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For Immediate Release

Contact:  Soneni Smith, AQE (917) 517-9393

March 1, 2004                                             Bob Cohen, AQE (518) 465-4600 x104  




AQE Supports Sound Basic Education Task Force Report

Coalition Finds That Model For Formula Needs Adjustments

 

 

Statement by Regina Eaton, AQE Executive Director:


As a member of the Sound Basic Education Task Force, the Alliance for Quality Education has worked diligently with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and other educational advocates throughout New York State to develop a funding proposal that ensures every school has what it needs to fully educate a child. The basis for the task force report is the New York Adequacy Study undertaken by a panel of independent experts: the most comprehensive costing-out study ever mounted in the United States.


 AQE strongly supports the report’s basic structure for a new funding formula. We believe it is a clear and rationale framework that provides the Governor and Legislature with a model to meet its obligation to provide for a meaningful high school education.


While the report is commendable, we have strong concerns over certain aspects of the proposed formula.  In particular, the proposed “needs index” used to generate the numbers in the report seriously disadvantages New York City.  Specifically, the needs index uses a “school-size variable” that significantly reduces funding to New York City.  We also have strong concerns about how the “geographic cost index” is structured to accurately reflect the true variation in regional costs.


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The numbers offered in the study will be discussed further in public meetings to be held around the state and must be revised. As it is, the Sound Basic Education Task Force report is a major first step in fixing our funding system statewide.


Further, AQE supports the study because it addresses four of our five basic criteria for a fair and reliable funding formula, developed with the input of a cross-section of the educational community at dozen forums held through the state in the fall.

First, we support adequate funding for all public schools, based on the actual costs to provide a meaningful high school education through grade 12, including: qualified teachers in every classroom; adequate, up-to-date facilities and learning materials; universal pre-Kindergarten; and academic enrichment and remediation programs.  


Second, the new formula must provide for sustainability and predictability to enable schools to plan ahead.


Third, there must be simplicity and transparency to produce understandable results.


Fourth, we support an increase in the state share of education spending.


We also support accountability as part of the funding plan. Though it is not included in this report, CFE will be issuing a follow-up report to address accountability issues and we look forward to that report.  We urge the Legislature and Governor to use this report and the final study that will be released later this month, as the groundwork for reforms that they will implement this year.

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The Alliance for Quality Education is a statewide coalition of 230 organizations

dedicated to ensuring every child’s right to a quality education.


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