Advocates took to the streets Thursday to continue a years-long fight for what they say the state owes city schools: $2.9 billion.
Parents and advocates held small rallies outside of four schools before classes started to demand more school funding. Afterwards, school leaders and organizers led parents into the schools for brief meetings, which they called “walk-ins,” where they urged parents to push their state representatives for more education spending.
The action was led by the Alliance for Quality Education, a New York-based advocacy group that has long called for the state to comply with a decades-old lawsuit, which set a minimum funding amount for New York City schools. Recently, they have joined with the city teachers union and Mayor Bill de Blasio in attacking Gov. Andrew Cuomo for failing to increase school spending to the level they say the city is owed.
Cuomo proposed a $24.5 billion education budget this year, a $1 billion over last year but less than what advocates and the state Board of Regents had sought.
“The governor’s budget is woefully inadequate,” said Billy Easton the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, an organization at the forefront of the campaign for equal funding. “The consequences of inadequate funding have been cuts in all kinds of important programs like the arts, after school programming, and Advanced Placement courses.”
Thursday’s demonstrations across the state are part of a national campaign led by the Chicago-based Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools. The group said 40,000 people from 838 schools nationwide had attended similar events.
Zakiyah Ansari, a community organizer with the Alliance for Quality Education, attended the rally outside Eagle Academy for Young Men II in Brooklyn, where her son is a student. She said that parents often have to help fill in budget gaps.
“Parents sometimes have to buy books and pay for supplies like copy paper,” she said. “Our kids deserve this money and as many opportunities as possible.”