2008-05-16 / Letters

Stop School Budget Cuts

Dear Editor,

I hope that everyone involved with our public schools has enjoyed the "Spring Break" with their children and families. It is presently time for a clarion call to action.

Now that our children have returned to school, it is imperative that we turn our attention to working together diligently to stop the potentially devastating education budget cuts that lame-duck Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed in next year's New York City budget.

The short-sightedness of Mayor Bloomberg is shameful at best. It's hard to believe that he and his staff (Deputy Mayor Walcott and Chancellor Klein) feel it is in the best interests of our City to shortchange the educations of our children, especially in this era of job and market competition on a global scale.

One budget cut I would propose is that the DOE reduce their over bloated press/public relations department (over 15 employees making over $150,000) which is used to spin the truth and convince the citizenry of New York City that the Mayor and the Chancellor are doing a great job when all the rational evidence points to a completely contrary view. The DOE public relations spin-meisters are only outnumbered in City government by the Mayor's Office itself.

Mayor Bloomberg has failed our children with his power grab for Mayoral control of the school system.

Parents and education advocates have been successful through lobbying, phone calls, letters and, in unity with the "Keep the Promise" coalition, to stop the funding cuts to education in the New York State budget and we must do the same in the New York City budget.

Governor David Paterson and the state legislature have seen the light to restore all the education cuts to the recent state budget and have fulfilled their obligation to deliver the second installment of the four-year funding increase commitment to resolve the CFE lawsuit, along with strong accountability measures.

I strongly believe that we must keep the pressure on our City elected officials, especially the City Council, who must negotiate for the FULL restoration of education funding with the Mayor before they vote to approve the City budget by the mid-June deadline. This was the message and the rhetoric voiced by Council members at the recent "Keep the Promise" rally at City Hall.

I am writing to inform you that according to the Department of Education, Chancellor Joel Klein will inform all Principals about their proposed school budget cuts for next year during the week of May 6.

The worst case scenario is that up to 8 percent of their budgets will be cut, in addition to previously enacted cuts by our "education" Mayor.

Mayor Bloomberg has already cut education funding directly from our schools in the current 2007-08 fiscal year by 1.7 percent or $180 million and has proposed cutting an additional 8 percent or over $600 million in fiscal year 2008-09. This is a total cut of over three-quarters of a billion dollars in education funding.

I feel that it is essential that we successfully lobby the City Council to reverse the Mayor's cuts and restore all education funding for our children to successfully achieve their full career potentials.

Parent groups throughout the City are calling for a "Mobilization Week" (during the week of May 19 to May 23) to lobby elected officials. The "Keep the Promise" coalition is also planning additional advocacy activities to pressure the Mayor and City Council.

As one part of the "Mobilization Week," all parent and advocacy groups (Parents Associations, President Councils, Teachers, etc) are asked to engage and lobby the members of the New York City Council who represent their respective school districts.

I would strongly urge that parents contact all of the members of the City Council delegation from Queens (Council members Addabbo, Avella, Comrie, Gennaro, Goioa, Katz, Liu, Monserrate, Sanders, Sears, Vallone, White and Weprin) to set up lobbying appointments in their district offices, invite them to your Parent's Association meetings and make phone calls and send letters to them, as soon as possible.

In addition, parents and all concerned citizens should send letters and lobby Mayor Bloomberg's office, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, City Comptroller William Thompson, Jr., City Council Education chair Robert Jackson and City Council Finance committee chair David Weprin.

I would implore that all concerned parties participate in other activities, such as planned rallies and show their support by attending the overnight vigil at City Hall which is being organized to send a clear, strong message to Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council that funding cuts to education are totally unacceptable to the voters of this great City..!

The time for inaction and civility is over - it's important that all interested parties and individuals are fully engaged and that we make a concerted activity between now and when the City Council votes on the City budget in June so we can win restoration of the education budget for the future of our children and our City.

The time for action is NOW..we can't let our children down..!

DAVID QUINTANA

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