Teachers, paraprofessionals and parents traveled to Albany last week as part of the United Federation of Teachers’ Lobby Day.
The group of 800, representing New York City public schools, met with legislators to discuss education funding.
Marie Baker, a librarian and special education teacher at IN-Tech Academy M.S./H.S. 368 and the chapter leader of the teacher’s union, said it was her first time making such a trip to lobby state legislatures.
“I wanted to be brave and do something I’ve never done before and have a new experience, basically, and to try and make a difference,” Baker said. “Also, to help my fellow members in the school and also to raise their awareness of political events.”
Baker was part of the Bronx delegation, speaking with state Sen. Gustavo Rivera about the importance of Title 1 funding. Title 1 provides financial assistance to local schools and educational agencies with a high percentage of children from low-income families.
InsideSchools.org, a nonprofit that provides a guide to NYC public schools, said 91 percent of IN-Tech’s students qualified for free lunch. The school served 966 students in the 2015-16 school year.
Baker called this year’s lobbying efforts by the teachers union “more important” than in previous years.
“With the current political climate, we are hearing a lot of things,” she said about finding education funding. “We don’t know what is happening as of now. What we are hearing is not very good.”
Financial support helps ensure schools meet state academic standards. The amount is calculated by the cost of education in each state and census poverty figures, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
“I don’t think people are aware of how serious things are,” Baker said. “It’s in the newspapers and it’s sort of hypothesizing right now.”
Reduced funding at IN-Tech means its afterschool and tutoring programs are at risk of being cut.
Data from the Alliance for Quality Education, a coalition mobilizing communities across the state working to improve public education, said IN-Tech is owed nearly $1.6 million in state foundation aid. Schools in the northwest Bronx are owed more than $20 million.