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Lawmakers Push For Cuomo To Reassess Competitive Education Grants

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A coalition of African American and Latino lawmakers is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to avoid expanding education grants based on the performance of school districts. NY1’s Zack Fink filed the following report.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget last year authorized a $500 million grant program that awarded school districts additional money for academic gains.

This year, the program would be expanded by an additional $250 million, but some New York City lawmakers say that shortchanges poorer districts.

"We are lacking in resources. We are lacking in opportunity for our kids. Competitive grants put minority communities at a disadvantage, put our school districts at a disadvantage, and it's unfair," said Bronx Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.

Members of the city's delegation are calling on Cuomo to eliminate the competitive grants.

"The concern is that some of the more affluent and wealthier school districts have the ability to successfully compete. They have grant writers," said Bronx Assemblywoman Vanessa Gibson.

"Certainly the more affluent districts have more resources to call upon. They have more expertise in certain areas to get more funding. That is why they are more affluent," said Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright.

In 2006, the state's highest court ruled in favor of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, a nonprofit group which had brought suit on behalf of New York City public school children.

The court found that the state must provide billions of dollars of additional funding for New York's poorest school districts.

"The obligation here is strong. The legislature came through with a funding formula in 2007 in response to the court and committed itself to providing that increase in funding," said David Sciarra of the Education Law Center.

According to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, New York state provided that funding the first two years but has been backtracking ever since.

Other groups have praised the governor's approach. Democrats for Education Reform issued a statement saying throwing money at the bureaucracy has clearly failed.

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