Letter


SLTs United
School Leadership Teams of NYC

Mayor deBlasio bdeblasio@cityhall.nyc.gov
Comptroller Scott Stringer action@comptroller.nyc.gov
Council Speaker Corey Johnson SpeakerJohnson@council.nyc.gov
Councilperson Daniel Dromm dromm@council.nyc.gov
Councilperson Mark Treyger MTreyger@council.nyc.gov
Chancellor Carranza nycchancellor@schools.nyc.gov

CC: All Members of the New York City Council

Dear Mayor deBlasio, Comptroller Stringer, Speaker Johnson, Councilperson Treyger, and Chancellor Carranza:

We, the School Leadership Teams of the undersigned schools, write as communities that are profoundly distressed by what the proposed budget cuts to education spending will mean for our children’s futures. We are distraught that our teachers will be the next first responders set up for failure, the next essential workers required to carry unbearably heavy burdens. We reject the proposal that our children, already traumatized by the pandemic experience, will return to schools with fewer resources at a time when they need more.

We know what it takes to lead successful and enriching schools. We know the struggles schools faced—before Covid-19—with insufficient funding and inadequate support for basics such as arts instruction, counseling, and other supportive services. We are intimately familiar with the inequities of how our public schools are funded, a system which leaves students behind and makes achieving excellence a challenge.

Throughout the lockdown, parents have come to understand more fully than ever before what key roles our teachers play in our children’s lives. We have watched as our children have struggled, both academically and emotionally, without the guidance and structure their teachers and their school communities provide. We know our kids will be returning to school traumatized.

We know that many of our most vulnerable children will have lost family and friends to this virus. New York City’s public school students will need more—not less—care, attention, and resources when they return to their school buildings, whenever that may be.

And yet, despite all of this, we now understand that the City is proposing the most draconian cuts to education spending in recent memory—and that those cuts will fall most heavily on the schools themselves, on their staffs and support structures, including cuts to counseling services, professional development funds, and day-to-day school operating budgets.

To this we say: ENOUGH.

We know with absolute certainty that our city’s children will return to school in September struggling to make sense of the past eight months. These children, the sons and daughters of the workers we hope will restart our economy, will need MORE support not less. They will need more art classes, more social workers, and more guidance counselors. They will need their teachers and administrators. All of them. To provide the level of academic instruction as well as social and emotional support required to restore our children’s education—and their parents’ ability to focus on restoring the city’s economy through their work—we believe we must increase school funding for the coming year.

We demand a reset. The current budget proposal must be rejected. Before a single dollar is taken from our schools’ budgets, every contract with an outside agency must be scrutinized, and, where necessary, cut or terminated. Before we lose a single social worker or administrator from our school buildings, we demand that central office functions be evaluated and eliminated until only the most essential jobs are retained. While layers of superintendents, coaches, and evaluators might play a role in a fully funded system, that is not the case now. Funding must be concentrated in the places where the students are—in the schools themselves.

We demand that our school communities be left whole, and that support for them be enhanced rather than withdrawn. Our children and their families deserve no less.

Sincerely,

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