CAMPAIGN FOR FISCAL EQUITY (CFE). Coalition of concerned parents and education advocates successfully litigated over underfunding of New York City's public schools

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) in its own words: “The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, Inc. (CFE), a non-profit organization, was founded in 1993 by a coalition of concerned parents and education advocates seeking to reform New York State's school finance system to ensure adequate resources and the opportunity for a sound basic education for all students in New York City. That same year, CFE filed a constitutional challenge to New York State's school finance system, claiming that it underfunds New York City's public schools and, thus, denies its students their constitutional right to the opportunity for a sound basic education.

In 2006, after 13 years in the courts, the state’s highest court delivered the case’s final ruling. The Court of Appeals ruled in CFE’s favor, confirming that the state must provide its children with the opportunity for a sound basic education, defined as the "opportunity for a meaningful high school education, one which prepares them to function productively as civic participants." Working with a broad-based coalition, CFE turned the litigation’s findings and the court’s rulings into legislation benefitting public school students throughout New York State: the Education Budget and Reform Act of 2007.

CFE now serves as the leading non-profit organization working to ensure that the court-established right becomes a reality for our public school students. This entails securing full implementation of the Education Budget and Reform Act’s massive school finance and accountability reforms. To this end, CFE works to provide policymakers, the press and the public with in-depth, fact-based public policy reports for informed decision-making on the important policy questions raised by the addition of new operating and capital resources and accountability measures ” (see: ).

Further, CFE states: “The outcome of CFE's 13-year fiscal adequacy lawsuit (CFE v. State of New York) led to a new era in school finance reform with the enactment of the New York State Education Budget and Reform Act of 2007-2008. With over $7 billion in additional aid scheduled to come to New York's public schools from FY 2008 - FY 2011 and the implementation of the accountability and public participation initiatives that resulted from our litigation, the stage has been set for systemic change that results in real progress for our students. We are committed to seeing that the promise of the new education finance and accountability reforms is fulfilled” (see: ).

CFE report on Educational Apartheid in New York (2003): "Throughout this report…we document a dismaying alignment of disadvantaged students (disproportionately children of color), schools with the poorest educational resources (fiscal and human), and substandard achievement. Conversely, we find that those schools that serve the fewest at-risk children have the greatest financial resources, teachers with the best credentials, and the highest level of achievements. Perhaps the sharpest contrasts exist between public schools in New York City and those in districts (most suburban) with low percentages of students in poverty and high levels of income and property wealth." [1].

CFE report on class sizes and overcrowding (2009): “Overcrowding is a chronic problems in New York City’s public schools …Overcrowding is a particular problem for schools with struggling students and was cited as one of the facilities’ deficiencies in the Court of Appeals’ decisions in CFE v. State of New York. The Court of Appeals specifically cited overcrowding and excessive class size as inseparable and further stated as fact that “” One symptom of an overcrowded school system is the encroachment of ordinary classroom activities into what would otherwise be specialized spaces: libraries, laboratories, auditoriums and the like. There was considerable evidence of shortage of such spaces.” After the Appellate Division, First Department ordered the state to provide New York City schools with the CFE proposal of $9.2 billion in capital; funding by April 1 2006, the legislature and the Governor provided $11.2 billion in funding for facilities’ conditions in 2006 in its settlement of the CFE lawsuit.” [2].

[1]. State of Learning, CFE report, July 2003, quoted by Margaret Kimberley, “Educational Apartheid lives on”, Freedom Rider column, The Black Commentator, 20 October 2005: .

[2]. Campaign for Fiscal Equity report, “Maxed Out: New York City School Overcrowding Crisis”, May 2009: .