Monday, November 17, 2008

Children First

Governor Paterson is facing a huge budget deficit, and he's boldly stood up and sacrificed schoolchildren and Medicaid recipients in order to help make up for it. When he took office, he very publicly announced that taxes on the rich were out of the question. After all, rich people are accustomed to having money, and would certainly notice if they had less of it. Schoolkids and Medicaid recipients can always wait for it to trickle down, and may as well get used to it now.

Mayor Bloomberg is following in the Governor's footsteps, and in the spirit of "Children First," has cut budgets for children immediately:

Smaller schools such as the Center School on the upper West Side will take a hit of about $20,000 while larger schools such as DeWitt Clinton in the northwest Bronx will lose close to $400,000.

It gets worse next year: Public School 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, will see a cut of about $115,000 this year and an estimated $285,000 next year.

Interesting that the Tweedies are always pitting the needs of teachers against the needs of children. Actually, both teachers and children need well-financed, well-supplied schools, but the adults who run the schools are denying them all. And apparently, the facilities in the city are too clean and well-maintained, so they're taking action on that front as well:

There will be a $4.1 million slash in school maintenance spending on top of the $10.5 million lost in the spring. The overall repair budget has been cut by $95 million in the last 10 years, according to the custodians union, which has meant a reduction of 1,100 cleaners.

Parents at PS 184 in lower Manhattan donated air conditioners and raised money to have the building rewired last year.

"They only have a bare bones maintenance and repair budget," said Tony Tung, a member of the PTA. "They can't cut any more."

Of course they can. After all, Mayor Bloomberg's already committed to dumping tens of thousands of kids into trailers well past their expiration dates, so what's a little more dust and grime going to do? Fortunately, Mayor Mike has left ample funds for important projects, like these:

Among the programs funded by the $352.8 million are in-class testing, an $80 million computer system to track student progress, and the Education Department's controversial report cards, which assign grades to city schools.

After all, how could the Mayor devote any serious money to class size or overcrowding reduction during bad times? What better evidence for this than the fact that during better times, this mayor and chancellor did nothing whatsoever to alleviate these problems?

Fortunately, more important projects will benefit all New Yorkers, and baseball will not be affected in any way by either state or city cuts. Times are tough everywhere, and you certainly can't be frittering away valuable funds on classrooms when there are still seven unsold luxury boxes at New Yankee Stadium. The rich really need that money--which is just one more reason to balance the budget on the backs of the working poor.

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