On Budgets

This summer, news of dramatic decreases in funding to the majority of NYC public schools shook the city. A series of protests, calls to action, and a fascinating lawsuit worked to bring Adams’ budget decrease into the public spotlight. And, as of today, that lawsuit has apparently succeeded in allowing for a formal reconsideration of the budget. While we wait to see the details of what a possible new budget might look like should the City now opt to restore what was taken away, we at New Action commend the activism of parents, students, community members, and educators who worked tirelessly over the summer to get to this point. We are hopeful that the budget is rapidly reconstituted to reflect the reality of our city’s increased need for educational spending in the wake of COVID. New York City deserves schools that are not just ‘technically’ funded based on enrollment considerations, but truly funded in a way that maximizes the ability of our children to learn. 

Truly funded schools mean enough funding to:

  • reduce class sizes to a level consistent with the rest of NY State. Adams’ budget would have funded class sizes at the usual too-high unadjusted caps, taking advantage of Governor Hochul’s conspicuous failure to sign a popular bill that would have soon reduced those caps dramatically. 
  • keep up with dramatic inflation that is sure to affect school supply and labor costs. As states like Arizona and Florida rush to fill teacher shortages by keeping pay low but reducing qualifications to teach, we need to keep funding up to supply our students with qualified and fairly compensated educators who have everything they need to effectively do their jobs. We aren’t going to get that by reducing our budgets; we can only get there by raising them.
  • Provide the rich array of services, ‘electives,’ and extra-curricular options that our students need for a full educational experience. Many schools lost key programs like art and music to make way for Adams’ budget cuts. Those need to come back.

Adams’ cuts are far more than enrollment right-sizing. His cuts ensured that actual class size averages would go up (instead of down) pretty much everywhere, that school-wide programs like the Arts would be cut (rather than just departments ‘right-sized’), and that teachers would go into contract negotiations with less money on the table (making it easier for the City to not fairly compensate us in our next contract). It’s time to end austerity funding for our city’s schools. Let’s truly fund them so our students can obtain the education they deserve. 

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