Proposed NYC Education Changes Draw Mixed Reactions
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Thousands of New York City teaching jobs could soon be eliminated under the spending plan being unveiled by Mayor Bloomberg Thursday, and the teachers union is not happy.
Teacher layoffs will number 4,700 while 1,500 jobs will go unfilled. That’s one in every 12 public school teachers in the Big Apple.
“The budget assumes that we will lose about 6,000 teachers through layoffs and attrition,” Bloomberg said. “If the state does not come through with the $600 million we need to balance our budget, in addition to having fewer teachers, we are going to have to have a program to reduce the gap which will spread the pain across all agencies.”
Bloomberg said major reforms are need to keep the city solvent. “Only by reforming our retirement system can we protect reasonable and fair pensions while also making sure we have the police, the firefighters, and the sanitation workers we need on our streets and the teachers we need in our classrooms,” Bloomberg added.
Mayor Bloomberg blames a statewide slash in education funding for the drastic cutbacks. “New York City’s share of that will be a $1 billion cut,” Bloomberg said.
Michael Mulgrew tells 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks that he believes Bloomberg is intent on harming children
“Government’s job is not to employ as many people as possible or spend as much of the taxpayers’ money as possible,” Bloomberg said. “We want our taxes to be as low as is prudent. Our job is to hold ourselves accountable and spend only what’s necessary.”
“I don’t know how that process would go. It’s a very scary thing,” said Roberta Rowner, kindergarten teacher at P.S. 163. She’s a 22-year veteran teacher and under current state law, her job would be theoretically be safe because she has seniority.
The mayor spoke on the issue late last month. “In the private sector nobody would do last in, first out. You do, you know, who are the most productive and you say to the others ‘Look it would have been nice if we could afford it but the world isn’t that way’,” he said.
In a statement, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said “The only thing worse than laying off teachers would be laying off the wrong teachers.”
The news was getting around quickly. “That’s horrible. He shouldn’t,” said parent Tom Leung.
“It’s not really fair to just get rid of the newer teachers because I think that a lot of them are probably great teachers,” said teacher Stephanie Crilley of P.S. 163. “I don’t think it’s fair to let go of teachers that have been there for 20 years either.”
Union officials were fighting the layoffs, saying they’re unnecessary and target the city’s hardest workers.
“We are going to have a catastrophic effect on children’s education and we cannot let that happen,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.
“This is very, very troubling and this is something we’re going to continue to be out there telling the public what the real truth is because it seems that the mayor of New York City is intent on harming children,” Mulgrew said.
The layoffs come despite a projected $2 billion increase in tax revenue. The teacher’s union accuses Bloomberg of playing a political game to push his merit policy through Albany.
“We haven’t seen these levels of class sizes since the mid-70s but right now the city has $2 billion in surplus and if the mayor wants more money out of Albany then he should be up there with us supporting a millionaire’s tax,” Mulgrew said.
The mayor’s budget will go through a number of revisions before the City Council votes on it in late June.