ANOTHER VOICE: State funding system endangers rural school
By Michael Glover
(Reprinted with permission)
- Many of New York’s rural schools are in danger of falling
into structural deficit. The fault lies not with those
districts or their boards of education, but is rather the
result of harmful policy initiatives promulgated by Gov.
Andrew Cuomo and approved by the State Legislature.
Low-wealth schools around the state have already endured a
round of catastrophic staff reductions, the elimination of
enrichment and remedial programs and the realization that
they will be unable to provide the “sound, basic education”
guaranteed under the state constitution to all children.
Dozens more districts will join them in 2012-13 as the full
impact of an ill-conceived property tax cap, an inherently
inequitable state aid distribution formula, the exhaustion
of reserve funds and the lack of promised mandate relief
combine to create a fiscal “perfect storm” resulting in a
crushing loss of capacity and programs for schools serving
hundreds of thousands of children.
Michael Rebell of Columbia University reminds us that state
government has a constitutional obligation to do more than
just exhort low-wealth districts to “do more with less.”
Government must provide the tools and resources necessary
for the delivery of a sound, basic education for all of New
However, according to a report issued in August by the
Center for American Progress, distribution of state aid for
education has actually led to a bimodal public education
system in New York. The Center characterized our state’s
school funding as “highly regressive.”
The report concluded that the wide variation in fiscal
equity led to a circumstance where “highly regressive states
are providing fewer resources to their high-poverty
districts even though those districts serve many
disadvantaged children with high levels of need.”
Dr. Richard Timbs of the Statewide School Finance Consortium
sums it up in the following manner: “It’s not a geographical
problem, it’s an equity problem.” It’s a problem for all New
Yorkers because the future of a child growing up in a
multimillion-dollar home in Chappaqua is inextricably linked
to that of the student living in a trailer with no running
water in South Dansville.
Martin Luther King said, “In the end, we will remember not
the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
The education of children in low-wealth communities is a
matter of social justice and conscience.
Let us not be remembered in the future for our collective
silence. Contact Cuomo and your legislators today and demand
a fair, equitable and predictable state aid formula that
provides for all of New York’s public schoolchildren.
Michael Glover is district superintendent of the Genesee
Valley Educational Partnership in LeRoy.
Published Oct. 6, 2011 buffalonews.com