Inadequate Educational Funding and Its Burden

It is the duty of the state to provide schools with adequate resources so they may, in turn, provide their students with the basic supplies needed to foster academic success. Unfortunately, in Arizona and in many states that do not provide adequate resources to schools, members of the school community are burdened with this responsibility.

Districts in Arizona say the state does not provide them with enough money to cover the cost of things like paper, facial tissues, and dry-erase markers. Arizona’s failure to provide the basic supplies for schools results from its inadequate educational funding and places a financial strain on parents and teachers.

Despite the fact that Arizona law requires that public schools provide supplies required for academic success, parents in many schools in Arizona are asked by teachers to buy supplies for the classroom. This is not only a displaced responsibility from the state to parents, but it also can cause a financial burden for the families of the 600,000 students in Arizona that qualify for free or reduced lunches (an indicator of students’ financial disadvantage).

Teachers in Arizona — like most teachers throughout the nation — are also using their resources to cover the cost. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics found 94 per cent of teachers spent their own money on supplies in 2014. Those teachers spent an average of nearly $500 without reimbursements, according to the report.

Read more about the consequences of inadequate funding for Arizona’s public schools.


Reinvigorating Civics Education in NY — Conference Recap

In New York, the state’s highest court ruled in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case that the state government has a constitutional obligation to provide all students “the opportunity for a sound basic education” that prepares them for productive civic participation and competitive employment. This means every school must be equipped to help all students develop the knowledge, skills, and habits they need to be effective civic participants when they graduate from high school.

Last fall, the Center for Educational Equity launched a multi-faceted educational-rights initiative focused on strengthening students’ preparation for civic participation here in New York and nationally. Since then, we have been working diligently with colleagues and collaborators throughout the state to fill critical knowledge gaps through research, develop legal strategies, engage the public, and build a coalition to advance a common policy agenda.

Key components of that work were on display at our May 23rd Reinvigorating Civics Education in New York joint conference with Generation Citizen, which we hosted here at Teachers College. That day, a richly diverse convening of stakeholders explored New York’s civics-education landscape through solution-oriented dialogue on how to reinvigorate civics education in our schools, boost civic-engagement pathways beyond the classroom, and realize New York students’ constitutional right to civic preparation.






Important insights and recommendations presented that day included those of leading state education policymakers Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and Deputy Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, school-based educators and administrators, legislative analysts and advocates, and our own TC President Susan Fuhrman and education-law scholar and CEE executive director Michael Rebell.

But it was the experiences and expertise of local students, our young civic leaders whose valuable ideas are so often excluded from education-policy conversations, that most inspired many conference participants. Not only were young people represented on each panel, students also delivered the opening and closing remarks.

Click here to watch the videos, and stay tuned for additional opportunities to join us as we join forces with other outstanding partners around the state to strengthen civics education for all New York students!

Now Available! Flunking Democracy: Schools, Courts, and Civic Participation

On this day when students around the country are speaking out for social change, we should focus on the important role that schools need to play in preparing all students to function productively as civic participants. People across the political spectrum believe that all students should receive a meaningful opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that they need to be capable civic participants, including the belief in their ability to effect change.

FDHow can we make sure that all schools, including schools attended primarily by students in poverty and students of color, are equipped to provide the resources, services, and supports to make this happen?

Flunking Democracy: Schools, Courts, and Civic Participation, the new book by Michael A. Rebell, professor of educational law and practice and executive director of the Center for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, addresses this critical question.

Flunking Democracy is the first publication from CEE’s new educational-rights project on preparing students for civic participation. In it, Rebell makes the case that, for generations now, most public schools in the United States have moved away from one of the fundamental purposes of public education—preparing students to become capable citizens. This trend has persisted despite court holdings in New York, and many other states, that education for civic participation is the constitutional right of all children.

The book analyzes the causes of the decline in civic preparation, provides a detailed analysis of what we know about how to prepare students for productive citizenship and considers examples of best practices. Flunking Democracy further argues that the courts are a vital part of the solution to this civic decline and concludes with specific recommendations for how the courts can and should address this deficiency.

Flunking Democracy is essential reading for anyone interested in education, the law, and creating a more democratic society. Order your copy today!

CEE Releases New Edition of Guide to NY Students’ Educational Rights

Do you know what resources, services, and supports ALL New York schools must provide their students?

Today, the Center for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, is releasing an updated, concise summary of all of this fundamental information.

Essential Resources: The Constitutional Requirements for Providing All Students in New York State the Opportunity for a Sound Basic Education (2nd Edition) 

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Drawing on relevant and up-to-date state statutes, regulations, and the court order in the landmark legal case Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) v. State of New YorkEssential Resources zeroes in on the educational resources to which students are entitled under the state constitution.
First published in December 2012, Essential Resources became the first-ever comprehensive compilation of New York students’ educational rights, and served as a framework for assessing the state’s compliance with CFE, which guarantees all students the right to a “sound basic education”–a set of learning opportunities specifically designed to prepare them for effective civic participation and good jobs.

By raising awareness about these rights, we aim to equip New Yorkers with the research-based information they need in order to hold the government accountable for, at the very least, following its own education laws. Ultimately, all children, not just the privileged few, will have the opportunity to meet state learning standards and fulfill their civic and career-related potential.

Please join us in widely sharing the latest version of this powerful resource, particularly with families currently affected by educational-rights violations.

And help us make the new version available to thousands of New York families. Contribute today!

2017 Educational-Equity Highlights: CEE’s Year in Review

The Center for Educational Equity needs your help to make 2018 as productive as this past year! Thanks to supporters like you, here is just some of what we accomplished in 2017:

To strengthen students’ educational rights and opportunities, we turned our rights-based lens on underexplored areas of educational policy: pre-K, career and technical education, and preparation for civic participation. Our research and legal analysis in these areas resulted in several trailblazing publications:

  • Establishing the Right to Universal Pre-K, researched and written in partnership with the Center for Children’s Initiatives
  • Ensuring Students’ Right to Preparation for Competitive Employment
  • CEE executive director Michael Rebell’s new book, Flunking Democracy, Schools, Courts, and Civic Participation (U. Chicago Press, 2018)

CEE officially launched a new initiative, “Securing the Future of Our Democracy: Students’ Right to Preparation for Civic Participation.” Our work to date includes

  • A pilot study of assessing the availability of resources for civic preparation in public high schools in the New York metropolitan area.
  • A policy primer on preparing students for civic preparation that will be distributed by the Learning Policy Institute to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
  • Convening New York State leaders in civic education, civic engagement, and educational equity to begin planning a collective effort to align policy with the state constitutional requirement to prepare all students for civic participation.

We extended our efforts to equip and empower students and parents with useable knowledge about children’s education rights.

  • In partnership with young people and adults at THE POINT and Knowledge House, we began work on an innovative Know Your Educational Rights mobile app that will give students and parents the information and tools they need to make sure elected officials and education officials equip their schools with required resources.
  • In partnership the Adelaide Stanford Institute, we facilitated parents becoming educational-rights “ambassadors” who shared knowledge with other parents and advocated for school officials to inform families of their educational rights under state law.
  • We produced an updated, second-edition Essential Resources, the first compendium of school-level resource requirements under state law.

With a grant from the Wallace Foundation, and in partnership with stellar TC professors Jeffrey Henig and Carolyn Riehl, we led Teachers College teams to eight small American cities in field research to study collaborative efforts to improve education. The third report from this research project will appear in 2018.

We need your generous support to continue this important work. Please give what you can!

Securing the Future of Our Democracy: Preparing ALL Students for Civic Participation

vote gen 3The Center for Educational Equity (CEE) at Teachers College (TC), Columbia University, celebrated election day by announcing the launch of our educational-rights initiative focused on strengthening students’ preparation for civic participation.

Through our new initiative, CEE will work with TC colleagues, educators, parents and students, and other leaders in the field to:

  • fill critical knowledge gaps through research;
  • develop legal strategies;
  • engage the public; and
  • build a coalition to advance a common policy agenda.

Preparing students for their important civic responsibilities as members of a democracy has historically been an essential role of schools in the United States. In most states, preparation for civic participation is also central to the right to education afforded by the state constitution.

In New York, the state’s highest court ruled in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case that the state government has a constitutional obligation to provide all students “the opportunity for a sound basic education” that prepares them for productive civic participation and competitive employment. This means every school must be equipped to help all students develop the knowledge, skills, and habits they need to be effective civic participants when they graduate from high school.

As co-counsel for CFE, Michael A. Rebell, presently TC professor of law and educational practice and CEE executive director, led a statewide coalition that fought hard to win this right. Over the past year, CEE has been closely analyzing the substantial gaps in civic preparation that exist in schools here and nationwide. Rebell has written a book, Flunking Democracy: Schools, Courts and Civic Preparation (U. of Chicago Press, forthcoming, 2018), that examines these issues in detail.

The current state of civic life and our democratic institutions has generated great interest in this topic. For example, the New York State Education Department recently signaled the state’s commitment to preparing students for civic participation by including a “college, career and civic readiness index” concept in its Every Student Succeeds Act plan. We would like to see New York lead the way in equipping young people to strengthen our democracy.

CEE’s new initiative will help ensure that all students — particularly students living in poverty and those of color— have the opportunity to become effective civic participants.

Learn more and support our Securing the Future of Our Democracy civic-preparation initiative here.

Today, the Campaign for Educational Equity becomes the Center for Educational Equity

The Center for Educational Equity (CEE) will continue to champion children’s right to a meaningful opportunity to graduate from high school prepared for college, careers, and civic participation—and work to define and secure the full range of resources, supports, and services necessary to guarantee this right to all children, particularly children in poverty and children of color.

You can now find us at

You can still connect with us through our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram handle: @eduequity.

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