NYC Council’s gripes on school cuts come with an extra heaping of audacity


It’s not unusual that City Councilmembers are griping over some modest spending cuts for schools; as pawns of the teachers union, they’re always going to demand more money for schools. Yet their complaints this year come with an extra dose of audacity.

For one thing, the councilmembers themselves approved this year’s $101 billion city budget, which includes a modest $215 million in cuts for the city’s Department of Education. Now they’re turning around and blaming DOE mismanagement.

Yet the cuts represent a mere 0.7% of the agency’s $31 billion budget, certainly in line with falling enrollments. And don’t forget: Some of the schools’ budget last year came from DC via COVID-relief funds, to pay for extra pandemic-related costs. The pandemic’s over, so a slightly smaller budget is to be expected.

Get this, too: The mayor’s office says per-pupil spending will actually rise to $31,434, up from pre-pandemic figures — the highest of any big city in the nation. (And the DOE has another $4.3 billion in unspent federal COVID stimulus money to spend by 2025.)

NYC classroom
Last year’s budget included additional COVID-19 funding.
Getty Images

Then there’s Schools Chancellor David Banks’ point: DOE “has a $31 billion annual budget … and yet we have 65% of Black and brown children who never achieve proficiency.” He calls that “outrageous” — a “betrayal.”

Council members who truly care about kids ought to be railing, like Banks, not about cuts but about the poor quality of education schools provide despite all those billions.


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