January 01, 1900

Parents, educators protest damaging cuts

Caption: Broken pencil, broken promises: Six year old Brian Tenen, a 1st grader at PS239, Queens, protests midyear education cuts. (Photo by El-Wise Noisette)

A coalition of parents, union members, citizens and education advocates joined forces in Albany Monday, calling on lawmakers to reject Gov. Paterson’s devastating proposed midyear cuts to education and health care.

“Funding that is in the classroom today, the governor is proposing to take out tomorrow,” said Billy Easton of the Alliance for Quality Education. “Earlier this year the governor and the Legislature failed to keep the promise to deliver the funding our courts ordered to ensure every child’s constitutional right to a quality education. …These cuts are on top of broken promises.”    

Cuts would disproportionately impact students in high-need districts, said Steve Allinger, NYSUT legislative director. The statewide union called on lawmakers to take advantage of lower interest rates to refinance state debt, to tap state’s "rainy day" fund, and use bulk purchasing of prescription drugs as just a few suggestions for alternative ways to close the state’s deficit.

Irene Hawkesworth, a Buffalo mother of five attended the event with her 14-year-old son, William. His school is slated for closure if the midyear cuts are approved, Hawkesworth said.

Jose Gonzalez , a father of two, questioned the governor’s actions. “How can the state raise expectations, as they should, and then take away resources to help students meet the increasingly demanding requirements?” Gonzalez said for many poor parents an education is the only thing they have to offer their children. “To give them hopes and dreams. … Our children are too important to sacrifice.”    

The news conference was hosted by AQE, NYSUT, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity , Citizen Action of New York, the state Council of School Superintendents and the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice.