February 19, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – United Federation of Teachers [UFT] President Michael Mulgrew blasted Governor Cuomo from the steps of City Hall this week, charging the chief executive with ignoring court mandated funding of New York City public schools, while simultaneously pushing so-called reforms that many say are brazen attempts to corporatize the entire education system.
“That’s the governor trying to do a magic trick,” Mulgrew told LaborPress. “He wants to distract us over here, and not deal with what the court [says] and what the law is – that he has to meet the CFE obligation on the state. You don’t even hear him talk about it. He’s ignoring the law.”
The Campaign for Fiscal Equity [CFE] is the decades-old lawsuit which successfully argued that the State of New York owes New York City public school kids billions of dollars in aid.
Those dollars have never materialized, however, and the governor’s latest budget proposal threatens public schools with even more inadequate funding, even as it buoys a new corporate reform agenda supporting privatization and testing.
“Parents aren’t asking for much,” said public education advocate Pamela Garcia. “It makes no sense to have computer labs if we don’t have educators.”
Charles Di Benedetto, an English teacher at Richmond Hill High School in Queens, says that over the last nine years, his school has cut student tutoring programs, after school activities and more.
“Each year, we lost ground in the budget,” he said.
Mulgrew framed the failure to fund CFE mandates as an “ethical” issue for Cuomo.
“This is about breaking the law,” Mulgrew said. “This is very simple at this point. The courts have decided. We are not receiving the funding we should have been getting for years. The state has to pay this money to the city. If we were a bunch of billionaire contributors, the governor would be here with [the] strings in his hands saying, ‘We need to fix this, we need to fix this.’”
Ultimately, Assemblyman Jefferion Aubry, [D-35th], chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, said that the governor’s failure to adequately fund public schools is only hurting scores of kids.
“We need to fulfill the funding promises that have been made to the children of this city,” the assemblyman said. “The governor has been saying that you shouldn’t throw good money after bad — but the reality is, if you don’t provide the funds available to our children, they will never be able to compete in the global society.”