Today’s news:

UFT urges parents to oppose cuts

Teachers are asking parents to help save their jobs.

Following Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement that public schools will lose 15,000 teachers through layoffs and attrition if the state and federal governments don’t provide emergency cash, teachers visited community meetings to ask parents for their support.

“We’re going to fight these cuts,” Richard Mantell, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) representative for School District 18, said at a meeting of the local Community Education Council (CEC). “We need all of you to contact your politicians and let them know we need this money.”

The city Department of Education (DOE) faces a $1.4 billion deficit for the next fiscal year because of Governor David Paterson’s $770 million cut, Bloomberg’s $500 million cut, and a $200 million increase in non-discretionary costs, including educators’ pensions and school system debts.

If the federal stimulus package is passed, city schools would receive $1.8 billion, according to Senator Charles Schumer.

The UFT will hold a rally on March 5th at 4 p.m. outside of City Hall to denounce the proposed funding cuts and call for additional state and federal aid.

“We’re asking all parents to come,” Mantell said. “We want 75,000 people out there screaming at the mayor and chancellor. We need all of you. We’re in this together.”

If the school system lost 15,000 teachers, class size would increase.

“Safety will go out the window with 35, 40 kids in a class,” Mantell said.

With fewer teachers and less funding, schools will likely cut back on art and music courses, said Rodrick Ruddie Daley, a foreign language teacher at I.S. 285, 5909 Beverly Road.

“Drama, music and art – those things will be gone as well. Programs will be cut,” he said.

“In the 70s was the last time we had these cuts,” Mantell said. “It’s going to devastate the system.”

John Capuano, a guidance counselor at I.S. 68 at 956 East 82nd Street, doesn’t understand why teachers account for the majority of municipal workers who would lose their jobs if the state and federal governments don’t allocate additional funding.

“Out of 25,000 layoffs, why are 15,000 from our schools? Why not spread it out more?” Capuano said.

Parents at the CEC meeting seemed ready to join the fight to protect teachers’ jobs and, in turn, public schools.

“This is for our children,” said James Dandridge, president of District 18’s CEC. “Let’s support them.”

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