Statement from Assemblyman David I. Weprin on NYC Public Schools

Our public school system here in New York City has been under attack in full view of everyone these last several weeks. The driving forces behind this effort have been led by the media, our School Chancellor and our Mayor, and I have to stand up now and speak out against what they are doing and saying.

Attacking our public school system as a political statement is wrong, and immoral, most especially when those who are being hurt the most as the collateral damage in these attacks are our school children.

Many of you are no doubt confused by the inflammatory rhetoric that has been put out there when it comes to the quality of the teachers in our school system. From what many have stated, including our Mayor, the impression that is being deliberately left is that our schools have too many bad teachers.

This we all know is not true.

Over the last year there have been new initiatives that have given our school leaders the ability to ever more quickly remove from their school any and all teachers who have been unfit to do their jobs.

And worth noting, these new initiatives that have given the school system these needed tools have been done with the teachers and their union taking the lead in this effort.

There should in this day and age, with the tools now in place for the school leaders, no reason for there to be any poorly performing teacher to be still in their job, and therefore this smokescreen that is being put up, needs to be pushed through and seen for what it is- a distraction from the reality that our schools and our children are already hurting.

Over the last few years it is well documented that there has been the loss of over 4,500 teachers from our school system. These teachers have left due to retirement, or other resignation and they have not been replaced. This has had the negative effect of driving up class size to levels not seen in this city in decades.

Some are making the rounds, talking and pushing for the need to change New York State’s legislation when it comes to how we lay off more teachers, rather than pushing and advocating for ways and means to not only keep what we have, but to find ways beyond getting more money, to replacing the thousands who leave every year through attrition. We all need to find ways to protect our children’s classrooms from any more hurt, and applaud and thank our great public school teachers and their school leaders for the outstanding job they continue to do every day in the face of so many obstacles.