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New York City
April 2002

Resources Count & Positively Impact Student Achievement
By Jill Levy

Due 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 classroom instruction.

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 students.

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 impact.

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 global economy.

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

Jill Levy is the president of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators (CSA).


Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
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