Press Release: UFT Solidarity stands in support of the suit TUCKER, KOTLER, et al. v. THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, and the CHANCELLOR OF THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, David C. Banks.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 31, 2022
Lydia Howrilka (917) 705-5699
NEW YORK: UFT Solidarity stands in support of the suit TUCKER, KOTLER, et al. v. THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, and the CHANCELLOR OF THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, David C. Banks.
Alarmed at what they have concluded is an unlawful and unsustainable City-wide budget for public schools, public school educators affiliated with Solidarity, the second largest caucus of the United Federation of Teachers, stands in support with the petitioners, PEP members, and legal personnel who filed the suit TUCKER, KOTLER, et al on July 17. Solidarity’s membership has become alarmed by steep budget cuts impacting Title 1 schools and the large numbers of teachers being excessed from school communities where they have worked for years.
After examining the city’s proposed budget and recalling the track record of city officials to date, the union caucus has concluded that many students, staff, and their family members would suffer unnecessarily if the City does nothing additional to fully fund schools with all their earmarked federal pandemic funding (and not district, borough, or Central DOE offices).
Under Mayor Eric Adams’s proposed City budget, schools would face $215 million in cuts during the 2022-23 school year and $295 million the following year and would be hit with the full $375 million cut in the 2024-25 school year. While the cuts are tied to K-12 declining enrollment —which has dropped by 9.5% since the beginning of the pandemic — Solidarity members believe this will hurt students as they continue grappling with the academic and social-emotional toll from the pandemic.
Students are not the only victims of the budget cuts. Almost a thousand UFT members have been excessed from their schools and are no longer on their schools’ payroll. If these members cannot find a new school to hire them, they will go into the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool. Michael Bloomberg and then-UFT President Randi Weingarten established the ATR pool when large numbers of public schools were shut down and principals were given control over their budgets and had the ability to eliminate programs and teachers from their budget. Prior to 2022, there are a few hundred ATRs remaining. The only reason that there are ATRs at all is that the Bloomberg policymakers are still in charge and have resisted the Chancellor’s goal to place ATRs in vacancies. If Adams’ proposed budget cuts get pushed through, we will see a larger number of ATRs being shuffled from school to school, because the DOE is unable, or unwilling , to place them in a stable school of their choosing where they can teach and establish roots.
Solidarity Council Member Kathy Perez states, “The Adams administration is once again missing an opportunity to greatly improve the public school experience for children and families. Instead of seeing this decrease in enrollment as an opportunity to lower class sizes, add social workers and counselors to school staff, provide more remedial, extracurricular, and enrichment opportunities for students, the Adams administration has decided to slash budgets, thereby insuring that schools will continue to have to scramble to find basic resources. They are completely squandering an opportunity to actually show the commitment to public education that they certainly love to talk about, but when given the opportunity to either help or hurt kids, they stick to business as usual and make children and families pay the price.”
Solidarity Council Member Daniel Leopold states, “It is extremely puzzling how the people who vehemently objected to “Defund the Police” which was actually meant reallocate funds to areas that need more funding, are so quiet now that funding for public schools are being drastically cut. This is a recipe for creating an idiocracy in NYC through the ripple effects in years to come generated by these cuts. We need transparency in how the cuts were determined for each and every school in NYC.”
Solidarity Council Member Joanne Millar states, “Restoring the budget cuts would drastically increase the amount of individualized attention able to be given to every city student thereby increasing their academic achievement and propelling SEL advances made exponentially further since the SEL initiative was put in place during the pandemic. Cutting the budget so drastically is plain thievery from our city’s youth by the mayor.”
UFT Member Jessica Beck states, “The Adams administration prioritizes political interests over the real families, children, educators, and classrooms impacted by these budget cuts. Public education is vital to our communities, and this barefaced move toward privatization is a boldly shameful gesture when mayoral control is so hotly disputed.”
Solidarity Caucus member and High School Executive Board Delegate Lydia Howrilka informed membership, “We are pleased with the Court’s ruling. This is a tremendous win for UFT members. While we wish the TRO would result in schools being granted their lost funding immediately, we are happy that Judge Frank is ordering that the City is enjoined from making any further cuts to school budgets and the spending must remain at the levels in their FY 22 budgets. We look forward to a positive outcome for the petitioners, community members, and students after next week’s hearing.”