Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A few words for the teachers of PS 57

There's a state budget squeeze in capitals all across the country. Everyone and everything is a potential candidate for the fiscal chopping block. Places like New Jersey and Wisconsin have riots literally breaking out over drastic cuts to the salary, benefits, and - in some cases - the very existence of public employee unions as governor's try to close bulging budgetary gaps.

Here in New York, a recent Times piece details the "worst-case" scenario for teacher layoffs in city schools. In reality, the plan to cut 6 percent - or 4,675 - teachers from the city payroll is a dramatic overstatement. As these things usually go, the city will fire much less educators than predicted, and everyone comes out looking like a hero.

But it's sad still, that some people will lose their jobs - these very stressful, poorly paid jobs.

According to the Times at least two NYC schools are immune from the impending budget bludgeon. One happens to be Public School 57, right across from the parking lot of Home Depot, off Targee Street, in the Park Hill section of Staten Island.

From the Times:
About 320 schools would see no layoffs, because they have not hired new teachers recently. Some schools, like Public School 130 in Bayside, Queens, and P.S. 57 in the Park Hill neighborhood of Staten Island, have employed the same teachers for many years.
Who works in this neglected school, in a desperately neglected neighborhood, with mostly impoverished children? And, in addition, who works in this school for "many years"? (A school that has a rating of 2 out of 10 on Who works there?

Here's what one parent said about the school a few years back on the web:
From what I've witnessed so far, the new principal has been doing a great job. However, the school's test scores speak for themselves. Also, I was quite disappointed to see my daughter come home yesterday with a book from 1964(!)...
Whoever works at this place is doing God's work. Congratulations on keeping your job. We're glad your not getting fired. And we're sorry. Sorry that we have not given you the attention, funding, and support you need/desire/deserve/have earned.

Sorry your school is crumbling. Sorry the guy on Forest Avenue gets all the attention. Sorry we haven't helped. (We don't live that far away. We have a few free hours in the afternoon, I'm sure we could come over, maybe after school, sweep up the lunchroom, play basketball with the kids... something.) The children needs us. The children need you. This is unacceptable. You've been shouldering the burden - a burden no one person should be expected to shoulder - with the lack of resources, and the budget cuts, and the threats of termination.

This doesn't help, though. These words. Just empty promises. Words on a screen. One day, maybe, we hope that we can really do something to make a difference. Until then, we wish you luck and strength.


  1. The "guy on Forest Avenue" should be applauded for what he's done for P.S. 22. Mr. B's clever idea of posting videos on YouTube was nothing short of genius. Funding for music programs is far less than adequate these days, and Mr. B has managed to pull in thousands of dollars for his school.

    As an out of work teacher, I know how difficult it is finding employment in the New York City school system. The state and the city severely mismanage the education budget and teachers have to pay for it.

    You approach this topic like it is an easy fix. Books from 1964 are better than no books at all. While I agree with the parent that it is shocking the school could not afford a newer book, books are incredibly expensive. Everything is expensive.

    Are you an educator? Before you blast someone as resourceful as Greg Breinburg, you really should think about the facts. This gentleman deserves every bit of praise he and his school receive for giving those students the opportunity of a lifetime. If more principals and their teachers were as resourceful, perhaps many schools wouldn't be facing the dire situations they are facing.

    One last note, I did my student observations at P.S. 57 and the teachers there are fantastic. The principal is a really sweet woman and she should be very proud of her teachers.

  2. Sarah, the intention of this post was to bring attention to teachers who have served the community for what the NYT has called "many years."

    And, we didn't 'blast' anyone. Not really sure what your gripe is. maybe you need to chill out.

  3. My blast is that your blog is completely undermining the success of teachers like Mr. Breinberg. School test scores may or may not have anything to with teachers that have been working for "many years." Breinberg doesn't really fall into this category as he is a music teacher who isn't responsible for state test scores.

    One also must take into account the teacher ratings at P.S. 57. Have you looked into that?

    What is your point about teachers that have served for many years? That test scores are low and these teachers are to blame?

  4. I would like to add that every school is in dire need of funding and that my original point is that if they aren't going to be givent he funding they must look towards other sources.

    Your posting confuses me because you are congratulating the teachers at P.S. 57 for working in a high need title 1 school, but then pointing out the fact that low test scores are a problem which in turn puts the blame onto the teachers.

  5. sorry, i think you misunderstood. i said the teachers are doing "God's work". i think they - and all teachers - are underpaid, under served, and overworked. Teaching is hard. But I think i said all that in the post.

    i didn't bring up test scores- the quote does. and about books, that's the dept's fault not the teachers.

    i appreciate your input on this. you obviously have more knowledge on the subject. the piece consists of my thoughts only. I would just hope that they are not misunderstood. thank you.