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A New York State Appeals Court Rules the State Is Only Obliged to Provide An Eighth-Grade Education and Prepare Students for Nothing More Than the Lowest Level Jobs

June 28, 2002

A New York State appeals court ruled Tuesday that the state is obliged to provide no more than an eighth-grade education to its students and prepare them for nothing more than the lowest-level job. The decision overturned an earlier ruling that New York State had failed its constitutional duty to ensure "a sound, basic education" for New York City schoolchildren. This, as Congress approves over $350 billion in military spending. The suit was brought on behalf of New York City students by a group of parents and activists called the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

In January 2001, Justice Leland DeGrasse of Manhattan’s State Supreme Court ruled the city’s schools were inadequate and seriously under financed. He found the state’s school financing system is discriminatory and illegal, denying over a million school children fair educational opportunities. He ordered Albany to come up with a more consistent method of school financing and substantially more money for New York City’s schools. Experts estimated the State might need to increase its spending by as much as $1 billion a year.

But yesterday, four judges in the State Appellate Division overturned Justice DeGrasse’s ruling. They held that New York City students are only entitled to an eighth-grade education, because that is all that is needed to participate in the jury process. They added that newspaper coverage of political campaigns was written at anywhere from a 6th-grade to an 11th-grade level.


  • Robert Jackson, New York City Councilmember. Jackson is the founder and former chairman of the board of directors of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, and the lead Plaintiff in CFE v. The State of New York.
  • Saadiya Jackson, daughter of Robert Jackson. Jackson brought the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit on her behalf as well as on the behalf of all New York City students.

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