700 Student Aid Workers to be Laid Off
7 Oct 2011 10:13 AM EST
-by Molly C. Braswell
New York Senator Adriano Espaillat (D – Manhattan/Bronx) and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez spoke out at Thursday’s press conference to protest the firing of public school aids in the less economically profitable regions of New York City.
Espaillat pointed out that most of the people who live and work in the Harlem, Inwood, Morningside Heights, Washington Heights and other similar areas are primarily Africa American and Latino.
New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg plans to cut more than 700 student aids, health aids, parent coordinators and community assistants from these area schools.
“We have proposed two proposals to the chancellor that were substantial cost savings to save the 700 plus,” said Rodriguez at Thursday’s press conference. “We are talking about savings in the millions. They rejected the first proposal, then they rejected the second. It became clear to us that they were not willing to find a political solution to putting out the lowest paid employees in the education system out into the street.
“There is money there,” the Senator continued. “They claim that they have no money, but if you got on their website, you would find advertising for the same positions that they are going to lay off tomorrow. You would also find that the contracts that they are asking proposals for, that are also in the millions, but they have no money.”
Local 372 organized the press conference. This association represents people who work at these low-income, yet meaningful jobs in New York City.
Senator Espaillat, Council Member Rodriguez and aid employees blame Bloomberg’s agenda of ensuring the upper half stay accustomed to their lifestyles for this decision. They say this focus is why Bloomberg plans to lay off these workers instead of increasing taxes for the upper half in order to have a more expendable budget.
“I’m here to ask the mayor and the city council to rethink this. There are avenues of revenue that we could consider at the state level,” said Senator Espaillat. “Bring back the millionaire tax.”
Doreen Testa has been an aid for PS 132 since 1998. She said men and women who employ these positions are vital to the NYC public school system because of their relationships to the children.
“My first priority beyond a school aid is being a mother. As a school aid we are mothers to each and every [child],” Testa said. “For every school-aid that you take away, you are hurting the children. You are hurting the community. Lots of times we are there when they just need a hug or a kiss.”