The mayor's choice: a budget which puts children last

With his budget proposal this morning, the mayor tried to pass the buck today to the state and the federal government, blaming them for his proposal to eliminate over 6,000 teaching positions -- one twelfth of the teaching force ---larger layoffs than have occurred in more than thirty years.  What happened to mayoral accountability?
And yet he added that if the state provided extra funding or mandate relief, he would not necessarily restore teaching positions, but he might spend the money on the police or fire department instead.
Bloomberg said he was “very sympathetic” to Gov. Cuomo, but he mentioned no sympathy for NYC children, who will have to bear the brunt of these cuts in the form of the largest increases in class size in at least thirty years.  While he commented that he would not put city's fiscal "future at risk," he seems all too willing to put our kids' futures at risk instead.  
At the same time he is slashing 6,000 teaching positions and doing irreparable harm to our kids, he is adding to the budget in other ways: 
The Bloomberg administration plans to announce that it will open 10 new senior centers, each serving 250 to 300 people.
Already in the last three years, students in grades K-3 have experienced  class size increases of 10%; leading to the largest class sizes in over a decade.  More than a third of all Kindergarten students are now squeezed into classes of 25 or larger. Why should they have to suffer any more?  This is not a budget which puts children first.
He offered not a single proposal to control the rapid growth in DOE contracts and consultants, amounting to  $4.5 billion for next year, an increase of more than $600 million from this year.  This $600 million increase  would save all our teaching positions and more.  (see chart to the right)
The rapid growth of these contracts and the DOE’s lax oversight has led to repeated allegations of waste, mismanagement and corruption, including more than $3 million in stolen funds from one DOE tech contract, and another tech contract that has gone tens of millions of dollars over budget, with reports that a high-level DOE supervisor had a personal relationship with the consultant
Nor does he have any plans to cut  the growing headcount of the central and mid level DOE bureaucracies, but instead targets  all reductions to the classroom. 
In the next year alone, the DOE plans to spend more than half a billion dollars on technology in its capital plan, with $350 million to buy computers to implement more online learning and testing. 
Their ultimate goal seems to be depriving our students any contact with a real live teacher, but to put them all on machines instead.
The Mayor claims he has no choice, but this is yet another excuse for lack of leadership.  He has many choices which he refuses to acknowledge:
  • He could choose to make the cuts elsewhere in the overall city budget, or DOE spending, including the many billions of dollars on central, contracts, consultants and computers.
  • He could choose to draw from the $2 billion still remaining in the city’s health care reserve.
  • He could choose to support the retention of the millionaire’s tax, either on the state or city level.
The wealth and share of income of the city’s richest one percent is still expanding rapidly, but the mayor chooses not to ask that they contribute their fair share. Though a millionaire’s tax on city residents would also need Albany’s assent, it would be a far better choice  than continuing to push the elimination of teacher seniority protections, which has little chance of being approved.  

Instead, has chosen to make our children pay the price.

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