More than 1,200 New York City schools would lose vital federal funding should President-elect Donald Trump follow through on his campaign promise to launch a national private-school voucher plan, UFT President Michael Mulgrew warned.
A UFT analysis found that more than 700,000 students across all five boroughs likely would have to deal with higher class sizes, fewer teachers and the loss of after-school programs since — while the president-elect hasn’t specified where he would get the $20 billion he pledged to spend on a voucher program — more than $500 million in federal Title I money that New York City public schools receive would be in jeopardy.
This Title I money is specifically targeted to aid poor students and helps New York City serve its neediest, mostly minority students. But losing those federal funds would affect the entire school system, Mulgrew said.
“If the school system had to make up a $500 million loss of Title I funds — money that helps defray the costs of teachers, guidance counselors, aides and administrators — more than these schools would suffer,” Mulgrew said. “The damage would spread through the system, raising class sizes even in non-Title I schools, threatening academic enrichment programs, guidance, art and music and other services our children depend on.”
Trump’s choice for education secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is an ardent supporter of voucher schemes and for-profit charter schools.
Congressional Republicans have targeted Title I money in the past, saying they wanted to give states flexibility in how they use them.
Under federal education law, a total of $15 billion in Title I funds is allocated nationwide to schools that serve large numbers of disadvantaged students. Without Title I money, the UFT report found, 1,265 New York City schools would lose funding. Some large high schools would be particularly hard hit. Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton, New Utrecht and Franklin D. Roosevelt each would lose more than $2 million.
“It would be a disaster if we lost our Title I,” said Maria Bucca, the chapter leader at Madison HS in Brooklyn, which would lose just under $2 million. “We have 49 different languages being spoken in this building and Title I has allowed us to provide a smaller teacher-student ratio as well as after-school programs to give these students the extra help they need.”
Programs at Madison that help non-English-speaking parents learn what is expected of their children and what they need to apply for colleges would also be at risk, Bucca said.
More than 900 elementary and middle schools across the city also would be affected, with more than a dozen of them losing roughly $1 million each.
PS 105 in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where 50 percent of the students are English language learners, stands to lose just under $1.3 million. Chapter Leader Kathleen Riordan said the school’s after-school violin and dance classes would be in jeopardy, as would after-school and Saturday English as a new language programs that help students prepare for state tests. With that funding cut, whiteboards, laptops and other high-tech tools also would become unaffordable, Riordan said.