Senator Parker Fights For More School Aid, Votes Against State Budget Legislature “in Contempt Of Court” For Shortchanging NYC Schools
Senator Parker said the Legislature’s budget, while providing sufficient capital funding for New York City schools, falls far short on operating aid. “So essentially, while we now have the money to build more schools, we do not have the funds to ensure they are providing our children with a sound, basic education,” he said.
According to Senator Parker who represents the 21st Senate District in Brooklyn, the Budget agreed on by the Legislature includes an increase of $1.1 billion in additional operating aid, only $427.5 million of which would go to New York City schools.
“Consider for a moment that the Court of Appeals – just two weeks ago – again directed the State Legislature to provide $4.7 billion in operating aid and $9.2 billion for capital costs for New York City schools,” he said. “Since the budget does not comply with that court order, we are essentially in contempt of court. Speaking from the Floor of the Senate, Senator Parker said, “By continuing to ignore the court’s decision, we are also showing contempt for the school children of New York City and denying them their constitutional right to a proper education.”
Senator Parker noted that it has been 13 years since the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit was launched, and five years since the courts first determined that New York City’s high-needs schools had been shortchanged of state aid and were owed billions in additional capital and operating funds.
He was among the leaders who last week took the unprecedented action of proposing an amendment to the final budget bills. “We sought to truly address the CFE decision, and finally provide a real solution to an unfair system that has denied New York City’s schools of their fair share of school aid,” Senator Parker said.Education advocates applauded Senator Parker and the Senate Minority for offering the amendment, which would provide $2.6 billion in additional operating aid to schools throughout the state. High needs districts in urban, suburban and rural communities would see significant increases; but all districts would see an increase of at least two percent.
Quoting his mentor, former State Comptroller and former State Senator, Carl McCall, Senator Parker said, [he] would frequently remind us of what his mother always taught him – that education is a sledgehammer that opens doors to opportunity.”
However, Senator Parker added that the converse is also true. “Take away a child’s opportunity for a good education, and you also take away his or her opportunity for a good job. “You increase the odds that that child will rely on public assistance, and decrease the odds that he or she will have adequate health care or a chance to save for retirement,” he said. “By shortchanging these children now, we are affecting them for the rest of their lives.”