Posts Tagged ‘Education’

An Interns View: Unequal Education for All

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

By Rita Iosefson

It’s true. Not every school district on Long Island gets the same funding from New York State. As an elementary education major, my education and sociology classes have exposed me to the large funding gap between school districts. A study conducted at Columbia University Teachers College in 2009 demonstrated the alarming disparities among Long Island’s school districts. Researchers studied five different Long Island school districts, each representing a different demographic, and interviewed 75 school administrators, teachers, students, parents and school board members of these districts.

It is a known fact that resources are more easily diverted to wealthier districts, allowing these systems to offer a wider selection of courses and higher experienced teachers. Students in these districts have a greater chance of moving onto college than students in poorer districts. Poorer districts are challenged to attract better prepared educators and provide other enrichment opportunities.

I went to school in one of the more affluent school districts on Long Island. It is important that I don’t take for granted the opportunities I was given because of where I live. I was able to broadcast on my district funded radio station in high school and I participated in after school activities in middle school. My teachers encouraged me to take advanced classes that would earn me credit towards my bachelor’s degree. These privileges are unavailable to many students within a short driving distance of where I grew up. The Uniondale School District is about a twenty minute drive from my town. This district, along with other disadvantaged school districts on Long Island, has fewer teachers who have earned a master’s degree, as compared to wealthier districts, where 90% of teachers typically have earned a master’s degree.

As a future educator, I would be thankful to teach in a disadvantaged school district, to help bring its reputation up, in hopes of gaining funds from New York State. This is not the same for every aspiring educator, because of district reputations. High income schools, such as Locust Valley and Syosset, spend about $26,000 per student. Low income school districts, such as Roosevelt and Wyandanch, spend about $18,000 per student. This trend exists because lower funded school districts, on average, have to spend more on ESL programs than wealthier districts, leaving fewer funds available for other programs.

I have learned that many students are disadvantaged because their school district is unable to provide the “perks” that others can on our Island. I firmly support the Long Island Progressive Coalition in its efforts to ensure quality education for all of Long Island’s students.

Click here to read more on the study referenced in this post:


Message to Lawmakers: Stick with What Works for Youngest New Yorkers

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

By: Mike Clifford, Public News Service – NY

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been using competitive grants to spur competition among school districts, but today lawmakers are being urged to not rely on that approach for early education funding. The jury is out on competitive grants, according to Danielle Asher, early childhood education campaign coordinator with the Long Island Progressive Coalition; she says maybe they’ll work, maybe not.

That’s why Asher says it’s dangerous to use that system to fund early education programs, which she says have been proved to save the state money and provide a quality education.

“It is proven to reduce grade repetition and disciplinary referrals, special education costs; it will save the state $22 million to $32 million, so we need to invest in Pre-K programs.”

Asher is one of the more than 100 parents, teachers and advocates traveling to Albany to urge lawmakers to restore $53 million in early education funding to the general fund. The Board of Regents also backs that approach, while Governor Cuomo lumped funding for early education into $250 million in competitive grants in his executive budget.

Currently, many of New York’s youngest children are on waiting lists to get into early-learning programs, according to Marsha Basloe, executive director of the Early Care and Learning Council. She says that’s a shame, because decades worth of studies show these programs work.

“Students that participate in quality early-care and learning programs are far more likely to attend college and get higher-paying jobs; avoid teen pregnancy; avoid welfare dependency; avoid delinquency and/or crime.”

Basloe plans to meet with lawmakers to talk about the need to find $20 million to fund a Quality Stars program to rate local early education programs.

A news briefing is planned for 11 a.m. at the Legislative Office Building.

A report is at More on the QUALITYstarsNY program is at

Education supporters rally at Hofstra

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Close to 2,500 parents, teachers, students and supporters of public schools rallied at Hofstra University last night in a mass effort to save them from more than a billion dollars in proposed school spending cuts.

“No more cuts,” chanted the large crowd in protest of the $1.5 billion in education cuts Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has proposed. “They say cut back. We say fight back.”

The rally, organized by the Long Island Progressive Coalition, Alliance for Quality Education, and the main New York State teachers union, NYSUT, echoed a similar demonstration in Sachem last month and another protest Wednesday involving Sachem educators. Like those events, Thursday night’s rally drew an angry standing room only crowd that had sharp words for Cuomo.

Public school advocates at Hofstra’s physical education building blasted not extending the so-called millionaire’s tax and said a 2-percent tax cap proposed by Cuomo could seriously hurt public education.

“We need the governor and legislature to fund education in New York State — not cut it,” said Cynthia Di Miceli, a West Hempstead Board of Education member and a parent of two.

Earlier Thursday, lawmakers reported that an extension of the millionaires tax was dead. The tax on high-earning New Yorkers is set to expire Dec. 31. It applies to individuals with $200,000 or more in annual taxable income and families with $300,000 or more.

Cuomo’s tax cap proposal would limit any property-tax hikes to a maximum of 2 percent or the rate of inflation.

Protesters said the spending cuts could lead to classes of up to 40 children and major cuts in programs and services.

“I cannot believe we live in a state where our millionaires come before our kids,” said Danielle Asher, lead organizer of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

Several school buses from both counties sat parked outside the rally.

Teresa Rodriguez, who teaches fourth grade at F.J. O’Neill Elementary School in Central Islip, carried a sign that read “The Buck Stops Here Go Get It From Wall Street.”

She has taught in the district for more than two decades. Central Islip school officials have said some 80 teachers could be let go this year.

“The fact is we are losing too many teachers,” Rodriguez said.

North Babylon parent Deborah LoSardo, also a first-grade teacher in West Babylon, brought her 6-year-old twin daughters to the rally.

Twin Peyton LoSardo carried a sign telling Cuomo “I am not your scapegoat.”

“I want them to be representative of what will be lost,” her mother said.

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.

Hundreds of LI teachers rally against proposed school aid cuts

Friday, February 18th, 2011

(02/18/11) FARMINGVILLE – Hundreds of Long Island teachers, parents and students rallied last night at Sachem East High School against the governor’s proposed school aid cuts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) has proposed slashing school aid by $1.5 billion.

Long Island schools would see $200 million less in state aid under Cuomo’s budget. Multiple schools districts have already warned teachers of drastic layoffs and program cuts.

“Our schools shouldn’t have to balance the state budget on their backs,” says Danielle Asher, of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) says he’ll fight to make the cuts as painless as possible, but with a $10 billion state deficit, he warns that significant cuts in education are inevitable.

Progressives rally under 'One Nation' banner, invigorated for midterm elections

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Progressives – thought to be sitting out the midterm elections – came by the tens of thousands to rally in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, October 2. They came from different places and different backgrounds and championing different issues and agendas, but they came in force under a “One Nation” banner, in recognition of the consequences if Democrats lose control of Congress.

Many came to use their bodies as the counterpoint to the Tea Party and Glenn Beck who rallied at the same place, the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, in August. They wanted the pictures showing the rainbow of colors of t-shirts showing affiliations to unions and causes, to mirror the image and contradict the notion of an “enthusiasm gap” for Democratic candidates.

In contrast to Glenn Beck’s rally which had a religious theme, the progressives’ message, “Jobs, Justice, Education” more closely tracked Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, which was recited by a group led by James Dean.

Instead of the “Vote for Change” message of the Tea Party, the signs here read “Standing Up for the Change We Voted For”.

The 50 Long Islanders on the Long Island Jobs With Justice bus were representative of the range of issues, causes and groups that met up at the rally: peace activists, unionists, environmentalists, advocates for public education, universal health care, and an economy that brings about full employment. Some were veterans of protests going back to Martin Luther King and the Vietnam War, and some were on their first march on Washington, including 15 students from Stony Brook University.

The students were protesting the privatization of the state university system, the cuts in spending to public education that has resulted in the South Hampton campus being closed, and the rise in tuition at state and city universities, making them unaffordable, or sending them out with $25,000 in debt, and turning them into “wage slaves”

Helene Manas, of the Long Island Progressive Coalition and a New York City school teacher, said, “It is really, really important to show the nation that the Tea Party is minimal and the true majority are like us. I believe people deserve justice, equal rights, good education and health care.”

Helene and her husband, Mark Manas, said they were championing the issue of Fair Elections Now – publicly financed elections – to mitigate the massive flow of money now for wealthy individuals, corporations and special interest groups to literally buy candidates “Money is the cancer in politics,” they said.

The sentiment “Money is buying all our candidates, even Progressives,” was echoed by Esther Confino, but Confino, who is secretary of the Long Island Coalition for a National Health Plan, was advocating on behalf of a single payer system.

The so-called Obamacare health reform that has the Tea Party so teed-off, “Is only the beginning.” She expressed the upset Progressives had that the Obama Administration so quickly gave up on expanding the Medicare system through the age groups or offering a public option, and even recalled how single-payer advocates were arrested at Senator Max Baucus’ hearing. “Single payer people were in mourning.”

But, she noted,  “If we didn’t get [what we got], it would have taken 30 years” before there was any health care reform at all.

She reminded Progressives of what is at stake: Republicans are calling to privatize Social Security and repeal the health care reforms which were won, which only really provided access to health insurance. Connecticut’s Republican candidate for Senate, Linda McMahon, has said that the minimum wage should be reduced.

Naomi Feldheim of Great Neck, who has been marching since Martin Luther King, said she was marching this time to “change priorities of country.”

She urged support for the “War is Making You Poor” act that is in Congress. The spending on unending wars is “taking away from education, the social net, creation of jobs, all the things FDR addressed with WPA. We need to rebuild infrastructure, education and health needs instead of killing our youth in foreign wars.”

Charlene Obenauer, director of Long Island Jobs with Justice and the organizer of the bus, pointed to the “Move the Money” campaign, from war and foreign spending to domestic issues.

Since 2001, the cost of wars totals $1.1 trillion; the cost to New York State is $97 billion. The bill to Nassau County taxpayers in fiscal 2011 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is $1.8 billion.

That same amount of money could provide 1,675,621 Long Island households with wind-powered renewable electricity for a year; pay for 25,051 police or firefighters, provide 297,243 scholarships for a year or provide Pell Grants to 321,719 students; provide health care to 717,661 low-income children, pay for 191,404 Head Start slots, pay 21,976 elementary school teachers, or provide 182,269 military veterans with VA medical care.

Nancy Durgan of Pax Christi, the Catholic peace movement, said, “We have got to stand up and make noise and not just make it like the Tea Party, and move the money to the intense need we have at home.”

Paul Auerbach of the Interfaith Alliance, said he was also showing opposition to war and to bring that money home.

Judy Gardner, Huntington, of Code Pink, said she was marching  because, “We have to be visible, or else you’re not there. If we aren’t involved, we get the government we deserve. We have to be out there.”

Charlotte Coons, also from Code Pink, said she is marching “to bring the war money home” and, because the perpetual “War on Terrorism” has resulted in compromised privacy, she added, ” I march for civil liberties.”

Bob Marcus, of the North Country Peace Group, Setauket, picked up on the themes of the march, “One Nation working together for jobs, justice, education, economy that works for all to create one million new jobs right away; a world class public education system; end racism; fix the broken immigration system; that workers have green jobs and safe working conditions; a clean environment; equality for all women; peace; energy independence; public education and transportation.”

Maria Contreras, with the Long Island Jobs with Justice board, was advocating to fix the broken immigration system, another theme of the rally.She urged support for the DREAM Act, languishing in Congress, which would have addressed the complex issue of undocumented immigrants (by some estimates 11 million people). It would provide that enrollment in high school or college as well as military service would provide a path to citizenship. But the group wants other paths – such as community service or owning a small business that employs other people.

Susan Darcy, of West Hempstead, a special education department chairman who also hosts meetings of Moving Forward Long Island, said she wanted to show that Progressives were just as much a force as Tea Party. “They say they want America back. We want to go forward.”

Zina Fayache of Mineola said she wanted to be at the rally because, “We have to support the President. He’s not perfect, he’s but going in the right direction, moving forward.. He was left a lot of problems and he’s solving them, making our world a better place. That’s very important to me.”

Jack Belelo recalled President Harry Truman’s Labor Day 1948 speech. “He called them Republican Reactionaries, not Conservatives That’s the term we should use. The Tea Party is reactionary.

“In 1948, which was only 15 years from the New Deal, Truman was the underdog. These Republican Reactionaries were against Social Security, the FDIC, the Wagner Act (that gives workers the right to organize and strike), child labor laws.

“He said, ‘If you vote for these Republican reactionaries, you will get what you deserve.'”

The same Republican Reactionaries, he said, were against Civil Rights Act in 1964, voting rights and Medicare in 1965 “and every Progressive legislation.

“Although Obama is not perfect, not as progressive as we would like, he is such a damn sight better, and if we don’t support him and the Dems in his corner, we will get what we deserve.”

“No matter how you feel about Obama and the Democrats,” echoed Andrew of Stony Brook’s Environmental Club, “they are all that we have to work with. Obama and the Dems are not perfect, but in November, we have to come out to vote. If not, it will be the Tea Baggers.

“The biggest problem with Progressives,” he said, “is that they don’t come out in support each other..My interest is environmental, but I support other causes. The only way for our agenda to succeed is to support each other.”

But march, gather, rally and support each other they did.

With some 400 different organizations supporting the rally, including United for Peace and Justice,, NAACP, 1199 SEIU, AFL-CIO, Green for All, United States Student Association, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Campaign for America’s Future, National Action Network, Center for American Progress, Jewish Funds for Justice, Veterans For Peace, Code Pink, and Progressive Democrats of America, to list but a few, the marchers poured out from some 2,000 buses, plus cars, the metro.

They carried signs as diverse as the people carrying them: “Corporations Are Not People.” “Make Food Not War.” “We March for Hope Not Hate.” “No Turn Right”

There were even signs thanking Obama, such as carried by twin sisters Valerie & Winnie Mackend, of New York City, “Thank you Obama for passing health care reform; withdrawing troops from Iraq; restoring our reputation abroad; increasing aid to veterans; appointing the first Latina to the Supreme Court and restarting Mideast peace talks.”

In fact, as marches go, this one was “mellow,” Feldheim later commented.

Seven feeder marches funneled towards the Lincoln Memorial. People lined the Reflecting Pool.

Gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, Progressives stood up for their causes, but were careful not to betray frustration with the Obama Administration or Democrats for compromises on everything from continuing the Bush war on terror in Afghanistan to the too-quick abandonment of single-payer or public option in the health care program, to the disrespect shown teachers in the press to tie compensation and job security to test scores.

Instead, the call was for unity.

“We are together. This march is about the power to the people,” said MSNBC host Ed Schultz. “It is about the people standing up to the corporations. Are you ready to fight back?…This is a defining moment in America. Are you American?..This is no time to back down. This is time to fight for America… We as one nation must fight … We must vote Nov. 2.”

One speaker lambasted “The high blood pressure of greed and anemia of deeds.”

Van Jones, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, brought together the concern for jobs and the need to address climate change: “Most important is green power… We need to beat global warming and put Americans back to work at the same time.”

“Let farmers have a new business –not just food production but energy production” – wind turbines, growing energy crops.

“The environment is in crisis, and economy is in crisis. The Earth is overheating, temperature is going up and employment going down. Fix both at the same time.”

Al Sharpton, advocating on behalf of public education and summoning up the Progressives to go out and knock on doors to get out the vote for November 2, intoned, “You can’t scapegoat teachers- there’s a difference between accountability and union busting….

“In four weeks, is the midterm ‘exams.’ We’ve got to hit the pavement, knock on doors, from 10/2 to 11/2. We will pass the midterm exam.”

As of 3 pm, the peak of the march, the organizing group, One Nation Working Together, estimated 175,000 people, “representing all 50 states and our country’s great diversity – joined together at the Lincoln memorial to re-claim the American dream and raise their voices for jobs, justice and public education. 

“It’s inspiring to look out and see so many people — even more than we even expected — from so many different places coming together as one nation in support of jobs, justice and public education,” said Leah Daughtry, national campaign director of One Nation Working Together. “This is an important moment in the progressive movement – as each person returns home and continues to rally our fellow Americans as we head to the ballot box in November and re-commit ourselves to our common future.”

–Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner

The Perfect Storm of State Disaster- Education Cuts

Friday, August 27th, 2010

August 27th, 2010 7:18 pm ET

“The perfect storm of state disaster” is what state assemblyman Tom Alfano calls the governor’s proposed budget for schools.  This is a very apt statement, whether you are a parent of a child in a school on Long Island or a teacher.  This statement was made on December 19, 2008 in the Floral Dispatch, online edition.  However, this statement still holds true today as well.  Alfano also stated in his op-ed that these cuts would impact such areas in education as bigger class sizes, cuts in technology, and special education.

In order to decrease the gap in funding versus educational needs, New York attempted to win The Race to the Top.  According to a report by Newsday, New York State went from also-ran to winner in the federal Race To The Top competition, officials said.  New York is one of nine states splitting $3.3 billion.  Timothy Kremer of the state School Boards Association states that “it will not replace the $1.4-billion cut in school aid that forced some school districts to lay off teachers, close schools and cut programs.”

Long Island schools are showing their disagreement with state cuts.  One such district is in Wyandanch had fifty community residents on Saturday August 14, 2010 participate in a rally lad by local activists and the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a regional volunteer group.  Ironically when the state raised passing standards on its tests last month, the number of failed students soared – in Wyandanch and island wide.  So with the passing test score being increased as well as class sizes rising due to budget cuts, students will suffer.  New York state is going to receive some financial help from the federal government of $26 billion.  $607 million of that money – equivalent to more than 40 percent of state-aid cuts will go to New York.  But Albany authorities have not yet announced how the money will be distributed to schools.

Even with all of these cuts, there is still a silver-lining to this cloud.  People are still choosing to teach, and many of them return to the schools they went through.  Michael Arnone returned to teach third grad in the same classroom he had third grade in Glen Cove.  Sari Goldberg Alfano of Levittown returned to her elementary school as well to teach.  These teachers and teachers like them still believe in our education system here in Long Island, and so should you.

From the Desk of … Sen. Brian X. Foley

Monday, July 12th, 2010

State Sen. Brian  X. Foley was joined by education advocates to call on his fellow Long Island senators to join him in  supporting  an  override  of  Gov. Paterson’s  veto of funding for education.

Last  week,  the senate and the assembly approved a budget bill that  included  $600 million in restorations to education funding. Foley  and  Sen. Craig  Johnson  were the only Long Island Senators who voted  in  favor of returning this money to school districts and taxpayers. Paterson had proposed cutting $1.5 billion.  Based on the formulas used  to  calculate  aid to school districts, schools within the 3rd Senate District  were  to  receive  the  highest  restoration amount of any senate district  in  the state.  Paterson vetoed the funding within hours of its passage.

“Funding  for  our  schools  is  not  something we can allow to become  a  proverbial  political  football,”  said  Foley.   “Long Island’s   schools   already   receive   funding   at   a   level  that  is disproportionate  to  the percentage of students we have. When state aid is cut,  the  difference  must  ultimately  be  made up either by our property owners in the form of taxes or by our school children in the form of larger classes, fewer  resources and reduced programs for athletics and the arts. I  hope  that  my Long Island colleagues will join me in voting to override the  governor’s  veto  so  that  our  children  can continue to receive the highest  level  of  educational  opportunity we can provide without schools needing  to  raise  taxes  to a level that will drive residents off of Long Island.”

The  funding  that was restored could be used districts to help offset  the property tax levies that were included in the budgets passed by residents  in  May.   The  original bill passed the senate without a single vote from the Republican minority.

“Even  though all of my Republican colleagues voted no on these restorations  the  first  time  we  considered them, thereby depriving school districts  of  funds  that could be used to reduce property taxes, they now have  a  chance to correct the mistake of their earlier vote,” said Foley.   “I  strongly  implore  them to stop saying no to our taxpayers and children, and start saying no to their leadership by standing up for Long Islanders.”

 “The  legislature  has  supported  restoration  of  school  aid statewide  totaling  $600  million, including approximately $65 million for Long Island school districts,” said Lisa Tyson, Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.  “For the state’s neediest districts like Brentwood, Wyandanch,  Central  Islip, William Floyd and Westbury these funds would be available to restore cuts to the classroom.  Governor Paterson vetoed these restorations  to our classrooms.  We have seen gains in student outcomes in needy districts on LI and across the state as a result of the state finally beginning to provide adequate funding to these needy school districts.  The Governor’s  veto  is  a  major  step  backwards  and  both  houses  of  the legislature  should  vote  to  override  it.  Long Island’s legislators, no matter  what party, need to stand together against Governor Paterson’s veto that is so destructive to our local schools.”

The leadership in the senate has indicated that they would only call  an  override  vote  if  it  was certain that there were the necessary number  of  votes available.  The support of Long Island’s senators for the override is crucial.

School aid cuts may affect at-risk LI schools

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
News 12
(01/20/10) WYANDANCH – Gov. David Paterson’s budget proposal includes a cut to school aid, which may hit some of Long Island’s already underfunded schools hard.

The Long Island Progressive Coalition criticized the proposal, insisting the cuts will negatively impact children’s education. Denise Gibbs, the assistant superintendent at Wyandanch schools, says the district was already forced to cut its reading program, security and custodial workers last year.

State Sen. John Flanagan (R-Northport) says he wants to make sure the school cuts are evenly spread throughout the state.

The State Legislature must first vote on the budget before cuts go into effect.

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…
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