Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Brentwood), joined by Assembly Education Committee Chair Steve Sanders and a host of teachers, parents and activists, held an education summit last week to discuss problems facing schools in Ramos’ district. The chief problem, many attendees said, was the way in which the governor has repeatedly tried to cut critical education funds.
“Through a strong grassroots effort, we were able to secure almost $18 million for schools in our community above what the governor wanted, but we shouldn’t have to have these battles in the first place,” Ramos said. “The governor has completely politicized the school funding process, making the system even more unfair and jeopardizing our children’s education.”
In his budget proposal this year, the governor wanted to slash education funding by more than $1.4 billion statewide. A bipartisan Legislature rebuffed his school aid cuts, but the governor has still refused to release grants awarded to balance out inequities in the school aid formula.
At the summit, Ramos also released copies of letters he is sending to the governor imploring the governor to release the funds the Legislature appropriated for the Islip and Central Islip school districts.
Also discussed was the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s victorious lawsuit against the state, which will force changes in the school aid formula. CFE had sued the state alleging that the system through which New York funds its schools was flawed in such a way as to deny many students the education they deserve.
“Our schools have been underfunded and overcrowded for too long, so the CFE victory is a good first step. It’s a shame we have to fight so hard for our schools, but we’re not going to stop until our students have everything they need to fulfill their potential,” Ramos said. “We must seize the opportunity to reform the school aid formula and ensure schools have smaller classrooms, more teachers and safer, modern facilities.”