The Mayor’s Budget Proposal Passes the Buck

The Mayor's Budget Proposal Passes the Buck

May 9, 2011
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters

The mayor tried to pass the buck today to the state and the federal government, blaming them for the elimination of over 6,000 teaching positions.  What happened to mayoral accountability?

And yet he added that if the state provided extra funding or mandate relief, he would not necessarily restore these positions, but he might spend it on the police or fire department instead.

He said he was “very sympathetic” to Gov. Cuomo, but he mentioned no sympathy for NYC children,  who will have to bear the brunt of these cuts in the form of the largest increases in class size in at least 30 years.  While he commented that he would not put city's fiscal "future at risk," he seems all too willing to put our kids' futures at risk instead.  This is not a budget which puts children first.
Already in the last three years alone, students in grades K-3 have experienced  class size increases of 10%; leading to the largest class sizes in over a decade.  More than a third of all Kindergarten students are now squeezed into classes of 25 or more. Why should they have to suffer any more?
He offered not a single proposal to control the huge waste in DOE contracts and consultants, which has led to numerous instances of lax oversight and corruption, including more than $3 million in stolen funds on one DOE tech contract alone, and another contract that has gone millions over budget, with allegations that a DOE supervisor was improperly involved with the consultant.
Nor does he have any plans to cut  the growing headcount of the central and mid level DOE bureaucracies, but instead targets  all reductions to teachers.
The city's overall spending on contracts has doubled to more than $10 billion in the last five years with a huge part of the increase for technology. In the next year alone, the DOE plans to spend more than half a billion dollars on technology in its capital plan, with $350 million to buy computers to implement more online learning and testing.
Their ultimate goal seems to be depriving our students any contact with a real live teacher, but to put them all on machines instead.
The Mayor claims he has no choice, but this is yet another excuse for his lack of leadership. He has many choices which he refuses to acknowledge:
Make the cuts elsewhere in the DOE budget, including to central, contracts, consultants and computers; draw more from the $2 billion still remaining in the city’s health care reserve; and support the retention of the millionaire’s tax, either on the state or city level.
The city’s richest one percent are still expanding their wealth rapidly but instead of asking them to contribute their fair share, the mayor chooses to make our kids pay the price.
Though a millionaire’s tax on city residents would also need Albany’s assent, it would be a far better campaign than continuing his  obsession with eliminating teacher seniority protections, which has little chance of being approved.

May 8, 2011

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