ALBANY, N.Y. Feb. 8 — New York State United Teachers urged lawmakers to finally fulfill the state’s longstanding promise and fully phase in Foundation Aid, saying public schools need this historic, additional investment to cope with high inflation, staffing shortages and the pandemic’s lingering effects.
In testimony, NYSUT President Andy Pallotta also highlighted new polling that showed voters overwhelmingly oppose increasing the number of charter schools and, instead, want elected leaders to do more to strengthen their local public schools.
On K-12 funding, Pallotta said the governor’s proposed budget would make a real difference in the lives of students by enabling public schools to more fully address their needs — from mental health to nutrition to curriculum and programs. “Put simply, this spending plan holds the promise to dramatically improve our public schools and the communities they serve,” Pallotta said. “This year, we must finally complete the phase-in of Foundation Aid.”
On charters, Pallotta said corporate charters continue to suck vital funding from districts while under-enrolling English Language Learners and students with disabilities. In New York City, he noted, 72 percent of Foundation Aid increases over the last five years have been diverted to additional charter payments. Similarly, districts such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Hempstead have seen charter payments balloon to unsustainable levels at the expense of students in regular public schools.
Pallotta shared results of a new poll by Hart Research Associates which shows expanding charters is not a priority for New York voters. In fact, 81 percent of voters want elected officials to do more to strengthen public schools, compared to 15 percent who say increasing the number of charters should be a higher priority. Seventy-nine percent of voters oppose increasing the number of charters — a finding consistent among Democrats; Republicans; unaffiliated voters; upstate and downstate voters; and among white voters, Black voters and Hispanic voters.
“Corporate charters value their balance sheets over the well-being of students, educators and families,” he said. “While public schools unite us, charters continue to fracture districts and communities. From Long Island to Western New York, many districts are already over-saturated with charters. It’s time to declare any further charter expansion DOA — dead on arrival.”
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In other testimony, NYSUT also pushed for expanded funding for community schools; more robust programs to end student hunger; and a greater investment in teacher centers.
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.