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If we continue to cut education budgets. which we are doing now even when we say education is a priority, the consequences will be -- and already are -- higher class size, elimination of arts, music, sports and science programs, closing after school programs, firing school counselors and librarians. In doing so, we are taking away the very things which allow teachers to give students personal attention, and which excite students curiosity and imaginations. This will have devastating effects in communities where parents do not have the resources to give students after school tutoring and enrichment programs and will widen gaps in educational performance by race and class. It will also result in students hating school because you take away the things that most bond them to their school experience.

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There will also be an intensification of health problems in communities as a result of this. Taking away gym and sports will contribute to already severe obesity problems in communities like the Bronx -- which has the highest obesity rate of all 62 NY counties -- and taking away school counselors will exacerbate already severe mental health issues among students where the school provides the only realistic counseling students will get. We should not be surprised if this leads to more illness, shorter life expectancy, higher levels of violence, especially if these cuts remain in place for years.

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But the most tragic thing about this kind of austerity is that school districts have shown they are far more willing to use increasingly scarce funds on testing and evaluation rather than art, music, sports, gym, and school counselors and librarians. Which gives us a Double Whammy -- the added stress of tests, with sharply curtailed resources for dealing with stress. This is a prescription for added suffering in schools, families and neighborhoods.

mark naison

Mark Naison

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