January 13, 2015
By Stephanie West
Albany, NY – The Alliance for Quality Education released its latest report, Record Setting Inequality: New York State’s Opportunity Gap is Wider Than Ever, which concludes that under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's leadership educational inequality has grown. Wealthier school districts are better able to provide a solid future for their students than working-class school districts can.
The reports claims that current policies have increased funding inequities between poor and rich school districts across the state. Schools in poorer districts spent $8,733 per pupil less in 2012 than those from wealthier ones, an inequity that grew by nearly 9 percent from before Cuomo took office in 2011, according to the study.
According to a recent New York Daily News report, 100 of the wealthiest districts spent more than $28,000 in state and local funding per kid in 2012. In contrast, the 100 poorest districts in the state spent closer to $20,000 per student, almost a $10,000 difference.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said that the state provides three times as much per pupil in high-need districts than it does in low-need ones. State education aid per pupil went up 9.3 percent during Cuomo’s first term, with a significantly higher percentage going to poorer districts, he said.
But the report notes funding discrepancies between wealthy and poor school district. After Cuomo won a 2 percent cap on local property tax increases that made it more difficult for needy districts to raise needed money, according to the report.
“We often hear from Governor Cuomo that money doesn’t matter,” said AQE Executive Director Billy Easton. “On the contrary, money makes a huge difference in our public schools. Students in wealthy districts have the advantage of taking advanced courses, while students in poorer districts are struggling in overcrowded classrooms without access to art and music. Often they don’t even have enough textbooks, and parents in these districts are fighting to keep Kindergarten.”