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Know Your Rights
Source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Teachers Here Fear the Worst

NEW YORK — One school official warned teachers, “Go see your doctor; go to the dentist; go to the gynecologist, do it all,” according to the Gotham Schools web site, as a deal made in Albany over the weekend restored only $250 million of Gov. Andrew’s proposed $1.5 billion school budget cuts.

State legislators plan to begin voting on the budget Wednesday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that the city’s share of the $250 million was not enough to avoid laying off thousands of teachers — even more than the 4,000+ layoffs (and 2,000 positions lost to attrition) originally planned.

“Voters should remember that New York City was singled out by Albany and eliminated from the revenue-sharing program, while other localities took no more than a 3 percent cut,” the mayor said Sunday. The mayor says he will continue his push to lay off experienced educators first, reversing the typical “first in, first out” scenario. Albany declined to act on this proposal.

Over the past weeks, parents and teachers across the city have held rallies and signed petitions against the governor’s budget, most recently this past Friday. “In our school a number of teachers are threatened with layoffs, especially if Mayor Bloomberg gets his wish,” said Eric Newville, a math teacher at the Academy for Environmental Leadership on the Bushwick High School campus. “Teachers will be forced to move to other schools, which will cause disruptions, and classroom sizes will rise.”

A survey of public school superintendents conducted by the New York State School Boards Association found that school districts will have to lay off staff, increase class sizes, raise taxes and reduce elective courses and, in some instances, close buildings next year if the cuts are enacted.

Parents and students say their classrooms are still reeling from last year’s $1.4 billion budget cuts. “This is going to affect my future,” said Trinity Bartlett, testifying at a rally held March 17 at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Tiffany attends fifth grade at P.S. 270, a District 13 school in Clinton Hill. “My school budget was cut, and now there are 33 kids in my class and only one teacher. They had to let go of the helper. I’m not getting the same attention as last year.

“Now we can’t have drama class any more,” she added. “My teacher says we can’t afford it. And we don’t have enough books because they’re old and some are already written in.”
,br> The education cuts come on the heels of Gov. Cuomo’s pledge to end a surcharge levied on New Yorkers who are making $1 million or more a year. Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, said Monday that the budget deal “steals from our children and the poor to give to the rich. It is a sad day in Albany when our kids and their right to be provided with an adequate education is labeled a ‘special interest,’ while millionaires get a huge windfall.”

According to Mayor Bloomberg and Borough President Marty Markowitz, this year’s cuts would be the largest education cuts in the state’s history.

Hundreds of members of advocacy groups, including Alliance for Quality Education, New York City Coalition for Educational Justice and Make the Road New York, planned to board buses at 2-4 Nevins St. in Brooklyn and head to Albany Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. to protest all the cuts called for in the budget.

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