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Posted: June 10, 2002

Protesters to Mayor:
"If You Want To Run It, Fund It"

by Danya Steele


I won't talk to you to death with my usual editorial intro. You have more important things to read...like the rest of this report. I set out to do a simple Pulse of the People piece and got back an earful! This became more than a regular POP; it's an education story! Who ever said teens are nonchalant and ambivalent to the world around them? This reporter came into contact with five dynamic teens who all had PLENTY to say about the latest budget cut proposal by Mayor Bloomberg. Without further ado, check out the scoop!
Name: Reuben Quansah
Age: 17
Location: Bronx, NY
Student @ NYC Private High School

What do you know of the most recent 1.2 million Board of Ed Budget Cut Proposal?
The budget is being cut because of the limited amount of money in the overall city budget...also because of the money needed to provide teachers with the raise that they've wanted. I've been reading up on this Bloomberg guy in terms of the new powerful position he is trying to create for himself. It leaves me wondering what will possibly happen years from now with all the control this guy may have.

What was your initial reaction upon hearing of the cuts as catholic high school student? The budget cuts don't directly affect your did they?
Well in terms of that budget, I don't think it has really affected me. I do believe it's unfortunate, however.

Despite that, this is still your city, isn't it? What do you think the most recent budget cuts forecast for the future of NYC education?
Well I think that they may lose some highly qualified teachers and I feel that in the long term, NYC education will improve, but in the short term...it's gonna' suffer a bit.

What makes you think it'll improve in time?
Well I think with time, the economy will get better and thus providing more funding.

Do u think this is truly a matter of economy? The NYC Bd. of Ed has been troubled for some time now, even when the economy was "booming."

Well then...I think it's more an issue of the current situation than the economy. I feel that it'll get better when the people who put their children in the schools have a lil' more control and when teachers have better qualifications...or when the rich of this city (or some other city) find some way of making a profit out of our school system.

Why do you rely on external sources [the rich of this city or other cities] to take care of a problem that afflicts you as a NYC resident? You don't think as a young person, this is YOUR issue to tackle?
I rather not get into the grain of this topic because my knowledge on this particular issue isn't as much as it should be...

Ok...well from what you do know, what would you suggest as a possible solution?
Get more parents involved. I believe that taxpayers and those parents who send their children to high school through the public system lack an awareness of what is going on and/or there are many parents who do not have the knowledge or the power to make any changes because of obstacles that may be plaguing them in this city full of issues.

Name: Christen James
Age: 17
Location: New York, NY
Student @ NYC Public High School; Book Author

Have you heard about the cities proposed budget cuts?
I know that Mayor Bloomberg is proposing a 1.2 billion dollar cut from city schools.

Immediate Reaction?
The proposed cuts are outrageous. The NYC public schools have been in dire straits as long as I can remember. To propose an additional 1.2 BILLION dollar cut is preposterous.

You're a senior preparing for graduation. As you embark on your departure from the NYC Board of Education, you have friends and family members who are preparing for their arrival. What do you think this budget cut implies for their future?
Well, it could mean a numbers of things. No matter what, NYC public schools students will definitely be at a severe disadvantage. As it is now, there are many NYC students who do not have even have the bare essentials required for learning such as text books and desks. I cannot imagine it getting worse.

What do you believe this says about Bloomberg's priorities within education?
The NYC Board of Ed's answer to any problems that arise in the public school system are to "make it go away." A perfect example of that is the closing of Martin Luther King High School. It is outrageous that officials are not just willing to take the time to resolve these problems that have been afflicting the public school system since the beginning of time. When the annual budget needs to be determined, the first thing that is cut is education.
Bloomberg's educational priorities are nonexistent.

Possible Solution?
I am not aware of the current state deficit so I am really not qualified to suggest an alternative in terms of determining a financial solution that can prevent education budget cuts. However, I will say this: NYC residents and public schools students need to let the powers that be know that the cuts are unacceptable and that they will not be tolerated. Once that goal is achieved, everything will be just fine.

Do you honestly believe this? People have been complaining for ages...
Yes, people have been complaining, but they haven't been complaining EFFECTIVELY. There is a difference. . .

And what would be an efficient form of complaint?
The power of the pen. Instead of gathering people for rallies and complaining to each other, a letter writing campaign needs to be established. Students need to write to Mayor Bloomberg and let him know just what will happen if this budget cut goes through. If the Mayor is not willing to answer, write to Governor Pataki or Senator Clinton. If you still do not get an answer, write to President Bush.

Public protests bring issues of concern to a mainstream level of attention. Do you disagree that this is one aspect of an effective form of communication/change/activism?
I do not disagree. I believe that protesting alone is ineffective. Something must be done in addition to protesting and rallying. If Mayor Bloomberg thinks that his chances of being reelected are at risk. . . he'll listen, or he won't be the Mayor anymore. Lets not forget that he can be impeached.

Do you believe in the possibility that he's powerful/wealthy enough to not care?
Trust me; he cares. Money isn't everything. The reason he has that money is because of his reputation. He may not [care for] a second run, but what if his first run is cut short? If the people are unhappy with his leadership, he'll be out of there. He works for us. . .NYC residents. Lots of elected officials seem to forget that; they need to be reminded. Bloomberg thinks that because his kids are fortunate enough to get their education in private facilities that the rest of us should suffer; he needs to be reminded just how tough New Yorker's are...especially when it comes to our children's education.



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