2020-21 Legislative Priorities
New York State should invest $2.4 billion in education aid and $100 million in child care in the 2020 state budget to ensure all students across the state, especially for Black, Latinx, immigrant and low income children have access to a high quality education.
Year after year, students, parents and community members advocate that the state finally commits to fulfilling its constitutional obligation to all students by fully funding schools, especially the schools that educate students of color and low income students. This election year, it is more important than ever to show our youngest New Yorkers that their future matters, that Black, Latinx, immigrant and students whose families live in poverty will not be denied the opportunity to succeed by experiencing all the resources that fully funded schools have.
In 2007, the governor and the legislature provided a statewide settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit ruling by the NYS Court of Appeals by implementing in law a four year commitment of $5.5 billion in operating going to all schools, but mostly to low income schools and schools that educate students of color. While the law remains, Governor Cuomo has refused to provide the necessary funding to meet that commitment. Currently, the New York State Board of Regents estimates that the state owes $3.8 billion in operating aid, also known as Foundation Aid.
The parents, students, and community members of the Alliance for Quality Education demand that this year the state invests a total of $2.4 billion (including the $80 million for expense-based aids).
Fully fund Foundation Aid
The formula that was created in 2007 to provide a predictable, stable and transparent method of delivering large sums of funding to the school districts that need it the most. But the Foundation Aid formula has not been fully funded or used since 2009. Currently, the state is $3.8 billion behind the commitment it made in law to provide Foundation Aid. Quality education has been put on the back burner for over a decade. We need the Governor and state legislature to fully fund the formula this year, by committing to a two-year phase in and investing $2 billion in year one and the remainder in year two.
Potential Updates to the Foundation Aid Formula (after it’s fully funded):
Use updated data for poverty, such as direct certification data. This data is more up-to-date and is verified by government agencies that provide public assistance.
Eliminate the restrictions in the Pupil Needs Index to accurately capture student need.
Eliminate the floor in income wealthy index to fully capture poverty at the district level and accurately factor in the expected minimum local contribution. The floor in the income wealth index is arbitrary and does not allow districts with wealth lower than that floor to have a lower local contribution to the Foundation Aid. The same is true for wealthier districts. Those with more wealth than the cap to the income wealth index are not expected to contribute enough.
Update the regional cost index to reflect the higher costs that school districts such as Yonkers, Peekskill, Ossining and others in the lower Hudson Valley have to endure to provide educational services to their students. Currently, these higher cost areas are grouped with lower cost areas further north. Being grouped with lower cost areas results in lower operating aid.
Increase weights in key categories in order to help district cover the true cost of education students with the greatest needs.
Add a weighting for high concentrations of English Language Learners.
Add a weighting for students with more severe disabilities
Invest $50 million to implement Culturally Responsive Education
New York State public schools should offer a variety of classes, curricula, projects, books and resources that are grounded in the rich diversity of the New York State student population. Students should be learning about the histories and cultures of African, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and Native people in New York schools, and the intersections with gender, LGBTQIA and religious diversity. Every educator should have access to anti-racism and anti-bias training.
Invest $50 million to implement positive school climate strategies and implement solutions, not suspensions
All students deserve a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function. Educators need training on a variety of topics, including how to identify bullying; and school employees’ duties concerning the reporting, investigation, and documenting of alleged incidents of harassment, bullying, and discrimination. We support increased investment in restorative justice practices as an effective alternative to punitive responses to wrongdoing. School-based restorative justice offers a more sustainable, equitable, and respectful alternative to dealing with misbehavior, from minor infractions to violence. It can also be used as a proactive strategy to create a culture of connectivity and care where all members of the school community can thrive.
Every child deserves to attend a safe, high quality school where students, teachers, and staff are treated with dignity and respect. The Safe and Supportive Schools bill (A3873) will help local schools create fair and equitable discipline policies that will address racial disparities and disparities related to disabilities.
Invest $100 million to have Sustainable Community Schools
We want strong schools with curricula that are engaging, relevant and rigorous; support high-quality teaching and not high stakes testing; social, emotional, health and mental health services as well as wraparound supports for every child; student-centered school climate, and transformative parent and community engagement.
Invest $150 million to expand quality full day Pre-K
$150 million for expansion of access and quality to all 3- and 4-year-olds in the State.
$125 million to expand access to pre-K full-day and part-day for both three- and four-year-olds. Funding levels should be sufficient to assure quality in all settings and produce better educational outcomes for children. The state should set minimum per-child rate of $10,000 for four--year-olds and $12,000 for three-year-olds.
$25 million to enhance quality and eliminate barriers to expansion, as districts expand pre-K.
Increase the Reimbursement Rate for Preschool Special Education Classes and Evaluations by at least 10% to help address the shortage of preschool special education programs and ensure a seat for every preschooler who needs one
Strengthen Partnerships and Support for Community Programs to Provide Pre-K Services by investing another $2 million in regional pre-k technical assistance centers
Invest $25m in NYSED Funding for Adult Literacy Education (ALE)
Maintain last year’s $7.8m investment and increase ALE by $17.2million.
Adult Education programs are critical to enabling New Yorkers to get and keep jobs, continue on their career paths and give parents tools to support their children’s academic success.
Changes to the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act have resulted in a loss of funding for English Language and Civics instruction in NYS- this funding has transitioned to supporting a new Integrated English Literacy Program focused on post-secondary and employment outcomes for students. The requirement for programs to demonstrate employment outcomes in order to maintain WIOA Title II funding has created a barrier for thousands of learners with lower levels of English language proficiency or lack of work authorization. ALE is one of the few state funding streams able to address the current and expected new need for flexible adult education services by supporting community-based English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Adult Basic Education (ABE) and High School Equivalency (HSE) preparation programs. Expanding ALE would allow the State to help fill the gap created by changes to WIOA-funded programs.
New York State should invest in its youngest children by investing $100 million in child care.
Specifically, New York should commit to achieving universal access to quality, affordable child care by 2025
Also, New York should be on a path to meeting the goal of universal access, and to curb the loss of providers and the exodus of educators from the field while working toward this goal, New York makes significant building block investments in child care this year, including:
Investing at least $40M to create a fund to increase workforce compensation and improve child care quality. Low compensation for child care educators leaves many educators living in or near poverty. It also leads to high workforce turnover rates, causing instability for infants and young children who need consistency in caregivers in order to establish healthy and secure attachments. Priority should be given to programs that serve low-income families and care for infants and toddlers; and
Investing at least $60 million to take meaningful steps toward achieving universal access to quality, affordable child care by 2025 by incrementally increasing the guaranteed eligibility levels and decreasing the co-payment multiplier.