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The Government's Role In City Schools
by:Aminah Roberts

The public schools of New York City are losing funding at rate not seen since the 1970s.
Budget cuts are leading to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s to plan to fire about 1,900 teachers and Governor George Pataki slashed the education aide by over a billion dollars during the 2003-2004 school year. This will not only make classes larger than they already are, but there will be even less money to renovate schools, pay for books, computers, etcetera. This is not fair for the millions of New York City students that will suffer because of this and the teachers who are already stuck with overcrowded classes.

Not only is it a problem that schools are not getting enough funding, but many students are failing state exams and their classes. Crime in some schools is as bad as it is on the streets. This is a very important reason to not cut school funding. By firing teachers, there will be more children bunched into classrooms, thus causing more problems. If the government was really for improving safety in schools it would not make cuts like these. It is sad that there are children with no new books in their schools, while selfishly the mayor is planning to build a stadium in lower Manhattan. The officials running for government should set there priorities straight and focus more on helping others rather than doing things for their personal pleasure. If this had been their intentions before, there would have fewer problems than there are now.

We constantly hear about the government making plans for improving education like the No Child Left Behind Act proposed by President Bush, but there is no progress seen. Mayor Michael Bloomberg even opened up alternative high schools saying that trouble students will go here as there last chance. But how can that be if students must stay in school until they are eighteen according to New York City law. There would be nowhere else for them to go so saying that this was there last chance is no help at all.

For some students if they have uncontrollable behavior they are sent to the special education program. Yet up until a while ago students were socially promoted. By sending mentally capable students into special programs and then promoted them, not much learning was accomplished. Now they have stopped social promotion so now students who never learned the material in previous grades have educational knowledge that is under there grade level. Now some high school students cannot read since the basics that they needed were never learned because they were promoted to the next grade without knowing the previous material.
Another troublesome thing that has been done is making it so that elementary students who do poorly on the tests are left back. This can be a problem especially for children who know the material in school but don’t know what is covered on the test. It was even said on the news that when more fourth graders passed the state reading test than was expected, they were forced to take it over because “a mistake must have been made”. The irony to this is that while officials constantly claim that they want the students to do well. When improvement is seen something is done to mess the students progress up.

When interviewing high school students and recent graduates, I found they had different experiences with the cuts in education but all felt the same way when it came to the fact that schools need more, not less, funding. For me personally my school, Brooklyn Technical High School may not have loss as much funding as others but they did have a lack of tutoring for certain classes and up until later in the school year, some of the bathroom stalls had broken locks or no doors at all. One student who attends Urban Academy and is about to be promoted to the eleventh grade, said that her school was losing classes and teachers and that there is not even enough money for teams to have jerseys and equipment.

A student from Martin Luther King High School said that all of the extracurricular activities that were promised to them were never made because of loss of funding. Someone from George W. Wingate said that since the school is considered an especially bad one, no funding is given that all of the books are old, the gym is never clean and they have tried numerous times to close down the school. Art and Design according to one student is losing its art classes! This is especially bad for a school that is founded on teaching its students a variety of different creative works. No matter what their experiences were, all of the teens I interviewed felt that it wasn’t right for the government to stop funding education, which is a very important of life. Politicians should care more for the welfare of future generations than for petty things such as rebuilding downtown Manhattan.
IA few days later, I conducted an interview with a teacher. She said that certain individuals will be affected the most by the loss of funding in education, so hopefully no more cuts will be made. When asked what she thought should be the solution her response was, “The state should give more money to the city to close the resource gap.”

I later interviewed politician Bill Perkins. When asked how he felt about the cuts his response was, “The cuts are bad because money should be added and not subtracted from education. What the governor and mayor are doing is shameful.” He said that the Board of Education should have the parents involved in more ways and that in order to fight the cuts people should register to vote, send letters to the mayor and governor, and also write to council members. When questioned about what effect giving more funding to schools may have on taxes, he said that taxes will increase for a short time since a deficit of billions of dollars is in the school budget, but will then go back to as they were previously,..

The Board of Education and government officials say they want to improve education, yet they try to spend money carelessly, make things harder in the schools than they already are, and then come up with statistics to make it seem as if much progress is being made. But instead students are in threat of doing even worst especially with the tests given to the fourth graders, the future increase of the number of students per class and teachers being laid off. Some more responsible individuals need to take charge of the education system. If not then millions of children of this generation and younger will have it rough both in school and at the work place.

© Copyright 2004

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