Contact: Zara Nasir, Kaliris Salas-Ramirez


135+ NYC faith leaders and groups call on Mayor to #RestoreTheCuts #FundOurSchools

Faith leaders call on Mayor to “immediately restore $469 million cut from public schools”

Tuesday, August 30 --- More than 135 faith leaders and faith organizations representing nearly 200,000 New Yorkers penned and sent a letter to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, calling on him to restore millions of dollars cut from schools in the FY23 budget that passed in June 2022, following weeks of outrage from school communities. The first day of school, September 8, is in less than two weeks, and Mayor Adams has yet to restore the $469 million cut from school budgets. Upset parents, educators, and students have been trying to get answers from Mayor Adams on why he won’t restore the cuts since July. In response, the Mayor has often told New Yorkers to “pray” for the restoration of cuts, despite having power to restore funds immediately.

In separate confrontations on August 8, August 9, August 17, and August 20, Mayor Eric Adams told parents, educators, students, and/or organizers calling on him to restore the cuts to “pray.”

In response, religious leaders, theological scholars, and interfaith chaplains invite Mayor Adams to join them in prayer AND action to support students and schools, and use the power he has to adequately fund education by restoring the cuts. The letter signatories reflect a range of traditions, including notable leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and spiritual but not religious traditions, and respresentation from all five boroughs.

Notable signatories include Dr. Cornel West, public intellectual and Christian philosopher; The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, womanist theologian and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary; First Corinthian Baptist Church, which has 10,000+ members, and bishops from the Episcopalian and ELCA Lutheran denominations in synods that represent over 50,000 members; Episcopal Church of Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk, representing approximately 54,000 parish members; Jews for Racial & Economic Justice with more than 6,000 members, and T’ruah, which represents more than 100+ Jewish clergy in New York and 2,300+ across the country.

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, an NYC public school parent and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, has committed much of her life to economic justice for poor people, a cause deeply rooted in her Christian faith. Theoharis called on Adams to fully fund public schools and shared, "As a Christian pastor, biblical scholar, and parent of two NYC public school students at Title 1 schools, I call on Mayor Eric Adams to fully restore the public education budget and reverse this unconscionable attack on the city's most vulnerable. Our sacred texts teach that when we lift from the bottom, everybody rises and yet these school budget cuts will rob students, teachers and families of the resources all our kids deserve."

Dr. Simran Jeet Singh, a Sikh spiritual life adviser at NYU and a notable scholar, educator, writer, and activist: “Investing in our children is an act of faith. It announces to the world that we have hope for the future, and confidence that every child is equally deserving of our care and attention.”

Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, founder and rabbi emerita of Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives and Jews For Racial & Economic Justice board member offers: “Learning is a crucial component of a full Jewish life. Education therefore is a top priority for Jews — as Jews and as Americans. The push across the country to diminish schools and limit teachers is alarming. That the mayor of New York City — long a bastion of vibrant education at all levels — would join that national trend is deeply disturbing. We call on Mayor Adams to reverse his damaging cuts to New York City schools right now.”

“As a retired NYC public high school teacher, I speak from personal experience about the detrimental impact of underfunding and constantly cutting the public school budget,” said Deb Williams, who is also a public school grandparent of two at P.S. 361 and a Middle Church parishioner. “Our children are the most valuable resource we can invest in for the future success of our society. The cornerstone of our humanity is our children. And our multiethnic, multicultural children can be the collective voices of change in this city, this nation, this world. It’s time to invest in our most valuable assets, our children.”

Public school parent and consulting minister at Middle Church, Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft, said, “When questioned, [Adams] tersely tells us to pray. Mr. Adams: Do you not know that our outrage is our prayer? Our protest is our prayer? Our organizing and advocating for our public schools to be fully funded IS our prayer? Our faith teaches us that we are inextricably bound to each other and that it's our moral responsibility to care about all children as if they were our own. So now we demand that you hear our prayers and restore the cuts."

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