Budget Cuts Lead to Protest

On Thursday, January 31st New York City schools experienced major budget cuts, ranging from 9,000 dollars to over 450,000 dollars per school (according to the New York Times).  This means each school loses around 1.75 percent of its budget.  The entire City Education system is loosing $180 million.  Principals and teachers are outraged that the budget cuts came in the middle of the Fiscal year, once schedules and programs have already been planned.  These cuts could mean laying off teachers and cutting many after school activities such as sports teams, theatre and other items.

According to Ms. Johnson, our school lost $55,000 during this last budget cut.  When asked how our school coped with these losses, she replied that she is very cautious and has always set aside unallocated money at the beginning of the school year for circumstances like these.  Though there were no teachers forced out by lack of funds many school trips have been canceled.  When asked what was on the way for the next fiscal year Ms. Johnson replied, “your guess is as good as mine.”

Teachers, parents, and stu­dents do not plan to accept these cut backs quietly.  There is a large protest planned for Wednesday, March 19th at 4 PM in front of City Hall and all those who care should attend.

One Brooklyn principal sent an email suggesting that they should cut back on testing contracts such as the ARIS program (NY Times).  ARIS is an acronym for a computer program that helps read and organize standardized tests and other information.  This program eats up millions of dollars a year.  Perhaps this money could be bet­ter spent in arts and after school programs.

Mayor Bloom­berg proposed these cuts because of city’s faltering economy.  Less economic activity means less tax rev­enue for the city.  Although many argue the solution to our dreary economic situa­tion is not to give children poor educations.  The City’s School budget situa­tion is already bad enough.  Only 30% of the NYC schools were meeting the DOE standards in art and music for 2006.  This is partially because of budget cuts and partially because of a huge emphasis many elementary and middle schools have been placing on standardized tests.

The road ahead for city schools is not a bright one.  Bloomberg plans on cutting almost double what he cut this year in the Fiscal year to come ($324 million).  Bloomberg argues that 1.7 percent is not a lot and that the cuts will have “no impact whatsoever” (NY Times).  The total amount spent on schools (not including private fund­raisers) in the 2007-2008 school year was 19.6 bil­lion dollars.  This is a large figure and many would say that taking away a little here or there makes no dif­ference.  This is the same thing people once thought about global warming, and now our planet is in peril.  Little bits do make a difference.  I’d like to see Mr. Bloomberg explain to a child without glue and chalk that the budget cuts will have no impact what­soever.

*Special thanks to Ms. Johnson, Jennifer Me­dina (NY Times), and the Department of Budget of the DOE for statistical information.

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