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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Jo Haines, Executive Director of The International Dyslexia Association, Needs Your Help

Ms. Haines, Executive Director of The International Dyslexia Association, asks New Yorkers to rally behind reading teachers who are about to be laid off. See her email below.

Dear Friend,

In early March, the New York City Department of Education released a layoff plan that raises real concerns about the city's ability to serve students with learning disabilities. Included in the plan are cuts of up to 15% of licensed reading teachers. The cuts will effectively terminate any reading teacher with less than ten (10) years seniority. Although we believe that any cuts to education are wrong, the effect of these proposed cuts on public school children with reading disabilities will be quite serious.

We urge you to contact the DOE and your elected officials to let them know you oppose the plan. (See below for contact information.)

Cuts system-wide are 6%, but not every discipline will be impacted equally. Math and Science will experience only 3% cuts, whereas Reading is scheduled for the most severe cuts of 15%. Including reading in the group scheduled for the largest cuts fails to recognize the invaluable service which reading specialists provide classroom teachers and our most educationally vulnerable children.

Eighty five percent (85%) of all learning disabilities are reading disabilities. Reading Teachers are specifically trained to address those learning disabilities in one-on-one and small group settings. Despite the city's claim that Special Education will be exempt from layoffs, many reading teachers spend most of their time with students requiring special education. In fact, reading specialists working in District 75 (the special education district) are not exempt from these cuts and face termination.

Reading teachers are on the educational front lines not only with special education students but also with children with reading disabilities who have not been classified for special ed. services. Families unable to afford private tutors for their children will be most affected by these cuts. It is our belief that children with reading disabilities served by licensed reading teachers in New York City will be disproportionately harmed by the intended layoffs.


Bill de Blasio
NYC Public Advocate
Municipal Building
One Centre Street
New York, NY 10007
212 669 7200

Cathleen P. Black
NYC Department of Education
Tweed Courthouse
52 Chamber Street
New York, NY 10007
212 935 2000

Robert Jackson
NYC Council Committee on Education
250 Broadway
New York, NY 10007
212 234 0551

To locate and contact your council representative, visit


Jo Haines
Executive Director
Int'l Dyslexia Association - New York
71 West 23rd Street #1527
New York, NY 10010

Sol Stern on Reading

here is a comment on the above post that I received April 3:

Thanks so much for your article. I am one of the Reading Specialists who is slated to be laid off (I am in year 4). I am also an ATR, and have been told by my Chapter Leader and borough rep that the Reading License is "dead", that no one wants it anymore. I called the UFT District Office and was basically told to ty to work under my ELA 7 -12 (even though I have never worked under it and therefore would lose my tenure and be at year 0) because "you'll never find a Reading position - no one wants them and you'll be in the ATR pool forever." So I guess I spent $22,000 on a useless piece of paper and am considering shredding it and putting it in my cat's litter box. I am planning cram through a 36 credit course in administration since no one seems to want to let me do the work I love and am also extremely good at (I was excessed, with 2 other Reading Specialists) because all of the grade 7/8 level 1 kids got 2 or higher on the ELA two years ago. As a thank you, the City decided that the school no longer needed Reading classes and eliminated the Title 1 Reading funding. Some pat on the back, eh?

Anyway, thanks for acknowledging us. I'll still be on the unemployment line, my house up for sale, and my  kids' dance/piano/sports eliminated as keeping a roof over our heads becomes our main priority, but it's nice to know that someone noticed.

Mike Bloomberg On Paying Teachers (Not) And Buying Ed Technology To Replace Them (Teachers)

A conversation in the bull pen at City Hall, overheard by a co-worker, has been forward to me. Mike Bloomberg is evidently on a conference call with Richard Condon ("Dick"), Special Commissioner of Investigation, and Mecca Santana, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity at the NYC BOE's 65 Court Street address. "Theresa" is, of course, Theresa Europe of "The Gotcha Squad", and Howard Wolfson is "Counsel to the Mayor".

Theresa Europe
here is a summary of the conversation:

Mike Bloomberg :

"Darn it, I can control technology, but not those lazy, unprofessional high-paid senior teachers sitting around classrooms and doing nothing while their students fight each other and send sexually explicit texts on their iphones (that I banned). Dick, Mecca, I need you to get me the names of these principals who are not getting rid of tenured teachers fast enough. Get Cathie on board. Tell them they better get moving on sending incident reports to Theresa over at the "Gotcha Squad" - I hate that name, but you know the procedure - or there will be consequences. Oh, and the problem that we have with that music teacher from PS22, I forget his name, Gregg...Breinberg, thanks, for looking into getting something to use against him, he could blotch this whole campaign to get rid of senior teachers. Get moving on this and call Howard if you need anything from our buddies over at the News or Post, ok? But get moving, now.

Richard "Dick" Condon

DOE: Computers More Important Than Teachers, Schools

Mecca Santana
By Garth Johnston in News on March 30, 2011 5:35 PM 7


Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education have been talking constantly about the department's budget of late, insisting that they must end the "Last In, First Out" rule (perhaps you've noticed the ads occasionally running on Gothamist?) and putting out scary budget projection after scary budget projection in which they say that unless they get more aid they will have to do things like fire six percent of the city's teachers. So isn't it a little odd that the department is planning to spend more than half-a-billion dollars on technology improvements next year while simultaneously cutting $1.3 billion from its construction budget for the next three years?

As Manhattan Beep Scot Stringer wrote to Cathy Black last week, the numbers being bandied about by the DOE are “particularly large in the context of a fiscal crisis which the mayor reports is so dire that he may eliminate some 6,000 teaching positions.”

Now, to be fair, the state capital that is behind much of the technology funding is specifically not to be used for teachers salaries. But it can use those funds for construction costs. And considering the department has announced plans to cut its construction budget from $2 billion over the next three years to $642 million you'd think they could use the cash. Remember, the city is already lined up to spend $708 million just changing the lights in city schools over the next decade! Not to mention the fact that 3,200 children were put on wait lists for kindergarten this year.

So what is the DOE planning on using that tech money for exactly? Didn't they already put a computer in every classroom? Bandwidth, baby! Now that more and more schools are actually starting to use the computers and smart boards and whatnot that they've been installing over the years they are increasingly finding that their networks can't keep up. And that's not all. Other tech projects in the works include something called iLearn NYC (a $50 million online course management project) and expanding a program called the Innovation Zone, or iZone, in which the department has been testing out tech-intensive teaching methods in 80 schools. The mayor's office wants the program to be expanded to 400 schools by the end of Bloomberg's third term.

Now we recognize that being technologically up-to-date is important for children (or at least is important for their parents), but in our minds no technology matters as much as having a good teacher and a school for them to teach in.

Contact the author of this article or email with further questions, comments or tips.

Bloomberg: There Could Be 21,000 Teacher Layoffs


With Gov. Cuomo's first budget proposal since taking office imminent, Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday that city schools could be facing a $1 billion budget cut, which could spell massive teacher layoffs. On his WOR radio show yesterday, he raised the specter that as many as 21,000 teachers could lose their jobs this year: "Scuttlebutt is that the education budget will be cut statewide, and New York City's share of that would be a billion-dollar cut."

Bloomberg estimated that if the $1 billion cut is approved, the city would be forced to cut 15,000 teachers. That's in addition to the 6,166 teacher layoffs Bloomberg plans to make in the fiscal year beginning July 1, making for a loss of nearly a quarter of the 75,000 teachers employed by the Department of Education. Bloomberg lamented the unfairness of the layoffs, focusing on the rules requiring teachers hired last to go first: "We'd have to part company with some of the best teachers. It's a state law, 'Last in, first out.' There are great and terrible teachers at every level of experience and age...In the private sector, nobody would do 'Last in, first out.' You'd do it on the 'Who is the most productive.'"

The only teachers who would be immune to the cuts are those in special education, English as a second language and speech. The worst cuts would hit District 9, which includes the Highbridge section of the Bronx, who would lose 27 percent; schools in District 1, which includes Manhattan's lower East Side, District 10 and District 12, which include Riverdale and Tremont, would all lose 26 percent of their teachers. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew criticized Bloomberg for supporting the end of the millionaires' tax in light of these developments: "I would hope the mayor would fight for the children. He has chosen that his millionaire and billionaire friends are much more important than the children in the schools of New York City."