Sen. Dilan Pledges Support Of School Equity During American Education Week

Martin Malavé Dilan

November 22, 2006

As a way to observe American Education Week, State Senator Martin Malave Dilan (D-Brooklyn) today urged fellow lawmakers to join him in supporting an end to the Campaign For Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit by pledging to provide all New York schools with the financial resources needed for success.

"Whenever we discuss education in America, we shouldn’t have to begin by asking, ‘education in which America?’" Senator Dilan noted. "The question of ‘which America’ certainly applies here in New York State where a wide gap exists between schools that succeed and those that do not. The unequal distribution of resources is responsible for much of this discrepancy."

Senator Dilan added, "If our state’s policy is to measure all schools against common standards of assessment – as well the state should – then it is only reasonable to expect that government would in turn hold itself accountable to a uniform standard in the way we award education aid."

CFE’s lawsuit, filed in 1993, contends that the state’s education aid formula is "unconstitutional" because it fails to provide all New York schoolchildren with a "sound basic education."

New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, is currently reviewing CFE’s complaint for a third time. Recent hearings follow the Governor’s appeal of a lower court verdict in March that ordered the state to provide New York City schools with up to $5.6 billion in additional operating aid and up to $9.2 billion extra for capital improvements. A final ruling in the case could potentially apply to every school district in the state.

"When an issue like this gains enough momentum from concerned New Yorkers that it reaches the highest rung of the state’s judicial ladder three times, then how can anyone question the need for equity?" said Sen. Dilan. "We must pledge to make education equity a banner issue of the upcoming legislative session. What better time than now, during American Education Week, to make such a pledge?"

American Education Week annually falls on the week before Thanksgiving. This year’s observance runs from November 12 to 18. First celebrated in 1921, American Education Week was originally sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Legion to raise awareness about the importance of public schools, according to NEA’s website.