Friday, June 12, 2009

Message to City Council: Build schools, not jails!

Check out the Class Size Matters press conference with Comptroller Thompson, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Councilmembers Jackson, Gerson, Yassky and Liu, and the organization Stop the Brooklyn House of Detention, about the need to use city capital funds to build schools not prisons.

See also the news story at Gotham Schools here ; the City Comptroller here, and the Manhattan Borough President's office here , and our press release here.

The proposed capital plan for schools will provide only about one third of the seats necessary to alleviate overcrowding and reduce class sizes to mandated levels -- and is completely inadequate considering the rising student population in neighborhoods throughout the city.

We could double the number of new school seats in the plan if we cancelled prison projects in the Bronx and in Brooklyn that are estimated at nearly one billion dollars -- that communities don't want and the city doesn't need. Riker's is only 75% full and our prison population is falling. Meanwhile, nearly half of our students are in severely overcrowded school buldings, there are hundreds of children are on waiting lists for Kindergarten, and enrollment is going up.

The city is also planning on building an extravagant police academy in Queens estimated at nearly a billion dollars: a 35 acre campus, with a police museum, residence for visiting lecturers, and a replica of a bodega, bank and subway station, along with 250 classrooms. How many police recruits are expected next year? Only 250 in July 2009, and none in January 2010.

Moreover each capital dollar we shift from other projects to schools generates two dollars for construction, as the state matches the city's spending on schools-- a valuable economic stimulus just when we need it the most. As CM Jackson said at the press conference, we get double the bang for the buck.

So call your councilmembers now -- just plug in your address here -- and tell them to move at least a billion dollars in capital funds from prisons and the police academy to new schools. While our prison population is going down, our schools are overcrowded and class sizes are rising. We need to build more schools now!

1 comment:

Sandra A. Daley said...

Thanks for sharing this article! Very tough statistics to digest. What will it take to turn education in New York City around? It's more than allocating space and funds. Leadership, teachers, administrators, and parents have to aspire to something more for our children, make a plan, and follow it like no kidding!!!
Soon only the wealthy in New York City will have access to a quality education. They too, the upper east and west side public schools are facing larger classrooms and stiff competition for resources. Private schools, even in tough economic times, are experiencing higher requests for entry.
What will it take to ensure equal and quality education for ALL New York City children?