By Aliza Moorji
Teacher layoffs are nothing new; schools have always been a target for budget cuts. The city’s schools are now in the heat of yet another proposed round of cuts that may mean the loss of 4,675 teachers across the city—1,000 in Brooklyn alone.
The Ink takes you back 40 years to take a look at a history of teacher layoffs through numbers.
June 1971: Mayor John Lindsay cuts $300 million from city budget; $20 million is cut from the school budget eliminating 5,000 jobs through attrition and retirement.
December 1974: In the midst of the city’s biggest fiscal crisis, Mayor Abraham Beame announces dismissal of 3,725 municipal employees, which includes 1,100 teachers and 200 librarians. It’s said to be the most severe round of budget cuts in city history. Mayor Beame is quoted in The New York Times as “terribly saddened.” The Mayor also halts the daily hiring of 875 substitute teachers. Then UFT president Albert Shanker calls the Mayor’s cuts “intolerable.” Almost seven months later, the Mayor secures and restores $48 million to the Board of Education.
August 1977: 4,000 elementary school teachers previously laid off are rehired for the September school term as a result of a teacher shortage.
August 1979: School Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola lays off 2,000 teachers and reassigns 1,000 others.
January 1991: The UFT agrees to give up a week’s worth of pay amounting to approximately $40 million to help close the budget gap and save 3,000 teachers from being laid off.
May 1991: Mayor David Dinkins proposes to lay off 6,000 teachers and cut the education funding by $579 million. The layoffs of municipal workers began the following year but it is unclear exactly how many teachers were laid off.
August 2001: School Chancellor Harold Levy slashes $191 million from city schools. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani rejects the cuts and calls the Chancellor’s strategy a “shock tactic.” But, union officials were quoted in The New York Times stating that the budget cuts will not cause any layoffs.
January 2009: Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget calls for “emergency layoffs” of 15,000 teachers and other educators. Randi Weingarten says it would be “devastating” to city schools. After much debate one year later, the Mayor averts teacher layoffs by canceling teachers’ raises to save money.
February 2011: Department of Education releases “worst-case school layoffs” detailing the estimated number of teachers each school will lose. The Mayor is put under pressure by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State to close the state budget gap.
March 2011: The State passes a $132.5 billion budget, which cuts spending for education by $1.2 billion. But the budget also restores $51 million in cuts to city school aid. Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement, “We appreciate that some of the cuts in education aid were restored. But make no mistake: the final budget still cuts New York City more than ever before. The restorations are merely a fraction of the $600 million necessary to avoid additional layoffs and cuts in the city’s budget.”
Sources: The Associated Press; The New York Times; The New York Daily News; United Press International; Wall Street Journal; The Gotham Gazette