Let’s start this post the way the prior one ended, with the quote from the ACLU, referring to the level of public school funding in New York in FY 2019.
Every year, the government of New York shirks its legal responsibility to adequately fund our public schools.
In 2006, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled New York was violating students’ constitutional right to a “sound and basic education” by not putting enough money into its schools. The court ordered that schools were entitled to $5.5 billion more in unrestricted state funding, known as Foundation Aid….
But year after year, state lawmakers substituted politics for the Foundation Aid Formula, shortchanging schools and hurting students who need the money most.
That is, simply put, not true. In the 1990s New York City school spending was low, in part because a state school aid formula discriminated against the city’s children. Judge Leland DeGrasse ordered the city’s school aid to be increased by $1.9 billion, based on the low funding levels of the time.
As a trial judge, he ruled against New York’s system for financing public schools in Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State. Ultimately, the decision, which sought to overhaul the state aid-to-education formulas, was appealed to the New York Court of Appeals, which resulted in an additional $1.9 billion in state aid awarded to New York City schools.
I know this history because I provided data to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the same kind of data that will be discussed below. Much to my disappointment, however, CFE turned out not to be interested in either fiscal equity or better schools – just a richer deal for those working in the public school system. So despite another $1.9 billion (and another $1.9 billion and another $1.9 billion and another $1.9 billion) they kept suing. In exchange for political support for his election for Governor, Eliot Spitzer then settled the suit for even more money. No judge ever ordered it, or found that was what was required. It was a political deal, with a massive increase in pension benefits for teachers as part of the same deal, not better education.
That deal, which multiplied by a bunch of prior retroactive pension increase deals (now starting up yet again), was for me a kind of last straw. So what was the level of school spending in NYC, by category and compared with other places and the past, in FY 2019 when the ACLU claimed that the people of New York were cheating those who worked in education out of $billions? Read on and find out.Continue reading