News and Speeches

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott Addresses Teacher Evaluation at Manhattan Institute Event

12/05/2012

Remarks of the Chancellor as delivered on December 5, 2012

Good morning. I have had the privilege of serving in the Bloomberg administration for nearly 11 years.

During this time I have visited more than 1,000 New York City public schools.

Through these visits and my interactions with educators, I have gained an even deeper understanding and richer appreciation of the complexities of the work that our principals and teachers engage in every day.

I know how indispensable principals are to their schools’ success. I see how much physical, mental, and emotional energy our effective teachers expend preparing our students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life:

  • To graduate and go to college;
  • To avoid the ravages of poverty;
  • To work in a career that allows them to support a family.

If we can’t reach an agreement with the UFT, we will be forced to pass some cuts on to schools.

At this point, any cut to our schools is too much, especially when you consider the structure of our schools’ budgets.

Schools spend over 95% on personnel costs and the majority of the remainder on direct student services.

Any cuts will undermine exactly what we are trying to achieve – providing meaningful support and development opportunities to our educators and rigorous instructional programming to our students.

While principals would make final decisions about how to absorb budget reductions, we would expect that cuts would lead to fewer teachers being hired, which will probably lead to larger class sizes.

We would expect the elimination of professional development opportunities for staff and cuts to cherished after school activities such as music, art, and sports for students.

We would expect substantial reductions in guidance counselors, social workers, and other support staff who play a key role in our children’s social and emotional development.

We would expect schools to stop purchasing instructional materials such a library books and educational software.

This is an unfortunate reality and these cuts would be painful.

As Chancellor, the last thing I want to do is implement these cuts, but we will be left with no choice.

That is why it is so critical to remember that these cuts are avoidable.

It is time for all of the adults to step up and work together to solve a problem that will impact 1.1 million students.

I spoke with UFT President Michael Mulgrew this morning and told him that we would like to complete negotiations by December 21. I have instructed my team to clear their calendars to do so.

After everything our schools, staff, students and families have been through this fall, they deserve a restful holiday break, free of worry about potential cuts to schools.

I intend to ensure that this happens because this is too important not to get right. For our students, our staff and the future of our great city, we must act now.

Thank you and I am happy to take your questions.