Parents fight school budget cuts

Brooklyn parents came out in force last week to protest the state’s proposed $1 billion cut in school funding.

“The proposed budget would cut $11,677 from classrooms across this state,” said Zakiyah Ansari, a mother of District 22 students and a member of the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE).

According to reports, each New York City school district would lose about five percent of its funding, for a total of nearly $500 million. Governor David Paterson proposed the budget cuts in response to the state’s financial woes.

As schools have already endured budget cuts, parents say this latest round would be devastating.

“Many of our children are already in schools with overcrowded classrooms, without textbooks, art programs or tutoring programs,” Ansari said. “We as parents will not sit back quietly and allow these cuts on top of the broken promise. We must provide the funding necessary for real and urgent school reform. Our children deserve the best education possible and the first step is funding our schools, not cutting them.”

Many schools have slashed programs because of budget cuts.

According to the independent education Web site, http://gothamschools.org, John Dewey High School in Gravesend has lost teachers and a tutoring program, I.S. 68 in Canarsie lost an after-school math program, and P.S. 179 in Kensington increased class size in fourth and fifth grades.

“If the governor’s proposed cuts are not reversed, important educational programs our children depend on to meet the challenges of the 21st century will be under funded and/or eliminated. Our children depend on this funding for smaller classrooms, middle grade improvement, after-school programs, and English Language Learner programs,” said Ronnette Summers, a member of the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ), a Brooklyn-based alliance of parent organizations.

Summers added, “Our legislators must raise revenue to ensure that the $1.4 billion education funding cut to NYC children can be stopped!”