Our Children Can’t Wait

Assemblywoman Clark chairs the education seminar of the 35th Annual Black and Puerto Rican Caucus
March 16, 2006
Albany, NY – At this year’s Annual New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Weekend, Assemblywoman Barbara M. Clark continued her long campaign to see that each of New York City’s 1.1 million school children receive an adequate education. As Chair of the Education Seminar, she chose as her topic, “Our Children Can’t Wait: The Campaign for Fiscal Equity and the New York State Executive Budget.”

Assemblywoman Clark assembled a diverse panel of educators and political figures in order to examine the likely harm suffered by the city’s school children resulting from the State’s failure to follow a 2003 Court of Appeals order to provide the city an additional $14.8 billion dollars in school-aid. “There are schools without appropriate lab facilities or well-trained instructors,” parent leaders retorted. “How can we expect students to successfully complete core academic requirements without the proper resources?”- the resounding message of the afternoon; a strong response to the Governor’s recent focus on science and technology education.

With the Executive Director of the Shelly & Donald Rubin Foundation, Dr Evelyn Rich, moderating, in addition to hearing from NYC Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, participants heard the governmental view also advanced by Robert Jackson, now NYC Councilman who as a parent originated the suit resulting in the court order. Weighing in from the field of education was a long list of notables headed by The Vice Chancellor of the State’s Board of Regents, Adelaide Sanford; Sheila Evans-Tranumn, Associate Commissioner of the State Education Department; Buffalo Board of Education Central District Representative, Janique Curry; United Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten and New York State United Teachers First Vice President, Maria Neira. John Tillman, President of the New York City School District-29 Community District Education Council put forth the concerns of parents and community leaders from a grass-roots point of view.

At the end of a fruitful day, Assemblywoman Clark summed up what all the participants agreed was the bottom-line to getting the State government to meet its responsibility. “We have to get John Q. Public motivated,” said Clark. “Short of grass-roots activism on a massive scale, the State may never obey the court order.”