If you want to see the weary face of what ongoing state budget cuts to schools looks like, then look no further than Rebecca Horwitz.
An English as a Second Language teacher in Rondout Valley for seven years, she was laid off last year. Wednesday, she came to Albany to share her time and story with 600 colleagues and legislators at the Rural and Small City Advocacy Day.
“I’ve been looking for jobs…volunteering,” said Horwitz, who called the layoff “extremely” discouraging.
“There just aren’t any teaching jobs. This is a very bad time to be looking for a job,” said Horwitz, noting layoffs statewide.
“People are going to have to leave New York to get a job,” she said.
Friend Diana Kuster of nearby Kingston is a mother of five who traveled to Albany to join the call to action to have $250 million in state funding that is currently earmarked as “competitive grants” instead restored to outright funding. The grant scheme follows years of state cutbacks to school education funding.
“Future educators of America — the best and the brightest — they’re not even going to consider going to school for teaching,” Kuster said. “And if their parents don’t have jobs, they can’t even go to college.”
Up to three schools in Kingston are marked for closing due to lack of funding.
Kuster said she joined others for the advocacy day because she is advocating for her children and for teachers, in honor of those who encircled her and helped her graduate in 1985 from Rondout Valley High School.
“I was parent-less,” she said. “My father had died and my mother was unable to parent. Teachers parented me, and coaches, and the conductors of band and choir. They got me into college.”
She said she worked 10 years in the health care system before becoming a stay-at-home mom, and knows how much teachers can make a difference in a person’s life.