April 2003
Focus on Education

From the NYS Assembly ē Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Steven Sanders, Chair, Education Committee

Experts say...

"The problem with this Executive Budget is that it gets us off the path of success. We need to get back on the path that works, and the prize is a genuine opportunity for the good life for all children."

Ė Richard P. Mills, State Education Commissioner

"A retreat from this stateís historic commitment to support public education will produce devastating consequences for local taxpayers and children."

- Timothy G. Kremer, Executive Director of New York State School Boards Association

"As a parent of a young child in the Buffalo Public Schools, I am devastated by Governor George Patakiís proposal to cut more than $1 billion in state aid. Our schools are already at an acute financial deficit. Depriving them of fundamental resources robs our children of the opportunity for success."

- Amy Cappelli, Buffalo parent

"Kids come first, and Iím not sure thatís where the governor has his mind right now."

- Harry Kilfoile, Superintendent, Canastota School District

"The state aid cuts jeopardize the very foundation and quality of our schools. The future of our students and our community are threatened."

- Dr. Evelyn Blose Holman, Superintendent, Bay Shore School District

Governor attempts to mask history of lackluster support for schools

Every year the governor plays the same game: proposing a budget that shortchanges our schools, and then taking credit for the Assemblyís hard-fought restorations.

This year is no different. In fact, he had the gall to claim "no governor Ö is more committed or has a better record in providing resources for education than I do." As usual, the governorís rhetoric doesnít match the reality of his policies.

Since the governor took office in 1995, the Assembly has fought for an additional $2.8 billion that the governor tried to deny our schools. Not surprisingly, this yearís proposal represents his lowest level of school support since he first took office. In fact, if the governorís budget were enacted, the stateís share of education funding would plummet from 42 percent to 37.7 percent. Consequently, the average statewide school property tax would have to increase by nearly 20 percent for schools to maintain their current levels of service.

Telling the truth about the governorís education record

The governorís record on education speaks much louder than his rhetoric.

chart Source: NYS Assembly Ways and Means Committee

Less funding means larger class sizes and lost opportunities for kids

After eight years of trying to shortchange our schools, this year the governor is mounting an all out assault. In fact, his budget slashes education funding by an astronomical $1.4 billion. Since 1998, the Assemblyís early education program has helped schools reduce class sizes, improve teacher training, establish universal pre-kindergarten, provide full-day kindergarten and after school programs, and modernize computer technology.

According to a recent report from New York State United Teachers Ė some 20,000 educators are expected to lose their jobs as districts struggle to weather the governorís budget storm. This means there will be even fewer teachers to instruct our already over-crowded classrooms. Teachers are the catalyst helping to shape our childrenís successes not just in academics Ė but far, far beyond. Now that so many schools are reaching higher standards, the last thing our children need is to have their growth stunted by the governorís budget games.

Learning from past mistakes

Itís clear the governor hasnít learned from his past Ė and now heís determined to repeat it. As weíve done the last eight years, the Assembly will fight the governorís assault on our schools and ensure they have the resources they need to prepare our students for an increasingly competitive global economy. The Assembly is committed to crafting a budget thatís right for New York Ė one that provides our children with the education they need to reach their full potential.

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