New York City teachers and the United Federation of Teachers have initiated a militant and radical response to the latest budget cut proposals made by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As a victim of the 1975 New York City financial crisis, and as a teacher educator, I wholeheartedly support their actions including a proposed "people's budget" and a massive protest march scheduled for Thursday afternoon, May 12. Teachers, parents, and students will rally at City Hall Park at 4:00 p.m. and then march down Broadway and through Wall Street.
In 1975, New York was on the verge of bankruptcy. Denied federal and state support, the city announced it would lay off 13,000 teachers. By September 1975, the number was paired down to 5,000, including me. I worked as a substitute teacher off and on for three years waiting to be reappointed. Many young teachers drifted into other fields never to return. Class sizes in the high schools soared to over sixty and rarely dropped below forty. Students and teachers were continually being shifted around and education suffered dramatically. It took a decade for the ship to right itself. A generation of students were sacrificed. This cannot be allowed to happen again.