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Thousands of teachers and students flooded City Hall to send a clear message to city and state politicians — do not cut funding for public schools.
Brooklyn’s educators were out in full force at the March 5th rally, which was organized by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and several other city union groups.
The 50,000 people in attendance were protesting Governor David Paterson’s budget proposal, which would cut $2.5 billion from education.
Among the demonstrators was teacher Shirley Pon who said funding cuts would devastate Brooklyn’s public schools.
“It affects the classroom directly,” said Pon, who teaches third grade English Language Learners (ELL) students at P.S. 209 in Sheepshead Bay.
Massive budget cuts could result in teacher layoffs, thereby increasing class size.
In such an instance, there would be less one-on-one attention between teacher and student, Pon explained.
“You can’t give them individual attention,” she said. “You just can’t perform.”
Marcia Joyce, an English teacher at P.S. 209, offered this advice to politicians, “Would you want the children in your family to be squeezed in with 40 other students? How can you conscionably allow this to happen to the children of the city?”
There’s also concerns about what subjects would be cut if funding is slashed. Many say that art, music and theater would be the first to go.
“I’m really worried about my job. I am an art teacher and some people see art as an extra but I see it as a necessity,” said Kamal Badhey, an art teacher at the Cypress Hills Community School.
Dante Doig, a 12th grader at Bedford Academy in Fort Greene, attended the rally with two classmates.
Although Doig is graduating, he’s concerned about the quality of education that his friends and younger sister will receive if budget cuts are implemented.
“I’m upset about it,” he said. “I don’t want there to be cuts.”
“They cut the programs that we really need but they don’t think are necessary,” he continued.
If budget cuts proceed, “We are going to be putting children’s lives in jeopardy,” said Claudia Gonzalez, a fifth grade teacher at P.S. 345 in East New York.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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