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NYC Schools Deserve Budget Boosts, Not Cuts
The Mayor and City Hall's attack on education must be met with mass resistance
NYC Schools are under attack from the Mayor and City Hall. At least $215 million, but probably closer to $1.7 billion, has been slashed from next year’s school budgets. Teachers, counselors, and other workers are learning that their positions have been cut. Next year’s short-staffed schools will struggle to meet their students’ high academic and social-emotional needs as they grapple with larger class sizes and heavier case loads. Mayor Eric Adams—who controls the schools—could fully fund the system from the Department of Education’s $5 billion of federal relief money. His refusal to do so amounts to nothing less than an assault on public education.
Adams claims he’s simply adjusting budgets to match declining enrollment. It’s a lie; he’s also reduced the dollar amount a school receives per student, so those with the same enrollment will see their funding cut. His “adjustments” are first and foremost to expectations that the DOE will use its federal cash to make long overdue improvements to learning conditions. He’s squandered the chance to answer the decades-old call to reduce class sizes to levels comparable to white, suburban districts throughout the state. It’s not ignorance or mismanagement, but strategy. Adams intends to advance his party’s national crusade to privatize education and bust teachers unions. Surely his cuts will accelerate enrollment decline, providing the pretext for further cuts and reallocation of public funds to privately-run, ununionized schools.
He can be stopped, but our resistance must be strategic. Adams and City Hall’s budget boost to the NYPD shows that their commitment is to guns and riot gear over books and counseling. The UFT’s rally at City Hall on Friday was a good start, and surely we should continue protesting, writing to our representatives, and penning open letters to our communities. But the union must plot a course for escalating tactics in the event that the cuts are not restored. Everything good from the labor movement was gained by workers acting together to disrupt business as usual, with pickets, slowdowns, and strikes. We’re a big union with tremendous power. It’s about time we leverage it.