Dear Governor Cuomo,
This is my first year as an elementary school librarian in Ithaca, NY. I absolutely love my job, and I am proud to be making a difference in my students’ lives. But because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, this may also be my only year as a school librarian. Like many communities in the state, the Ithaca schools are facing another terrible budget year. Without sufficient state aid to support education, and without the ability to raise taxes to make up the difference, Ithaca is facing its second year of brutal cuts to staffing and services.This means that many librarians, library clerks, social workers, classroom teachers, special educators, aides, and other vital educators in the schools face the prospect of losing their jobs this year. I simply fail to understand how the state of New York can be looking at a budget surplus and still holding back these funds from public schools. Don’t our students deserve better?
Just to use my own position as an example, I teach literacy skills (print, digital, media, information literacy, etc.) to about 300 students in grades pre-K through 5. Many of my students enter the school without any prior exposure to books or to technology. The part of the job that I am most passionate about is my ability to level the playing field by providing access to these resources for all students. I teach my students to love reading. I teach them to seek and use information wisely and responsibly. I teach them to use technology tools to deepen and demonstrate their learning. I teach them to think critically. I do this while also managing the administrative side of the library: purchasing, cataloging, and circulating books and other resources. I do this job alone, since the elementary library clerks in the district all lost their jobs due to last year’s budget cuts. I know that my principal, district administration, and school board members value the work that I do with students every day. However, the GEA has put them in the impossible position of weighing the value of librarians against teachers, coaches, aides, bus drivers, and others who are vital to schools. Districts should not be put in this position of choosing which essential staff to cut due to the GEA. Schools should be able to provide all the staffing and programs that are essential for students to learn and thrive.
Please end the Gap Elimination Adjustment and return to school districts the state funding they so urgently need. I hope that you do this so that passionate and committed educators like me can keep our jobs. But more importantly, I hope you do this so that the students of New York state public schools can have access to the people and resources they need in order to succeed. I know you care about the students of your state. Please do the right thing.
Caroline Elementary School