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by Maisie McAdoo | September 22, 2011 New York Teacher issue
Nervous children and teary parents got a warm welcome not only from their teachers at PS/IS 187 in upper Manhattan on Sept. 8, but from UFT President Michael Mulgrew, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson.
The trio stood outside the school doors offering encouragement and reminders to work hard and thank their teachers on an opening day that went relatively smoothly across the city.
PS/IS 187 has deep roots in the Washington Heights community; indeed the principal and some of the parents of today’s students attended the school themselves. This year, parents and staff told Mulgrew, they are very concerned about the size of the classes and budget cuts.
“We’ve been hit hard by budget cuts and we were already overcrowded,” said Mark Levine, who was dropping off his two sons, a 3rd- and a 7th-grader.
Mulgrew said the school system must protect classrooms. “The priority for spending is in the classroom,” he told the teachers.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said protecting classrooms should be a priority and balked at the possibility of layoffs when asked about them by a reporter. “I can’t imagine why you would go back to that idea again,” said Quinn. “It didn’t work. And I certainly hope that they saw how clear and strong we in the Council felt about the idea of layoffs last year.”
At PS 257 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Mulgrew and City Comptroller John Liu gathered with teachers who were celebrating their students’ return with the knowledge that a magnet grant will allow them to keep classes to normal sizes and offer art, music and enrichment classes to round out their curriculum.
The high-performing school, where 90 percent of students qualify for free lunch and where 25 percent require special education services, has exceptionally loyal teachers. They told Mulgrew that the collaborative culture of the school and the principal’s trust in their professional skills keep them at the school and have created a very successful learning environment.
“The struggle is,” Mulgrew said, “I want every school to be like this.”