Desegregate Housing to Improve Schools, Astorino poor record

Desegregate Housing to Improve Schools, Astorino poor record

New York Needs to Desegregate Housing in Order to Improve Schools

Astorino Clearly Not A Supporter of Fair Housing for People of Color

(White Plains, NY) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today that improving access to affordable housing was critical to improving education in New York State. Recent studies have found that US schools are more segregated today than before the US Supreme Court decision on Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education. New York State schools are the most segregated in the nation.

Hawkins says that Rob Astorino's record as County Executive in the Westchester housing desegregation dispute with the federal government shows that he would be unqualified to resolve this problem statewide. Hawkins said that he sided with the Anti-Discrimination Center and civil right groups in their criticism of the county's mishandling of the implementation the housing discrimination consent decree. This includes the issue of how the impact of restrictive zoning by Westchester governments is evaluated to show that people of color are denied equal access to fair housing.

Hawkins has also been critical of Astorino's decision to create a Stop Common Core ballot line, saying that Astorino is an anti-public education candidate. “Astorino may stop Common Core but he will increase Cuomo's looting public education by underfunding public schools and pushing privately managed charter schools, private education tax credits, and vouchers," he explained.

Hawkins and his running mate Brian Jones, a former teacher in New York City, have outlined a comprehensive agenda to improve New York schools, including having the state make up the cumulative $9 billion shortfall in legally mandated Foundation Aid funding for local schools and to move away from high-stakes testing and privatization through charter schools and vouchers.

"Our schools need more funding, especially in poorer communities. The state share of funding for local schools has declined under Cuomo to its lowest level in 65 years. But increasing funding by itself won't improve the quality of schools or eliminate segregation,” said Hawkins.

The Green Party candidate pointed out that socioeconomic status is the strongest predictor of school achievement by far. Schools with the lowest achievement are in communities disadvantaged by poverty that is concentrated by the double segregation of race and class. He noted that in addition to New York State having the most segregated schools in the nation, the New York metropolitan area is the most segregated metro region in the nation for Latinos, Asians, and whites, and 3rd most segregated for blacks.

"To desegregate our schools, we need to institute a substantial public housing program to build mixed-race, mixed-income, scattered-site, clean energy public housing in the cities and the suburbs," added Hawkins. "We need stronger enforcement of fair housing laws, elimination of exclusionary zoning, and
promotion of inclusionary zoning, something that Astorino has fallen far short of as County Executive."

Hawkins said that we need a cabinet-level Civil Right Department in state government whose central mission is enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and desegregation programs.

Hawkins charged that Governor Cuomo has gone out of his way to attack public education. He supports the corporate privatization of our schools by pushing high-stakes testing linked to the Common Core Standards to evaluate schools, students, and teachers, undermining teachers' professional autonomy. Schools that fail the high-stakes testing are slated for conversion to charter schools, which Cuomo has promoted with policy and extra funding. Cuomo also favors private education tax credits. Cuomo has been silent on school segregation.

"We want assessments written by educators, not corporate contractors. We want to end the role of using testing to punish schools, students or teachers. We support community control of schools by parents, teachers, and students, not mayoral control or state control. We want adequate resources for school districts to write their own curricula. We need schools that respect, nurture, and support the cultures and languages in our communities," added Hawkins.

The Green Party also opposes Cuomo's push to promote privatization in higher education by granting private corporations unfettered access to SUNY and CUNY resources. Hawkins supports a return to free tuition for CUNY students and extending it to SUNY and community college students. The Green candidates are the only candidates who have spoken out against the lawsuit seeking to overturn teacher tenure in New York State.

“True education reform requires broader social reform. The education policies promoted Cuomo and Astorino punish schools in disadvantaged communities for being poor. The problems in these schools are rooted in problems outside the schools. Until basic economic human rights and equal access to social resources like jobs, housing, education, health care, transit, financial services, and food are secured for all New Yorkers, the low achievement in schools in disadvantaged communities will continue to reflect the low economic and social resources available in those communities,” Hawkins said.

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