Seven education groups from around the state are backing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal to expand the new competitive-grant programs for schools that reduce costs through management efficiencies and improve student achievement. The governor recommended awarding $250 million for the grants in the 2012-13 fiscal year, which starts April 1.
A number of groups — including the Alliance for Quality Education, the state Council of School Superintendents and the state School Boards Association — have criticized the governor and urged him to instead spend more money on general education aid. State funding for education is scheduled to increase 4 percent in the next fiscal year, following two years of steep cuts.
The state Board of Regents’ budget proposal included $50 million for the two programs. State Education Commissioner John King told lawmakers this week that he had concerns about the impact it would have on funding for high-needs districts, particularly in light of the 2 percent tax cap. The Council of School Superintendents and AQE also support spending just $50 million on the grants.
Organizations that are backing Cuomo’s recommendation include NYCAN: The New York Campaign for Achievement Now, Students for Education Reform, Democrats for Education Reform in New York City, Buffalo ReformED, District Parent Coordinating Council of Buffalo, Parent Power Project in Rochester and Democracy Builders. This is their statement:
“For years, the special interests in New York State have fought successfully to protect the education bureaucracy at the expense of our students. The results of their efforts speak for themselves: New York State now spends more on education that any other state in the nation but we are only 38th in graduation rates. We can no longer accept an education system where the bureaucracy thrives while our students fail.
“Governor Cuomo has put forward a bold education proposal to change the status quo and create an education system that finally puts students first—the only way that students will truly succeed. A key part of this agenda is the Governor’s proposal to have $250 million in increased education spending allocated through competitive education performance grants. This is exactly the type of strategic approach we need to ensure that we are funding education based on student outcomes, not just continuing to throw money at systems that are failing our students. These grants will reward high needs districts that show they are helping struggling students improve each year; the competition will push all schools to do better and those that succeed will have created established models for success that others can follow.”
“As they have in years past, the special interests are fighting hard against rewarding performance, but there is little outrage over our growing number of failing schools. Instead, these special interests fighting for a blank check to protect the adults at the expense of the students and grow the bureaucracy. The special interests have fought hard to reward the bureaucracy and ignore student achievement, and in doing so created the struggling school system we have today and we cannot let them win again. We encourage parents, students and all New Yorkers who want to change our schools for the better to fight back by signing up at www.NYStudentsFirst.com or participating in the growing conversation with @NYGovCuomo on Twitter by using the #NYStudentsFirst hashtag.
“Throwing money at the bureaucracy and watching students fail simply doesn’t work. Governor Cuomo’s bold proposal to reward districts that show higher student performance truly puts students first.”