Let’s be blunt.

The state’s proposed, deep 20% cuts to education are disgraceful and a slap in the face to teachers, administrators, parents and students who are among the groups that have suffered most from the coronavirus pandemic.

Quite simply, the cuts will devastate the poorest districts, which you can translate into rural and small-city school districts like those in Greene and Columbia counties.

State education leaders are applying heavy on lawmakers after many school positions were eliminated in districts statewide even as students began or prepared to resume in-person learning, remote instruction or a hybrid of the two.

With the pandemic still rearing its hydra heads in the Capital Region area, which includes Greene and Columbia, and with children who require in-school experience for their social and intellectual development, students need skilled, adaptable teachers now more than ever.

Hundreds of public school teachers and other staff positions have been cut in poor, inner-city and small rural districts to help the state close a predicted $14 billion revenue gap and a budget shortfall of almost $30 billion over two years due to the pandemic.

Driving home the point that it means business, New York State United Teachers declared last week it would take legal action against the state if it follows through with plans to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in school aid later this month.

As things stand, cutting teacher positions and slashing academic offerings will have a stultifying effect on the education of a generation of children. The poorest and most vulnerable of our society should not be forced to pay the price of a pandemic that already has cost them so much.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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