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by Micah Landau | May 12, 2011 New York Teacher issue
Elected officials make the scene
These elected officials joined the May 5 rally in the Bronx.
- Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera
- Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.
- Bronx City Councilman James Vacca
Music blared and horns from passing cars honked in support as more than 1,000 educators, parents and students, chanting and equipped with whistles, rallied against budget cuts and layoffs on the steps of the Bronx County Supreme Court.
Calling into question what the mayor considers his greatest legacy, protestors wore matching black T-shirts emblazoned with the UFT logo and the slogan, “‘The Education Mayor’? REALLY?” which they also chanted throughout the demonstration.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said he could hear the protesters from his office inside the courthouse.
“If the mayor had any sense, he would hear the Bronx as well,” Diaz said to thunderous applause.
Diaz took particular umbrage with the mayor’s decision to hold city dollars in reserve rather than use them to prevent teacher layoffs and other cuts.
“The reality is that the mayor has over $3 billion in reserves,” he said. “He says he is saving it for a rainy day. But you know what? It’s pouring.”
Carlos Lopez, the chapter leader at PS 30 in Mott Haven and a reverend at the Latino Pastoral Action Center, said he is especially concerned about how the mayor’s budget will affect the South Bronx, an area already hard hit by school closures and economic troubles.
“The mayor doesn’t know what it means to walk in the streets of the Bronx, to teach in the classroom,” Lopez said. “He says he is the education mayor who will bring education reform, but we hear day in and day out scare tactics about layoffs, and most teachers laid off will be in the South Bronx. When we hurt teachers, we hurt children.”
Nelson Lucena, the UFT chapter leader at the Bronx’s PS 463, said he feels shortchanged by the mayor’s attacks on teachers after 25 years of dedicated service.
“This administration wants to cut me short,” the veteran educator said. “They want seniority rights taken away. They want all kinds of benefits taken away.”
The threatened layoffs hit close to home for Jonathan Cummings, a senior at the Academy for Scholarship and Entrepreneurship. “My teachers taught me so many things, not just academics, so I can’t imagine my teachers not teaching any more, not sharing their experience with other students,” he said.