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Wall Street Eyed as Solution to NY Education Budget Cuts

April 8, 2010

NEW YORK, N.Y. - More protests are planned today in Central New York against planned billion-dollar-plus education budget cuts. Demonstrators hope to deliver the message to state Senate Democrats that they should consider taxing Wall Street before balancing the budget "on the backs of New York public school children."

One of the activists is Pastor Phyllis Lee, a retired public school teacher in Syracuse, who says it's time the financial sector paid its fair share.

"They continue to get raises, and they continue to get promotions and the big bucks, whereas the schools are suffering in the State of New York, for lack of funding."

Pastor Lee's former school district, Syracuse, would face an $11-million cut.

"That will mean a loss of 233 teachers and larger class sizes. This is the largest school aid cut in the history of New York State."

Nikki Jones, communications coordinator for the Alliance for Quality Education, says Senate Democrats need to seriously consider the impact of the cuts, including what they mean to education across the state.

"By saying 'yes' to cutting $1.4 billion from our schools, you're saying 'yes' to cutting 15,000 teacher positions, eliminating programs like ESL and after-school that our students need, as well as saying 'yes' to property taxes."

Protests against the cuts have been held across the state, and today protesters are expected to rally in front of Senate Vice President David Valesky's office in Syracuse. Senate Democrats accepted the governors' proposed $1.4-billion education cuts, calling them painful, but unavoidable. The protest is expected to begin at 11:00 a.m.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY