ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 11, 2014 - New York State United Teachers today welcomed the filing of a new lawsuit aimed at forcing New York state to meet its legal obligation to provide all students with the "sound, basic education" guaranteed by the state constitution.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said the lawsuit filed by New Yorkers for Students' Educational Rights and attorney Michael Rebell, which seeks to force the Legislature and governor to abide by the education funding formula adopted in 2007 after the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case, is about simple fairness.
"New York has a constitutional and moral obligation to provide adequate funding for its schools, especially those serving our most vulnerable students," Iannuzzi said. "Instead, it has slashed funding without regard to its promises in CFE, the state constitution, and, most importantly, the promise to meet the needs of its students. This lawsuit seeks to force Albany to do what it should have done all along - meet its constitutional obligations to help all students receive a quality public education, no matter where they live or the level of wealth available locally
In addition, Iannuzzi noted the NYSER suit declares the tax cap - which NYSUT is already challenging in court - exacerbates the impact of the state's failure to properly fund its schools while the state is imposing new costs, including implementation of the Common Core. "The tax cap makes a bad situation worse. Its devastating restrictions and undemocratic structure mean that voters in local communities are denied the opportunity to decide for themselves how much to invest in their own children's futures," he said.
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said a recent NYSUT report showed that, under the proposed executive budget, nearly 70 percent of school districts would receive less state aid in 2014-15 than five years ago - and 62 percent would get less than in 2008-09. Devastating budget cuts, rising costs and an undemocratic tax cap have contributed to the loss of some 35,000 teaching and staff positions since 2008-09.
"While we appreciate recent legislative efforts to correct these wrongs, the fact remains that state aid cuts, when combined with a horrific tax cap and new costs imposed by Albany, have hurt our public schools and the people who work in them," Pallotta said. "Together with the tax cap case and the Small Cities funding case that will go to trial in September, it is clear that more and more in the education community see the need to compel the state to do what's right for New York's schoolchildren.
NYSUT also noted that today's lawsuit comes as a new report - by the Alliance for Quality Education and the Education Law Center - demonstrates that, when it comes to educating students, state funding has a significant positive impact.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
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