Sunday, August 21, 2022

Testimony of Paul Trust, music teacher and plaintiff, for tomorrow's City Council hearings

Tomorrow, City Council hearings on their resolution, demanding the Mayor restore the budget cuts to schools will be held starting at 10 AM.  You can watch them here.  

Paul Trust at budget cuts rally
Below is the testimony from Paul Trust, a public school teacher and parent and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit to reverse the budget cuts. 

Hello, my name is Paul Trust, I am a music educator, a father of three daughters in public schools and a resident of Richmond Hill Queens.

Many of you may know me as one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit to restore school budget funding.

Because of the mayor cuts, the school I teach at will no longer have a music program. Because of these cuts the school my daughters attend will also no longer have a music program.   It breaks my heart that they will not be able to experience the joy of music that inspired a lifelong passion in me, thanks to the amazing music teachers I had in elementary school. 

Because the mayor appealed Judge Frank’s ruling, I gave up hope on returning my position at my school and have found a new teaching position in Brooklyn. I look forward to the next chapter of my career but I’m also sad to have been forced out because of the cuts.  I am sad for all my students I’ve known for years who thought I would be preparing them for graduation, for winter and spring concerts.

In addition, my wife, who is an art teacher in Jamaica Queens, used to spend her summers teaching at risk students. She was informed that, because of these cuts, they were not going to be able to have her teach classes. [Editor's note: though funding increased overall for summer school, the per-student amount was actually cut.] 

What I don’t understand is if mayor claims to know how important the arts are, as articulated by Commissioner Cumbo before introducing him at the future sight of the Hip Hop Museum, that when you put a trombone in a students hands it could be taking away a gun or  how important it is to have summer programing to keep at risk students engaged over the summer, how can he also say that he’s doing everything within his power to keep our city safe?

Besides these cuts to the arts, at the school where my youngest daughter attends they are losing a guidance counselor, as well as a classroom teacher, which will maximize class sizes.  Although the mayor seems to believe we are through the pandemic, we are not. Especially when it comes to normalizing our students, the mental scars of what they have been through are still playing out. Having a second guidance counselor to attend to the students needs is essential support. Especially when a report just came out that we are not providing the social emotional support to New York City students that they should be getting.

And while these are personal stories, I know that similar ones are playing out in schools throughout the city and every borough. It is crucial that the $469 million that has been taken from city schools be returned so that our students, teachers, school communities can benefit from a well-funded school system.

Thank you for your time.


Paul Trust, DOE Music Educator, Activist and father of 3 public school children


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