will reduce dependence upon the automobile. We are leading grassroots efforts to steer the Department of Transportation’s 20-year plan for Long Island (LITP2000) in that direction.

Clean Money, Clean Elections

LIPC is fighting to take big-money out of politics. We support Clean Money, Clean Elections reform, to limit campaign spending and provide fixed and equal public funds to candidates.

Education

LIPC, is organizing the local campaign of a statewide initiative The Alliance For Quality Education. AQE believes that every public school should provide a quality education to all its students by having smaller classes, qualified teachers, safe clean and technologically up to date classrooms, and early childhood education programs.

South Fork Progressive Coalition

The South Fork Progressive Coalition promotes healthy, equitable, and environmentally sustainable policies in East Hampton and Southampton Towns specifically targeting affordable housing.

Suffolk County Jail

The state has mandated that Suffolk County build a 1260 bed “Super Jail” in Yaphank that will cost tax-payers close to half a billion dollars when you factor in construction costs and debt service. We maintain that cheaper and more effective alternatives to jail construction exist. Bigger jails and prisons has a negative effect to our society. We need to find more effective and creative ways of address public safety.[visit http://www.suffolksuperjail.com/]

Caithness Power Plant and Repowering

Given the fact that LIPA has significantly increased the amount of energy that comes to Long Island in past years, the LIPC is calling for a moritoriam on all future construction of fossil fuel burning plants. This includes the proposed natural gas burning Caithness power plant planned for Brookhaven. Instead we demand that LIPA “repower” or retrofit their older dirtier plants in Port Jefferson, North Port, Island Park, Far Rockaway, and elsewhere. Click here for more info.