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The Alliance for Quality Education has collected more than 16,000 signatures on a petition against education budget cuts which they willdelivered to the mayor's office on Thursday, June 16 after a press conference at 12:45 p.m. on the steps of City Hall.
Organizers are hoping for at least 20,000 signatures and are urging people to sign the petition, share the information on Facebook, and retweet news of the event.
Here's what you can do:
Sign the petition here.
And check out other efforts against the anticipated budget cuts for 2011-2012 here.
Public school parents are mobilizing against anticipated education budget cuts which would cause teacher layoffs, overcrowding in classrooms, and otherwise adversely affect public schools.
The City Council, finished its budget hearings on Monday with an additional call for the Department of Education to cut back on consultants and private contractors, instead of cutting teachers. The Council and the mayor must come up with a final budget by July 1, the start of the next fiscal year. As part of his $65.7 billion budget proposal, the mayor proposes eliminating 6,100 teaching positions and cutting child care programs.
To protest these measures, parents and advocacy groups are hosting a series of actions over the next several days and weeks. Here's a rundown:
- Emergency Manhattan budget meeting sponsored by New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts: Students-Labor-Communities United: Thursday, June 9, 6-9 pm: YMCA/University Settlement, 273 Bowery (SE Corner of Houston St.)
- Family rally in Brooklyn sponsored by City Council members and many local schools: Friday, June 10. Parents and kids meet at 4 p.m. at Grand Army Plaza, then march along Prospect Park West to the bandshell for the opening concert of Celebrate Brooklyn. For more information, see Council member Brad Lander's website.
- On "Fight Back Friday" June 10, parents and staff at individual schools will hold rallies, sign postcards directed at City Council representatives, disseminate flyers and wear black to, “take our schools back." Representatives from some schools will visit Christine Quinn’s office located at 30th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues at 5 PM on Friday to deliver some of the more than 5,000 postcards collected at city-wide Fight Back Fridays over the last three weeks and will hold a press conference demanding the City Council reject any budget that includes further cuts to school-based budgets and teacher lay-offs. Contact: Lisa Donlan, President CEC1: 917-848-5873
- Emergency Brooklyn budget meeting sponsored by New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts: Students-Labor-Communities United on Saturday, June 11, Bedford Library, 496 Franklin Avenue.
- City Hall rally endorsed by several unions including DC 37 and the UFT, sponsored by the Beyond May 12 coalition for “Bloombergville”:Tuesday, June 14 at 4:30 at City Hall: Centre Street between Chambers and Spruce Streets.
Please share information about other budget protests and actions in comments below.
The City Council "will do everything in our power to prevent teacher layoffs," Speaker Christine Quinn vowed today after the second of three education budget hearings the Council is holding this spring. She and her fellow council members have identified more than $75 million that could be cut from next year's $65.6 billion budget, she said, including trimming the number of positions at Tweed headquarters.
In May, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced budget woes so dire that as many as 6,000 teaching jobs needed to be eliminated.
In a joint statement after today's meeting, Quinn and Finance Committee Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., said they were looking "line by line" at the schools' budget and had already identified possible cuts "that could be used toward saving teachers and preventing layoffs." They suggested cutting funds spent in recruiting and training unlicensed teachers, reducing staff in the press, public affairs, and family engagement offices, cutting the number of superintendents, and decreasing spending on busing, professional development, and technology. In addition, they estimated that $35 million could be cut from "excessive" budgeted spending increases in several areas.
The next council budget meeting will be on June 6 at Emigrant Savings Bank. Public testimony starts at 3:30 p.m.
See the City Council's press release here, and a list of their proposed cuts after the jump.
Parents of children attending New York’s public elementary schools get countless letters from the Department of Education. Below is a letter folks like us should receive but never will.
Please be advised that, owing to a pesky little thing we call “mismanagement,” the NYC Department of Education will be re-doing the advisory vote for the 2011 Community and Citywide Education Council elections. This means the hour you spent logging on to some obscure web site, sifting through unfamiliar names and studying candidate biographies — all so you could cast an advisory vote for an advisory panel — will have to be repeated. Please accept our apologies.
Oh, and we hope you didn’t throw away the letter we sent home containing your child’s OSIS number, which you’ll need to re-cast your vote. If you did, then we suggest … well, at this point you’re probably saying “To hell with this,” or something even less civil. And who can blame you?
While we’re issuing apologies, we’d also like to express regret for what promises to be a nasty round of teacher layoffs that will directly affect your child’s education. We’d like to think this is the fault of state budget writers, but the fact is New York’s Department of Education hasn’t built a strong case proving every single one of the billions of dollars spent in city schools is put to good use. Rather, we’ve given folks the impression we’re so awash in waste and mismanagement (there’s that word again) that great wads of public cash are regularly flushed down a giant hole. We regret that the DOE has contributed to this perception.
We’d also like to apologize for the acronym “DOE.” Makes us sound like a cute little deer, doesn’t it? Well, we’re not
Please also accept our apologies for overcrowded classrooms, poor building maintenance, leaky soccer balls, the G&T admission process, icky lunches, outdated textbooks, “toxic” principals, Cathie Black, ammonia-scented floor cleaner, PCBs in light fixtures, playground bullies, and that funky smell in most school gyms. We also regret the fact that, should a school want a librarian or an art teacher, then some turbo-charged parent association must hold a black-tie auction. We’re also sorry we routinely cave in to union bosses and condominium developers, and that we let Eva Moskowitz open one of her charter schools any damn place she wants. We regret any inconvenience our actions may have caused.
In closing, let us acknowledge that virtually no parent ever reads to the end of a letter from the DOE. So, for the one or two of you still paying attention, please know that the winning lottery numbers in Wednesday’s Take 5 game will be 8, 12, 15, 23 and 35. Don’t ask us how we know this. Let’s just say: If parents knew everything we knew, then we’d have even more to apologize for.
The Daily News reports today that Public Advocate Bill de Blasio launched a "Save our Teachers" website designed to help parents, and concerned citizens, take action against the mayor's proposed budget cuts, which would cause the loss of 6,000 teaching jobs, including more than 4,600 teacher layoffs.
The site lists eight actions parents can take to protest the cuts:
- sign a petition
- email the Department of Education
- submit a testimonial about your teacher
- urge your district or citywide education council to adopt a resolution against the cuts
- join in the planning of a May 26 citywide day of action,
- write a letter to the editor to a city or community newspaper
- Start a Facebook group supporting teachers
- Follow the Public Advocate's efforts on Twitter
And, remember, the City Council must approve the mayor's budget. The education and finance committees will be holding joint budget hearings on May 17, June 1, and will be accepting public testimony on June 6. Can't go to a hearing? E-mail City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
Mayor Mike Bloomberg presented his nearly $66 billion final budget today, and confirmed he plans to eliminate 6,000 teaching jobs -- 4,278 through layoffs and about 1500 through attrition.
Bloomberg blamed the state for the fiscal woes he said are forcing him to cut the city's teaching staff. The state paid 45 percent of the city’s education costs in 2008, but next year they will only pickup 39 percent, according to a New York Times report. Bloomberg said he would appeal to the state for more funding, but as Albany's budget has already been finalized, more money could be very hard to come by.
The teacher's union was quick to criticize the mayor: "Same smoke, same mirrors, same attempt to blame others for his decision to lay off thousands of teachers, despite increased state aid, hundreds of millions in new revenues and a surplus that has grown to more than $3.2 billion," said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew in a statement.
The budget won't be final until the City Council approves it, which they must do by July 1. A hearing on the Department of Education's expense budget will be held on June 1, and public testimony on the education budget will be heard on June 6. A coalition of politicians, teachers, and community groups plans to hold a mammoth protest of the budget on May 12.
Parents and community members concerned about Governor Cuomo's budget, which slashes aid to city schools, can get on a bus to Albany tomorrow, March 30, at 10 a.m. to protest the cuts. The trip is organized by advocacy groups including the Alliance for Quality Education., with the main buses leaving from the Bronx and Brooklyn. Or you may join a press conference and rally on the steps of City Hall at 9:30 a.m., organized by Class Size Matters, to mobilize against the anticipated impact of budget cuts to class size and other programs. The City Council Education Committee will hold a budget hearing on April 7 at 10 a.m. on Mayor Bloomberg's preliminary budget projections for the Department of Education.
Here are the details from the press release about Wednesday's bus trip:
WHAT: Hundreds of New York City residents, outraged by the budget agreement, will leave the city at 10 AM on Wednesday for Albany to descend on the Capitol that afternoon, and be present for the State budget voting process. The budget agreement, without an extension of the Millionaire’s Tax, robs already burdened and struggling New Yorkers in order to provide a multi-billion-dollar tax break for the wealthy. The budget also fails to proactively renew and strengthen the rent laws, a sign that the State Legislature is more concerned with pandering to real estate interests than protecting the millions of New Yorkers who depend on these laws to stay in their homes.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 30th – 10 AM
WHERE: Two main locations in Brooklyn and the Bronx
Brooklyn: 2-4 Nevins St. – Jonathan Westin, 917 637 9501
Bronx: Yankee Stadium (161st St and River) – Chauncy Young, 212 203 1171
WHO: Furious citizens and members of the Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York, New York City Coalition for Educational Justice, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, VOCAL, Real Rent Reform New York, Community Voices Heard and others."
Last week, activists hoping to avert budget cuts in New York public education — cuts that will have a direct and lasting impact on my child’s future — asked parents like me to join a pro-schools rally on the steps of City Hall. I didn’t go. (My excuse: It was raining pretty hard that day.)
In the past two weeks, several groups have organized bus trips to Albany and offered to take me to the state capitol so I could march and make personal appeals to my lawmakers. I didn’t accept the offers. (My excuse: That’s a full-day commitment, and I've been kind of busy.)
Finally, a fellow parent who always seems to have energy for public service e-mailed me a list of lawmakers’ names and addresses, then asked me to write letters urging them to oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $1.5 billion cut in the state’s education budget. I didn’t write any letters. (My excuse: Uh …)
Fact is, I’m out of excuses, except for one: I’m a lazy, apathetic father who uses his pessimism about the responsiveness of New York’s elected officials to weasel out of a civic duty to fight for my daughter's educational future. Exhausted by the demands of career, family, and shopping at Fairway, I have little energy left to raise my voice against what I see as a done deal crafted by politicians who are (to quote Woody Allen) “either incompetent or corrupt — sometimes both on the same day.”
There’s evidence to support to my apathy and pessimism. But then I pick up a newspaper, and my justifications crumble.
In Libya, people are literally dying for the right to oust a dictator and form a more responsive government. Similar revolts have already jolted Egypt and Tunisia, and more are brewing in Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria and even Saudi Arabia and Iran. These revolutionaries seek the right to petition a legitimate government and have legally elected lawmakers respond to their demands — a right apathetic Americans like me can’t be bothered to exercise.
Even my countrymen shame my laziness. In Wisconsin, people hoping to preserve public workers’ union rights slept in the state capitol for weeks during nonstop protests. Last April, thousands of New Jersey students walked out of class to protest looming cuts in education. (OK, that may have been cover for Senior Skip Day, but still — you gotta admire the cleverness.) We in New York City love to tout our superiority, yet I’m being humbled by a bunch of Jersey kids and Packers fans.
Enough! As Michael Jackson once sang, it’s time to look at the man in the mirror and make a change. This week, I’ll write those letters to my lawmakers. NO NYC parent has a justifiable excuse not to do at least that. On March 24, I might join the so-called Day of Rage Against the Cuts and march from City Hall to Wall Street, shoulder to shoulder with lefties such as Radical Women, Students Without Borders , and at least three Socialist parties. (It’s not my ideal crowd, but since I skipped last week’s parents’ rally I’ll have to take what I can get.)
If I join the march, I’ll be the guy with his 5-year-old daughter hoisted atop his shoulders, giving her a front-row seat for this exercise in democracy. This way, she can't say she never saw Dad take a stand for his child's future.
Postscript: Several pro-school rallies were announced after this column was posted. New York parents who want to take a stand against cuts in the state’s education budget have several chances this week to join like-minded advocates and send a message to state lawmakers:
-- March 16 in Queens at 92-10 Roosevelt Ave. Rally begins at 11 a.m.
-- March 17 in Brooklyn at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St. Rally begins at 6:30 p.m.
-- March 17 in The Bronx in the Savoy Building at Hostos Community College, 149th Street and Walton Avenue. Rally begins at 6:30 p.m.
-- March 17 in Manhattan on the steps of City Hall, 260 Broadway. Rally begins at 1 p.m.
UPDATE 3 p.m.: See a press release issued after the rally here. Note there is a citywide schools meeting at 6 pm this evening (March 10) at The High School of Fashion Industries (225 West 24th Street) to continue the discussion about education budget cuts and determine next action steps for parents.
10 a.m.: Parents are holding a rally today at City Hall to protest education budget cuts.
Here are the details, for those who are able to brave the rain and take a break from work.
SPEAK OUT AGAINST BUDGET CUTS
Press conference to be held at City Hall
On Thursday, March 10, 2011, NYC public school parents from
all boroughs will come together to speak out against the
devastating proposed education budget cuts. They will stand
side by side and express their concerns about rising class size,
program cuts, and teacher layoffs.
Members of the parent community, parent associations,
Presidents’ Councils, Community Education Councils and the
Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council will be there.
Date: Thursday, March 10, 2011
Where: The Steps of City Hall*
*City Hall is located in City Hall Park.
#4, #5, #6 trains to City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge
#2, #3 trains to Park Place
W, R trains to City Hall
C, A trains to Chambers Street
March 1 is "Lobby Day," the annual event when New York City parents, teachers, and activists travel by the hundreds to the state capitol and legislative office buildings to make their case for more funding for the city’s public schools. This year budget cuts, teachers’ jobs, and school closings are very much on their minds.
According to City Comptroller John Liu’s estimate, Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2011-2012 Executive Budget will reduce support for New York City’s school children by $953 million.
In Mayor Michael Bloomberg ‘s pitch to the legislature earlier this month, he said that state cuts will force massive teacher layoffs. He is pushing the state to change its method of laying off teachers to allow principals to choose who to let go, instead of a last hired, first out policy that state law mandates. Bloomberg also seeks an end to unfunded state mandates on special education, particularly the requirement that the city's Department of Education pay for private schools for kids with special needs.
New York City parents are concerned about the effect of budget cuts on layoffs, especially their effect on class size and after school and arts programs. They also want attention to monitoring school closings and co-locations of programs inside school buildings and an increase in parent participation in policy development.
Video protests too
An additional Lobby Day is scheduled for March 9, sponsored by the Alliance for Quality Education,, which advocates for public schools statewide. Billy Easton, Executive Director of AQE, said that the governor’ budget drastically undermines education and that instead of such cuts, the state should continue an income tax surcharge on New Yorkers earning more than $200,000.
Actress Cynthia Nixon and the AQE are sponsoring a video contest asking for community members to submit videos that tell the governor why their school can't afford more cuts. Watch her video right here.
How to get on the bus
Parents: Will you be going to Albany? Share your comments and concerns below.