This pandemic has exposed the inequalities in our society, and nowhere more than in our public schools. Governor Andrew Cuomo, hailed as a hero for his handling of the state’s pandemic response, has overseen a supposedly temporary 20% cut in his payments to school districts since this summer.
In New York, the decrease would represent a loss of $ 2.3 billion to schools over the next year. The city’s schools chancellor Richard Carranza said the cuts, if permanent, would mean “game over” for in-person learning, and lead to curriculum cuts and 9,000 layoffs at the Ministry of Education. Education.
Yet the governor has resisted the tax increase of the state’s 118 billionaires (up from 112 last year), who saw their collective wealth rise by $ 77 billion during the pandemic, a figure that overshadows the deficit. expected state budget of $ 14.5 billion this year.
Even before the pandemic, New York state was second in the country in inequalities in education funding – with wealthy districts receiving an average of $ 10,000 more per student than poor districts. (The state’s inability to fairly and fully fund New York’s low-income school districts motivated me to run for governor in 2018.)
The city has compounded the continued divestment in our public schools. Last June, Mayor Bill de Blasio and city council spent nearly $ 1 billion in cuts and savings in the education budget. Coupled with state cuts, schools are now facing a staggering $ 3.3 billion cut.
The mayor has been blocked by the governor and his own political miscalculations and leadership failures. While experts warned of a pandemic earlier this year, the mayor, echoing Mr Cuomo’s confidence that the virus could be contained, has resisted calls to close schools.
At the beginning of May, at least 74 employees of the Ministry of Education had died in connection with Covid. (Columbia researchers found that if the city had closed even a week before March 16, when schools were eventually closed, some 18,500 Covid deaths citywide could have been prevented.)