Letter published in the Sunday Journal News
Re “Dire times for East Ramapo as budget fails,” June 21 Perspective:
The state and its monitors will continue their dedicated efforts to ensure quality programs in East Ramapo. But the article ends with the statement: “District taxpayers have to show the state that they share such a commitment.”
A budget vote is not the way we can show a commitment to public education. Time and again voters who value public school education have had their votes overpowered by voters who do not send their children to public schools, a significant majority of the voters.
When voting residents, year after year, turn their backs on children who attend the public schools, the presence of monitors, who can only report the existing deficits, will never remediate the problems. The New York State Constitution is clear on the obligation of the state to educate all children to the highest standards. If this cannot be achieved due to the denial of funds from the local tax base, other avenues must be addressed.
Property taxes are not the way to fund public school education. Based on relative values of real estate, property taxes cannot provide an equitable source of funding. Children in poorer regions will always suffer. A small increase in state income taxes balanced by a reduction in property taxes for education must be evaluated.
The East Ramapo quagmire is not the fault of the children nor of their parents. It is time for the state to fulfill its mandated and moral obligations.”
Mimi Calhoun and Dr. Howard Goldstein
Calhoun is a former East Ramapo school board member.