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Dist. 20 CEC: Brave Teachers Like These Deserve More

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The Community Education Council of District 20 passed one resolution to cut class sizes and another to give teachers greater recognition, on a night in which three teachers were applauded for their bravery in putting out a fire. “In Europe, there is no greater profession than being a teacher, and the respect that teachers get is amazing,” said Carlo Scissura, president of the Community Education Council District 20. “It’s about time teachers get a raise because money is important.” Council 20 member Salvatore Friscia read the first resolution at P.S. 179 on Avenue C at a recent meeting. “Scientific­ally controlled studies over two decades have proved conclusively that reduced class sizes have long-lasting benefits to children, including higher grades, graduation rates, and entry to college,” said Friscia. Class sizes in New York City are 10 to 16 percent higher than the rest of the state and have become larger since 1975 because of inadequate funding, Friscia said. Friscia proposed a motion to join the “Coalition of New Yorkers for Smaller Classes,” in pursuing a class-size reduction program in New York City public schools. The motion urges a proposition on the November 2005 ballot to amend the City Charter and commit 25 percent of Campaign for Fiscal Equity funding to cut class sizes to equal levels around the state. Council member Jean-Anne McKiernan presented a second resolution that the New York City Department of Education should respect teachers and pay them competitive salaries, to attract and retain the teaching staff. The resolution called on the Bloomberg administration to negotiate in good faith with the United Federation of Teachers to achieve those aims. Teachers have been working without a contract for two years. Both resolutions were passed unanimously by the 10 council members present. The resolutions will now land on the Chancellor’s desk for consideration, Scissura said. “Everybody who becomes a school teacher does so not to become rich – nobody’s ever going to become rich in this job — we do it because we want to make a difference in the lives of kids. We do it because we know there is a fundamental mission to create the next generation, not only of New Yorkers but of Americans,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, who received a standing ovation. “That is why I am grateful that [the CEC 20] passed both those motions.” Weingarten also honored three teachers who put out a small fire at P.S. 179. On May 5 during the second period, a technology and computer teacher, Karina Almonte, found a small fire in the school hallway. She had been teaching a fifth-grade class when one of the children stepped out of the room and set fire to a table and cloth that covered it. Smelling smoke, Almonte stepped outside and that is when she saw the fire. Almonte, a seven-year teaching veteran, grabbed a fire extinguisher and quelled the small fire before it could erupt into an inferno. A third-grade teacher, Jodie Blackman, kept order while a second-grade teacher, Stacey Longo, called the office. “Without missing a beat three teachers left their classes and helped put that fire out,” said Weingarten. “This is what we do – nobody trained us for this.” The school was evacuated for half an hour and the police and fire departments were called. Almonte said she didn’t think twice before she acted. “My first reaction was to go and get a fire extinguisher and extinguish the fire as soon as possible – for all of our safety,” Almonte said.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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