By Mark Hallum
Schools could get a progressive financial lift from Cynthia Nixon if the Democratic gubernatorial candidate manages to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Sept. 13 primary.
Nixon stood in front of PS 307 in Corona Tuesday and delivered remarks not only highlighting the nearly $42 million in Foundation Aid owed to schools in the surrounding area, but also claimed she would fund education through a millionaire’s tax if elected.
“Right now, the schools across New York state are owed $4.2 billion in Foundation Aid. Foundation aid was created in order to close the gaps between our richest and our poorest schools and to settle the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit,” Nixon said. “The school we’re standing in front of right now, PS 307, The Pioneer Academy, is owed $1.5 million in Foundation Aid.”
PS 019 at 98-02 Roosevelt Ave. alone is owed $3 million in aid, according to Nixon. Students at the news conference who spoke with the political hopeful said they had seen classmates fainting and vomiting from the heat since their school lacks air conditioning.
PS 16 at 41-15 104th St. is currently owed $2.7 million in aid and is “bursting at the seams,” according to Nixon, who said that the school is at 144 percent capacity.
“Our state currently has the second most unequal funding of any school system in the country and the gap between our richest and our poorest schools is wider than its ever been and it has grown 24 percent under Andrew Cuomo,” Nixon said. “The underfunding of our schools that disproportionately serve children of color have created two different systems in New York state. White wealthy children are prepared for college and low-income children of color are disproportionately put into the criminal justice system, subjected to the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Jessica Ramos is running for the district currently held by state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and was endorsed by Make the Road Action, a sister organization to Make the Road NY that works to build power among immigrants.
“Across the state, black and brown children are trapped in the criminal justice system because of the sorry state of our schools,” Ramos said. “Because Cuomo has not funded Foundation Aid, a need-based program that would increase funding for schools in districts like ours, the schools here in District 13 alone are owed [$42 million]… When I see that number, I’m furious as a mother, but I’m not surprised. Because I can see its impact every day. With so much funding missing, no wonder our school don’t have the resources they need for safe and happy classrooms. No wonder our kids aren’t getting the social and educational support they need… and grow up feeling their futures are worthless.”
Although Republicans hold a firm majority in the state Senate currently, as opposed to the Democrat-controlled Assembly, Nixon is confident there will be no problem getting a tax on the state’s wealthiest passed in order to fund schools assuming Democrats will win back the majority.
[The original version of this story said Make the Road NY offered the endorsement, but they do not endorse. The endorsement was from their sister organization Make the Road Action.]
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall