The New York State Court of Appeals added another opinion in the ongoing argument about how we pay for public education. Last week they ruled that the way high school education is funded in New York City is "failing to provide them [students in grades 9-12] with their constitutionally guaranteed rights to a "sound education."
In reversing the lower court opinion, the State Court of Appeals found that "tens of thousands of students are placed in overcrowded classrooms, taught by unqualified teachers, and provided with inadequate facilities and equipment" and that was enough to consider there is a "systemic failure."
I’m not about to tell anyone that throwing money will solve all the educational problems we have in this country. The solutions are not nearly that simple. However, somewhere along the line we need to decide just what kind of education are we willing to pay for. Hundreds of politicians and opinion polls (and now the courts) tell us that we need better teachers. However, the same politicians and the public behind the polls refuse to pay for the salaries and training to provide those better teachers. We also say that we want our children taught using better materials and equipment in classrooms that are not crowded. Again, those demands are unpaid for.
In responding to the ruling New York Governor George Pataki called it an "historic opportunity to reform the state’s education system". I hope he really means the whole system and not just how it’s funded. Every aspect of how we educate our kids in this country needs to be serious reviewed, including a gut check of how much we are honestly willing to pay for it.