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Education Advocates Critical of School Funding Ruling

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Alliance for Quality Education is outraged that a New York State Appellate Court recently ruled that the state is only responsible to provide an eighth grade education.

Local leaders, parents and school children gathered in downtown Buffalo Thursday to protest the ruling in the case of Campaign for Fiscal Equity vs. New York State. Governor Pataki argued against a state funding formula that would provide additional education dollars to needy state school districts like Buffalo and he won. Jim Anderson, with the Alliance for Quality Education, says they are demanding that Pataki reject the decision.

"The Governor has won it, but he is still hiding," Anderson said. "Right now he is hiding behind a decision made by a delinquent appellate judge, who found that giving children an 8th grade education in New York State is enough."

In the decision, the court stated that "a level of skills between eighth and ninth grade is sufficient" in preparing students for low-wage jobs. Buffalo parent Amy Liberatore, clearly angered by the ruling, says Pataki spent $11 million to fight the court case.

"So what is this about? It is about the Governor saying 'I would rather hire lawyers from Atlanta' -- not even New York State lawyers -- and in doing so, spend a lot of your taxpayers money on this thing," Liberatore said.

The Alliance says children need quality education to prepare for future jobs. Deputy Assembly Speaker Arthur Eve is joining the fight. He says it was a "horrible" decision.

"Eight three percent of our prison population consists of those who did not finish high school," Eve said. "Most didn't even finish the ninth grade. So this is a correlation, not only between jobs but between crime."

Pataki has said he's pleased with the court's decision handed down on June 25th, but an appeal is underway.