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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Letter to Assembly about their proposed elimination of the Contracts for Excellence as well as any obligation to reduce class size

Today we sent a letter to Assembly leaders, strongly protesting their proposal to eliminate all traces of the Contracts for Excellence (C4E) from the state budget.  

Why they have done this I have no idea, especially as the C4E law is one of the few remaining traces of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit.  The C4E provisions mandate that the city submit an annual plan on how they intend to spend these funds, meant to provide our children with their constitutional right to an adequate education, including a plan to reduce class size, and hold hearings at which parents are able to provide their comments on the city's plan. 

Eliminating the law would be incredibly damaging and hamper our efforts to get the city to live up to its legal and ethical commitments as regards class size reduction; it is also one of the few vehicles to provide parent input and transparency in the spending of these precious education dollars.

The letter is co-signed by CFE, now housed at the Education Law Center, and the Alliance for Quality Education, along with Class Size Matters.  Instead of eliminating C4E, the Legislature should strengthen it and fully fund it. 

The press release and letter are below.



ADVOCACY GROUPS CALL ON LEGISLATURE TO SAFEGUARD PARENTS' RIGHTS
Today, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Project of the Education Law Center, the Alliance for Quality Education, and Class Size Matters called on New York's legislative leaders to preserve and strengthen the Contract for Excellence (C4E) law.
The C4E law, passed alongside New York's landmark 2007 Foundation Aid funding formula, was designed to promote transparency, accountability and parent participation in decisions on how school aid is spent in the state's public schools. It also requires districts receiving additional aid to develop a spending plan, with public input, targeting funds to programs identified as essential to provide students with a constitutional sound basic education. These include small class size, preschool, full-day kindergarten, and interventions for at-risk students. The law also mandates district audits so the public can verify that the money has been spent effectively and efficiently on staff, programs and services addressing critical student needs.
The New York State Assembly has proposed completely eliminating the C4E law, while the Senate has proposed maintaining its provisions only for New York City.
"The C4E law is the only mechanism to ensure that parents have a say in how vital education dollars are spent in their children's schools, and the only way parents can hold school districts accountable for providing the resources that matter, " said Wendy Lecker, Senior Attorney for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Project.
"It is truly unfortunate that the Assembly would consider eliminating the Contract for Excellence, given how it is the only law requiring parent input into the spending of precious education dollars to provide children a constitutional education," said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters. "Instead of ditching the law, the Legislature and the Governor should strengthen its accountability provisions and fully fund it. Let's not take away one of the few avenues for parents to have a voice in their children's education."
Education Law Center Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24 

Letter to Legislative Leaders Re C4E Law

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