Lauded as a “major victory” for students, Governor Cuomo’s competitive education grants program has also been blamed for stifling rural school districts.
Canton High School is one under-funded rural school among 27 districts that protested the state’s education funding formula Wednesday in Albany. Many of the school districts have similar complaints: low tax base, budget cuts, teacher layoffs, and educational and extracurricular programs suspended.
“Canton lacks the requirements to even apply for the competitive grants,” Carli Baldwin said. Baldwin is one of the high school’s AP government students who spearheaded the protest of nearly 200 students, teachers and parents from Canton.
“It needs to be an even playing field before competitive grants are used,” Baldwin said. She said the $250 million competitive fund should be put into the state education budget and granted by need. Eventually, she said, the state education funding formula should be revised completely.
The group from Canton met with 400 people from other districts at the Egg, Albany’s performing arts center, to rally enthusiasm for their cause, fax their concerns to legislators, and meet their representatives in person. “It was chaotic,” Baldwin said. “I don’t think they expected so many people.”
Cuomo held a press conference about another topic on the floor below the rally. Baldwin said Cuomo’s staff attempted to hide the fact that he was inside when students started asking questions.
The rumor, Baldwin said, is that Cuomo plans to run for president in 2016 and is “covering up the nastier elements of the state.”
Before and after the visit to Albany, protestors bombarded Cuomo’s phone line. Baldwin said students plan to continue sending Cuomo their information and that a member of Cuomo’s office indicated they are becoming annoyed.