To The Editor:
Who is advocating for our kids these days?
Since late last fall, the education landscape of New York State has been filled with extremely negative political rhetoric from our governor about the status and experience of New York’s children in our schools, the evaluation of our teachers and principals, and the “monopoly” that influences policy and funding for our schools.
Our governor has determined that we are all failing the children of our state and he has made a scapegoat of the very people in the trenches who give professionally and sacrifice personally on a daily basis for their students, in addition to the leaders of our schools.
Yet, Governor Cuomo’s policies have failed to address what appears to be the systemic cause of low performing students and schools, the impact of poverty on all aspects of education. How can he possibly consider himself an advocate for the children of New York State? Have we missed his plan to address poverty in our urban settings and its lifelong impact?
For those who are not paying attention to the continuous stream of commentary on the topic of public education, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and distrustful of anyone or anything connected to our schools.
Our governor, like many politicians, efforts to divide and conquer the public. On the financial front, Governor Cuomo pits taxpayers against each other (example: The Veteran’s Tax Exemption) and any public entity by pointing to all of their shortcomings or the cost that each must bear due to unfunded mandates imposed on them by our state’s government. Yet, Gov. Cuomo recently spent $1.7 million that was paid to witnesses (retired superintendents from wealthy suburban school districts) and attorneys to avoid spending any more money on school funding for New York’s small cities (including the Fulton City School District).
Our school district is a high-need/low-wealth district. Does it seem that Governor Cuomo is advocating for the students of the Fulton City School District?
So as the April 1 deadline for the adoption of the next budget for New York State approaches, who will be the true advocates for the children of the Fulton City School District and all of the others across our state?
Will the wealthier school districts get more of the revenue “pie” by the possible reduction of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or will poorer school districts like the Fulton City School District receive more adequate funding through the Foundation Aid Formula for the schools of NYS?
Either way, the “haves” and the “have-nots” will continue to exist, and the inequity of funding for all school districts will continue. And will our governor continue to bully our educators for their inability to solve problems that exist beyond the walls of our classrooms and schools?
I encourage parents and community members of every school district in New York State to engage with our legislators during this short window of time.
Our schools need to be fully and equitably funded, and our teachers and principals need to be respected for their daily dedication.