Misinformation Leads to Protests Against School Budget Cuts
Protesters disrupted a “Community Conversation Meeting on Public Safety” hosted by Mayor Eric Adams in Upper Manhattan on Monday, July 11th. This was the second meeting held in two weeks, with the previous meeting taking place in Brooklyn.
The attendees of the meeting included city agency heads, community members, clergy, violence interrupter groups, youth, and parents.
The priorities for everyone were to work together to address rampant gun violence and crime; support our youth through employment and programs to keep them off the street and away from gangs; school safety; provide resources to families, and improve relations between the community and the NYPD.
The agenda for the protesters was to disrupt the meeting and protest the budget cuts some schools will have due to under-enrollment. New York City has lost over 100,000 students in the past couple of years.
Families are fleeing the public schools and enrolling their children in charter and parochial schools because they know their children are not being properly educated. 65% of Black and Hispanic students do not read, write, or do math at grade level. Students are graduating illiterate and innumerate.
The protesters, mostly teachers, and individuals affiliated with groups aligned and funded by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), disrupted the meeting falsely claiming Mayor Adams is defunding schools.
According to reports, individual schools will suffer budget cuts that are determined by the Fair Student Funding formula. The proposed cut to the New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) budget is .69% of the current $31 billion budget.
Insights on protests Against School Budget Cuts…
The budget cuts are due mainly to a drop in enrollment. If students are taken out of a school, the money from the Fair Student Funding follows them out, resulting in a loss of funding when a mass exodus of students occurs, which happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather than explain the funds as being tied to the students, the false narrative being pushed by the UFT and its allies is that budget cuts will result in teachers and school staff losing their jobs and learning programs being canceled.
The truth is that there has been a massive drop in enrollment. The truth is no teachers are losing their jobs. Teachers are being “excessed” at schools with low enrollment and are being moved to other schools that have more students enrolled to teach.
The school funding, that protestors were demanding be returned to schools, is given to schools based on their enrollment. Parents have removed their kids from public schools because they were not learning.
Reports from the New York State Department of Education saw a 10% loss in students from 2019. There was a 14% decrease in the Black population of students between 2019 – 2020.
During that time, there was also an 11% decrease in the White population, a 9% decrease in Hispanic students, and a 6% decrease in Asian students.
On Friday, July 15th, the DOE released new data projecting a loss of 30,000 students by the fall.
The UFT has claimed that if schools lose their funds, they will not have money to pay teachers, with them subsequently losing their jobs.
The protesters disrupted the meeting chanting and holding up posters with anti-budget cut wording. One of the protesters who disrupted the meeting drew a reaction from Mayor Adams.
“See, this is the clown, and this is what we’re up against — people want to spend time being disruptive, that’s what people want to do. But we got to stay focused, and not get distracted.”
Adams was criticized for his choice of words but defended his actions when questioned at a later public appearance.
“When you stand up and yell while your neighbors are talking and attempting to solve a problem, then you turn the place into a circus — and one of the people in the circus is a clown,” said Adams.
In an interview with NY1, Chancellor Banks said, “It’s not feasible to continue funding schools as if they haven’t lost students.”
Still on protests Against School Budget Cuts…
The primary source of school budgets has been affected by the Fair Student Funding formula. The formula determines the school budget by looking at the number of students in a specific school.
Enrollment throughout the city has been in decline since before the COVID-19 pandemic. In the interview with NY1, Banks said, “I was just talking to a school today [that] went from having 300 kids to having now about 45 students that are actually coming in this year. It’s a dramatic loss of students, so I can’t give them the same budget they would have had otherwise.”
Some City Council members have come forward backing Banks and Adams and acknowledging the UFT’s role in the spread of misinformation and fear. In a joint statement with members of the City Council, they said, “We agree with our Council colleagues that the Department of Education and the Mayor’s Office should come to the table to discuss with us how we can improve the school funding formula in the future, to provide us with all the necessary data the agency used to arrive at the individual school budgets this year, and to clarify what remaining federal funding is potentially available to fill any budget gaps.”
The statement continued, “But any good faith negotiations must start with the UFT acknowledging its role in helping to create the enrollment and staffing crisis at DOE that got us here…school discipline and academic merit, which forced tens of thousands of parents to send their children to private and non-city schools.”
The minority delegation of City Council members concluded, “If the UFT is now unhappy with the Fiscal Year 2023 DOE budget – a budget it explicitly and enthusiastically endorsed prior to its adoption – they have no one to blame but themselves.
We suggest they work collaboratively with the Council and the Mayor’s Office to rectify it, rather than playing a cynical shell game to try to drum up panic in our communities.”
Rather than acknowledge the role that the UFT has played in failing the majority of students in New York City, they have pushed their agenda onto the public, turning many against Adams and Banks who inherited an already broken system.