March 6, 2016
By Linda Ocasio
Reprinted from: NEW YORK TEACHER
Albany, NY – UFT President Michael Mulgrew urged state lawmakers in Albany to deliver the long-delayed $2 billion owed to New York City public schools as a result of the 2006 settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.
By Linda Ocasio“It’s the perfect time to make significant investments in public education and move us closer to fulfilling the state’s CFE commitment,” he testified, citing the state’s multi-billion-dollar budget surplus.
At the same Jan. 27 state budget hearing, Mulgrew also noted the persistent failure of charter schools to enroll and keep as many English language learners, students with disabilities and homeless students as neighboring public schools. He said state lawmakers “should refuse to reward their intransigence” by denying additional funding to the charter sector until they change their ways. He said the UFT supported equity legislation to require taxpayer-funded charters to change their enrollment policies.
Mulgrew said the full payment of the CFE funds would help New York City public schools reduce class size and better serve the growing population of English language learners and special education students with more teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists and school nurses.
“Our work this year is all about equity and access,” Mulgrew told lawmakers from the New York State Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. “The UFT looks forward to partnering with the Legislature to ensure that our teachers are provided with the necessary programs, services and resources to deliver high-quality education to students.”
The UFT’s other legislative priorities this year include new curriculum and teacher training aligned with the education standards that are being developed; restored funding for Teacher Centers statewide; additional funding for community schools and the Positive Learning Collaborative; closing tax loopholes to ensure the wealthy pay their fair share; and increased investment in technology and career and technical education programs.
Mulgrew thanked the governor’s Common Core task force for its work, but said that there still has to be changes to the 2015 state law, including state receivership. He reiterated the union’s support for alternatives to state receivership for struggling schools, such as transforming them into community schools as New York City is doing as part of its School Renewal Program.
“Giving up on a school is never a good idea, which is why our union has always maintained that supporting and helping schools is a far better alternative to closing them,” he said.