Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don't Hurt Yourself Trying to Do Us Any Favors

Well, happy spring break, y'all. I'm coming to you live from one of the five boroughs, where I'm staycationing for this particular break. It works for me, though. After all, if I'd gone somewhere, I might have missed Chancellor Walcott's heartwarming speeches from the weekend, in which he promised not to do any teacher-trash-talking. However, in pretty much the same breath, he sounded the death knell on layoffs yet again.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer here. It is, after all, nice to have a Chancellor who does seem to have some foggy notion of what it's actually like to do our job. So I'll give him some props for that. But working very hard and doing all the right things at a job you're not sure if you'll have for much longer doesn't comfort the soul very much.

Let's not forget that the city experienced higher than expected tax revenues and, depending on who you ask, is sitting on a $3 billion budget surplus. This surplus is what made Gov. Cuomo skeptical at best about Mayor Bloomberg's insistence that the city needed from the state both more money and more flexibility on how to do layoffs.

But back to Chancellor Walcott. Having worked beside the Mayor for so long, I can't imagine that he doesn't enjoy some influence at City Hall. Nice words are, well, nice. But even nicer would be if the new Chancellor would roll up his sleeves (for something other than waffle-making) and dig in there with the Mayor. Tell him that now, in a time of economic crisis that has not, for the most part, eased for the middle class, in a time when kids need all their teachers more than ever, now is not the time for layoffs. We can't "win the future" without librarians, who are facing a 15% cut in their numbers. We can't hope to save kids who are likely to drop out without the arts and sports so kids who aren't academically inclined have some reason left to come to school and pass their classes.

Failing any efforts in that area, Chancellor Walcott, don't hurt yourself trying to do us any other favors.
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