The Home Room

The Home Room

by Melissa Melkonian


State Delivers Education Funding, But Fails Parents Seeking Education Choices

With the Legislature having concluded this year’s state budget, it’s a good time to reflect on where our state leaders delivered on education issues, and where they fell short.

At the top of the list is money.

With an agreement, over three years, to finally provide the funding called for under the campaign for fiscal equity lawsuit, Bronx families will see a significant influx of dollars to support our schools.  Overall state spending on education will be $29.5 billion, the highest level in our history—with 75% of the funding targeted to high-need districts such as New York City. there is no denying that these added resources have the potential to significantly alter all aspects of a student’s public school experience.

The budget also provides more funding for pre-K programs, restored funding for school-based health centers, and provides a half-billion dollars for schools to address COVID-related needs such as protective equipment, remote learning, and transportation.

A provision that will greatly assist Bronx families is a new law requiring internet service providers to offer high-need families with fifteen-dollar-a-month high-speed internet access.  The budget also provides funding to help fifty thousand needy students gain internet access for free.

Bronx students heading for college will also find much to like in the state budget.  Tuition for both SUNY and CUNY has been frozen for the next three years, and support for the Tuition Assistance Program, which provides funding to low-income students to attend college, was increased significantly.  To help to economically and educationally disadvantaged students, the state’s “opportunity programs” – which provide supports to help students stay in college — will increase by twenty percent.


In addition to these state investments, billions in federal COVID-relief funding have been provided both to the state and local schools.  Those funds—over $17 billion in total over multiple years—will be used to safely reopen schools for in-person instruction, cope with learning loss, and respond to students’ COVID-related academic, social, and emotional needs.


Sadly, the budget fell short in one important respect.


For the past few years, new charter schools have been unable to open in New York City due to a legal cap on the number of schools allowed to operate here.  Governor Cuomo, to his credit, suggested a change in the law to allow twenty charters that have lapsed – because the schools were closed or never opened – to be re-used.  Due to opposition primarily in the Assembly, the Governor’s proposal was not enacted.

With thousands of Bronx families desperate to find a good school for their children, it is an outrage that some state legislators seem to care more about political considerations than the education needs of our children.  I’m confident this issue will be back on the table next year; here’s hoping that our state elected officials speak with the parents in their districts to understand how important school choice is to them and will act in their best interests in 2022.


Melissa Melkonian is Head of School, American Dream Charter School, in the Bronx.

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