Monday, April 27, 2020

Parents, teachers, students, advocates and elected officials urge the Mayor, "Cut the Contracts, Save Our Schools"

Cut the Contracts Save Our Schools Press Conference April 27, 2020 from Community Education Council, D3 on Vimeo.

Here is a recording of the press conference. Newsclips are featured in the NY Post and in Bklyner

Please sign up to speak against these wasteful contracts at the Panel for Educational Policy meeting that will begin at 6 PM on Wed. April 29 clicking here ; speakers will be allowed to sign on from 5:30 PM until 6:15 PM. 

For immediate release: April 27, 2020

Contact: Leonie Haimson:; 917-435-9329
Kim Watkins:; (917) 689-3065

Parents, teachers, students, advocates and elected officials urge the Mayor, "Cut the Contracts, Save Our Schools"

They urge the DOE to save millions on unnecessary contracts and bureaucracy
rather than essential school staffing and services 

On Monday afternoon, in an emergency press conference broadcast on Zoom, parent leaders, teachers, students, elected officials and education advocates denounced the Mayor’s proposed education budget cuts of over $800 million, and proposed that cuts be made instead to unnecessary  contracts, consultants, the bureaucracy and a freeze on staffing at the NYC Police Department. Among the speakers emphasizing the need to protect students and schools from these unethical cuts were Tom Sheppard of CEC 11, Maria Abacar, a student member of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Tanesha Grant of Parents Supporting Parents and CEJ, Tajh Sutton of CEC14, as well as those quoted below. 
“Our students were short-changed before the pandemic, with large class sizes, too few social workers and guidance counselors, and too few permanent school nurses. Our students will never get back the instructional time they have missed during the pandemic. They will never get back the missed milestones, like graduations, field trips, and proms. They will never get back lost family members, friends, principals, educators, paraprofessionals, counselors, cafeteria workers, and other loved ones. We cannot impose more pain and loss on them by cutting direct services, unless we have turned over every stone to find other areas to cut," said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, said: “The Mayor wants to make egregious cuts to schools instead of eliminating wasteful contracts of over $700 million for busing we’re not using, professional development that’s not happening, and consultants who are doing who knows what. The proposed DOE budget would spend $300 million on the mid-level bureaucracy, nearly twice as much as in 2014.   Savings on contracts and bureaucrats now could prevent the need for any cuts to school budgets next year.  What the DOE really should be talking about instead is how they will strengthen schools and reconfigure classrooms next fall, as many countries and the state of California are doing, to provide the smaller classes required for social distancing and the academic and emotional support needed to make up for the profound losses students suffered this year.” 
As Council Member Brad Lander pointed out, “New York is facing a huge revenue shortfall and there will be hard choices, but cuts should not fall disproportionately on our children's education. The Department of Education represents 20% of the City's budget, and under the Mayor's proposed cuts for next year, are facing 22% of the cuts. Meanwhile, the NYPD, which represents 7% of the budget, is only absorbing 1%. If we must freeze hires and not replace retiring teachers, counselors, and social workers, then we should do the same at the NYPD. This crisis and its changes to education are going to hit harder on lower-income students, English language learners, those with special needs. As we move forward, we must make the choice to prioritize additional support to help those students make up for what’s being lost, and find savings elsewhere to make up the gap."
Shino Tanikawa, a member of the Fair Student Task Force and co-chair of the Education Council Consortium,  said: “There should be absolutely no cuts to the Fair Student Funding. With the pandemic and the remote learning, our students will need MORE resources, not less.  Many students are currently not receiving adequate instruction through remote learning and will require a lot of additional support next school year.  Furthermore all students will require a great deal of social emotional support in the coming months and well into the next school year.  We must refocus our priority on education and wellbeing of the most vulnerable students.”  

“Allocating funds to schools for teaching and support for families must be our top priority. CEC3's advocacy on budget issues includes the need for greater transparency, higher priority to hire full-time school nurses next school year as opposed to this year, and staff other essential positions, by scrutinizing every dollar expended by DOE for administration and contracts. Our council fully supports the effort to make budget cuts this year  to ensure that our schools are able to serve our students and families when they reopen next year,” said Kim Watkins, President of the Community Education Council in District 3.

Liat Olenick, an elementary school teacher, MORE-UFT member and Indivisible Nation BK co-president said: “Our children should come first. The Governor and the Mayor’s proposed cuts to public schools during a moment of profound collective loss and trauma are both unjust and unnecessary. The Governor should reverse his proposed statewide cuts to public education and instead levy moderate taxes on New York’s ultra-wealthy, and the Mayor should cut extraneous DOE contracts, and freeze funding for the NYPD instead of slashing fair student funding and hiring.” 

“As  a parent of a high school student, I understand first -hand the importance of summer activities for my children.  It’s unconscionable that the Mayor wants to cut $49 million to the summer youth employment program. Without these programs, kids like mine won’t be able to gain skills, experiences, and real wages. These programs are a much needed lifeline for parents like me.  I'm proud to stand with my fellow parents to urge the Mayor to  cut contracts and save summer programs for children like mine,” said Naila Rosario, President of NYC Kids PAC.
Kaliris Salas Ramirez of CEC 4 and NYC Opt out said, “These budget cuts imposed by Cuomo and DeBlasio are downright abusive to our school communities.  Schools in East Harlem are owed millions of dollars that could finance full arts programming, counselors and social workers that can support our students in their transition back to school; now that will be impossible. We need to divest from these corporations, including testing companies, that just continue to create metrics that marginalize our most vulnerable students to invest in our schools and protect our students.”   
Maria Bautista of the Alliance for Quality Education concluded, "Mayor de Blasio's proposed cuts to education are unconscionable and disastrous. The mayor was quoted saying ‘Next school year will have to be the greatest academic school year the city will ever have because everyone is going to be playing catch up,’  yet we know with this budget students will come back to less resources, academic supports,  larger class sizes and limited social and emotional supports. NYC must avoid making any cuts to our schools. We demand they take a look at wasteful contracts, make equitable changes to the Fair Student Funding formula  and divest from other city agencies, like the NYPD. NYC students will be harmed if this immoral budget passes." 

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