Corey Johnson: Stop Disastrous Budget Cuts to NYC Public Schools

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We, the families of the New York City public school system, refuse to sit back and accept Mayor de Blasio’s proposed $827 million in budget cuts to our schools. We are outraged that our teachers will be the next first responders set up for failure, the next essential workers required to carry unbearably heavy burdens. We reject the proposal that our children will return to schools with fewer resources at a time when they need more.


We know that many of our most vulnerable children will have lost family and friends to this virus. New York City’s public school students will need more—not less—care, attention, and resources when they return to their school buildings, whenever that may be. We know that every single child will return academically behind because of the learning time lost this spring, and will need extra time with their teachers, more arts, more internships, more guidance counselors - not less. They will need personalized attention from teachers and administrators, not the depersonalization that comes with over-sized classes and staff who are stretched too thin.


And yet, despite all of this, we now understand that the City is proposing the most draconian cuts to education spending in decades—and that those cuts will fall most heavily on the schools themselves, on their staffs and support structures, including cuts to counseling services, professional development funds, and day-to-day school operating budgets. We know that the impact of those cuts will fall most heavily on the students themselves, whose academic success, in the long run, is critical to the civic health and economic well being of this city.  We also know that the communities least able to mitigate these cuts with PTA money--and therefore most vulnerable to their impact--are the same communities which have borne the heaviest burden of Covid-19 losses.


To this we say: NO!


WE DEMAND THAT THE CURRENT BUDGET PROPOSAL BE REJECTED.


Why are the proposed cuts to education so much larger than the cuts to all other city agencies?

And why are the vast majority of cuts to schools themselves, not to the central administrative offices and outside contractors? 


Before a single dollar is taken from our schools’ budgets, every contract with an outside agency must be scrutinized, and, where necessary, cut or terminated. 


Before we lose a single social worker, teacher, or administrator from our school buildings, we demand that central office functions be evaluated and eliminated until only the most essential jobs are retained. 


We demand that our school communities be left whole, and that support for them be enhanced rather than withdrawn. Our children and their families deserve no less, and the future of our city depends on it.