Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Cuts Get Cut -For Now

For perhaps the first time in New York City history, a judge overturned just part of a City Council approved law that pertained to the Education Department's budget. 

That's how much pushback team "Get Stuff Done" is going to have to deal with on matters involving education.

While an official court order is not expected to be issued until Friday, Judge Lyle Frank indicated that he will side with the two teachers and two parents who filed a lawsuit last month, which sought to invalidate the education department budget and force the City Council to take another vote. 

The lawsuit claimed the city did not follow the proper protocols before the council voted on the final budget, which included hundreds of millions in cuts to city schools 

The judge sad he's was going to write all this nonsense up and publish it tomorrow; that, by in large, the city had to spend the same amount that it had spent last year (in other words, with no cuts). The case is sure to be appealed and may well be overturned so this isn't over. In fact, it's not even a little over. 

A few takeaways:

1. City Hall made a rookie mistake. They won't make it again. Part of the city's defense was that it was allowed to use 'emergency authorization' to bypass PEP approval and make the cuts.  City lawyers detailed how 'emergency authorization' had been used for the past several years to pass budgets. It is this City Hall's first time ushering a budget through approval and, as it turns out, they forgot to cite a valid reason when they submitted for emergency authorization. Let's be honest. That's a rookie mistake. They won't make the same kind of mistake next time. Our side got lucky. 

2. City Hall Can (still) Use Emergency Authorization Anytime It Wants? What was the point of reforming the mayoral control law last Spring? I thought we all supported it because we wanted to ensure a more independent voice inside the PEP (including a voice from parents and community organizers and students and educators like). The law was changed to lessen the mayor's voice and power. What I didn't know until today's hearing was that all of those efforts used to reform the mayoral control law can be simply negated if someone submits a damn form that says "Emergency Authorization" on it.  

🍩 It's like a Thanos Snap. They submit that form and "SNAP" all that voice and passion from the communities and activist groups represented on the PEP is gone. 🍩

Shouldn't this be priority for any community based or parent or educator activist in this city. This tool -Emergency Authorization- takes away our voice. It is a legal tool that was used to negate the voices of people who aren't part of City Hall and who aren't part of Tweed. If, like the mayor says, we have to 'get back to normal', then we need to start with taking away the Emergency Authorization tool. 

3. No one know the total enrollment The DOE sites one number. The IBO cites another. The New York Post relied on IBO's number. Exactly nobody has relied on or used the DOE's number. Today, Chalkbeat New York cited a third number, and that citation was supported by a tweet from a person (a tweet!! A tweet was used as evidence to support a claim of how many students are enrolled in NYC public schools). This is a mess. It's the whole cause for budget cuts that are bound to last for years and it is impossible for a person to find an accurate, reliable number. I am not sure if the lower student enrolment is a real crisis or not, but the chaos surrounding an accurate number of enrolled students indicates that folks sure are acting like it's a crisis. 

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