Friday, March 25, 2011
Dear Governor Cuomo
I voted for you, but I didn't vote for this. I know teachers have become the new villians in the fiscal crisis all around the country, but I thought you were better than that. Why did I allow myself to think that you would see public education as an essential ingredient in fostering the American Dream? Or that you would value programs that keep kids off the streets and engaged in school?
Perhaps you didn't realize the toll this would take on local school districts, many of which already face tough choices between offering AP Courses or world languages, computers or sports. Long Island prides itself on its schools and has the highest rate of high school graduates who go on to secondary education. We send a greater percentage of tax revenue to Albany, but get back less. Our reward? An 11% cut in state aid coupled with a tax cap that will cripple school districts. Schools in low wealth areas who rely more heavily on state aid, will cut more programs, and that student who may have found his way out of poverty, inspired by an art class or a science club, will never have that chance. He will never know what opportunities he will have missed. Now multiply that by the many children your policy will impact, and you can see why so many people turned out at last night's rally at Hofstra University. Concerned parents, grandparents, educators, and community members showed up to say that our children deserve better. Investing in our future will yield better results. If you need dollars and cents to justify your budget, think about this. For every year of education a child receives, for every enriching experience, she will in turn get a better job and become a more productive (and taxpaying) member of society.
I know you are going to tell me that we all need to 'tighten the belt', but this type of class warfare, balancing budgets on the most vulnerable members of society, is dangerous business. As it stands, we Long Islanders have local control over our districts. Your proposal of a tax cap, without mandate relief denies us this right. School boards, superintendents, the community-- don't they have a say in setting their own budgets?