Bill Samuels: Cuomo’s Unequal Funding of Schools Punishes Poor Children

New York, NY— In a brutal new online attack ad called “Every Child,” EffectiveNY’s Bill Samuels today came out swinging against Cuomo’s education policy.

Cuomo has perpetuated an unequal system of rich and poor schools, the ad reveals. And today Samuels slammed the Governor Cuomo’s harmful and reckless approach to public schools as “blatantly discriminatory” and “state-sponsored punishment for children who live in lower income districts.”

The “Every Child” online ad, promoted today by progressive organizations across the state, highlights the deep disparities between rich and poor schools, and just how separate and unequal these schools are.

“Every Child” from EffectiveNY on Vimeo.

The ad illustrates the opportunity gap between the affluent town of Locust Valley, NY, where the total funding per student is $34,615 and the struggling city of Utica, NY, where the total funding per student is $15,238, according to the most recent numbers available.

“On Cuomo’s watch, the gap in total spending per student between New York’s 100 richest schools and 100 poorest schools has increased by a deplorable degree. Every child deserves an equal chance but Cuomo has abdicated what has to be the state’s fiscal responsibility to provide all of New York’s students with an equal opportunity for an excellent education,” said Samuels, a prominent Democratic activist and leading critic of Cuomo.

“I applaud all the parents, teachers, and children who are rising up across the state to defeat Cuomo’s discriminatory education agenda in the current legislative session,” said Samuels.

The online ad highlights Cuomo’s hypocrisy on education: the Governor has not lived up to his own view, stated during the 2010 gubernatorial race that inequity in school funding is “probably the civil rights issue of our time.

Back in 2010, Cuomo admitted: “There are two education systems in the state. Not public, private; one for the rich and one for the poor and they are both public systems.”

“As usual, Cuomo says one thing, but does another. He’s allowing more resources to go to wealthier schools, while starving schools in lower income neighborhoods, often those attended by African-American and Latino children. That’s blatant discrimination. Let’s call it what it is. Instead of attacking teachers, Cuomo should take action to create equality in education and to strengthen public schools,” said Samuels, in his most negative comments to date on Cuomo’s education policy.

The online ad is being released today as part of a long-term campaign by Samuels’ government reform organization EffectiveNY to achieve real education equality in New York and to end Cuomo’s most harmful and punitive education policies.

A major long term goal of Samuels’ advocacy effort is an amendment to the state constitution that would require a minimum baseline of equal funding to ensure every public school student receives a high-quality education. The constitutional amendment would require the state not just to end existing inequities in school funding but also to provide additional resources and wraparound services to struggling districts. It must be the state’s responsibility to ensure the highest-needs districts receive the necessary funding so that all students, regardless of income, have equal opportunity to pursue college and careers with real pathways to the middle class.

The new EffectiveNY online ad and campaign for educational equity come as eight cities across New York, including Utica, which is highlighted in the “Every Child” ad, are suing to receive more funding for public schools, after the state has failed to meet its constitutional obligation to provide a “sound, basic education” for all students.