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May 15, 2013
Name-dropping of students puts an author teacher on notice
A pair of Department of Education employees were separately warned this week for breaking city ethics laws, according to letters released today by an ethics board. In one case, a special education teacher, Faith Walters, used names of 15 former students without permission in a book she published in 2011. The letter doesn't name the book, but it appears to fit the description of a poetry book that sells on paperback for $15.99 on Amazon. The name of the author of the 67-page book is also Faith Walters and she describes herself as a New York City special education teacher. In the book's description, Walters said she was inspired by an experience she had when she first started teaching: The memory of my first day of teaching will forever be in my mind of having an almost fatal experience of losing one of my eyes because of a flying chair that hit the wall just as I opened the classroom door of 15 students who appeared to be very angry and fearful.
January 29, 2013
No across-the-board midyear budget cuts, but trimming begins
Schools won't have to cut their budgets this month, but they will have to start tightening their belts and won't be able to sock away any savings for next year. That's what Chancellor Dennis Walcott told principals in an email sent Monday evening, the first to name specific actions the Department of Education is taking to make up for $240 in state school aid sacrificed when the city and teachers union failed to agree on new teacher evaluations earlier this month. Mayor Bloomberg is set to offer details about his plans to close the midyear school budget gap at a press conference later today. But Walcott said the department would absorb enough of the cuts centrally that he would not have to impose cuts of a certain size on each school, as happened several times during the leanest years of the economic recession. Still, he announced several significant policy changes that could cost schools just the same. The department is doubling down on hiring restrictions, blocking schools from hiring substitute teachers, reducing aides' schedules, and seizing funds that principals had set aside in this year's budget for next year.
November 21, 2011
For a former family worker, life after layoff is filled with false hope
In the Community section last week, teacher Brent Nycz said his sense of loss after his school lost four aides to layoffs was mitigated only by rumors that the aides could get by without their meager salaries. In response, a commenter identifying as a laid-off worker said being able to "collect" without working is little consolation for having to leave a meaningful job. "Only those of us who work in a school and know the relationships you form with the children ... understand how staying home while school continues without you is the most difficult thing to deal with," the worker wrote. "This experience has been awful and I wake up everyday hoping to be called back and everyday I realize it’s never going to happen." It seems that some school aides might have gotten calls to come in to work— against labor rules. Last week's edition of the Principals Weekly newsletter cautioned principals against trying to use the laid-off workers as substitute teachers.
November 16, 2011
As union sues over layoffs, a view into a school that lost aides
A rally in October against planned layoffs of school aides. Five weeks after more than 650 school workers were laid off, their union…
November 14, 2011
School aides union planning to sue to undo last month's layoffs
Santos Crespo, a local president for the DC-37 labor union, on the last day of work for nearly 700 school aides last month. The union that represents school aides is suing to roll back layoffs of nearly 650 members that took place last month. Lawyers for District Council 37, which includes school aides and parent coordinators, plan to file a lawsuit over the layoffs on Wednesday, according to a press release the union just sent out. The suit will argue that the Department of Education acted in bad faith during its negotiations with DC-37 over the jobs, declining to consider other ways to save money or considering whether the City Council and principals might pitch in with their funds. It will also argue that the DOE violated state law by conducting layoffs that disproportionately affected schools with many poor students. Principals chose to cut school aide positions over the summer as they hammered out slimmed-down budgets for this year, and the layoffs took place in October after charged negotiations between DC-37 and the city failed.
October 7, 2011
Tears, vows to fight back, punctuate school aides' final workday
Santos Crespo, a local president for the DC-37 labor union, denounces layoffs on last day of work for more than 700 school aides. For many parents at Marta Valle High School, Cliftonia Johnson, a school aide, was the first line of defense when their children cut class. Johnson, 48, has spent two years at the Lower East Side School, where she works as a community associate, taking attendance and communicating with families of students who skip school—a job that sometimes requires calling hundreds of parents on the phone each week. She was one of close to 700 public school aides laid off today because of city budget cuts. Speaking this afternoon in front of City Hall at the latest of several rallies that District Council-37 union workers have held this month to denounce the district-wide layoffs, Johnson said her position is invaluable to her school community: “These high school kids barely come to school. It’s tough to get them to go to school because a lot of them don’t believe they’re worthy of an education, and you need someone who looks like them to tell them they are worthy,” she said. Johnson, who is black, echoed union criticisms that the layoffs disproportionally targeted people of color, to the detriment of school communities with substantial minority populations. “If you take our [outreach] away, you’re making it worse. ”
October 5, 2011
Despite ongoing DC-37 protest, Walcott says layoffs fight is over
City Council members, union officials, and parents spent yesterday agitating for a last-minute deal to avert layoffs planned for more than 700 school aides. Council…
October 4, 2011
Quinn says council will hold a public hearing on DC 37 layoffs
A rally against the planned layoffs of school aides who belong to DC-37 Using new strategies, City Council members are mounting a final push to stave off the school aide layoffs that are scheduled to take place at the end of the week. Speaker Christine Quinn spoke to Mayor Bloomberg today about the layoffs, according to a Quinn spokesman, who said she plans to schedule a joint public hearing with the Finance and Education Committees to find out more about the scale of the proposed cuts. The DOE has maintained that the layoffs would save at least $38 million, but union officials dispute that total. "By our calculations, it should be closer to $22 and $25 million," said District Council 37's Local 372 president Santos Crespo at a press conference today. The event brought dozens of union and elected officials out in support of Crespo's union workers. It was then followed by a larger rally this evening that attracted Occupy Wall Street protesters. Quinn's announcement comes just days after the Black, Latino and Asian caucus discussed the option following a meeting with Chancellor Dennis Walcott in which little progress was made. Quinn has kept the issue at arms length up to this point, but inveighed against any future teacher layoffs last month on the first day of school. Crespo, who has offered three concession proposals to Walcott, said the council's intervention is the union's best option at this point. "What's going to make [the DOE] respond is going to be the City Council. If that happens, then we'll get to the bottom of this and see where the money is really going."
September 15, 2011
School aides union and DOE in talks to prevent layoffs
Hundreds of Department of Education employees doomed to lose their jobs next month might not be laid off after all. Talks to avert the layoffs of 737 school aides were rekindled this afternoon between the DOE and labor officials representing the employees, according to union officials who are directly involved in the negotiations. "I can tell you that we made significant proposals to see if we can prevent these layoffs," said one of the sources, who requested anonymity because negotiations were ongoing. "I feel very positive about the meeting today." The layoffs to non-pedagogical school staff were abruptly announced last month by the DOE and came after the city blamed the employees' unions for not providing "any real savings that could have saved these jobs." The layoffs caught union leaders at DC-37, the city's largest municipal union and its affiliate Local 372 off guard. Local 372 President Santos Crespo, who said he attended this afternoon's meeting, criticized the layoffs as political and being too heavily concentrated in the city's poor and minority communities. The drama over layoffs at the Department of Education has persisted since last year, when Mayor Bloomberg first announced that thousands of teachers' jobs would have to be cut because of widening gaps in the budget. Those talks temporarily ceased in late June, however, when the teachers union agreed to concessions in an eleventh hour deal to avert the layoffs.
September 7, 2011
On eve of school year, parents take aim at school aide layoffs
The city should rethink the money used on outside consultants to save the jobs of the school aides, health workers, and parent coordinators…
August 23, 2011
Principals cut 2,000+ teaching jobs; city plans school layoffs
Budget cuts caused principals to cut thousands of positions this year, but the total number of teachers without permanent jobs rose only slightly, the Department of Education revealed today. The Bloomberg administration also announced plans to lay off nearly 800 school employees who do not belong to the teachers union, which negotiated a deal in June to avert layoffs. Most of those employees — 737 of 777 — belong to DC-37, which represents school aides and other auxiliary school personnel. The layoffs are set to start in October. When the city announced in July that schools would have to cut an average of 2.43 percent from their budgets, many principals complained that they had little fat to trim. They said they would have to turn to eliminating necessary positions and sending junior teachers to the Absent Teacher Reserve, the pool of teachers whose positions were cut or lost as a result of school closures or enrollment changes. In the end, they sent 2,186 teachers to the ATR pool this summer. More than a thousand of those teachers have already left the pool, either by finding new positions or leaving the system. A DOE spokeswoman said many of the teachers were rehired by their original schools after funding became available to keep them there. That leaves 1,940 teachers in the ATR pool with just weeks before the start of the school year. Last year, the pool contained 1,779 teachers just before classes began. Though small, the growth in the size of the ATR pool still places added financial stress on the department.
November 13, 2009
On school aides’ last day, Klein addresses union
On the last day of work for over 500 school aides, Chancellor Joel Klein delivered a speech at the aides' union headquarters that made no mention of the layoffs. Speaking at District Council 37's Quality of Work Life Employee Recognition Ceremony this morning, Klein said that "this is a tough time," and the work school aides do is more necessary than ever before. Then he reminded the aides that "it's not how much you get, but how much you give." "I'm here today to call on all of you to make sure you and all of your colleagues continue the work you're doing. Our children will depend upon it," he said.
October 27, 2009
School aides facing layoffs have jobs for another week
The roughly 500 school aides the city has targeted for layoffs will keep their positions for another week under an extension of a temporary restraining order first issued last week. State Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead ruled today that officials from D.C. 37, the union that represents the school aides and plaintiffs in the case, made a convincing argument that the layoffs violate parts of the state constitution and education law. Edmead focused on D.C. 37's argument that the city is illegally replacing unionized school aides with less expensive temporary workers who will not receive benefits. The judge found that the Department of Education's contract for temporary workers to perform many of the same duties of the laid-off school aides may violate the state constitution and a chancellor's regulation that requires school workers to report to the education department.
October 23, 2009
East Harlem parents call for city to save their school aides
Sheanica Davis is set to lose her job at Mosaic Preparatory Academy. Parents and staff at an East Harlem elementary school are protesting the city's plan to lay off all of their school aides. Rallying outside of the entrance of Mosaic Preparatory Academy as school let out this afternoon, parents, students and staff called for the city to save their five school aides' jobs. The school is slated to lose the five people who currently hold the positions, not the positions themselves. Parent coordinator Maria Torres said that Mosaic's principal, Lisette Caesar, has money in the school's budget to preserve the aide jobs. But because the aides were all hired just a year ago when the school opened, they are among the most junior aides in the district, and thus the first to receive pink slips. "Our principal has been trying to keep them, and the parents have been doing everything they can," said Rose Jimenez, the president of Mosaic's parent association. "If we can afford to keep them, it sounds unfair." One of Mosaic's aides, Sheanica Davis, said that her main job is to keep students safe. She scrolled through a list of parents in her cell phone's contact list, saying that she keeps in regular touch with many of them, assuring them that their children have arrived to school on time and are eating healthy meals.
October 2, 2009
DC 37 accuses education department of "union-busting"
Today was the last day of work for more than a hundred school aides whose union says they were laid off because of mismanagement rather than budget cuts. District Council 37, the city's largest municipal union, attacked the education department this afternoon for what they called "a clear case of union-busting." In a statement, Veronica Montgomery-Costa, president of DC 37's Local 372 chapter, accused Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein of diverting resources out of the school system into no-bid contracts. The union also resurrected the summer's fight over parent-funded school aides, saying that those privately-funded positions undercut union jobs, resulting in the loss of over 700 positions.
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