For Immediate Release – February 23, 2005

Contact:

Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516

mccrank@geneseo.edu

EQUAL EDUCATION IN NEW YORK STATE HIGH SCHOOLS TOPIC OF MEETING AT SUNY GENESEO

GENESEO, N.Y. – A lawyer who won a court case in which the New York Court of Appeals ruled mandating additional funding for schools in the New York City School District will talk at the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Michael Rebell, executive director and lead counsel for Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE), will deliver a talk about the funding of the state’s public schools on March 8 during a meeting organized by Geneseo’s Shear School of Education. "Schools for the Genesee Valley’s Future: A Meeting About Funding for Our Schools" will run from 7-8:30 p.m. in Newton Hall 214. It is free and open to the public.

The ruling in the case Rebell successfully argued mandates the children of New York state have a constitutional right to "a meaningful high school education." The Legislature declined to act on the ruling by the deadline (July 31, 2004), so the job of figuring out how to comply with the ruling went to a three-judge panel appointed in the fall by Justice LeLand DeGrasse, the original judge in the case who now has jurisdiction over compliance. The panel has limited its recommendation to New York City schools, despite the language in the ruling that all New York state students have a constitutional right to receive a meaningful high school education.

The same court argued on the same day in a second case, Amber Paynter v. State, that the children of the Rochester City School District do not have a case against the state, since the case did not argue that their funding was insufficient by comparison to funding statewide, as CFE established was true for New York City. The Paynter case argued that the "widespread academic failure" (not denied by anyone) caused by "racial and economic isolation" was harming schoolchildren in the city of Rochester.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity states that the question of what is a meaningful high school education has yet to be legally decided. In addition, CFE predicts that limiting the ruling to New York City will undoubtedly precipitate more cases in other parts of the state. CFE supports revising the state funding formulas for all areas so as to comply with the ruling statewide.

"The decision in Campaign for Fiscal Equity marks a victory in a 30-year battle for equitable school funding in New York. That the Legislature did not act on the decision by the July 31, 2004 deadline indicates the dysfunctional nature of ‘business as usual’ in Albany," said Jane Morse, associate professor of education at SUNY Geneseo. "The three-judge panel appointed to implement a solution limited their solution to New York City, despite the fact that the decision clearly states that every student in New York state has the constitutional right to a ‘meaningful high school education.’"

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity and Rebell have undertaken a massive "costing out" study that recommends spending additional money statewide to correct the situation.

"Surely where the dropout rate is 30 percent and students’ scores on required state tests indicate ‘widespread academic failure’ as alleged in the Paynter case in Rochester, students cannot be said to have received a meaningful high school education," said Morse. "This case will continue to spawn lawsuits if the situation is not addressed statewide."

The event at Geneseo will feature a panel of several area school superintendents, including Jon Hunter, Geneseo Central Schools; Edward Orman, Pavilion Central Schools; Richard G. Stutzman Jr., Batavia City Schools; Adele Bovard, Dansville Central Schools; Mike Ford, Phelps-Clifton Springs Central Schools. The event will be moderated by Susan Bailey, interim dean of the college’s school of education.

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