News stories

Enough is enough!

UFT survey finds budget cuts do great damage to schools

UFT President Michael Mulgrew, PS 1 school secretary Linda Gim, chapter leader C Miller Photography

UFT President Michael Mulgrew, PS 1 school secretary Linda Gim, chapter leader Christine Wong and UFT officers face a bank of cameras and reporters as they detail the impact of the last three years of budget cuts on the city schools.

Mulgrew and PS 1 Chapter Leader Christine Wong talk about the impact of budget c Miller Photography

Mulgrew and PS 1 Chapter Leader Christine Wong talk about the impact of budget cuts in front of the Chinatown school.

Standing with teachers and families in front of PS 1 in Manhattan’s Chinatown on Nov. 1, UFT President Michael Mulgrew revealed the results of a new UFT survey that confirms the devastating effects of three years of budget cuts on the city’s schools.

Two-thirds of the more than 850 chapter leaders who responded to the survey reported that their schools do not have enough instructional supplies or textbooks for students; 62 percent said their class sizes were significantly higher; more than half have had to cut after-school programs; and more than one-third cut academic intervention services.

“Right now we have over 1 million students in New York City who are being hammered by the cuts our school system has taken,” said Mulgrew.

PS 1 has achieved remarkable results with a big population of English language learners, he said, but its success is in jeopardy. He said that he was putting state and city officials on notice that a fourth year of cuts would be unimaginable.

PS 1 Chapter Leader Christine Wong, an early grades special education teacher who has taught at the school for seven years, said she has noted changes in the excellent community school, “not in staff and community commitment but in the city’s commitment.” Over three years, she said, the school’s K-2 classes have gone from 18 students to 25 or even 28. The 3rd- through 5th-grade classes are at 32 or 33. There is no longer a library teacher or a computer teacher, and the school is short copy paper, desks and workbooks, she noted.

Forty-year veteran teacher Joan Dichter, who has seen generations of students come through PS 1, said she had never seen things so bad. Science teacher Seung Lee said the students in his packed classes spend more time watching and listening than performing the experiments and hands-on learning activities that they used to do because there is neither space nor time for the children to do such high-level learning.

The school system needs a new source of revenue, Mulgrew said, whether from an extension of the state millionaire’s tax, federal jobs legislation or some other way.

“We just need the political will at every level,” he said. The budget writers must find more money for the schools this year, he said, because “enough is enough.”

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