2001-05-26 / Columnists

Simon Says….

by Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

by Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Thursday afternoon we boarded a bus at J.H.S. 180 with their wonderful chairperson and librarian Evelyn Seroy and other U.F.T. members. The purpose was to attend a rally at City Hall to demand a new contract with fair and equitable pay for N.Y.C. teachers.

Teachers are the first adults, next to the parents, who mold our children, who are the future of our society. Teachers today must deal with numerous discipline problems, unavailability of needed supplies, preparation of lesson plans for different types of classes, grading papers and reaching out to parents. A teacher’s job is never over at the end of the day. The $31,000 starting salary is not competitive with other jobs which require a college degree and a master’s degree.

Many teachers can get jobs in private industry at higher salaries. There have been suggestions of a 30 percent salary increase. We feel this is not enough. With the current teacher shortage the only way to get the best and the brightest is to offer major salary increases.

It has come to my attention that under the mayor’s new budget District 27 would lose 150 to 200 teaching positions. This is a major problem for the district as we are operating at 129 percent of capacity. What will happen to class size? What will happen to such specialties as science, foreign language, and ELA and state test preparation in our elementary schools. The cluster teachers who commonly provide these classes would no longer exist.

The UFT is trying to get a new contract concluded by June 5, so it can be ratified before the end of the term. When contracts are delayed until the last minute, many prospective teachers go to other communities with higher salaries and settled contracts. Late contracts also prevent principals from knowing how many teaching positions will be available. They cannot guarantee jobs to promising candidates. Plans for special programs are disrupted because there is no assurance that staff will be available.

Our next trip to Atlantic City Trump Marina will be on Saturday June 23. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. The cost is $25 with $14 returned. Eleven people will win $10 on the bus. Call my office for reservations.

Last week I urged the Board of Education to bring a state of the art magnet school to J.H.S 180. This school is underutilized due to loss of community confidence during a period of poor management by a former administration. Parents choose to send their children to middle schools in Districts 21 and 22 in Brooklyn.

Many parents opt to move out of our community to Long island and other areas if the applications are not accepted. We are tired of losing our good neighbors and sending the best and brightest of our students out of our district and out of our city.

We implored the Chancellor and the board to hear our pleas and say yes and fulfill the dreams of the Rockaways.

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