NEW YORK CITY, N.Y., Jan. 24, 2020 — New York State United Teachers is visiting New York City schools today to draw attention to the severe impact a lack of state funding has had on schools statewide. Union activists also are highlighting the need for new revenues that will enable the state to tackle educational inequality and other pressing needs.
Speaking outside IS 181/Pablo Casals in The Bronx Friday morning, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta called on state officials to make full funding of Foundation Aid, the underpinning of how New York funds schools, a top priority this legislative session. Pallotta also advocated for new taxes on billionaires and ultramillionaires that would generate billions of dollars in new revenue for essential state services.
“Our children do not get a do-over,” Pallotta said. “We hear every year that there is a budget gap, but the state can’t close it on the backs of the New York City’s middle-class families and students through more underfunding of our education system. Fully funding our students’ futures can’t wait any longer.”
"We recognize the need to generate additional revenue to fully fund Foundation Aid and protect vital services like higher education, health care, housing and transportation,” United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said. “But now is not the time to reduce our state investment in public education, particularly when other revenue sources are available, including new taxes on billionaires and ultramillionaires.”
New York City is owed $1.1 billion in state Foundation Aid for schools across all five boroughs. IS 181 alone is owed $925,000. Educators and administrators say that full funding could be used for critical needs, such as hiring more teachers for small-group instruction.
The bus tour is scheduled to visit PS 5/Ellen Lurie in Manhattan later Friday, which is owed $635,000. The school is short on funding to hire new 1-to-1 tutors who can provide individualized attention to students and is lacking a sustainable funding stream for music programs, among other pressing needs.
State lawmakers are joining with NYSUT to draw attention to the serious needs schools are facing.
“As a former school teacher, I know what it takes to give a good, well-rounded education to our kids,” Assembly Education Committee Chair Michael Benedetto said. “We don’t have the money right now to do it properly. Our kids deserve better. We’re in this for our children — our future.”
“This is the year to get education funding right for every student, every school and every zip code in our state,” state Sen. Robert Jackson said. “School funding is a clear example that justice delayed is justice denied. Our children's schools have been underfunded for years, especially in majority-black, -brown and working class communities.”
“We should continue to invest in our students who will carry us into the future,” state Sen. Jamaal Bailey said. “Our students have been shortchanged, especially those in communities of color. I want to thank NYSUT and the UFT for always advocating for funding in our schools and supporting the youth. I look forward to continue fighting to fully fund foundation aid and allocating more funds to our schools.”
“Teachers are the backbone of our schools,” state Sen. John Liu said. “They know better than anyone how New York City schools have suffered over years of chronic underfunding. The executive budget simply does not make the investment in Foundation Aid that our schools are owed. Our students and teachers deserve much more.”
“The Campaign for Fiscal Equity started right here in my community of Northern Manhattan by parents who faced the cruel reality that their children were not being afforded a real opportunity for quality education. Today, after fighting for over a quarter century for fair funding for our children, many districts and communities across our state are still fighting for their fair share.” Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa said “I am proud to join UFT President Michael Mulgrew in my district today as we continue to draw attention to the crisis of inequities that still exists within our education system. If budgets are symbols of our priorities, then ensuring that our schools are adequately funded should be at the top of the list this budget cycle.”
As the state budget takes shape, NYSUT’s Fund Our Future bus tour is visiting schools around New York that, like IS 181 and PS 5, have been underfunded by the state. A full schedule of tour dates and stops can be found at FundOurFutureNY.org.
NYSUT, as a member of the New York State Educational Conference Board, is calling for a $2.1 billion increase in state aid in the 2020-21 state budget, which includes the first installment of a three-year phase-in of the more than $3.4 billion in Foundation Aid owed to more than 400 school districts around New York.
In order to generate the revenue needed to fully fund Foundation Aid, in addition to other state services like health care, housing and transportation, NYSUT is supportive of new taxes on billionaires and ultramillionaires.