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Shocker: New York City Cutting Teachers

From a tear-soaked New York Times:

A New Meaning for Cutting Classes

By JAVIER C. HERNANDEZ

September 15, 2009

The band class at Public School 48 on Staten Island is no more. At Middle School 189 in Queens, the after-school program credited with raising math and reading scores has vanished. And that end-of-the-year steak dinner for high achievers at Public School 273 in Brooklyn? Gone, too.

New York City’s 1,500 public schools officially opened for business last week, and alongside the usual confusion over locker assignments and lunch periods, there were new questions in the air: Why isn’t Mrs. Brown teaching here anymore? What happened to the science lab? Where are the boxes of free notebooks and pencils?

Across the city, principals are facing budgets that are 5 percent slimmer, a steep cut for a school system where coffers swelled until the current economic downturn. As a result, principals, who now wield extraordinary authority over budgets, are learning to say “No,” and hoping the changes they make will not result in academic ruin.

With cash in short supply but loud mandates from above to keep test scores high, principals say they are confronting some of their most challenging decisions, like small class sizes or tutors in English and math? After-school remediation or extra lunchroom monitors? Chess club or drumming class?

“It’s tough,” said Melessa Avery, principal of P.S. 273, which earned an A on its report card from the city this year. “I want to be held accountable, I’m always open to that, but you are stripping me of funds that have helped me become successful.”

At the start of school, Ms. Avery gathered her staff to tell them it would be one of the most difficult years they would face. This year, the school will have 29 students to a class, instead of 21, four fewer teachers and fewer incentives for students, such as free bicycles.

In a back-to-school slideshow, Ms. Avery told teachers they might be asked to take on multiple jobs. She suggested they scour advertisements for supplies and post cheap finds in the teachers’ lounge, and urged them to hold grant-writing get-togethers

In Queens, Cindy Diaz-Burgos, who is beginning her sixth year as principal of M.S. 189, said it would be difficult to keep students on track academically with such severe cuts. Her budget was trimmed by about $285,000, and in August she discovered her school would lose at least $65,000 more from the state because it no longer qualified as a low-performing school needing extra support…

In light of the reductions, Ms. Diaz-Burgos decided to eliminate an after-school program of tutoring in English, math, science and social studies. She has also ended a volleyball program that had attracted 90 students before breakfast, and students will be expected to pay for their own hand sanitizer and tissues to protect against swine flu.

Citywide, principals made most of the reductions by eliminating teaching positions (36 percent of the cuts) or reducing spending on equipment, supplies and books (28 percent), according to the Department of Education. Some schools also reduced spending on substitutes and overtime pay for teachers.

Teachers whose positions are eliminated are not laid off but instead are placed in a reserve pool and serve as substitutes. Chancellor Joel I. Klein has urged principals to use the reserve pool to fill openings rather than hiring from outside the system, because the teachers in the pool are already drawing full pay.

Education officials said they did not expect spending on arts programs, which makes up about 3 percent of the total budget, to decrease disproportionately because of the cuts.

But Richard Kessler, executive director of the Center for Arts Education, said he had received complaints from “many, many quarters” that schools were disproportionately trimming arts supply budgets and eliminating part-time arts educators…

Er, never mind that New York City spends at least $65 million dollars a year so that more than 700 teachers to sit around in a ‘rubber room’ and not do anything – for years.

Oh, and never mind that New York City just raised its welfare budget 30% over the next three years, starting with the beginning of this year.

And never mind that the New York City parks system employs from 40,000 up to 60,000 people to tend their parks, while the real work is done by privately financed groups like the Central Park Conservancy.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Shocker: New York City Cutting Teachers”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    “Oh, and never mind that New York City just raised its welfare budget 30% over the next three years, starting with the beginning of this year”

    I have mixed feelings about this. Mainly because if they keep them on welfare there, they won’t be moving here.

  2. Right of the People says:

    “Teachers whose positions are eliminated are not laid off but instead are placed in a reserve pool and serve as substitutes. Chancellor Joel I. Klein has urged principals to use the reserve pool to fill openings rather than hiring from outside the system, because the teachers in the pool are already drawing full pay.”

    I’m confused, if they are laid off but are still drawing full pay, are they really laid off or on paid vacation? Another Union boondoggle. I think they should empty the pool and either make them teach or really lay them off. With an excellent college education they shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job.

  3. canary says:

    Our children already buy their own kleenix, etc. Overtime is not paid, as school is not 8 hours, and it’s all calucated into yearly salaries.
    I think it’s buying all the garbage books, to include that huge book to help Obama get elected. The generation that is holding off getting married and having children is going to be a bigger wave than the one 20 some years ago.

    Give it time, Obama, in his organizing days, sought an agenda with many reasons behind it, to bring down the suburban, rural areas, and farmers, and try to force them back into crime ridden city’s.

  4. Chuckk says:

    When any government runs low on money teachers, police and firemen are the first to be cut. Prisoners are released from jails. Officials then get their tax increases so “vital services” can be maintained.

    Paper shuffling bureaucrats inhabiting every government office never get cut.

  5. Diane says:

    I’ve worked in three different public schools in two states. Counting the district offices, every one of them had something like 2 – 3 administrators for every actual teaching position, and somehow I doubt that New York is any different. Once – just once – I’d like to see “budget cuts” implemented by cutting the “diversity implementation director” rather than someone who teaches.

    While I’m wishing, I’d like a diamond necklace…

    • caligirl9 says:

      This is why I’m not so torn up about what’s happening with the UC, CSU and even community college systems. There are entirely too many administrators doing utterly useless things, and too many of those administrators are making entirely too much money. I’ve already mentioned the community college chancellor who earns $250K a year and has a $4K a month housing allowance. This same district had a vice-chancellor who was relieved of her duties mid-academic year and was shuffled off to a state rep position—still drawing her annual $140K/$2500 a month housing allowance. Yet classes for actual students are down to bare-bones in some departments, yet useless programs are protected (I’m specifically thinking of a labor studies program that has no transferrable units) in the name of “diversity.”

      I feel for teachers, the dedicated ones, but methinks their long-time mindlessly-loyal “progressive” political affiliation is what’s gotten them into this pickle. At the college level, there are too many kids who also embrace the “progressive” way and now they are crying wolf about rising costs.


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