Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn stood up proudly earlier this week to say that they managed to reduce cuts to education. Heck, they are even keeping libraries open on Saturdays! Yet education advocates are not jumping up and down, because the reality of the situation is that the city's budget is still putting an extreme strain on the public school system. Bloomberg and Quinn can claim that they won't be firing any teachers (in large amounts and most importantly, for the meantime) but there is more to education than that.
"After school programs, art, music, staff are going to be laid off. We don't know the exact numbers, but it could be somewhere between two to 3,000 staff members," said City Councilman and Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson.
A Department of Education spokesperson says no teachers will get laid off, although some teacher vacancies won't be filled.
The department has ordered school principals to cut nearly four percent out of their budgets for next year by this Thursday. But education advocates warn there's little left to cut without affecting the classroom.
"We're cutting into the bone of a system where the majority of kids don't graduate on time," said Geri Palast of Campaign for Fiscal Equity.
Of course we have to acknowledge that these are dire times and the budget deficit has been a hard one to fill with so much Wall Street tax revenue that has gone up in smoke. Yet if we want New York to have a solid future, we need to fix our public school system and not make it solely about passing the standardized tests that Bloomberg loves under his complete control of the system.