Categorized | City Life, Education

New York City Mayor plans to cut 6,100 public school teachers

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Teacher layouts may affect P.S. 65 in East New York. Larry Tung/Columbia Radio News

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new budget proposal has some hard news for public school teachers.  He says he needs to cut more than 6000 of them from the city’s payroll.  That’s about 8 percent of the city’s public school educators.  If the cut actually happens, it would be the biggest teacher layoff since the 1970s.

It’s 3pm – And school’s out for kindergarteners at P.S. 65 in East New York, Brooklyn.

One of their teachers, Luz Paternostro is waiting outside with them until they’re picked up.

A product of New York City public schools, the 22-year-old says she knew she wanted to teach when she was a student at Queens College.

“It’s fascinating to see children learn and to be the person who teaches them because it’s something that they will carry on with their life forever,” said Paternostro. “It makes you feel like you are making a real difference.  You are teaching the future.”

But it is Paternostro’s future that’s uncertain right now.

If the budget passes, about 4600 teachers will be laid off.  And the 1500 that will retire or resign next year….will not be replaced.

New York State law mandates that as the last teacher hired at P.S. 65, Paternostro would be the first one out.

She doesn’t think that’s fair.

“There are other factors that should be considered,” said Paternostro. “There are excellent teacher who have been in the system a long time that definitely should have their jobs.  Just as there are also new teachers who deserve that opportunity to gain that experience that have the same qualities who just perform as well.”

Mayor Bloomberg shares her view.

He first threatened to cut 21 thousand teachers … after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a massive cut in state funding earlier this month.

Many critics say that was the mayor’s push to abolish this “Last in, first out” law. Bloomberg says it should be changed immediately.

“We have great teachers,” said Bloomberg. “And I want to keep the very best if we have to lay off teachers.”

But determining the best teachers is tricky.

Wendy Glash is the union rep at P.S. 65 and a teacher with 25 years of experience.  She says ratings are very subjective.

“It depends on who your supervisor is,” said Glash.”That will guide your rating. I don’t think that, if you want to lay off people based on those ratings, that that’s a fair and equitable way.”

P.S. 65 is one of the top-rated schools in the district and attracts many students.

But almost half of its teachers have less than 5 years of experience.  So they are in danger to be laid off.

PTA President Karina Cevallos says there are barely enough teachers.

“Imagine more kids in the class,” said Cevallos. ”I don’t know how they are going to deal with it.”

That’s left for P.S. 65’s principal, Daysi Garcia, to deal with. She says the mayor and the teachers’ union have been able to works this out in other years.  

“Whatever tools they use to come to the table to try to make those agreements,” said Garcia. “They do it nicely so far year after year. We haven’t had to cut our teachers.”

The mayor doesn’t want to cut teachers, either.

He will negotiate with the city council and most likely come up with another proposal in May.

The council is supposed to vote on the budget by the end of June, right around the end of the school year.



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