TBI partners with the Alliance for Quality Education, an organization that shares TBI's belief that poor students of color deserve excellent schools and quality instructional practices. We are therefore collaborating with AQE to see that New York State government officials enact legislation that will bring restorative justice practices to schools throughout the state.
To impact trends in school discipline, AQE has outlined goals for reform in bill A.8396, which they believe "will reduce school suspension and promote a positive school climate, cultivating an environment where teachers can teach and students can learn".
This bill is in direct response to the debilitating effect of disciplinary practices in communities of color. As described by AQE, "the goal of the legislation is to reverse the disturbing school-to-prison pipeline, which starts with excessive use of suspensions, often for minor infractions. This is an issue that disproportionately affects students of color".
To support our students, TBI and AQE are urgently pushing to see that the goals of this bill come to fruition.
Follow the links below to learn more about the bill and the politics regarding school responses to student behavior.
In addition to advocating for better disciplinary practices, TBI and AQE are supporting students through the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. As AQE explains, the campaign is the result of the following:
- In 1993 a group of parents from New York City, led by Robert Jackson, formed the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) and sued New York State for failing to provide students with the quality education that is their right under the New York State Constitution.
Thirteen years later, the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that the state was failing to provide students with the classroom resources necessary to receive the “sound basic education” or “meaningful high school education” that is their constitutional right.
While the CFE case was specific to New York City, the CFE plaintiffs argued for a statewide solution because students in many schools faced the same lack of adequate classroom resources. In fact the Court of Appeals recognized that the State, in formulating a remedy to CFE, “may of course address statewide issues if it chooses.”
In 2007 the New York State Governor and Legislature enacted a statewide resolution to CFE. The statewide CFE resolution enacted in 2007 converted over 30 different school aid formulas into one formula based on student need and school district wealth. The state committed to add $5.5 billion in basic classroom operating aid, or foundation aid, over 4 years with 72% dedicated to high need districts and 23% for average need districts.
The CFE funding was tied to effective classroom reform strategies through the Contract for Excellence which prioritized pre-kindergarten, class size reduction, middle and high school reform, programs for English language learners, effective teaching, and more time on task (longer school days or school years, tutoring, etc.).
For two years the state met its obligations, increasing classroom aid by $2.3 billion which resulted in effective reforms in classrooms around the state.
But then in 2009 as a result of the fiscal crisis school aid was frozen. Then over the following two years the state enacted over $2.7 billion in cuts, including over $2.1 billion in classroom cuts, in effect reversing CFE.
- Now the state is finally adding back some of the funds that were cut, but none are being added to get CFE restarted.
As TBI is committed to providing equitable education, we are pressuring legislators to do justice by our students and provide the funding needed to support student learning in all classrooms throughout New York.