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June 10, 2020

Why Educators For Justice Need to Rethink Their Argument

by Anne Paddock

Recently, a group called “Educators for Justice” (@educatorsforjustice) posted a chart (shown below) entitled “NYPD VS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION” on Instagram that calls for supporters to defund the NYPD.  Whether or not the public believes it is in the best interest of New York to defund the NYPD, it is in the best interest of the public to know the facts and understand that the message below does not support their argument:

There are four very important facts worth knowing:

  1. The proposed NYC budget for 2021 for the NYPD is $5.9 million, with $5.3 million of funding coming from the city and the remainder primarily from intracity sources and the federal government.
  2. The proposed NYC budget for 2021 for the NYC Dept of Education is $27.5 billion (for about 1.1 million students), of which $13.8 billion of funding is coming from the city, $11.5 billion from the state of New York, $2.1 billion from the federal government, and $0.1 billion from other sources. New York City Dept of Education spends about $25,000 annually per student in public school.
  3. There are about 36,000 police officers in the NYPD but about 58,000 employees in the NYPD – all of whom work in public safety so when you talk about defunding the NYPD, it’s not just police officers.
  4. There are about 75,000 teachers in public school but about 135,000 employees in the NYC Dept of Education – all of whom work in public education.

Educators For Justice (EFJ) ONLY considered the funding from the city ($5.3 billion for the NYPD and $13.8 billion for the NYC Dept of Education), omitting the $600 million in intracity and federal funding for the NYPD and the $11.5 billion and $2.5 billion from the state of New York and the federal government for public education,  which misrepresents the amount of funding New Yorkers spend on public safety and public education.

Specifically,  EFJ took the city funding for the NYPD ($5.3 million out of $5.9 million) and divided that number by the number of police officers (36,000) to arrive at a figure they called “Funding Per New York City Police Officer” at $147,000.  EFJ then took the city funding for the NYC Dept of Education ($13.8 billion out of $27.5 billion) and divided that number by the number of students (1.1 million) to arrive at “Funding for NYC Public School Student” at $12,233.  EFJ then displayed these two numbers as if they are comparable, which they are not. Police officers work for the NYPD; students do not work for the NYC Dept of Education; teachers do.

If EFJ is going to compare the amount of money the NYPD spends on police officers, then the total school budget should be divided by the number of teachers and not the number of students if they want to present a more accurate comparison, or better yet: the total number of employees in each organization.

The NYPD facts are summarized as follows:

  • $5.3 billion (the city funded portion of the NYPD budget) divided by the total number of police officers (36,000) equals $147,000.
  • $5.3 billion (the city funded portion of the NYPD budget) divided by the total number of employees in the NYPD (58,000) equals $92,000.
  • $5.9 billion (the total budget for the NYPD) divided by the total number of police officers (36,000) equals $164,000.
  • $5.9 billion (the total budget for the NYPD) divided by the total number of employees in the NYPD (58,000) equals $102,000  and would accurately be described as the “Funding Per NYPD employee.”

The NYC Dept of Education facts are summarized as follows:

  • $13.8 billion (the city funded portion of the NYC Dept of Education budget) divided by 75,000 teachers equals $187,000.
  • $13.8 billion (the city funded portion of the NYC Dept of Education budget) divided by 135,000 (the estimated total  number of employees in the NYC Dept of Education) equals $102,000.
  • $27.5 billion (the actual NYC Dept of Education budget) divided by 75,000 teachers equals $367,000, which again does not support an argument that more funds are spent per police officer than teacher.
  • $27.5 billion (the actual NYC Dept of Education budget) divided by 135,000 (the estimated total number of  employees in the NYC Dept of Education) equals $204,000.

So, the bottom line is this:

  • If only city funding is considered, NYC spends more per teacher ($187,000) than per police officer ($147,000).
  • If only city funding is considered, NYC spends more per NYC Dept of Education employee ($102,000) than NYPD employee ($92,000).
  • If all funding is considered, NYC spends more per teacher ($367,000) than per police officer ($164,000).
  • If all funding is considered, NYC spends more per NYC Dept of Education employee ($204,000) than NYPD employee ($102,000).

EFJ also puts forth a statistic that 60% of police officers in NYC have received a complaint against them. Accordingly, EFJ should put forth the statistic of how many teachers have received a complaint against them. They don’t. Instead, EFJ puts forth that 52% of complaints against police officers are for officers that are white (48% of complaints against police officers are for officers who are not white). How is this a comparison between police officers and educators?

Finally, I will close by saying that I support more funding for education and less spending for public safety (but not defunding the police) so I don’t understand how EFJ – an organization of educators for justice by their very name – will ever succeed if they put forth an argument that a high school debater could tear apart in 5 minutes.  Teachers need to lead the way and this is not the way to do it. Raise the threshold EFJ (@educatorsforjustice) – the students of NYC are depending on you.

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