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Mayor should avoid cuts to education in city’s ‘09 city budget

It is imperative we stop the potentially devastating education budget cuts Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed in next year's city budget.

Bloomberg's short-sightedness is shameful at best. It is hard to believe he, Deputy Mayor for Policy Dennis Walcott and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein feel it is in the city's best interests to shortchange our children's education especially in this era of global job and market competition.

The city Department of Education should reduce its public relations department, which is used to spin the truth and convince city citizens that Bloomberg and Klein are doing a great job when the evidence points to the contrary. Bloomberg has failed our children with his power grab for control of the school system.

Parents and education advocates have been successful through lobbying, phone calls, letters and unity with the Keep the Promise coalition to stop the education funding cuts in the state budget. We must do the same in the city budget.

Gov. David Paterson and the state Legislature have seen the light in restoring all the education cuts to the recent state budget and fulfilled their obligation in delivering the second installment of the four-year funding increase commitment to resolve the CFE lawsuit, along with strong accountability measures.

We must keep the pressure on the City Council, which must negotiate for the full restoration of education funding with the mayor before voting to approve the city budget by the mid-June deadline.

Parent groups citywide are calling for a "Mobilization Week" (May 19 to May 23) to lobby elected officials. The Keep the Promise coalition is also planning additional advocacy activities to pressure the mayor and City Council.

I urge that parents contact all members of the Queens City Council delegation to set up lobbying appointments in their district offices, invite them to your PTA meetings and make phone calls and send letters to them as soon as possible.

In addition, parents and all concerned citizens should send letters and lobby Bloomberg's office, Borough President Helen Marshall, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, City Comptroller William Thompson Jr., City Council Education Committee Chairman Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan) and City Council Finance Committee Chairman David Weprin (D-Hollis).

I implore all concerned parties to participate in other activities, such as planned rallies, and show their support by attending an overnight vigil at City Hall, which is being organized to send a message to Bloomberg and the Council that funding education cuts are unacceptable to city voters.

The time for action is now. We cannot let our children down.

David M. Quintana

Ozone Park

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