What’s wrong with Public Education in New York State?

New York is constitutionally required to provide its citizens with an education to the high school level that teaches “basic literacy, calculating, and verbal skills” ensuring that citizens are “capable of voting and serving on a jury.”

We now have Foundation Aid to help school districts without enough financial resources, but it has been criticized for:

  1. Inconsistencies in how each local share of the money is calculated, which does not uniformly and fairly account for a district’s ability to pay
  2. Lots of “fine print” including floors and ceilings to the aid amounts, which can limit the final funding that a district in need gets
  3. Outdated measures/definitions of “poverty,” which understate or overstate the financial need in many districts

How do we fix this?

We can have higher standards than basic literacy. Let’s raise the floor from what the courts have decided is a “sound basic education” and spell out certain requirements that maybe weren’t necessary in 1894, when our current constitution was written.

We can also add a provision to the Education Article simply stating that all students must be given equal access to public education. This will force the legislature to rethink our distribution of funds laws, and simply give each school district an equal amount of money. When a school’s funds are dependent on the property value of the district, it perpetuates a cycle of inescapable poverty.

Currently, there are stricter standards on the treatment of inmates in reformatory institutions than there are on the treatment of students in our public schools. Some groups even believe we can introduce a constitutional amendment stating that our children are treated humanely, by limiting how early school starts and how long kids can travel to get there.

We can do better when it comes to educating the next generation of New Yorkers! In 2018, support candidates that are committed to public education.