"No more excuses' is the message at Tuesday's education rally at the Capitol. As Geoff Redick reports, education advocates are pushing for an additional $1.9 billion in funding.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The event at the Capital Plaza Convention Center on Tuesday began with more than a thousand students eating boxed lunches. Just a few hours later, it was a well-choreographed rally for new school aid.
"Schools are really strapped for resources," said Alliance for Quality Education Director Billy Easton. "Programs are being cut, and cut, and cut."
That was the reason AQE brought students in from all over the state, to flood the halls of New York's Capitol Building, crying "No More Excuses" and "Save Our Schools!"
In the 2014-2015 state budget, AQE is demanding a $1.9 billion allocation, to help replace promised state aid that was frozen and never repaid early this decade. A portion of the money would make up for the lost revenue, while also funding new initiatives such as extended schools days and progressive discipline tactics.
"Year after year, we've seen students shortchanged on education they so desperately need," Easton wrote in a news release. "Failure by the governor and the legislature to invest, will leave a generation of students with less opportunities than their peers before them."
A $225 million chunk on the AQE's wish list would go toward this year's signature education issue: universal, full-day pre-K.
"Last year, the governor said he wanted to do full-day pre-K, and he paid enough for 2 pecent of children in the state," shrugged Easton. "We need a real proposal, a serious proposal."
It seemed to come in the State of the State Address, when Cuomo once again called for universal pre-K in New York. However, the governor offered clues how he might fund it. Meanwhile in New York City, newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio has determined to tax the wealthiest city residents, to fund his own universal pre-K promise.
Speculation holds that Cuomo will not take a similar tax-based route, though Easton says it would work.
"He's proposing almost $2.2 billion in tax cuts primarily for wealthy New Yorkers and corporations. So there's money there, if there's a priority of educating our kids," Easton said.
The Governor's 2014-2015 State Budget Proposal will be released in a presentation next week.