Saturday, May 3, 2008

Despite $4 billion surplus, the education Mayor still breaks his promise to our kids

See the NY Times article about the education budget cuts for next year proposed by the Mayor. Despite an estimated $4 billion surplus, and property tax cuts amounting to $1.25 billion more, the Mayor still seems intent on cutting back education by a substantial amount – though accounts differ, by about $400 million next year. This comes after mid-year cuts of more than $100 million already.

The Mayor’s office tried to hide these cuts by claiming increased spending on education by $200 million – but this turned out to be yet more PR spin. Excerpt from the NY Times:

Mr. Bloomberg and his aides emphasized that the city was spending $243 million more on education in 2009 than it did this year. But much of that is so-called rollover money, or funds that schools have left over from this year and will keep for the next year. Roughly $100 million is to cover rising food costs, increases in charter school enrollment and tuition for special education students mandated to attend private schools.

“There’s going to have to be some cuts in the schools,” Mr. Klein said. “I’m optimistic if we continue being intelligent about this, we can navigate these waters effectively.”

Continue being intelligent about this? That assumes they ever were. Charter schools, for some reason, do not face any new cuts next year.

…In January, the department ordered a cut of 1.7 percent at schools across the city, prompting a loud outcry from principals, who said they had to reduce valued programs like after-school sports and Saturday tutoring in the middle of the year. Additional school-level cuts seem likely for next year, although Mr. Klein appeared to rule out cuts at every school in the fall, saying one of the challenges would be to tailor reductions to each school.

Tailor reductions to each school? This sounds like the Chancellor is still intent on pushing through the full implementation of his unfair “fair student funding” scheme – which he promised not to do for at least two years. The city also plans to delay payments by “stretching out its capital plan by a year” which if applied to school construction, would be disastrous.

See the NY Sun about the fact that education advocates, the teachers and the principals unions plan to fight these cuts with TV and radio ads – as well they should. I can’t remember such drastic cuts to our schools before in a time of surplus –not to mention following the decision of our state’s highest court that our kids’ education was unconstitutionally underfunded.

Please add your name to a petition in support of City Council Resolution #1302, which calls on Bloomberg to restore all cuts to education funding, co-sponsored by Council Members Robert Jackson and Bill Di Blasio.

And see this video of a rally in the Bronx protesting the cuts:

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