Friday, May 6, 2011

Leonie Haimson: The mayor's budget proposal passes the buck and puts children last

The mayor tried to pass the buck today to the state and the federal government, blaming them for the elimination of over 6,000 teaching positions.  What happened to mayoral accountability?

And yet he added that if the state provided extra funding or mandate relief, he would not necessarily restore these positions, but he might spend it on the police or fire department instead.

He said he was “very sympathetic” to Gov. Cuomo, but he mentioned no sympathy for NYC children,  who will have to bear the brunt of these cuts in the form of the largest increases in class size in at least 30 years.  While he commented that he would not put city's fiscal "future at risk," he seems all too willing to put our kids' futures at risk instead.  This is not a budget which puts children first.

Already in the last three years alone, students in grades K-3 have experienced  class size increases of 10%; leading to the largest class sizes in over a decade.  More than a third of all Kindergarten students are now squeezed into classes of 25 or more. Why should they have to suffer any more?

He offered not a single proposal to control the huge waste in DOE contracts and consultants, which has led to numerous instances of lax oversight and corruption, including more than $3 million in stolen funds on one DOE tech contract alone, and another contract that has gone millions over budget, with allegations that a DOE supervisor was improperly involved with the consultant. 

Nor does he have any plans to cut  the growing headcount of the central and mid level DOE bureaucracies, but instead targets  all reductions to teachers? 

The city's overall spending on contracts has doubled to more than $10 billion in the last five years – with a huge part of the increase for technology.  In the next year alone, the DOE plans to spend more than half a billion dollars on technology in its capital plan, with $350 million to buy computers to implement more online learning and testing. 

Their ultimate goal seems to be depriving our students any contact with a real live teacher, but to put them all on machines instead.

The Mayor claims he has no choice, but this is yet another excuse for his lack of leadership.  He has many choices which he refuses to acknowledge:

Make the cuts elsewhere in the DOE budget, including to central, contracts, consultants and computers; draw more from the $2 billion still remaining in the city’s health care reserve; and support the retention of the millionaire’s tax, either on the state or city level. 

The city’s richest one percent are still expanding their wealth rapidly – but instead of asking them to contribute their fair share, the mayor chooses to make our kids pay the price.

Though a millionaire’s tax on city residents would also need Albany’s assent, it would be a far better campaign than continuing his  obsession with eliminating teacher seniority protections, which has little chance of being approved.


  1. It's an outrage! We must get rid of mayoral control.

  2. The UFT needs to get MUCH more aggressive and stop with the useless rallies and start talking real action such as teachers not working extra on their own, sick-outs, and maybe even strikes. Unfortunately a strike would stop the dues check-off which prevents UFT leaders from considering a strike. But I still have the "audacity of hope" that it may happen.

  3. How about the UFT tells everyone to leave school when the school day ends. On the button. And arrive when it begins. Maybe pick one day a week to see if it flies. I know there are teachers who would object but this idea has to be sold as a way to fight the layoffs. See if they can manage schools with even less personnel if people adhere strictly to the contract. Also - everyone takes a full 50 minute lunch hour with no meetings. No lunch n learn. And next year - no SBOs.

  4. Thank you, Randi Weingarten: none of this could have happened without you.

  5. True! But: Teachers voted for the awful contract she "negotiated" with Bloom/Klein in 2005 which gave the boat away for an increase in income, not a raise, via longer workdays. Glad to say I voted against it along with most earlier contracts.

  6. Mike, Randi shoved the 2005 contract down the throats of the members by sending D.R.s to every school and convincing the members that the contract (car) is worth voting in favor of it (lemon).

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  8. Members should be more involved and thoughtful about contract proposals, especially the long term consequences. I lament the fact that educated people could be so easily swayed by P.R. campaigns conducted by union leadership.

  9. I like ednotes' idea of sticking strictly to the work day designated hours; however, it will never fly. There are so many amoral sycophants around that this would unfortunately not work. Real activism is all that's left. How about real demonstrations, not toothless politician-laden rallies? How about a moratorium on persecution of educators and education in this country? How about exposing the corporate fascism that now is our government?

  10. Weingarten is a two bit whore, having carved out quite a ritzy life for herself from selling us all down the river. For using such totalitarian methods in forcing the '05 contract through, you can add some more descriptions of this two bit whoring weasel. I have a few more which I'll omit...but "fill in the blank."

  11. It's so interesting that people who hate the teacher unions support Randi W. If I remember correctly, I seem to recall Rod Paige calling teachers unions terrorists while stating how great Randi W. was. That tells me whose side she was really on.


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