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Listen to the spin masters long enough and one might start believing that the reduction by 80 percent in the number of teacher parking placards is no big deal. The move is part of a City Hall campaign to reduce the number of parking placards allotted to people working for city agencies.
In theory, the campaign makes sense. In the past, the placards have been abused. Government employees took up metered and other parking spaces, making it difficult for ordinary citizens to park their cars.
In teachers' cases, the city handed out 63,390 placards when there are only 11,000 designated Department of Education spaces in the city. Most teachers wound up parking anywhere they could. Under the new plan, the placards will be reduced to a number matching the number of spaces available.
When we first heard this, we expected UFT President Randi Weingarten to go ballistic. Instead, she appears to be backing the plan.
Last week, she read a letter endorsing the plan while attending the Democratic convention in Denver. She ensured teachers that teacher parking spaces had not been reduced and the deal "presents an opportunity for an increase in the number of spots."
In other words, less is more or at least not less. The number of spaces has not been reduced, but the 41,000 teachers who no longer have placards will now have to fight each day to find parking. That is a problem.
Teachers need to park as close as possible to the schools where they work. This is especially true for teachers working in schools in dangerous neighborhoods. These teachers can become targets of ordinary muggers and students who may have been disciplined or expelled.
In many cases, teachers are not familiar with the neighborhood surrounding the school. For them, parking is a matter of personal safety. The result of the reduction in placards may be that teachers with seniority will opt to teach at schools in the safest neighborhoods. That will be a loss for the schools that need these teachers the most.
Every possible effort should be made to create lots with safe, designated teacher parking adjacent or close to schools. This is important for those who leave their schools after dark.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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