South Asian High School students lead charge against stealing of public money for Private Schools

South Asian High School students lead charge against stealing of public money for Private Schools Image

NEW YORK CITY (TIP): Young people from DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving and Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), September 3, kicked off a rally with chants of “There is No Excuse, for Funding Misuse!”, as over over 60 people gathered outside NYC City Hall to oppose the allocation of a potential $39-200 million of public funds for private schools to get NYPD School Safety Agents or security guards. The action was organized in response to Intro 65, a proposed City Council Bill, which has 44 out of 49 City Council members signed on.

The rally was accompanied by a theatrical enactment, led by a young girl, Limra Ilyas (DRUM), who dressed up as Intro 65 and took money from a box symbolizing public funds and stuffed it into a box symbolizing private school funding, while ignoring the box of money allocated for public schools. Limra also unrolled a long sheet with names of all 44 councilmembers supporting Intro 65.

DRUM, which organizes low-income South Asian immigrants, workers, and youth has led educational justice work in New York City over the last 15 years, with a particular focus on ending the school-to-prison pipeline and pushing for more investment in restorative and non-punitive justice programs in public schools. Mona Arif, a youth leader at DRUM and one of the lead organizers of the press conference, highlighted concerns about the further expansion of the NYPD School Safety Division as a result of this bill. She stated “more cops in schools does not make schools safer, whether public or private schools. As a young Muslim girl who has been stopped by the police multiple times on my way to school, I know I am being repeatedly profiled. We need to start decriminalizing our schools and invest in counselors and restorative justice.”

Lila Cohen from JFREJ, and one of the co-organizers of the press conference, said “at my school, Murrow Public High School, teachers have to pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Many of our textbooks are outdated and falling apart. We only have one college counselor in a school with 4000 students. My school isn’t even an extreme situation, because it receives donations, but I know that in districts things are even worse.”

Only four City Council members have opposed Intro 65. Three of of those Council Members, CM Daniel Dromm, CM Inez Barron, and CM Rosie Mendez joined the rally and spoke at the press conference. CM Dromm and CM Barron, both spoke for their long experience of having been public school teachers in New York City, as well as CM Dromm as head of the Education Committee in City Council. CM Helen Rosenthal is fourth City Council member to not have signed on to Intro 65.

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Councilmember Danny Dromm, who is also Chair of the Education Committee, highlighted that “there is a repeated pattern of private schools trying to get the public to cover their expenses. Public education is a right, but private schools are a choice, and should not be funded by the public.”

José Alfaro, a retired Department of Education Social Worker and a member of Teachers Unite, shared that “as an educator for many years in District 12 in the Bronx, I know all too well what funding inequity has done for schools and communities. giving public money to private schools, which do not serve nor are accountable to the public, is unacceptable.”

“We are concerned about this blatant subversion of the public budget process, apparently in response to political pressures,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause NY. “Funds for school safety agents come directly from the Department of Education’s overall funding allocation which budget should be based upon the careful scrutiny of how resources and statistical data change from year to year. Intro-65 completely upends the budget process without any demonstrable just cause.”

The MC of the rally, Nayim Islam, also from DRUM, pointed out that “New York State still owes its public schools $5.9 billion in Foundation Adjustment funding. When our schools are underfunded, and already owed money, how could any Councilmember consider supporting this outrageous blank check to private schools?”


  • Alliance for Quality Education
  • Arab American Association of New York
  • Audre Lorde Project
  • BAJI – Black Alliance for Just Immigration
  • Coalition for Asian Children and Families
  • CAAAV – Organizing Asian Communities
  • City Councilmember Daniel Dromm
  • City Councilmember Rosie Mendez
  • Common Cause
  • Dignity in Schools Campaign New York
  • DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
  • Girls for Gender Equity
  • Interfaith Center of New York
  • Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ)
  • The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood
  • Make the Road New York
  • NESRI – National Economic and Social Rights Initiative
  • NYCLU _ New York Civil liberties Coalition
  • New York State Youth Leadership Council
  • NYCORE – New York Collective of Radical Educators
  • Philadelphia Student Union
  • Teachers Unite
  • Ugnayan Youth for Social Justice and Change
  • United We Dream
  • Urban Youth Collaborative


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