Righting Wrongs in New York City

04/21/2016 06:51 pm ET Updated Apr 22, 2017

"The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed." - Mayor Bill de Blasio

"There is nothing more sacred in our nation than the right to vote, yet election after election, reports come in of people who were inexplicably purged from the polls, told to vote at the wrong location or unable to get in to their polling site," - Comptroller Scott Stringer

For many, this week's primaries in NYC were a disaster. Independents couldn't vote, names were missing from voter rolls, polling places weren't open when they should have been. From the outside looking in, it seems lack of organization and a cohesive system led to a multitude of issues that could have been avoided with more careful and systematic planning.

It was heartening to read that NYC's Comptroller will be launching an audit of the Board of Elections, after the many issues that arose. He stated, "The people of New York City have lost confidence that the Board of Elections can effectively administer elections and we intend to find out why the BOE is so consistently disorganized, chaotic and inefficient."

It's been nothing but disheartening though, that there has been zero attention paid to or action taken about righting the rampant disparity in the Department of Education's Fair Student Funding (FSF). Thousands upon thousands of students across the city are not receiving the funds they are supposed to. Administrators are struggling to work within tighter budgets, teachers do not have the supplies or resources they need to work effectively, students are finding classes aren't being offered, materials aren't available, academic enrichment is dwindling. Educations all over the city are being compromised.

As I've written before, Brooklyn Tech, one of the city's 8 specialized test in schools, receives 87% of FSF, the lowest percentage of all the specialized schools, while others receive far more. The High School of Math, Science and Engineering, for example gets 124% of its FSF. That's a 37% differential.

It's not that people don't know. The issue has been written about in the Wall Street Journal, in Schoolbook, at DNA info. It's been reported on NPR. An online petition has garnered thousands of signatures from all over the world. Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President, asked the city to better fund Brooklyn Tech and other large Brooklyn High Schools.

Parents have met with higher ups at the Department of Education. Students, parents and alumni have testified at Panel for Educational Policy meetings in front of the Chancellor and members of her staff. Forms requesting an audit have been filed with the Comptroller's office.

In a climate with "AP for All" and "Computers for Everyone," students at one of NYC's esteemed STEM schools are currently losing AP courses, and are often not able to complete college level curriculum because of spotty wifi and broken computer equipment. While I applaud initiatives to support more students citywide, how about an initiative maintaining what's already in place?

Disenfranchised voters in the city can now look forward to a Board of Elections audit and potential overhaul that is long overdue.

NYC students deserve the same.

Fair Student Funding, designed and implemented to provide fair funding, should, in practice, be fair. I strongly encourage the DOE, the Mayor and the Comptroller to take a look at what hasn't been working, and make funding more fair for more students citywide.