Education International
Education International

New York City threatens massive teacher redundancies

published 1 March 2011 updated 12 April 2011

Amid stout battles to save collective bargaining rights for teachers, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) have learned that up to 5,000 teachers are threatened with redundancy in New York.

Figures released by the city’s Department of Education details the number of teachers it will lay off if it does not receive more money from the State Senate. The figures estimate that at least 4,675 teachers’ posts, or 6 per cent of teachers, currently working in the city, could be dispensed. If enacted, the measures would have a deep and profound impact across all academic subject areas and neighbourhoods, affecting 80 per cent of the 1,600 public schools in the city. Most schools would lose between one to five teachers, while nine would lose as many as half of the teachers on their payroll. The figures come to light as the State Senate prepares to vote on a bill that would allow the city to lay off teachers based on factors like performance and disciplinary records, rather than seniority. By releasing the list, the department hopes to prepare parents for the fact that virtually no school would be untouched. Richard C. Iannuzzi, President of the New York State United Teachers, the local umbrella teachers’ union affiliated to both the AFT and NEA, said: "Whether we work in health care, on a campus or in a school, we all bring different, and important, contributions to the profession. Teachers have already sacrificed enough; only last year, more than 5,000 were laid off." EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, has expressed concern at the news emanating from the Education Department. "Make no mistake about it, for every layoff, for every day that’s cut from a school week, for every course or program that’s dropped, children are hurt,” he said. “The world's teachers call on the authorities in New York, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, to review its priorities in order to find a pragmatic solution that defends the right of every child to a good quality public education, and protects the vital role that teachers play to building cohesive and effective communities."