It’s budget time for schools across the country. Schools face higher demands and reduced support. And the news in Paterson isn’t any better. While our budget increased by $14 million, its buying power is less. For example, we will lose 250 staff members next year. It’s not just the jobs that matter. It’s what doesn’t happen for our children.
The impact on our children will be considerable: larger class sizes, fewer electives and special courses, shared librarians and art and music teachers, reduced numbers of afterschool and summer programs, just to name a few.
It didn’t have to be this way. If the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 were fully funded, Paterson would have an additional $54 million for provide more services to our children. These are services that our children will not receive any other way. Our parents don’t have the money for afterschool enrichment classes or tutors for their children. If a service is not available at school or church, most of our children don’t receive it. The cumulative effect of this lack of opportunity is predictable. Paterson children will achieve less because they lack access to the supports they need in order to soar.
I await the ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court with my eyes on the prize: an education that helps our children build a bright future. Not just for them, but for all of us.
BTW, want to know more about the Paterson budget? I’ll be giving a workshop for the Paterson Education Organizing Committee on the evening of April 14. Want a presentation for your organization? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.