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More funding, less testing in schools make up Green party gubernatorial candidates' platform

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Jia Lee (right) and Howie Hawkins in Syracuse.

Green Party candidate for lieutenant governor Jia Lee is pushing for more funding and less standardized testing and segregation in public schools. 

Lee, an 18-year public school teacher from New York City, said she is known across the state as an organizer for the opt-out movement against standardized testing. She said those tests do not evaluate or measure the value of schools, teachers or students.

“It’s a test and punish system," Lee said. "Entire schools in Syracuse, Rochester and New York City are labeled as failing. They are given just a couple years to raise the test scores, so you have all this pressure. They spend the entire year on test prep.”

Lee said the biggest in-school factors that impact student achievement are teachers’ experience and smaller class sizes, both of which, she said are disincentivized in the current system.

“What we’re saying is all children have a right to quality, progressive education, that is inquiry based, project based, not just for the elite,” Lee said.

Lee and Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor, are calling for a settlement of the more than $4 billion that is owed to New York’s public schools from a 2007 court case known as the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. They also want to redraw the lines and consolidate school districts to desegregate schools. Hawkins said they would fund schools by shifting from property taxes to progressive income taxes.     

Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York spends more per student than any other state in the country, but he acknowledged there is inequality and he needs to know more about who is getting the most money.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.