Monday, April 12, 2021

New York note


The second Campaign for Fiscal Equity March on Albany, in October 2016, via Schott Foundation—that's Jackson in the T-shirt in front, characteristically making sure somebody else gets time at stage center. Via Schott Foundation.

Something I didn't know about my state senator, Robert Jackson, who I've been cheerfully voting for two or three seasons and who finally won in 2018—actually a few things, thanks to Wikipedia, none of which played much of a role in his campaigns, that although he is Black, his father was a Chinese immigrant called Eddie Chu, and that he's a Muslim, and during his time on the City Council from 2002 to 2013, which is when I first heard of him, he was the only Muslim there. 

But before that, back in 1993, when I was living in Brooklyn, he was president of a local Manhattan community school board frustrated by the unfairness of the way New York City schools in the state budgeting process, and joined together with the board's lawyer, Michael Rebell, to found an organization known as the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which sues the state on the grounds that it was violating its own constitution, which guarantees that

The legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free common schools, wherein all the children of this state may be educated.

They won the principle in the Court of Appeals in 1995, with a ruling that the constitution does indeed require the state to provide every child with a "sound basic education",  during which Rebell became moderately famous and Jackson did not. And another in 2001 (by which time we were living in Manhattan, with two kids in the school system) that the school funding system was itself unconstitutional, affirmed on then-governor Pataki's appeal in 2003, but even after a 150-mile march to Albany (which I certainly remember hearing about, but I don't remember hearing Jackson's name in connection with the march, which he in fact led), but still the state did nothing. in 2005 Judge Leland DeGrasse tried to make it clearer: the state owed the city $5.6 billion in annual operating aid and an additional $9.2 billion over five years in capital spending for building, renovating, and leasing facilities; the state did nothing. In 2006 the legislature finally did pass the capital spending, but failed to pass the annual operating aid even when the Court of Appeals reduced the demand to a  suggestion, for $2 billion a year, and the effort to comply through a succession of Democratic governors, Spitzer, Patterson, and Cuomo, faltered after the 2008 financial crisis and seemed to have permanently died.

Until now, you see, when the state senate has finally achieved a veto-proof Democratic majority, and Cuomo can no longer play the houses against each other, and with the help of federal funding under the Biden American Rescue the plan is finally fully funded, with Senator Jackson's vote, of course, and he's finally accepting some congratulations:

I just think this is so cool, as an example of what's happening right now. That arc was getting so long!

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