As you have already stated on ednotes I was unfortunately the only speaker allowed at the Delegate Assembly against the UFT's deal with Bloomberg that averted layoffs. There was, as James Eterno has pointed out, much more that could have been said especially about the position of ATRs. I chose, however, to look at the wider question of cuts to education, how this will affect teachers as well as students and parents and how the cuts could have been stopped.
Anyway here is the gist of what I said:
Michael Mulgrew in his report stated correctly that the budget the City Council is about to agree contains a range of cuts to social services and the layoff of 1,000 city workers. What is not correct is to suggest that the budget won't contain major cuts to education on top of all the other cuts to education in this city in recent years. We are all greatly relieved that there will be no layoffs of teachers. But the deal we are discussing implicitly accepts a reduction in the teacher workforce of 2,600 which in addition to previous cuts amounts to a reduction in the order of 8,000 teachers in the past three years. In my school, IS 218, we experienced class sizes of 37-38 in the 7th and 8th grade this year and it wasn't until well into the school year that we got partial relief in the 8th grade. With cuts this big in the workforce, our experience at 218 will be increasingly common. It may be true that our pay and benefits are not being cut in this deal but it is inevitable that, for large numbers of us, our working conditions will be further degraded.
The cuts and attacks against public education are part of a wider corporate offensive against the public sector and the working class in this country. Bloomberg is the sharp end of this in New York but Cuomo is not far behind. The question may be asked: how could we stop such an onslaught? The answer history gives us is social struggle. If you are looking for a model look at the civil rights movement. On May 12 we took a step in that direction. As Micheal Mulgrew stated previously it was good that we got out of the pens. We marched on Wall Street alongside other unionized workers and activists and gave vent to working class anger. And there are a lot of angry working class people in this city right now. From there we should have steadily escalated the resistance and made clear that business as usual was over until ALL the cuts were taken off the table [as we all know the resources are there; it's a question of priorities, those of Wall Street vs the needs of ordinary people] If necessary there should have been mass civil disobedience; instead in the end we chose to break the front of labor.
All the best,
Chapter Leader MS 218, Brooklyn
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.