2002-03-30 / Editorial/Opinion

Where Kids Are Concerned, Cut From The Top

Where Kids Are Concerned, Cut From The Top

There is no doubt that this is going to be one of the toughest years New York City has ever faced in terms of deciding on budget priorities and making budget cuts. Every agency, including the police and fire departments, which have done so much for this city in the last year, face debilitating cuts. We understand that there is no way around those tough decisions. Cuts must be made. The question then becomes, where should the cuts come from. Chancellor Harold Levy warns that the proposed cuts will be devastating to classroom and remedial programs. "These cuts will affect every level of the school system more profoundly that any round of budget cuts in recent memory," Levy told the Mayor. The mayor shot right back, chiding Levy for "overstating the potential impact on core school services." Therein lies the problem. This district is positing a cut of 300 teachers. That comes out to eight or nine teachers in each school in the district. That will, of course, not happen. The cuts will come from assistant principals, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, Project Arts teachers, remedial reading teachers and ancillary classroom personnel. That is not where the cuts should come. The cuts should come from the top, not the bottom. The cuts should come from central board, from the hearing offices, from the executive secretaries to the board members, from the people who do nothing besides "take meetings" to decide the future of those who actually work with kids. That includes the district office level as well. This district always operated with a superintendent, a deputy and an executive assistant. Now, it has a superintendent, two deputies, an executive assistant for middle schools, several bilingual coordinators, a Professional Development Academy, and numerous district office functionaries who do add something to the classroom experience, but who certainly should go prior to those who directly address kids in the district's classrooms. Those decisions are being made this week. We would hope that they would be made correctly. Cut from the top. That is the way we have to do it for our kids.

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