Written by Chris Boyle, firstname.lastname@example.org Wednesday, 29 January 2014 00:00
Education in New York has seemingly been under fire for the last several years; between numerous cuts in financial aid, mandated tax levy caps, and the rollout of the Common Core Learning Standards, the state and parents seem to be at war with one another over the direction education is taking...with the students haplessly caught in the middle of the raging debate.
The latest issue that New York communities are taking umbrage with is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently released educational budget for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year, and parents and schools hoping for a respite from the tightening of the state’s purse strings we aghast at what amounted to yet another series of cuts.
Massapequa-based Long Island Progressive Coalition, as stated by its director Lisa Tyson, is a multi-issue citizen-run organization dedicated to social, economic, and racial justice. At a press conference held at their 90 Pennsylvania headquarters recently and attended by local politicians and community leaders, Tyson decried the further cuts made to education by New York State, and insisted it was time for a change.
“Governor Cuomo put out a budget two days ago that really devastated education, both on Long Island and state-wide,” she said. “We were so disappointed when we started looking at what the impact would be on each and every school district on Long Island. Regardless of what district you’re in, this budget will result in you having to cut teachers, music, art, and the things that are most important to your district.”
Cuomo’s current educational budget for New York State comes in at $608 million; a far cry from the $1.9 billion budget Tyson said is needed to make up for the cuts made to school budgets in last several years.
“It does not come close to deal with the rising costs in the schools,” she said. “We have cut billions of dollars out of the educational system, and Governor Cuomo needed to make it up this year, but instead he gives a $2.1 billion decrease in taxes to corporations. Instead of giving money to the banks and the corporations, we need our schools to receive that money now.”
Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages also spoke at the press conference, and strongly urged lawmakers in Albany to re-think their budgetary priorities as they relate to what is truly their most precious commodities- children, their education, and most importantly, their future.
“Education is truly the one contract that we establish between generations, promising at least that we care about the things that we hold true to us,” he said. “This budget, as it relates to education, must be amended. I’m asking not just the governor, but the State Assembly and the Senate to do the right thing for our schools and our community.”
Solages stated that the educational landscape in New York, due to years of budget cuts and other mandated financial acts, has become more and more barren in terms of the opportunities available to kids; unless the trend is bucked here and now, he said that their future is truly bleak.
“For the last four years, our schools have been surviving under the two percent tax cap, but it’s not truly two percent...if you account for inflation, it’s actually 1.4 percent,” he said. “Schools have been cutting it to the bone...getting rid of programs that really benefit our young people. This isn’t a burden or a cost, it’s an investment. It costs less to send a child to school than to send them to prison. State leaders- please do the right things for our children and our communities.”
Melanie Mejia, a parent of a student in the Brentwood School District, spoke of rampant cuts that are being made that are drastically affecting the quality of her child’s educational and personal growth.
“My daughter only has music class every other week and she never has an art class at all,” she said. “The Governor needs to make education a priority. People can say anything...it’s what you do that counts. It’s time to give our children what they need and adequately fund our schools.”
The Long Island Progressive Coalition is a grassroots community-based organization founded in 1979, dedicated to promoting sustainable development, revitalizing local communities, enhancing human dignity, creating effective democracy, and achieving economic, social and racial justice.