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Advocate: Executive Budget “Unacceptable” for NY's Highest-Needs Schools

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January 23, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. - Education reform advocates have been combing through the Executive Budget proposed last week and they don't like what they see. From the rural North Country, to Binghamton, to Brooklyn, they say, New York's neediest districts will get only 52 percent of the $805 million in school aid. And they'll have to fight for another $250 million in competitive grants tied to test scores.

Zakiah Ansari of the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) says children competing against other children is bad education policy.

"That's $250 million to put into something that has not been proven to work and that is going to create losers, for some children to be losers. Unacceptable; not acceptable at all."

Last year Albany cut funding to every school to make up for the state's own budget gap. The AQE says the 2012 Executive Budget should be made to match the proposal from the Board of Regents, which would deliver $132 million more - the largest portion of aid - to the highest-needs schools.

Ansari has four children in public schools in Brooklyn, but she says people in every impoverished corner of the state should be indignant about what she sees as the short-changing of needy districts.

"That's in rural areas, that's in cities like Rochester and Binghamton, it's in the rural districts, and that's really important for people to understand: that it is not just New York City."

Ansari says she wants fairness and equity to be the focal point of education funding for a state hit hard by last year's cuts.

"Schools lost $1.3 billion last year. They lost after-school programs, art and music, AP courses, guidance counselors, enrichment and tutoring services, etc., etc., and the list goes on."

She will testify at hearings on the Executive Budget before the Senate Finance and the Assembly Ways and Means committees. The AQE says it will release a detailed analysis of the effect on districts in the next week or so.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY