Twelve years ago, the NYS Court of Appeals ordered the State to make good on the promise of its Constitution to provide each of its children with a “sound basic education”. The Foundation Aid formula, created by the State, was borne out of the mandate from the Court to address disparities in student needs from one district to another by providing more funding to districts with higher numbers of students in-need to ensure that all receive a sound basic education.
Unfortunately, New York hasn’t abided by the court order and has all but abandoned distributing funding based on its own formula. The result: Long Island school districts are owed $871 million for the current school year alone. The funding shortfall is even more stark for the ten predominantly minority districts who are owed more than half that total. Westbury is owed $41 million from last year and another $37 million for this year.
The State’s ten-year record of consistently underfunding certain school districts has been devastating to black and Latino communities and can no longer be tolerated. Eighty percent of predominantly minority school districts have been underfunded for over a decade. Minority districts are three times as likely to be underfunded as other districts. We cannot let this happen any longer.
Because the last ten years have undermined our confidence that the State will do the right thing unless action is taken, the Westbury School Board is filing a Complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The Complaint asserts that New York, the Excelsior State, is in violation of the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in its inequitable distribution of financial aid. The Office of Civil Rights has the authority to enjoin the State from distributing educational aid in a discriminatory manner. We expect it will live up to its mandate, even if the State won’t.
We are not asking for some new thing from the State. We are simply asking the State to do what we teach our children to do: Keep your promise! We owe that much to our students. Children who were in first grade in 2006 when this decision was passed graduated in 2018. That’s an entire generation of students who slipped through the cracks. We steadfastly refuse to let that happen to our next generation.
Join the fight to make it right!
Please join us for a press conference/rally on the steps of the Supreme Court in Mineola on Tuesday, October 23 at 11:30!
We are stronger together!
You can also join the fight to make it right by signing the attached letter and returning it to the
Westbury School District, 2 Hitchcock Lane, Westbury, NY 11590