Hawkins Lee School Funding, Desegregation

Hawkins Lee School Funding, Desegregation

For immediate release: July 25, 2018

Green Party Calls for Increased School Funding, Desegregation

Opposes High-Stakes Testing, Privatization, Charter Schools

(Albany) The Green Party candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor – Howie Hawkins and Jia Lee - were at the State Capitol on Wednesday to call for an overhaul of the state’s education policies, including more funding for schools in low-income communities; a move away from high-stakes testing and privatization, including charter schools; and the election of a Governor who supports rather than attacks teachers, especially following the Janus decision.

The Greens say the state should close the $4.2 billion cumulative shortfall in Foundation Aid funding that was intended to meet the requirements of the 2006 ruling in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case. They say the should settle, not fight in court, the lawsuits from New York City/Syracuse parents and the Small Cities for full Foundation Aid funding.

The Greens favor home rule for school governance and elected school boards. They oppose the mayoral control that has been enacted in New York City.

Lee, a NYC public school teacher and recent candidate for UFT president, said the “best way to improve education is end the racial, class, and academic segregation in public schools. Integration has been the most powerful progressive education reform since Brown v. Board of Education by far.” Schools in New York City are the most segregated in the country and schools in upstate metropolitan regions are among the most segregated in the nation.

“The experience from integrated schools is that all students do better in terms of intellectual self-confidence, creativity, problem solving, creativity, teamwork, and tolerance,” Lee said.

The Green Party charges that Cuomo’s state-imposed high-stakes testing and ranking of students, teachers, and schools has imposed undermined teachers in the classroom and destabilized schools in high-poverty districts. “Cuomo’s false rhetoric competition and so-called accountability has been to the benefit of for-profit businesses in the testing and charter industries,” said Lee.

“The state should support teachers, respect their professionalism and let them teach instead of micro-managing from the Governor’s office and state legislature. SUNY should stop its effort to allow lower standards for charter school teachers ,” added Hawkins.

According to Apollo Global, an education consulting finance firm, the industry of education is worth over $2.5 trillion globally. The reason for this is "a decline in public funding of education around the world, leaving space for private concerns to move in..." as cited in a Washington Post story by Valerie Strauss.

“There are ‘failing’ or ‘bad’ schools primarily because of purposeful under-resourcing and privatization policies. Cuomo has allowed his business campaign contributors to influence educational policies in the shape of test-based evaluations and rankings. Under his leadership, our state's schools have suffered, our educators have suffered and our children have suffered,” said Hawkins, who noted that Cuomo has consistently refused to comply with court decisions on school funding levels.

“A crafted crisis in education through the use of high stakes standardized test scores has been the rationale for withholding funds and for state or centralized take-over of school districts. Ask any public school teacher or parent and they will testify that people in the schools have had very little to no say in educational policy in their districts,” added Lee.

The Green Party has long opposed charter schools as undercutting public education. Charter schools have often been used as cash cows by hedge funds and other investors taking advantage of favorable tax provisions. In Albany, the Brighter Choice Charter Schools have experienced financial problems, and while enrolling a large number of low-income children, they enroll far fewer students with disabilities and students who are learning to speak English. Charter schools tend to have a high rate of suspensions and often encounter management problems.

The FBI is investigating whether money is being skimmed from charter schools operated by the Fethullah Gulen in order to support his global Islamic movement. Gulen was a supporter of Turkish strongman Tayyip Erdogan before they fell out. Now Erdogan claims Gulen was behind the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, a charge Erdogan denies. Disgraced from national security advisor Michael Flynn is alleged to have been offered $15 million by Erdogan to either kidnap Gulen and render him back to Turkey, or have him extradited when the Trump administration took power. About 140 schools in the United States are part of the Gulen movement, including several in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica.

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