The Campaign for Fiscal Equity ruling this summer raised our hopes that the city's schools would finally receive equitable and more adequate funding, but it's turning out not to be quite the banner year for school funding that some had hoped. First, Governor Spitzer reduced the amount of new money flowing to the city's schools. Now, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a $324 million reduction in the city's education budget, representing a 1.3 percent cut.
According to the Post, Bloomberg sees the cuts as an inducement for principals to spend more efficiently. Speaking as the business leader who amassed a fortune of nearly $12 billion (or $324 million, 37 times), Bloomberg said,
"I'm sorry. You can always cut 1.3 percent. In fact, it's healthy to go and say let's cut a little bit and force the principals and the teachers and the administrators to say, 'Is this program worth it?'"Bloomberg's sentiment is, of course, offensive to principals and teachers and administrators who are struggling to provide high-quality educations under difficult circumstances and who certainly don't think anything they're doing is worthless (except maybe confiscating cell phones and administering standardized tests under DOE orders). And more than that, it's offensive to children for whom every art class, field trip, and ounce of enrichment means something, even if those expenditures don't always immediately translate into improved "performance."
Elected leaders often have to make difficult decisions that adversely affect their constituents. We understand. But they don't have to sound happy about it.