#61: Remarks to Board of Education

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QUOLKE’S CORNER #61
REMARKS TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION 4/20/10
 
  • Tonight’s decision by the Board will affect every child who attends Cleveland’s public schools. I know that it sometimes seems like individual Board of Education members don’t have much impact—But make no mistake about it, your vote tonight will matter to Cleveland’s children. Here are just a few of the ways laying off more than 650 teachers and support staff will impact the students in our schools:
 
    • Class sizes will balloon, potentially to more than 40 students in some classes undermining the academic progress we striving to attain
    • There will be less individualized instruction to help struggling students or to challenge those performing above their grade level.
    • There will be an increase in classroom disruptions and overall decrease in school safety. Do the math: Fewer teachers and support staff… supervising more students… does not add up to better learning conditions for our children.
    • Layoffs will undermine the “innovation schools” initiative by shaking up the faculty at those schools.
 
  • The CTU has offered alternative budget balancing strategies that would greatly reduce the need for any layoffs, or perhaps eliminate them altogether.
 
  • The CTU has offered to extend Fact Finding through the summer to provide each side with ample time and opportunity to reach an agreement.
 
  • It is unfortunate that the CEO and his negotiating team have chosen this path—and that they have imposed an arbitrary and unrealistic timeline for resolving the budget crisis.  Everyone in this room has been aware that this problem was looming since June 30, 2009. Now, the CEO wants your approval for 650 layoffs, saying that the District is legally required to decide on any layoffs in April. The reality is that there is no contract provision that mandates any specific date for layoffs. 
 
  • This vote tonight was sought by the Administration. This schedule was determined by the Administration—and the Board. No blame can be put on the CTU for the “emergency” position in which you find yourselves.
 
  • When you vote tonight, you can continue to be a rubberstamp for the policies of this administration or you can vote with a clear understanding that your vote will impact hundreds of Cleveland classrooms and thousands of Cleveland’s children.