(Syracuse, NY) The Green Party gubernatorial team of Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones called today for full funding of the New York State schools.
Funding provided by the Cuomo administration is now $9 billion less than required by court orders, leading to deep cuts for the Syracuse City School District schools and all throughout the State. This has resulted in ballooning class sizes, elimination of valuable programs, and fewer teachers. The share of the state budget going to education funding has fallen to its lowest level in 65 years.
The Green Party candidates also oppose the efforts by the Cuomo administration to promote privatization of schools, including high stakes testing, Common Core and charter schools.
Hawkins and Jones, an elementary school teacher in NYC for 9 years, have been endorsed by a number of teacher and parents organizations, as well as well-known education advocate Diane Ravitch.
Hawkins and Jones emphasized that education is a basic human right. They support expanding public education from early childhood through college and support statewide universal full day Pre-K and Kindergarten with certified and unionized educators.
"We will continue to stand with teachers and public school advocates to 1) oppose the corporate takeover and privatization of education and 2) expand education funding to meet our children's needs so that teachers can teach," said Jones.
“I want to fully fund public schools. We need to end the property tax cap and the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has balanced the state budget on the backs of our children by cutting state aid to schools for the last five years. We need to stop competitive grants for school funding, which puts the poorer school districts at a further disadvantage. New York schools are the most segregated in the nation. Many are overcrowded. Class sizes are growing. That's hurting children's education. Politicians are blaming teachers instead of themselves for these conditions," Hawkins continued.
"Policies supported by the Democratic and Republican parties in this state are creating a dual school system: separate and unequal. Cuomo's high-stakes testing regime is failing the underfunded schools and teachers of low-income children in order to privatize the schools as charters and downgrade the teaching profession. This agenda won't do anything to improve education for our students who have the greatest needs. It just punishes them for having those needs," Hawkins added.
The Green candidates want to replace Common Core-linked high-stakes testing of students, teachers, and schools with a qualitative assessment of students and teachers, designed by educators for educational objectives instead of the convenience and profit of testing vendors.
"Our children are not standardized and their brilliance cannot be quantified. We want schools that nurture all of their gifts and abilities, not just their ability to read and write. We want assessments written by educators, not corporate contractors. We want to end the role of using testing to punish schools, students or teachers," said Jones.
As a teacher, Jones fought against the privatization of NYC’s public schools. He organized against charter school co-locations, budget cuts, and school closings. Brian is a founding member of the social justice caucus in the United Federation of Teachers: the Movement of Rank and File Educators, and was its candidate for UFT Secretary in 2013. Brian co-narrated the film, “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.”
"We support community (parent, teacher, student) control of schools, with adequate resources to write their own curricula. We need schools that respect, nurture, and support the cultures and languages in our communities. We want classrooms that promote wonder, make-believe, humor, joy, genuine inquiry, and fun in all of our schools for all of our children. The more we recruit their intrinsic interest in learning, the better the results will be, however we measure them," added Jones.
Hawkins said that Cuomo's support for charter schools has been driven by nearly a million dollars in campaign contributions from hedge fund managers who make significant profits from charter schools by taking advantage of lucrative tax breaks.
The Green candidates also urged voters to vote down the Smart Schools Bond Act, which would authorize $2 billion in new state debt to pay for computers, Internet connectivity, and high-tech building security in public schools.
"This bond act from Google and Pearson is all about putting students online for high-stakes testing linked to Common Core. If we are going into debt for the schools, let's build more schools and classrooms in order to reduce overcrowding and class sizes and make sure students have a good connection with a teacher first," said Hawkins.
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