On Friday afternoon with the golden angel atop the Municipal Building shining down on 30 or so of the City's best and brightest from Stuyvesant and Edward R. Murrow High Schools, Chambers St. was an avenue of solidarity against the school budget cuts. Students read from their 100 letters in protest of the cuts. City buses, SUVs, school buses and motorcyles honked their encouragement. Bicycles bells tinkled and FDNY ambulances played their sirens as the students let out a cheer and did the wave. It was a tremendously positive experience for the protesters and the supporters who were encouraged by the optimism and energy of the crowd. If your school would like to participate in this very worthy protest contact the Kids Protest Project. The students only worry was that their letters wouldn't be read. So I have included a few more excerpts here.
Celia from Murrow ..." I am a part of the first screened theater program at Murrow and am very dedicated to the arts. Not only do I spend a period everyday in school but I also take part in our school productions. For three months, every single afternoon, from 3pm to about 6:30, I spent working on a show. We all put so much effort in to it and it came out wonderful. I made more than half my friends there and also gained a love of my school that I never thought I would.
I feel at home at Murrow and exceptional in the theater department. To lose this would be horrible for not only me but also the 200 other kids who help put our shows on."
Melissa from Murrow..."Perhaps the Department of Education can consider using money to fund classes that actually educate students, rather than giving it to them in form of cellular phones in order to entice them to pass tests. Frankly, throwing money at our city’s youth does not seem like the best way to instill within them work ethic and integrity. I can see no better use of money than to create programs and classes that might interest students (such as photography and astronomy, just to name a few that my school will no longer be able to provide), so that they have a desire to learn. Instead, this money is being used for standardized testing. It seems counterintuitive that we are losing the option to be taught subjects, so that we can be evaluated on how much we have learned."
Tamara from Murrow..."I am writing to beg you to re-think the school budget cuts. I am an 11th grade resource room student at Edward R. Murrow High School. I have held an 84 average with the help of my resource room teacher. If there are budget cuts another student may not get the same opportunity that I have gotten. Also I am in an after school program “The Jewish Heritage Club.” I am very interested in my club and therefore my friends and I are not with peer groups that hang around the streets and get into trouble."
Andrew from Stuy..."I go to Stuyvesant High School and I am an aspiring musician and journalist. I play piano for the jazz band, write for the school newspaper and am planning to take an extra writing class next year to help me become a better and more confident writer. With the proposed budget cuts looming, it is possible that all three of these things will be cut."
Elizabeth from Stuy..."I am a member of the JV Volleyball team (captain next year) and on the Varsity Fencing Team. I know that doesn't seem like a lot but that's just a start. Both of those teams were undefeated this year. Undefeated Volleyball team because we had nets and balls available to practice. Undefeated Fencing because body chords, foils, and strips were all available. Not to say that all of this was just given to us. I can easily list numerous days that I got home at 9 or 9:30 because of a late practice or a game in Bronx. I can also show anyone who asks 10 or 20 scars on my ankles, scars that I received from sliding across the gymnasium floor.
Those stories come with hundreds of others. Thousands of public school kids with a hundred stories each. The only reason that we have those stories are because our coaches were able to teach us new skills.
I don't know if you attended public school, or when you did. In all honesty, I didn't even know your name until 10 minutes ago when my friend instant messaged me and asked me to write a letter. Maybe, I shouldn't be doing this, but if I don't can I guarantee that someone else will? One thing that I can assure you I learned from the teachers at Stuy is to take action. Hopefully, you will realize how much is being taken away."
Diana from Stuy..." Getting down to a personal level, such intense budget cuts would affect my education greatly. One evening my parents and I sat down and looked over every course that is currently being offered at Stuyvesant. I am a freshman, so we literally planned out all the classes I want to take in my next three years. I have high aspirations for my future in education, and I am definitely ready and able to fulfill them. Imagine the disappointment I felt upon the realization that my hopes and ambitions are wavering in the face of a petty issue called money. I am probably not the only one who is suffering from this danger. The students who will be juniors next year would not be able to take those AP and elective classes if the budget cuts are severe enough to reduce us to an eight-period day. In addition, it is not only classes, but also extracurriculars, that are at risk.
Donna from Stuy..."Here at Stuyvesant, we take advantage of all the classes offered to us. Most students use their two free periods to take electives and AP classes to further their knowledge in an area of interest. I, for example, have taken three science electives during my two years at Stuyvesant: Genetics Research, Human Genetics, and Human Disease. Through my experiences in these electives, I have found out the subject I am best at and have discovered new career options available to me. If it weren't for these electives, I would still be confused about the direction I want my life to take. To me, taking electives in high school gives me a chance to try out everything I'm interested in, so I won't have to switch majors in college and waste both my money and my life.
High school is all about trying out new experiences and experimenting to figure out your interests. If we are not given the opportunity to try out new things, we will never be able to realize our full potential."
Kathy from Stuy..."Although taking 5% from Stuyvesant's school budget may not seem like a big deal to many people, it will truly affect our school and its community. How? you may ask. At Stuy our budget isn't used for random classes such as underwater basketweaving. It is used to sponsor over 32 varsity teams; providing funding for our own Student Union (run by a group of appointed students) that manages our clubs and publications, several literary publications to inspire our students and share unknown talent such as The Caliper (the oldest high school publications in the nation). But most importantly, our budget is used to provide a well developed curriculum and supply of teachers to educate this generation.
It is possible that with these budget cuts, students will no longer be able to many electives-those that could possibly spark interests in fields such as biology when it comes to human disease, anthropology, or history- existentialism, debate etc. Also, many teachers that are retiring or leaving Stuyvesant for whatever reason, may not be replaced due to the shortage in funding for our school."
Kenny from Stuy..."The students that have been involved in school activities will suffer the most. As a dedicated member of the Stuyvesant Math Team, I may have to face the possibility that my school may no longer be able to fund this class. The Stuyvesant Math Team has a strong and very successful legacy not only in New York City but also in the nation. To cancel such a rich and academic-promoting activity because of these budget cuts is an absolute shame and a complete atrocity on the Department of Education’s behalf."
Libby from Stuy..."Speaking with others students about the budget cuts proved that this means something different to everyone. I for instance, am interested in biology, and many of the biology elective courses are being cut next year. When we were sent to sign up for electives, all but three were in jeopardy of being cut if we loose money. This included many of the intro language courses that many sophomores wanted to take. It’s important that in the melting pot that is New York, we learn about each other’s cultures and language."