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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Fair Share for Our Schools: A Multidisciplinary Curriculum:
What Is CFE About?
View the Short Video: Campaign for Fiscal Equality: Students Speak Out

Lesson Materials (word document)

Aim: Students will become aware of the CFE lawsuit against the State of New York and will understand the reasons behind the lawsuit.

Connection/Motivation: Remind students that they’ve explored how some schools have been cheated and underserved by the State of New York.

Teaching Points:

  • Introduce the lesson with an eye-catching title such as “Over 1 million New York City students cheated by the State!” on chart paper or a white board.
  • Students may not have prior understanding of the legal system, so a brief discussion on lawsuits may aid students. Many students may know the word’s abbreviation, “sue or to sue.” (Definition of LAWSUIT—A legal action started by a plaintiff against a defendant based on a complaint that the defendant failed to perform a legal duty, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.)
  • Ask the class if they feel they are missing anything in their classroom or if the school is missing anything that would help them become better learners or create a better school environment.
  • Responses should be charted for the students to view. They should be compared and contrasted with the CFE lawsuit findings regarding deficiencies in some schools.
  • Explain that recent New York newspaper articles studied nationwide per-pupil spending differences between poor and wealthy districts. The State of New York is # 1 with $2,280 per student!
  • Ask students what they feel should be done when the state is not funding schools as they should. Allow student responses.
  • Tell the students that many times people have to be forced to obey the law through legal action. Tell them that people or organizations, such as the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, file lawsuits in a court to have a judge hear all the facts so that people can get what they deserve. Otherwise, there would be more injustice and inequity in society. Also, make them aware that this should work, but many times it does not if there is not well-prepared evidence presented by good lawyers.
  • Update students about the CFE vs. State of New York lawsuit. Give them basic background information that tells them how they are affected and why and what is the current status of the lawsuit. (A CFE lawsuit timeline and document links are included in this lesson).

Student Activity:

  • Students will work in groups of four. They should create a short list about what they feel they are missing in order to be better students or have a better school.
  • Have the students/teacher read an article explaining the CFE lawsuit. (Watching a video in class would create a great visual for understanding.)
  • Students should work on a graphic organizer – Venn diagram, KWL chart and/or Web map to organize their thoughts.
  • Why does this lawsuit exist? What are some things that your community could do to make sure that you are given a fair (equitable) education?

Share: Students will share and exhibit ideas to the class on the two questions.

Follow-up: Students will be given a copy of the article on the CFE vs. State of New York lawsuit to take home to their parents to make them aware of the case (see lesson material). This could be accompanied by a letter addressing what they could do, current campaigns against the state and whom (politicians and organizations) could they contact to voice their concern to become active in their community against the state actions.

Assessment: Grade the students’ work and/or presentation on the CFE vs. The State of New York Lawsuit. Make sure all the students know the cause – effect reasons are in the lawsuit. Make sure that all students understand that they should each receive more funding per person to have a better education. They should see or tell of possible past, present and future ramifications of The State New York actions.


Subject Areas:
Social Studies
Language Arts

Grade Levels:  3-5

About the teacher:

Darren J. Johnson is teacher at The Academy of the Arts – PS 335x in the South Bronx. Darren will be entering his third year of teaching. He currently teaches Science and Physical Education. His first year of teaching in New York was at Arturo Toscanini Middle School (JHS 145x) in the Bronx. Darren was given a grant in 2004 by the US Dept. of Energy and NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) in Science. Darren completed his master’s degree at BC majoring in Elementary Education: Donovan Scholars’ Urban Studies Program in 2003. While doing his practicum he had the opportunity to work at two exemplary Boston Public Schools. Darren attended Boston College as an undergraduate majoring in Human Development & Communications while focusing on Human Resource Management.





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