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Tax cap would hurt minority students, say parents, teachers and NAACP

June 07, 2011
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's property tax cap plan will disproportionately affect minority students by exacerbating funding differences between high- and low-income school districts, according to tax cap opponents who rallied outside Senate chambers Tuesday afternoon.

"The high-need districts have a much higher percentage of African American and Hispanic students," said Billy Easton, the executive director for the Alliance for Quality Education. "So in addition to the income-based inequity, it will also create further inequity based on race."

Easton, backed by parents of schoolchildren and representatives from good government group Citizen Action, the Civil Service Employees Association and New York State United Teachers, said the funding gap between "high needs" and "low needs" schools is currently $3.2 billion.

The group says that discrepancy would increase by $56 million in the first year and by more than $700 million over ten years.

"The tax cap will increase the inequities already existing in the educational system now between the poor and wealthy districts," said the Rev. Cornelius Clark, president of the Troy chapter of the NAACP.

The advocates also railed against the provision in the tax cap bill, which awaits Assembly passage, that would allow a local 60 percent majority vote to override the cap, calling it "undemocratic."

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    Tax cap would hurt minority students, say parents, teachers and
    June 10, 2011 | 04:21 PM

    When property taxes are levied to finance education, we do not have a true public education system. Instead, we have a public/private partnership consisting of direct governmental funding (public) and property tax levies (private). To the extent that taxpayers in the various school districts have the desire or financial ability/inability to fund education programs, there will be disparate impact on the students: the "poorer" districts cannot offer the same educational opportunities that the "richer" districts can. The tax cap issue does not begin to address this problem. This disparity can only be eliminated by allocating the same education dollars to each student, irrespective of the district they may live in. This is clearly a civil rights issue: the current school tax levy practice has an adverse disparate impact based on race and socio-economic status.

    Barry Yomtov
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