This year’s New York State PTA Legislation Education Convention (Leg. Ed.) once again met expectations with presenting a plethora of information about a variety of current education topics ranging from the state budget to grassroots advocacy efforts and from the impact of sequestration to common core standards and the SAVE and DASA laws. The first step of any advocacy effort is information. Leg. Ed. delivers it in spades.
One of the presentations was by Michael Rubell, the Executive Director of the Campaign for Educational Equity. Previously he led the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) which was involved in a lengthy lawsuit about funding for education. The CFE lawsuit was settled in 2006 declaring that New York’s Constitution requires the provision of a sound basic education to all students. The courts defined a sound basic education as a high school education as determined by the state regents. Michael’s presentation focused on fixing state funding to provide a sound basic education. In light of our current state fiscal situation, we need to figure out how educate our students more effectively and efficiently. Rubell’s proposal has five action steps for achieving constitutional compliance. These steps are:
1. Identify the specific essential resources and services
2. Reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary requirements and mandates
3. Determine the cost of providing a sound basic education
4. Revise funding formulas to provide a sound basic education
5. Annually analyze the impact of budget changes.
It is up to us, the people- parents, students, teachers and administrators and the community at large- to work to get the legislature to achieve these steps and ensure that students across the state receive a sound basic education.
Another presenter, Bob Lowry, from the New York State Council of School Superintendents, presented information indicating that 51% of school districts will be educationally insolvent within the next four years. This means that the districts will be unable to provide the state mandated programs. We cannot continue the way we are. More requirements and less funding is a recipe for educational disaster. Efficiencies must be found, sensible and adequate funding must be provided and educational quality must be protected. Although not an easy package, it is essential if we are to move ahead.
We need our representatives to understand the imminent problems and needs of our students and to help local districts provide for them. As a PTA we need to advocate for these steps to help our schools. We can write our representatives, governor and regents and to ask to them to support our children by completing the steps above to ensure all students have access to a sound basic education.
Summary of Bob Lowry’s report: http://www.warwickvalleyschools.com/District/boe/pdfs/1213/NYSCOSS_cant_get_there_from_here_highlights.pdf
Campaign for Educational Equity website: http://equitycampaign.org
Information about the campaign for fiscal education: http://www.edlawcenter.org
NYS PTA’s website: www.PTA.org