Count & Positively Impact Student Achievement
to last year’s New York State bare bones budget and consistent
reductions to the Board of Education budget by the previous Mayor,
New York City’s public schools this school year have already seen
a reduction of more than $400 million in services. Fortunately,
many districts were able to absorb those cuts by minimally affecting
Now, Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Fiscal Year 2003 budget asks for another
$600 million in cuts to education. Yet, as we expect our students
to meet ever-higher standards and expectations, it is unconscionable
that we ask them to shoulder a $1 billion cut to their future.
The Mayor was wrong when he presented his budget and said, “Everything
should be on the table.” Our children are not commodities. Their
future should not be on the table.
Educators cannot do more with less, the Chancellor’s own district
proves this. A review of improved student academic performance
in those schools are the results of the significant infusion of
resources and professional development in those schools. Resources
count and those resources impact positively on student achievement.
Unfortunately, right now we are engaged in the wrong conversation
about governance of the school system. The correct conversation
should be about providing adequate resources to improve education.
Yet, as we argue over who should control the school system, prior
cuts have already eliminated some vital enrichment and after school
programs and proposed cuts threaten the rest.
What is not understood by most New Yorkers is that when principals
fashion their yearly budgets, they do not have control over most
of their allocations. The majority of funds go to mandated programs
and staffing. So, when principals are asked to make reductions,
even small ones, classroom instruction will most definitely be
affected. If any programs survive the proposed cuts, they will
be core instructional units only.
Student performance dramatically declined with the budget cuts
of 1975. Most arts, physical education and other cultural programs
also disappeared. It was only during the last part of the 1990s,
that we began to turn the corner and resurrect the school system.
The most recent reports on student achievement show that NYC is
making considerable progress across a variety of areas as compared
to the nation. The most noteworthy is that we are beginning to
close the academic achievement gap between white and minority
Student success is dependent upon the quality of a school’s staff.
Already principals have agreed to a series of accountability measures
and procedures in our collective bargaining agreement that ensures
accountability. But in order for them to be successful, they must
have a highly qualified and certified educational team in place.
More than ever, principals need assistant principals who are specialists
providing instructional and administrative expertise.
A recent study from the California Institute of Technology on
those factors most influencing student SAT scores showed that
the ratio of teachers to students in 1,000 California schools
had little significance. The study however, did discover that
the ratio of assistant principals to students did have a positive
Unfortunately, for New York City a vast number of assistant principal
positions are currently vacant. The anticipated retirement of
over 700 principals and other supervisors and administrators will
deplete the system further of its leadership. It will be compounded
as assistant principals take over vacant principalships, leaving
their positions empty. New York City is also encouraging the depletion
of its educational workforce by allowing the suburbs to entice
its experienced leadership and teachers to leave for higher pay.
Our city’s public schools have already sacrificed in these difficult
times. Our children are not able to get by with just the bare
minimum. They need the arts, music, and sports to help them learn
and grow. They need support services and enrichment to ensure
that they are meeting high standards and able to function in the
We cannot afford to lose a whole generation of students to these
budget cuts. Educational opportunities lost are lost forever.
We cannot sit idly by thinking that we can do more with less.
It is time for the public and its professionals to rise up and
demand that our children receive the education to which they are
Levy is the president of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: email@example.com.
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