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Park Protest Over Teacher Layoff Plan

IMG_0048Laura E. Lee Demonstrators marched through Tompkins Square Park this afternoon to protest the mayor’s proposal to dismiss 4,000 public school teachers.

Around 45 parents, teachers and children gathered in Tompkins Square Park this afternoon to protest Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s plan to fire more than 4,000 teachers, saying the measure would have catastrophic consequences for the city’s public school students.

The protesters, many from nearby schools like the Earth School and the Children’s Workshop School, convened in the park shortly after class was dismissed at 3 p.m., chanting “No budget cuts, no layoffs” and carrying signs mocking Mr. Bloomberg. Some young students had even made their own signs in support of teachers. As the protest came to a close, parents and teachers pulled out their cellphones and flooded 311 with calls, telling operators that they were opposed to any teachers losing their jobs. Others filed their protest with 311 via text message.

“We know there’s money in the budget, it’s a question of priorities,” said Lisa Donlan, 51, who brought a megaphone to the park. “Everyone can come up with savings if we just reprioritize the education budget.”

Teachers opposed to Mr. Bloomberg’s plan were also among the crowd.

“I’m one of the teachers who will not be working next year if Bloomberg’s budget goes through,” said Stephanie Schwartz, a 27-year-old teacher at the Neighborhood School. “It’s stressful, I love my children as if they were my own. And after work I have to go and fight and make sure students will have enough teachers next year.”

Scenes from the Protest

Kaitlyn Bolton, of NYU Journalism’s Hyperlocal Summer Newsroom Academy, shares video of the demonstration.

East Village Teachers, Admins Stay Cool

PS 19Hadas Goshen

Like a dusty chalkboard, the future of East Village teachers has been wiped over and rewritten several times in the weeks following Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget cuts, which could lead to 4,600 teacher lay-offs across Manhattan and affect East Village schools disproportionately. As politicians debate which policies will actually take shape, the district’s education officials remain calm, and say political pandering is just another lesson in history.

“We don’t want to overreact to the mayor’s scare tactics. We’re waiting to see what position to take—we don’t want to be manipulated,” said Lisa Donlan, president of District 1’s Community Education Council.

Last week was a turbulent one for the district’s education officials. On Monday, a list revealing the city’s proposed teacher lay-offs under the long-standing “last in, first out” law showed an average of 10 percent of Lower East Side and East Village school teachers would be fired based on their recent hire status, while more senior teaching positions across districts remained safe.

But by Tuesday’s close, the State Senate had voted 32-27 to amend the legislation, concerned by the inordinate number of teacher lay-offs across New York, particularly at newer schools or those with greener staffs—like those in the East Village.

One such school, P.S. 19 Asher Levy Elementary School, would lose city funding for nine out of its 32 teachers (28 percent) under the “last in, first out” law, while similar schools with seasoned staffs would lose none. Read more…