Education advocates – including students, parents and teachers – gathered outside of New York City Hall to rally against the City Council’s decision to decrease the public school budget by around $215 million.
The June 13 rally took place shortly before the final Council budget vote, which determined the decrease of funding to NYC Department of Education public schools.
Organized by the Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC), The People’s Plan NYC, Black Lives Matter at Schools and other advocacy groups, several student and parent speakers decried the decision to cut funding.
“We are here to call out the mayor and this council for producing a budget that does not prioritize students,” said youth leader Caroline Ramierez. “The city is cutting education budgets and failing to invest in restorative justice, counselors, social workers and other supporting staff. All the while, funding is [going to] hiring hundreds of more police [officers] in schools. The mayor says we have to reduce school funding because there are lower enrollment numbers in schools. That does not mean we don’t need more resources. We need more funding, more supporting staff to ensure young people stay in school.”
NYC Mayor Eric Adams previously stated in an interview on Fox’s Good Day New York that he contested the suggestion that the budget for city public schools was being “cut”. Instead, Adams suggested that funding was instead being reallocated.
“We did not cut the budget for public schools,” Mayor Adams said on June 13. “We lost thousands of students from the Department of Education and there’s something called fair student funding. We’re going to have 100% of fair student funding. Nothing is more dysfunctional than paying for something that when you decrease the numbers, you have to readjust on based on the number of students you have. Every student will have 100% of fair student funding, and we’re using federal dollars to supplement the $250 million that people are talking about. And if the numbers go up, we’re going to put more money into the schools appropriately.”
Over the past five years, the DOE has lost an estimated 12,000 students. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the city utilized federal relief funds to help cover budgetary shortfalls. But since those funds are now heavily depleted, the Adams’ administration has returned to adjusting budgets based on the amount of students in each public school.
This decision angered parents and education experts.
“They are voting to cut all of our communities,” said parent speaker Natasha Capers during the rally. “They are voting to cut our children. I will stand here until we actually do what is needed, what is actually right by every student in New York City. When we do right by the 1.1 million children of this city. We are not the greatest of anything until we actually have those in power who use their power to empower our communities.”
Because of the budget cut, the previous hope for smaller class sizes and the expansion of after-school programs in the arts and sports teams are at risk.
NYC Comptroller Brad Lander previously criticized the cuts, stressing the need for increased support for students in the current economic climate.
“Our schools have endured the hardest two years and need every penny to provide the social, emotional, and academic supports that all our students deserve this summer and fall,” Lander said in a press release June 10. “We should not be forcing schools to implement sharp cuts to their budgets this summer.”