MORE Caucus unanimously opposes Mayor De Blasio’s proposed funding cuts to New York City public schools. At a time when our students need more support than ever, we should not be making cuts that will result in larger class sizes, fewer mental and physical health resources and inadequate supplies for our students. These cuts will result in conditions that will make it virtually impossible to return to school safely, putting hundreds of thousands of staff and student family members at risk of contracting COVID-19.
There are 112 billionaires in NY who hold $525 billion in wealth. Albany must pass taxes on the wealthy to offset these proposed cuts. Pending new revenue, the Mayor should cut funding for DOE central, private consultants, professional development contracts and policing instead of cutting Fair Student Funding, school budgets or the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Furthermore, the Mayor must invest in hiring more social workers and counselors to help students and their families navigate the unprecedented trauma they are experiencing as a result of COVID-19.
Mayor De Blasio stated “A budget is a statement of values-and this city values: Keeping people healthy. Keeping people safe. Keeping food on the table. Keeping a roof over your head. My pledge is simple: Your city will protect you. Whatever it takes.” The Mayor’s proposed budget cuts directly contradicts this pledge. Students and their families rely on SYEP to supplement income to help keep a roof over their heads, and to help keep food on the table. Our class sizes are already too large, and budget cuts will make them even more unmanageable. Our students already don’t have the mental and physical health support they need, and these cuts will make it harder to provide those supports.
Mayor De Blasio must live up to his words and do whatever it takes to protect our students, and the UFT should be pushing him to do the same. Both De Blasio and the UFT must pressure Albany to tax New York’s wealthy to generate revenue to keep our students and their families healthy and safe.