CFE Joins Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus in Calling for Immediate Down Payment on CFE

In a powerful call to action on CFE, the 43-member Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus urged Governor Pataki and legislative leaders to pass school-funding legislation this year that would fund the CFE court order on a statewide basis. The group made the announcement at a press conference on Wednesday in Albany.

"It's time to make a sizable down payment on our children's future," said Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat, chair of the caucus. "Why must another generation be relegated to second-class status at the whim of a disconnected chief bureaucrat?"

CFE, the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) joined forces with legislators in making their urgent pleas. In a press release issued by the caucus, voices from the education community were steadfast and strong. Their appeals join a growing number of elected officials and advocates in New York City and across the state who have come out forcefully in favor of an immediate down payment on CFE.

Quotes from participating advocates and assemblymembers follow:

CFE Executive Director Geri D. Palast: "We want the governor and others who continue to give lip service to education to finally put their money where their mouths are. There's close to a $4 billion budget surplus this year. This would go a long way in paying for the $2.1 billion in operating aid and $2 billion for facilities that are needed to fund the CFE court order on a statewide basis next school year."

New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi: "One year ago, the courts ordered the state to implement a solution to CFE. For more than a decade, CFE has been fighting for fair funding - fighting for students' basic rights. How much longer can we deny students a sound basic education? How much longer can we deny them their future? If this year's budget passes without addressing CFE, the governor and the legislature will have sent a very clear message: Albany doesn't care about New York's public school students."

AQE Executive Director Billy Easton: "Our schoolchildren need to see a real down payment on a statewide CFE solution this year. Nobody believes we do not have the money to fund our schools; there is a $3 to $4 billion surplus."

Assemblymember Vivian Cook: "The class of 2019 will be entering kindergarten this fall and failure to take action by April 1 will affect those students and the rest of the 2.9 million public school students, statewide."

Assemblymember Darryl Towns: "Money is not enough. The reforms contained in the Schools for New York's Future Act would prioritize educational strategies that are proven to work, including: smaller class sizes; qualified teachers in every classroom; universal pre-kindergarten; modern, safe facilities; up-to-date materials; academic enrichment and remediation programs (including tutoring, summer school, and after school); and a means of accountability to ensure that the additional state funds improve student achievement."

Assemblymember Barbara Clark: "New York State owed New York City's public schools a total of $5.6 billion dollars last year. This year, the balance remains past due. The Board of Regents has sent academic standards that must be met by all of the children of the state. I can describe it as nothing other than criminal when the governor has proposed less than $300 million in his 2006-2007 budget for education."

March 8, 2006