The Rosen family is fleeing New York City for the suburbs in search
of quality schools. With test scores in City public schools falling
and class size growing, the Rosens have joined the exodus of families,
mostly white, who opt out of the public school system by either
moving or paying for private school.
The Cabral family doesn't have the option. Like many of the city's
Latino and African American families, they have no choice but to
rely on the public school system. Cabral's children attend PS 173
in Washington Heights — a crumbling school that is overcrowded,
with few certified teachers and fewer educational resources like
books and computers. The Rosen children will attend Hastings Middle
School in Westchester County where the library books outnumber the
students and computers are state-of-the-art.
Like most states, New York funds schools with property taxes. Inevitably,
this leads to inequities among poor and affluent jurisdictions:
the higher the property values, the better the schools. Poor and
minority parents fought against this growing disparity and won a
court order mandating New York to figure out the cost of providing
every child with a “sound basic education.”
Maria Cabral and other parents like her can only hope that the
state makes good on the court's promise — and that changes
are made in time to benefit their children.
For more information on the lawsuit charging New York State with
failing to sufficiently fund education, visit the Campaign for Fiscal
Equity at www.cfequity.org.
For another view, arguing that meeting the Court mandate would require
raising taxes, visit: http://nyfiscalwatch.com/html/fwm_2004-02.html