Teach NYS Hosts Grassroots Lobbying Day with Gov. Cuomo, Leaders Flanagan and Klein

Today, Teach NYS hosted a grassroots lobbying day in Albany with 500-plus students, parents, and supporters to make the case for equal funding for nonpublic schools. Teach NYS, a project of Orthodox Union Advocacy, urged the governor and the legislature to invest in STEM education funding for all schools – including nonpublic schools – to make sure all students have the tools they need to succeed in the changing economy.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a stirring speech in defense of nonpublic schools, saying: “I aggressively support the religious schools, my budget reflects that. I’ve given the religious schools in my budget more money than ever before in history. We did that last year, and we’ll do it again this year, where we propose even more funding than ever before for the religious schools.”

Watch Gov. Cuomo’s full speech here.

Throughout the day, Teach NYS emphasized the important role nonpublic schools play in the New York State economy. These schools serve over 400,000 students in the Empire State and range from religious to secular, from low-income to high-income, from standard curriculum to specialized education. According to a 2015 John Dunham & Associates study, nonpublic schools support 86,000 jobs, $3.8 billion in wages, and $7.1 billion in economic output.

STEM fields are the fastest growing industry in the country, with STEM jobs growing at a rate of 17 percent compared to 10 percent for other industries. STEM employees tend to receive higher wages and have access to jobs in cutting-edge fields.

Recognizing the importance of STEM, the New York legislature has demonstrated a willingness to invest in STEM education for public schools. Teach NYS made the case today for investing in all schools equally. While nonpublic schools make up 16 percent of the New York education system, they receive only one percent of state education funds.

Attendees also heard remarks from Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Senate Coalition Leader Jeff Klein who voiced their support for nonpublic schools.

Every parent should have the right to choose the school that best meets their children’s needs, regardless of income level,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “I’m proud of the work we have done to provide quality and affordable education to all New York students. Now, it’s time to build on that success by making sure that all students can get a quality STEM education, regardless of what type of school they attend. I look forward to working with Teach NYS and all their students and parents to make that mission a reality.”

“Nonpublic schools in New York State are an extremely important part of the New York education system,” said Senate Coalition Leader Jeff Klein. “Every child deserves the best education to suit his or her unique talents and needs. Teach NYS does fantastic work to make sure nonpublic school students get the opportunity and education they need to succeed. I look forward to working with Teach NYS to make sure nonpublic schools students across the state get a quality education.”

“We’re so grateful for the outpouring of support from schools, students, and parents as well as from the New York State legislature,” said Allen Fagin, CEO of the Orthodox Union. “We owe a special thanks to Gov. Cuomo, Leader Flanagan, and Leader Klein for taking the time to show their support for nonpublic schools today. Over the past four years, Teach NYS has delivered $150 million to Jewish day schools, and that is a result of communal teamwork. With this kind of support, we know we can continue to make even more progress.”

“Today was a remarkable day in American democracy. Five-hundred students, teachers, and parents traveled to Albany to fight for their education – and leading political figures came to listen,” said Moishe Bane, president of the Orthodox Union. “Nonpublic schools such as those represented today provide a vital service to hundreds of thousands of students across New York State. We are thankful to Gov. Cuomo and Leaders Flanagan and Klein for their commitment to fight on behalf of these students and their families.”

“We started Teach NYS with the premise that every child, regardless of income, religion, or school, deserves a quality and affordable education,” said Maury Litwack, executive director of Teach NYS. “Today, over 500 students, parents, and school staff traveled to Albany to make the case for equal STEM education funding for nonpublic schools. We hope the legislature will listen to their voices.”

About Teach NYS

Started in 2013, Teach NYS is a state arm of Teach Advocacy Network, a leading voice for nonpublic school students. Last year, Teach NYS helped secure $345 million for nonpublic schools in New York State, including security funds and grant programs across the country, reimbursement for mandated services, and after-school programing funds.