Thursday, June 23, 2011

There Is No Reason To Cut 6,000 Teaching Positions In NYC--An Open Letter to the People of New York by Alison Nelson

An Open Letter to the People of New York:

Our Mayor and the Department of Education have deemed it necessary to cut 6,000 teaching positions from our public schools. They have cited a shortage in the budget and claim $300 million is needed to fund these positions they state just isn't fiscally available. We are standing on the edge of a precipice that will come to affect all New Yorker's lives for decades.

While Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, our City Council members and Chancellor debate the topic, our children suffer in overcrowded classrooms. As parents, teachers and principals alike know, there is plenty of money available in the DOE's budget. However, the Mayor in concert with the DOE, do not believe our teachers are a priority. Instead $600 million will be spent in the 2011/ 21012 school year on outside contracts, testing, assessments, increased spending at DOE central and technology most deem unnecessary and unproductive.

The DOE is in the business of education. To receive an education a student needs a teacher. It is simple math and common sense. All other bells and whistles should be secondary and fall behind placing living (rather than electronic) teachers in classrooms. Instead of cutting spending increases on outside contracts for test assessments by two thirds to save the DOE $400 million (or save $15 million annually by freezing spending in Central DOE) it’s easier to terminate teachers. There are currently 1.1 million children in our city classrooms and those class sizes have steadily risen each year for the past 4 years while teaching positions have greatly diminished by 5,000 over the same period. To save 6,000 teaching positions requires absolutely no additional outside funding.

The $300 million shortfall is currently in the DOE's own budget. It is just misspent.

For all those without children who feel this isn't their fight, the city has held hundreds of millions of dollars in reserves to build new prisons that are not currently needed or wanted. Without teachers, smaller class sizes and a top-flight education-- one that provides critical thinking skills and creates engaged learners-- our city will churn out children with limited options. Upon which, our prison fund will most definitely be needed. Is this truly where we want our tax dollars to go?

Whomever is the most courageous to make this stand will leave a legacy of true accountability to 1.1 million children. The very children the Department of Education should have been accountable for all along.

It is my position that we should use the funds already in the DOE budget to make sure there are teachers to teach. Together with Class Size Matters we have outlined options for reducing the budget without touching the classroom.


$23 million: cancel (or do not renew) contracts w/ McGraw Hill and Scantron for Acuity, or interim assessments.
These contracts end in Aug. 2011 and most parents, teachers and even principals think they are worthless.

$4 million: cut contracts with TFA and New Teacher Project and instead retrain current teachers for licenses in shortage areas.

$400 million: cut the projected increase in spending on private contracts and consultants by two thirds

$2 million: cut back on the growth in Children First Network and cluster staff

$15 million: freeze spending for central administration

$21 million: freeze spending on technology

$9 million: reduce contract spending on professional development by using in house staff

$100 million: Charge co-located charter schools for the space and services that the city now provides in

DOE buildings for free. (note: some of these are overlapping)

Total: up to $600 M dollars in savings.

Tap into City Reserve Funds

$200 million: The proposed 2012 budget has a general reserve fund of $300 million ($200 million more than the legal minimum.).

$200 million: $2 billion is currently in the health care reserve fund; $200 to $300 million more could be withdra from this optional fund.

Total: At least $400 million.

Alison Nelson
Co- President, PS3 PTA
SLT Member
Community Board 2 Board Member
Owner, Chocolate Bar

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