Assembly Will Fight Governor’s Devastating $1.25B Cut to Schools
The devastating $1.25 billion cut to public education proposed by Governor Pataki on January 29th (of which about $500 million would come from aid to New York City schools) would be the largest reduction to education in history. If implemented, these cuts would drastically increase class size and eliminate vital programs involving special education, literacy initiatives, pre-K and many other important educational programs. His education budget would force districts to stop investing in new educational technology, make them scratch plans to modernize buildings and wipe out important after-school activities.
The Governor’s cuts to education would turn back the clock on the move towards raised academic expectations and higher standards. The cuts would decimate classroom learning and eviscerate many students’ reasonable chance to meet graduation requirements. The Governor seemingly fails to recognize that especially when economic times are challenging, public education becomes even more important in offering students a way into the scarcer job market of the 21st Century.
With these proposed cuts to elementary and secondary education, combined with his support of an almost 40 percent increase in SUNY tuition and a reduction in TAP grants, the Governor is launching an unprecedented assault against public education and access to institutions of higher learning.
As Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I will lead the fight to stop the Governor’s assault on young people and their futures. I will fight to reverse his shortsighted, irresponsible cuts to schools. And as an Assemblymember representing New York City, I will join in the fight to better ensure that New York City students are not treated unfairly with respect to the adoption of any new State funding formula. With many other political, civic and educational leaders, I called upon Governor Pataki to accept the findings of Supreme Court Justice Degrasse when he found in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case that New York City students were discriminated against by virtue of inadequate and inequitable State funding. Instead the Governor appealed that sensible decision, with the matter now pending before the State Court of Appeals.
These cuts to public education could be avoided if the Governor would finally come to the realization that dealing with a budget deficit of $10 billion cannot be accomplished solely by cutting the vital services provided by the State. The burden must be shared by all New Yorkers wealthy or not, and that means we must increase revenues and taxes fairly and across the board so that it is not only the middle class and the poor who must make sacrifices.
Ultimately cutting education means higher local school property taxes in the hundreds of suburban and rural school districts. Ultimately cutting education means a less skilled generation of students and probably a higher dropout rate. Ultimately cuts in education mean more persons on welfare, more persons addicted to illegal substances and more persons in prisons.
Fighting to restore the Governor’s ill-conceived attack on public education is a fight for the future of New York State and all its citizens.#
Assemblyman Sanders is Chairman of the NYS Assembly Committee on Education. You can phone him at 212.979.9696. His mailing address is 201 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.