New York, N.Y. (June 29th, 2020) – Parents from the NYC Coalition of Educational Justice (CEJ) and the Alliance for Quality Education joined by Education Activist and former gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, public school teacher and soon to be State Senator Jabari Brisport and others to express their outrage over proposed cuts to public schools said to be in the $1 billion range, and demand City leaders adopt real cuts to the NYPD budget — including headcount — instead of devastating cuts to schools.
At a time when schools need added resources in order to be able to open in the Fall and provide a safe learning environment for the city’s 1.1 million school children, cutting the education budget represents a direct attack on the futures of Black and Brown children. As budget negotiations come to an end, it is clear that Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson and the New York City Council are prepared to execute educational neglect to the 1.1 million public schoolchildren by gutting the education budget while continuing to protect the NYPD budget.
Budgets are a reflection of priorities. Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson and the City Council have chosen to continue to grossly overfund the NYPD while putting the future of children on the chopping block. Our Black and Brown communities have borne the brunt of COVID-19 more than any others. Imposing unprecedented, enormous cuts to schools on top of decades of underfunding will deliver another devastating blow to those who need help the most at this time. Speaker Johnson and the entire city council must vote NO on this budget until there are at least $1 Billion in cuts from the NYPD budget — including headcount — and direct investment in public education to fill in the glaring gaps in funding and allow schools to reopen safely in the Fall. Anything less is a betrayal to the children of this city.
“The funding of our public schools and youth services is the kind of protection our children need to feel safe and valued especially during a pandemic. The proposed education cuts of more than $800 million will once again leave Black, brown and poor children behind,” said Zakiyah Ansari, AQE’s Advocacy Director. “We demand NYC City Council, Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor de Blasio prioritize the children of NYC and Defund the NYPD by at least $1 billion.”
“The Mayor and Corey Johnson are playing political budget games with the safety and mental health of our students, especially at schools that serve Black and Brown students,” said David Garcia Rosen, Restorative Justice Dean at Bronx Letters High School. “Instead of focusing on locking our students up, they need to fully restore the Single Shepherd counseling program, and prioritize the mental health of our students.”
“Our Mayor and Speaker of the City Council are doing the bidding of the NYPD and going all in to ensure that not one officer is laid off, choosing instead to impose devastating cuts to schools that will make it all but impossible to open up safely in the Fall. School children, especially in Black and brown communities have already born the brunt of COVID-19 — this is a time to invest in their future and not deal them another body blow after everything they’ve endured this year” said actor and education advocate Cynthia Nixon.
“It’s easy to be progressive in times of surplus, but in the middle of a budget crisis, it is all the more important to stand by progressive values. Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic has put extraordinary strain on the city’s finances, and in accounting for this, human responsibility must be paramount. Drastic cuts to education and youth services would be short-sighted and deeply damaging to the future of our young people and our city. We have to meet financial need while preventing human cost,” said NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
“Enough is enough. Our students already attend overcrowded, underfunded schools where they’re squeezed into classrooms that are falling apart. Meanwhile, the NYPD has helicopters and riot gear to spare. The City Council must reject budget cuts to Education. Defund the NYPD,” said Jabari Brisport, incoming State Senator.
“NYC public schools currently isolate many students of color, rely on racist and classist admissions policies, and have perpetuated school segregation and heavy policing. We as students demand that NYC public schools must divest in policing and invest in more restorative practices, counselors, social workers, and us students instead.” said Dekaila Wilson, Director of Decriminalization, IntegrateNYC. “We as students will combine our efforts and continue to fight to dismantle the school to prison pipeline that criminalizes us and puts us at a disadvantage. We are students, not suspects.”
“What we are witnessing with this budget and nearly a billion dollars in cuts is the destruction of the NYC’s school system.” said Natasha Capers, Director of the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice. Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Corey Johnson and the entire NY City Council have shown their lack of care for the students of NYC. These cuts are horrific and systemic educational neglect.
“We need social and emotional supports for children, not the criminalization of our children, we need to invest in Healing Practices and Divest in institutions and practices that are harming our students and families. It is unconscionable that the City of New York would let go social workers and counselors while continuing to fund the NYPD. As a mother of children with IEPs in District Schools and in D75, I know our children need more support after this crisis, not less. FUND NYC SCHOOLS NOW, Counselors not Cops, Police Free Schools for NYC!” said Grisel Cardona, parent leader New Settlement Apartments Parent Action Committee.