The Alliance for Quality Education PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release:   
Sept. 13, 2005     
For More Information:
Billy Easton, AQE Dir.
Soneni Smith, Deputy Dir. Communications

New York Parents, School Children Travel to Iowa
To Give Governor Pataki a Failing Report Card

Parents Give Governor an “F” for Denying Children in New York State the Opportunity for a Sound Basic Education

Cedar Rapids, Iowa — Outraged New York school parents, with their children, arrived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa Tuesday to deliver a failing report card to New York Governor George Pataki because he has failed children by under funding public schools. They distributed report cards (attached) in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel where Gov. Pataki was scheduled to speak before the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce.  Parents gave the Governor an “F” in every subject, due to his continued failure to comply with a ruling by the state's highest court requiring billions of dollars in additional funding to public schools to meet the requirements of the state constitution.

“It is wrong that the Governor has done nothing to provide a sound, basic education in so many of our school districts,” said Victoria Bousquet, the president of the Parent Teacher Association at Brooklyn Public School 219, in New York City. "Many of the middle schools and high schools in my neighborhood have no science labs, yet our children are required to pass science lab exams to graduate.  I, like any other parent, want my children to get the best education possible. I am all for higher standards. More than anything I want my children to do well and achieve in school. But our schools need the resources to achieve and meet these standards,” said Bousquet, who was accompanied by her sixth grade son Jamahl Bousquet and her fourth grade son Javied Bousquet.

“Governor Pataki is courting the citizens of Iowa and it is important for Iowans to know exactly how New York State grades him on public education.  Our state's highest court ruled that he has presided over an unconstitutionally under funded school system," said Billy Easton, Director of the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) --a coalition of more than 230 organizations, representing parents, teachers, education advocates and students that organized the Cedar Rapids event.   "Governor Pataki's legal argument was that an eighth grade education is adequate.  The court resoundingly rejected this argument and issued an order requiring him to fix the system.  The deadline for compliance is now 14 months past due. Every day he delays is another day that children are enduring unconstitutionally inadequate classrooms."

In Campaign for Fiscal Equity vs. State of New York, decided in 2003, New York State's highest court, ruled that the Governor had failed to provide sufficient funding to provide school children with the opportunity for a "sound, basic education," as required by the state constitution.  Court documents established that school children face large classes, crumbling buildings, and out-of-date equipment and learning materials and   experience high drop-out rates and low test scores.

As a result, the court ruled that the state was not meeting its constitutional obligations.  By a 4 to 1 margin, the high court rejected Governor Pataki’s legal argument that the state was not obliged to provide for more than an eighth grade education under the state constitution.  The court found that in today’s economy, a “high school education is now all but indispensable” and that the state therefore needed to significantly increase school funding. As Governor, Pataki has failed to comply with the July 30, 2004 deadline ordered by the Court of Appeals, but has appealed the school finance litigation in order to delay complying with the court order.

While the court case was specific to New York City, the same principles cited by the court apply to districts throughout the state.  Most political observers agree it would be politically unfeasible for the Governor to propose a budget designed to provide increased funding to New York City schools without providing equivalent increases to other under funded districts throughout the state.  The court case is in some ways similar to a recent Kansas decision that was recently resolved when the Kansas state courts almost shut down the schools.
“Last year my daughter went from a class of 20 fourth grade students to a class of 32 fifth graders.  That is too many. For Governor Pataki to meet the constitutional requirement to provide a sound basic education he needs to provide enough funding to enable my school district to reduce class size.  How else are children going to learn?” said Doug Williams, a parent whose daughter attends the Schenectady City School District in Schenectady, New York.  He was accompanied by his daughter Maya Williams, a sixth grade student.

“Last school year our district opened schools $26 million short,” said Tracy Ronnerman, a parent in the Yonkers public school system in Yonkers, New York. She was accompanied by her daughter Amy Ronnerman, a 7th grader.  “Our kids went back without 512 teachers and other school personnel.  Next year our schools will be $100 million short if Governor Pataki continues in his leadership failure.  How many teachers will our kids lose?  And how many kids will we lose to an unconstitutional education system?”

Last year The Education Trust, based in Washington D.C., found that New York State had the largest funding gap between the highest-poverty and lowest-poverty school districts in the nation. The Education Trust report found a gap in 2001-02 of $2040 between high and low-poverty districts in New York State, as compared to $868 for the nation as a whole.  These disparities negatively affect both urban and rural districts.

Easton concluded: "Our children's education is so important that these parents took their children out of school for the day to let Iowans know the story on Governor Pataki's education record.   While the Governor is pursuing aspirations for higher office, he is neglecting his constitutional obligation to adequately fund our schools.  The time to improve his school performance record is rapidly disappearing.  He needs to submit a budget for the upcoming year that will fund a sound basic education for all of New York's children."

The Alliance for Quality Education is a statewide coalition of more than 230 organizations
dedicated to ensuring every child’s right to a quality education


The Alliance for Quality Education ADVISORY
For Immediate Release
Sept. 12, 2005
For more information: 
Billy Easton 
Soneni Smith

New York Parents, School Children Go To Cedar Rapids To Deliver Gov. Pataki's Failing Report Card

Parents Give Gov. Pataki An "F" for Failing to Comply With Court Order to Fund New York State's Schools Adequately

ALBANY, NY -- Parents and school children from across New York State will travel to Cedar Rapids to inform Iowa's voters that Governor George Pataki has failed New York's schools by not complying with a court order to increase state school funding. The Governor is scheduled to speak before the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Tuesday Sept. 13, 2005.

"I am disappointed beyond belief in the Governor's failure to respond to the desperate needs of New York's schools," said Victoria Bousquet, parent of fourth grade and middle school students in New York's public schools. Bousquet is president of P.S. 219 Parent Teacher Association in Brooklyn, NY. She will bring both her children to Cedar Rapids. "Our children are not getting what wealthier districts receive. I'm all for high standards in education and I want the best for my kids like anyone else, but how will my kids pass science lab tests without science labs that other children have."

"We are going to Iowa to deliver the Governor a failing report card," said Alliance for Quality Education Director, Billy Easton.  "This issue is so important to families that parents have sacrificed a day of school to tell the voters of Iowa that as Governor Pataki takes the national stage he is leaving New York's children behind."

New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that the state has denied children their constitutional right to a quality education. Parents and education advocates are outraged that Governor Pataki has failed to comply with the Court's order to significantly increase school funding. The deadline for compliance is 14 months past due. The Court of Appeals resoundingly rejected the Pataki Administration argument that an eighth grade education was adequate.

What: Press Conference; Report card distribution

When: Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 10:30 a.m. Report Cards; Press Conference at 11:00 a.m.

Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The Alliance for Quality Education is a statewide coalition of more than 230 organizations dedicated to ensuring every child's right to a quality education.