I thought it was appropriate to begin my remarks with a quote from Joe Biden –
“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” Since my remarks had to be made without being able to see the budget being presented today, I decided to highlight some things that should be valued and as a result seen in this budget.
- Teachers should be valued and a fair and speedy contract should be seen in this budget
- School Libraries and certified school librarians should be valued and should be seen in this budget. Not as a supposed “choice” from principals faced with cutting off a finger or a toe but as a line item supplied by the district. Plenty of research supports the value and worth of school libraries staffed with certified school librarians.
- Class size should be valued so in this budget should reflect staffing levels that will not disrupt instruction, cause split grades and accommodate the needs of early literacy and children suffering trauma.
- School quality should be valued (As this body so often touts in its relentless quest for privatization), so we should see in this budget the plans to address the recommendations of non-renewal by your own charter school office for Aspira Olney, Aspira, Stetson, Universal Audenried, Universal Vare, as well as Mastery Shoemaker, Clymer, and Gratz.
- Standard ratios of nurse to student and counselor to student numbers should be valued so we should see in this budget an adherence to those ratios in all schools.
- The impact of trauma should be valued so we should see the supports and training necessary to sustain those children in this budget.
I value democracy. I believe quality public education and not a system of fake choices is a cornerstone of democracy. Both are being eroded and jeopardized in our city. The very existence of this body is a glaring example of a lack of democracy. This budget will no doubt fail to reflect democratic values for our students and will instead reflect a free-market ideology that does not value the “common good.” But, at least many of the speakers here today are bearing public witness to what a just budget should include.