Eloquent testimony from parent Christianna Nelson at yesterday's City Council hearing on the school budget cuts. If anyone else would like us to share their testimony, please send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello, my name is Christianna Nelson. Thank you very much for holding this hearing today. I hope that you decide to restore these terrible cuts to public education. I’m here to speak as a mom about how these cuts are affecting the students in my daughter’s school. My daughter attends Arts & Letters 305 United in Bed Stuy, a lottery school that offers 40 percent of its seats to children who qualify for school lunch assistance.
It's a beautiful school filled with dedicated educators and parents, and a diverse student body. It has actually increased its enrollment over the last two years, but it's still losing 17 percent of its budget--a drop of $1.5 million dollars. That means larger classes, fewer counselors, less art and music, fewer classroom supplies (and parents are already donating a lot of supplies). It's a slap in the face to educators, students and parents, who have suffered through two very difficult years.
My daughter is actually a pandemic success story. She has a visual disability and an IEP. Since kindergarten, in addition to her vision services, she has required physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling and she needs to be in an ICT classroom with two teachers. This year, with smaller class sizes, she was able to get more of the individual support she needed, and she experienced huge growth, academically and emotionally.
At the end of the year, her team decided that she no longer needs physical therapy, occupational therapy, or counseling, and that she also no longer needs to be in an ICT classroom.
My daughter has a very passionate, knowledgeable and devoted team of teachers and specialists. They showed up every day of this pandemic, often at risk to their own health (and many of them have children of their own), to help my daughter learn and grow. And now, instead of rewarding their hard work and supporting them, you're asking them to do more with less. It's immoral. It's plain wrong. And it needs to be fixed. Today.
These cuts are not good for students, they're not good for teachers, and they're not good for New York City. I'm begging you to reverse these cuts. Let’s take the time and effort to plan and budget long term together, with real, meaningful input from educators, who are in the room, and parents, whose children are in the room--not overnight in one fell swoop. Restore the cuts! Thank you very much.